Saturday, August 25, 2012

2011-2012 TV Season Wrap Up (NBC): Notoriously Bad Comcast

Just like last year, I will be writing about the dismal current state of NBC.  This wrap up is long overdue, and I could easily write a long rant about how disappointed I was with NBC's coverage of the London Olympics.  But...that's reality TV (according to the style of some of NBC's coverage), so I won't write about it.  NBC, I would pay for the ability to watch anything of the Olympics I want in Hi-Def, on my cable system.  How much I would be willing to pay is up to debate, but, seriously, think about it...

Getting back to the wrap up, it was another really bad year for NBC, filled with disasters, hangers on, and low rated renewals.  Based on what we see on their shortly upcoming 2012-2013 schedule, it doesn't look like much will change.  NBC had the Olympics to promote the you know what out of any show they wanted.  Promoted well, they might have begun to right the sinking ship.  Promoted poorly, and, well, you get what's likely to happen.  They decided to spend much of their promotion budget in the Olympics pumping up Go On, Animal Practice, Revolution, The New Normal, and Grimm.  In nearly all situations, the shows were promoted poorly.  I can only speak to the quality of Go On, and Grimm, but the promos for those shows really didn't do them any favors.  The promos for Grimm were especially disturbing, as they gave us nearly no story to suck new viewers in, and that certainly hurt its post Olympics ratings.  The promos for Animal Practice, Revolution, and The New Normal will do practically nothing to get viewers excited about the shows.  Will they be good?  Maybe.  However, I really don't have much hope for NBC, and the numbers for the Grimm season 2 premiere, and second episode, proved that the promos didn't have much an impact on the amount of viewers picking up the show for the first time.  I ultimately think Grimm will do fine when it moves back to Fridays, but I would have liked to have seen higher numbers coming out of the Olympics.  I'll get to what I think of this season's upcoming slate at the end of this, but let's just say I'm less than enthused.

Shows I watched, in the 2011-2012 TV season, on NBC:

Law & Order:  Special Victims Unit
The Office
Parks and Recreation
Up All Night 
Free Agents
Prime Suspect
Are You There, Chelsea?
Bests Friends Forever
Harry's Law

Grimm (Renewed):

This was literally NBC's shining light of the 2011-2012 TV season.  It was expected to fail, but succeeded...on Friday nights.  It was the first renewal they announced, and it was renewed early.  When I saw the trailer for it, before it aired, I was actually pretty excited about it, and couldn't really understand why they were holding it, and putting it in a bad slot.  If you've read this blog with any regularity, you know that I both advocated its moving from Fridays, and keeping it there.  It's a well thought out and planned TV show, and if you have any interest in the fantasy/horror genre, but are not watching it, you are truly missing out.  This is easily one of my top 5 favorite network TV shows (season 2 is also off to a great start, already), and might be in my top 10 shows.  I won't know for sure until I compile a list at the end of 2012.  It doesn't have great ratings, but it's doing absolutely well enough to get renewed for a third season.  That is, of course, as long as it holds the ratings it's been getting on Mondays the last few weeks, once it moves back to Fridays.  Again, if you like this genre, you should be watching this show.  It has great characters, great set pieces, great cinematography, excellent stories, and manages to balance the violent aspects really well with excellent humor.  The story has been advancing at an excellent pace, and I truly look forward to watching it every week.

Law & Order:  Special Victims Unit (Renewed):

I've taken to renaming this show Law & Order: Series Low.  For the imagined cost of this series, its ratings just aren't cutting the mustard.  This is the end of the mostly outstanding Law & Order franchise, and I wish it would have gone away after last season.  Last season's storylines took the opportunity to blame the victim in the vast majority of the cases.  With the exit of the Stabler character, and the attempt at a re-boot, it's just a shell of what it once was.  If this season goes like the last, both in ratings and quality, it will be gone.  Take it to the bank.  Dick Wolf only had the "Midas Touch" once in his career, he just was able to extend it over 20+ years.  Chicago Fire does not look to be in the same league as the Law & Order franchise, either.

The Office (Renewed):

I worked on the DVD box sets for several seasons of the show (including the first two seasons), but never could get into it, as I just thought it was too offensive for my tastes.  Of all the stuff I worked on, I think I first began to have some interest in season 5, as they had really softened the edge (which evidently was the appeal to most of the fans of the previous seasons).  The episode that made me look at the series differently was the one where Dwight was torturing Andy by threatening to go to Cornell.  I then decided to start watching again the season where Michael Scott left.  I thought it was relatively entertaining, and at least good enough to continue watching.  I even continued watching all of last season, which I thought was really uneven and weird.  It's still the highest rated sitcom on NBC, but it's not pulling in anywhere near the ratings it had in its heyday.  I predict Go On will take over as the highest rated NBC sitcom this season from The Office.  If NBC has ratings similar to last season for all of its programming, you can easily expect them to radically alter the following season's schedule.  Brace yourself, if you aren't ready for this news.  This could be the last year of the mockumentary styled sitcom on NBC.  As a final bit of information, this season will be The Office's last, according to news I recently read.

Parks and Recreation (Renewed):

No longer is Parks and Recreation my favorite network TV show.  That honor goes to CBS's Person of Interest.  However, Parks and Recreation is still my second favorite network TV show.  Overall, it was a really good season, but it's definitely starting to lose its legs, mostly because it's focusing too much on relationships, and not enough on the overall ensemble.  Keep in mind what I said above, about the end of the mockumentary sitcom, as Parks and Recreation will cross the magic 88 episode syndication barrier, this season.  It also continues to have pretty lackluster ratings, with no hope for improvement.

