Armchair Scheduling: NBC Fall 2011

My goal was to get all of my armchair scheduling pieces up by this past Monday, but that clearly did not happen. Still, I wanted to weigh in on some of the decisions that new NBC President Bob Greenblatt has made over the last few days. As @BigTVFan astutely pointed out earlier this week, it seems as though Greenblatt is shifting the network’s focus towards women, which I personally think is a mistake.

NBC’s comedies may not set the world on fire with their ratings, but they are the best on TV. When you have a core competency (ie. Must See TV Thursday) that skews towards young males, I’d reason that’s the audience you should be targeting. Never mind the fact that ABC already targets middle-aged women and The CW targets younger women, while no broadcast network actively courts young men.

NBC had several pilots in development this year on the comedy side that I was excited about, none more so than Peter Tolan’s Brave New World and Dan Goor’s Family Practice. And, had I written this piece last week, they would have been included in my mock schedule below. Alas, the peacock passed on both shows yesterday, presumably because they were too much like the “niche” comedies they already have. I put niche is quotations, because I don’t buy into the notion that Community’s audience is its audience or that Parks and Recreation can’t cultivate a bigger following; I just think they need a hefty promotional push.

On the drama side, NBC picked up pretty much what I expected them to. They passed on high profile pilots Wonder Woman and 17th Precinct, but both had tested poorly so that wasn’t much of a shock. The one surprise, to my mind, was their decision to order Grimm over Metro or A Man’s World. Grimm has drawn mixed reviews from both brass and critics and doesn’t have the pedigree of either Metro or A Man’s World. Apparently, Greenblatt thought Metro was too high concept for broadcast, which I can see, but A Man’s World would have paired nicely with Harry’s Law.

Lately, there has been talk that NBC will bring their new reality hit The Voice back as early as September. If they do that, they stand the risk of potentially killing a viable franchise before it has time to sprout legs. Far more likely would be a decision to move The Sing Off to fall, though that would conflict with judge Nicole Scherzinger’s new gig as the host of X-Factor. All that being said, my predictions are below. Read more of this post

2010’s Top TV Series: The Prelude

Most every critic will tell you that 2010 was a great year for television but, in reality, it was mostly just a good year for cable television. Broadcast networks saw their ratings continue to decline overall, and a number of high profile shows failed out of the gate. Qualitatively, this was one of the weakest pilot seasons in recent history, producing duds like Outsourced, The Defenders, Outlaw, The Whole Truth, and Feces My Dad Says. However, amidst the unimpressive fare, there was some truly great TV in 2010, which made the compilation of a Top 10 rather difficult.

I’ve never been one for the “everybody gets a trophy” approach, but I do think it’s worth noting several shows that just failed to make my list. Southland, Louie and The League were all tough omissions, though for different reasons. Southland’s unintentionally abbreviated second season was tremendous, but suffered from the fact that it only had 6 episodes to strut its stuff. Louie deserves commendation for its ability to change shape every week. No show kept me guessing in the way Louie did, and that’s a real compliment. And then there’s The League, which was probably the funniest show of the fall.

As aforementioned, there were a handful of shows canceled in 2010, before they got the chance to find their feet. Fox pulled the plug on Lone Star after only 2 episodes, and ABC did the same with My Generation. Arguably the two best pilots of the fall season, the shows deserve a tip of the hat. Then there’s Fox’s Running Wilde, which may or may not get to complete its run sometime in the future, and their already discarded Sons of Tuscon. Both series showed real potential but failed to attract enough viewers. The same could be said of ABC’s Better Off Ted and Scrubs: The New Class, which were funnier than anything else the network has aired in 2010 but suffered from criminally low numbers.

House, which has frequently found itself near the top of my list in previous years, fell out of my Top 10 in 2010. Last spring House was limping towards the union of House and Cuddy, and it became painfully obvious to those watching. This fall, the show has suffered from the loss of both Olivia Wilde and Jennifer Morrison.  Heroes, which at one time was my favorite show on television, ended its run in 2010 with several strong episodes. But, even though it rebounded from a messy 3rd season, it was in no way strong enough to make my list. Contrarily, Lost ended its run on a low note for me. The vast majority of its final season revolved around the flash-sideways, which proved to be a highly unsatisfying mechanism. The show’s lackluster finale also didn’t help.

Finally, it seems as though I should address why several shows that have found themselves on other critics’ lists didn’t make my own. Since I’ve yet to catch up on Breaking Bad, you will not find it on my list. That isn’t a knock against the show, but rather a knock against me for failing to watch the show from its start. Similarly, I missed the boat on Dexter, though I’m told this season wasn’t list worthy anyway. 2009’s breakout comedies Modern Family and Glee both failed to make my list, because of the incredible unevenness of their 2nd seasons thus far. Glee has received the brunt of the backlash, but Modern Family hasn’t been much better. Airing episodes out of order since the 2nd season premiere, Modern Family has lacked both narrative consistency and laughs. Glee continues to underutilize the vast majority of their cast, while meandering through unrealistic storylines. The best new comedy of 2009, Community, also failed to make the cut. Although Community continues to be one of television’s better comedies, for much of this fall, it seems as though the show has been chasing after the magic of “Modern Warfare.”

Note: I also decided to forgo the inclusion of The Pacific since my list is meant to applaud the best series of 2010, and that was a mini-series.