State of the Networks 2012-2013: NBC - Life in fourth place

By Daniel S Levine,

The 2012-2013 television season is nearing its end for the four big networks and this season has definitely been ... educational for them. Suddenly, cable shows about zombies, Bible stories, underage beauty pageants and rich guys who make duck hunting tools are drawing more viewers than prime time programming. There hasn’t been any breakout freshman show this season. But none of the big four have had as rocky a year as NBC.

The network has been stuck at the bottom for years now, but this season encapsulated everything that has gone wrong at NBC. Animal Practice was dead on arrival, Guys With Kids lived out the whole season likely because there was nothing else to pair Whitney with. Do No Harm was axed after two episodes. Revolution was on its way to being a hit, but then the extended mid-season break didn’t help.

Even returning shows did poorly. The Office’s last season has been like a walking corpse, hitting lows for the long-running series nearly every week. The show has only had very few good moments and it continues to remind us that the Scraton Dunder Mifflin branch should have been closed when Michael Scott left. Smash’s sophomore season has been a total disaster and the show has moved to Saturdays.Then there’s the Up All Night debacle.

Every fan of Community remembers the debacle that forced the show’s fourth season not to start until February. The network kept pushing it back until 30 Rock ended. Now under new management, Greendale Community College doesn’t seem as fun as it used to. (That all-puppet show was more bizarre than funny.)

NBC does have one big shining moment: The Voice. The first fall season was a hit and this spring has been a success story as well. Even better, the fact that Shakira and Usher are still bringing in viewers proves that the show’s concept is bigger than the judges.

It may be too early to tell, but Hannibal might be a success too. The Thursday 10 p.m. slot has been the black hole for the network lately, but Hannibal got off to a decent (by NBC standards) start and its second episode held on to most of its viewers.

If there’s one new show I hope NBC renews, it is Go On with Matthew Perry. This show is hilarious and I happen to like Perry enough that I think he finally deserves a show that lasts.

Parks and Recreation also better get renewed. Is it the funniest show on TV right now? Hell. Yes.

As for NBC’s future, the network appears to be more interested in comedy pilots. After all, the 2013-2014 season will be the first time in years that it will be without The Office and 30 Rock. NBC needs the Michael J. Fox sitcom to be a big hit. The network has already ordered 22 episodes of the series, which will feature the beloved actor as a sportscaster dealing with Parkinson’s.

Up next: CBS... “America’s Most Watched Network”



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