The NBC Smart Comedy Farewell Tour

Apparently NBC is trying to make us all mental heading in to Upfronts next week. Well, at least those of us who remain under the delusion that anyone with a brain in their head or an appreciation for good comedy should be watching its Thursday night comedy lineup.

the good news in all of the nbc pick-ups -- taylor labine is getting another shot at a show.

The network has already said it’s picking up five somewhat promising comedies and an hour-long JJ Abrams adventure show next year, leaving little room for its on-the-bubble shows to stay on the schedule. It is the only network making pick-up announcements so far. It’s like NBC knows the Twitter poop-storm it’s about to enter when it cancels its current comedies. So it’s trying to soften the blow to loyal and rabid but relatively miniscule fans of Community and Parks and Recreation by releasing these little nuggets of news concerning the picked-up shows. “We’re picking up five new comedies and making a BFD about all of them. Do the math, people.”

Time now to rationally and honestly map out the options NBC has with its new shows and old lineup to talk this through, without just saying, “Eff you, NBC.” Which is tempting, believe me, since I boycotted NBC for years after it canceled NewsRadio and Homicide in the same year. The Office was the first thing that made me tune back in. But I’m really going to try to be calm about the network possibly ending three — or four, if it chooses to end The Office — of the funniest shows of the last decade.

OPTION 1. It completely kicks its current comedy lineup to the curb. It’s tired of the low ratings and is ready to give someone else a try at a show that can get attention from someone other than a TV critic. Parks and Rec, Community? It was nice knowing ya. Office? Here’s what you can do with your contract negotiationsODDS: 20-1. It’s actually pretty viable, and the series pick-ups certainly point that way.

these three deserve another year.

OPTION 2. It’s looking to start a second comedy beach head night, even though its first one on Thursday is in ratings shambles. Maybe a suicide Wednesday night lineup with some variation of Community, Save Me, The New Normal and Parks and Rec, with a Thursday lineup of The Office, Go On, 30 Rock and 1600 Penn so you could have the tagline of something like, “the two funniest addresses on TV!” before anyone realizes they’re the only two addresses on TV. And that’s just assuming Whitney and Up All Night will be canceled. What if they’re not? ODDS: 8-1. This does nothing to strengthen any of the shows, the newbies or the veterans.

OPTION 3. Maybe NBC renews all of its comedies — even Are You There Chelsea — and becomes the all-comedy network, with brief spats of The Voice, Smash and Biggest Loser. Hey, they’ve tried everything else, right? Why not just go with comedies which are cheaper to produce and worth tens of millions more in syndication? ODDS: 100,000-1. Can you imagine the apathy that would accompany the headline, “NBC renews Bent for a second season.”

OPTION 4. It loves the new shows now, cools on them in a week, decides to push the debuts back a smidge, then burns them off in April like it’s done the past two years to doomed shows like Bent, Best Friends Forever and The Paul Reiser Show. They can’t keep doing that. Can they? ODDS: 25-1.

OPTION 5: Some kind of hybrid of all of them. As much as I love NBC’s Thursday comedy lineup, it’s time for all of us who do to come to the realization that we’re in the severe minority. Severe. We can’t expect TV networks to keep airing shows that nobody watches, or those networks go out of business. But you’re also alienating some of your best, most active audience members when you just cut these shows out. Sooooooo …

they can do a full season of troy and abed in the morning, and i'd watch

Say hello to the NBC Smart Comedy Farewell Tour, coming soon to a Facebook page near you. All four of the current Thursday night comedies announce their final season at upfronts next week. Office works out their contract crap for one more full season, and Community, Parks and Rec and 30 Rock get 13-episode orders for their final seasons.

Now follow me. The Summer Olympics (airing on NBC) end Sunday, Aug. 12. Starting that Thursday, Aug. 16, to May 23, 2013, there are 41 Thursdays. If NBC gives its loyal comedy fans a 13-episode order for each of Community, Parks and Rec and 30 Rock, then it could air each final season in separate 13-week blocks airing at 9:30 p.m. after The Office. Whatever show would air first would end on Nov. 15 (because of a one-week break for an Office one-hour season premiere on Sept. 20). Nov. 22 is Thanksgiving. Perfect! A week break. Then next week, Nov. 29, Community starts and goes 13 straight weeks that, literally, no one will watch other than me. I’m cool with that. It ends Feb. 21 (sweeps!) and 30 Rock’s final 13 episodes start up, taking us right to May 23. Actually, 30 Rock gets 14 episodes so it can air a one-hour series finale. All the other finales of your freshman shows air the week before, then give us the one-hour 30 Rock and Office finales back-to-back.

There. Done.

Everyone is happy. NBC gets to promote its new shows with the promise of having its loyal fans still tuning in, and the fans get months of fair notice to deal with their favorite shows ending. And the ends of shows are staggered, so NBC isn’t losing them all at the same time and the fans won’t have to go through any major withdrawals.

Doesn’t this almost make too much sense? If you’re a programmer at NBC, you’re at least considering this, right? Umm, right?

Right. Make it so. Because we need more of this.

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