Up All Night (Renewed):

I tried really hard to like this show, despite its many flaws.  I think Christina Applegate is generally fabulous, and that Will Arnett is a really good straight man.  Maya Rudolph...oy.  It was pretty clear, in the early stages of the show, that Applegate and Arnett were competing for laughs, and it had a pretty big chemistry problem.  When Arnett settled into his straight man role, the show got much better.  Rudolph was wildly overacting and caricatured early in the show.  She got better toward the middle, and then went right back to the caricature toward the end.  I fell behind on the show, at some point during the season, started catching up, and about 3 episodes into the catch up, I just couldn't do it anymore.  The breaking point was episode 18, for me, "New Boss".  The show is weak, the ratings were terrible, and yet it was renewed!  I get there are probably political reasons behind the renewal, but the renewal of the show is literally an indictment of the deeply systemic issues NBC faces as a network.  This show is just not worth the time and energy they have spent to try to make it succeed, outside of an outlandish miracle.  It never will, and it basically has no hope of getting a third season.  For years to come, NBC will likely have to ask whether it was worth it to keep this show for a second season.  I won't be watching season 2.

Whitney (Renewed):

This was one of the worst sitcoms I have ever seen, featuring one of the most unappealing casts I have ever seen.  Having their constant sexual situations jammed into my face every week ultimately caused me to tune out, probably after the 4th episode, though I can't remember for sure which one sent me screaming for the hills.  It had terrible ratings all season, but this was NBC, so it got "renewed".  By "renewed", I mean it got moved to Fridays with Community, which would need a miracle for this not to be its last season.  This is basically a cancellation, without being canceled.  If it keeps the same ratings as it did last season, on Wednesdays, I would say it has a reasonable chance at a third season.  If it falls much below that, this show will probably see its demise around the Winter hiatus.  I believe it was picked up for 13 episodes, which is basically the commitment that would match my prediction.

Free Agents (Canceled):

I thought this was a decent show.  It was certainly better than the terrible Whitney, and extremely mediocre Up All Night.  The problem was that it skewed old, and had terrible ratings.  It only lasted a few episodes, before it was mercy killed.  The great Hank Azaria could not save this show, though it certainly had some potential.

Prime Suspect (Canceled):

Many will disagree, but I thought this was one of the worst police procedurals I have ever seen.  I was somewhat excited about it, going in, and was completely disappointed in literally every respect.  I thought it was a piece of crap, and actively rooted for it to go.  I tuned out a few episodes before it was put out of its misery.  The fact that the makers of the show couldn't figure out why it didn't make it is a real indictment of how flawed their thinking was.  This show was a disaster, but it probably would have done great on FX.  This was NOT a network level TV show, sorry.

Are You There, Chelsea? (Canceled)

This show was doomed the minute the title was changed from Are You There, Vodka?  It's Me, Chelsea.  In context, it makes complete sense, especially when coupled with the scene that gave us the original title.  Instead, the title was some random pattern of words that made no sense.  That's totally par for the NBC course.  I thought the show was just a step below decent, and I watched every episode.  This show also had the distinction of having an actor appear in it that had two series canceled, on NBC, in the same season (Natasha Leggero).

Bent (Canceled):

I watched the first two episodes of this show, and hated it.  It had terrible ratings, and was an utter disaster.   The Creator of this show is going to try another show with the same lead.  Surely that will work, right?  LOL.

Best Friends Forever (Canceled):

I watched the first four episodes of the show, and thought it had a really nice production value, even though it was just barely scratching up to the surface of decent.  It was horribly cringe worthy in many moments.  Its ratings were just as terrible as Bent's, and it didn't even make it through its first six episodes, before being canceled and removed (it was eventually burned off, and I missed it).

Awake (Canceled):

This was a show with great potential, that never lived up to it.  It was extremely disappointing to me, even though many people liked it.  I was extremely angry over the ending of the show, and even angrier when I found out the Creator of the show never had any interest or thought about which "reality" was real.  With that knowledge, I'm 100 percent glad it was canceled.  Toward the end, I thought this show was a complete mess, though we'll never know how much the network interfered with the true direction of the show.  If it hadn't been for the massive flops of both Prime Suspect and The Firm, this show might never have seen the light of day (if the plan had been to hold it until this season, that might have been the best idea).  If you were a fan of the show, you should be really appreciative of how NBC treated the show.  Its ratings did not warrant the whole season being shown, but there was nothing left to follow it.  For that, you should be glad.  The biggest problem with this show is that you had to expend brain cells while watching it, and that is an absolutely terrible thing to have to do right before bedtime.  That surely hurt the show.  I'm sure Kyle Killen will get one more shot to make a show work, maybe on Showtime, but he will likely have a very hard time getting another shot at the network level, any time soon.  He's obviously a talented guy, but his work has a very difficult time connecting with the mass audiences necessary at the network level.

Harry's Law (Canceled):

The show went through a massive re-tooling, and became MUCH worse than season 1.  They tried to bring in a younger audience, and failed miserably.  They got too political too early in the show's run.  The whole second season felt like the "We're going to Sacramento!" episodes in the later seasons of Quincy, M.E.  I fell behind on the show, late in the season, and I never had the heart to catch up.  Harry's Law had the highest overall viewers of any NBC scripted show.  Of course, it also had near the bottom in the 18-49 demo.  This show was a walking paradox, ratings wise, and it had the opportunity to set a tremendous ratings precedent.  If it had, that precedent would have been named "Harry's Law".  However, cooler heads prevailed, and its obvious cancellation to anyone who follows ratings closely eventually happened.

It was a disappointing year for NBC, yet again, and NBC still shows no signs of returning to the level the once great network occupied.  My biggest hopes are for Revolution and Go On, and I'll check out at least one episode of most of the new shows they air, in addition to my holdovers from last season.  NBC squandered its Olympics opportunity, and now we have to wait and see whether they've squandered yet another TV season.  Thanks for reading.

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