Wednesday, February 13, 2008

NBC firms up some plans

While they aren't as detailed as what CBS put out earlier today, NBC just sent out two press releases confirming things everyone was assuming to be true:
  1. That "Chuck," "Life" and "Heroes" will be renewed for next year but won't air again this season.
  2. That "My Name Is Earl," "The Office," "30 Rock," "Scrubs" and "ER" will begin airing new episodes in early April.

Keep in mind that "Scrubs" had several episodes in the can when the strike began. This announcement doesn't deal with the whole issue of Bill Lawrence getting to make the four episodes he says he needs to wrap up everyone's story, so those could still wind up as DVD-only.

25 comments:

mjryan said...

Yes! I can't wait to see Charlie Crews again.

Mo Ryan said...

No word on FNL. Grr, argh.

Alan, last year you talked about the 'beautiful corpse' theory of 'FNL' -- that maybe the show should just have left behind one near-perfect season and gone on to the legendary status that one season would have brought it.

Now what are your thoughts? Do you want it to continue? I do, but feel a little conflicted sometimes. Of course every time I hear that Ben Silverman is indifferent (or worse) about the show, I go right into 'Save the Panthers!' mode.

anyhoo -- what are people's thoughts on that? Vociferously wanting another season, or just kind or wanting one, or ... can't wait for the next edition of Biggest Loser?

jim treacher said...

It's been a while since I watched Scrubs, but did the show develop a complex mythology or something? What's to wrap up?

Andrew said...

What is the smoke monster that roams Sacred Heart? Who are the rarely glimpsed OTHER janitors? Who is the nurse with the yellow umbrella that will marry JD? Who framed Dr. Cox and sent him to prison for 15 years? (My money is on Ted as the answer to all of these.)

mjryan said...

I have a question for you: has their been a show in recent memory that has had such support from critics but such a lukewarm reception from fans? I know that each year there are quality shows that are cancelled too soon, but it seems that every critic I read is bemoaning the precarious fate of Friday Night Lights. Is there a critic out there that hates, or at least has issues, with this show? Is this universal praise having the opposite intended effect and actually turning potential viewers off?

chris w said...

This is the NBC thread and since there isn't anything worth complaining about for me I have a general post-strike question:

Why do the shows only have so much time left to make new episodes? For example, why is Lost only making 5 instead of the 8? I know they say that's how many will fit into the rest of this season...but then why not just extend the season and air the episodes until they're done? I doubt people will stop watching just because it's June or July.
So to boil my question down to a simpler one, why can't the shows just make the rest of their ordered seasons?
(Like everything in show business, I'm assuming it's a monetary issue, just thought maybe there's more and you understood it.)

Matthew L said...

It's been a while since I watched Scrubs, but did the show develop a complex mythology or something? What's to wrap up?

You don't need a complex mythology to need a wrap-up episode. it's more about having an episode that is designed to say "Goodbye" to characters that we've known for 7 years. Rather than just having the show end on an episode randomly selected by the timing of a strike.
Plus, they have said that they will be revealing the name of the janitor in the final episode.

And, Andrew, that was a very funny comment. Thanks for the laugh.

alynch said...

I'm confused about something. That NBC press release lists Law & Order as returning on April 23, yet the show is still currently airing new episodes. Does it have some upcoming hiatus that I'm not aware of?

Mo Ryan said...

Law & Order is airing originals. Not sure how many they have, but they'll probably have a break of a week or two before more new episodes air.

As for shows running through June, I'll take a small crack at that question. Some will -- Lost might go through early June. Ausiello is reporting they might stop at seven from the current batch, then take break and do six more. Seems like that could go through early June. Gossip Girl also may go through June.

I think more shows don't do that because the ad dollars are not there, really. Viewing is down therefore it make sense to wait til it's up again in the fall. I know, it's a chicken and egg thing -- maybe viewership would be up if there was good stuff to watch. But I doubt the vast majority of shows will air new eps into June, though there might be a few in this weird year.

I could be wrong about all of the above, I'm just throwing out my semi-formed opinion.

But I did read that Gossip Girl could go all summer long, or relaunch in the summer or something...

And from what I understand, some shows might just keep filming. I think I read that House will keep on trucking -- show 4 or so new eps this season but keep filming and stock up for fall. Normally House's actors would be going on hiatus in March or so, but they'll probably work for a few months, take time off over the summer, then come back in fall.

Alex R. said...

First, regarding "Scrubs".

The show has been a valuable resource to NBC for 7 years - minimal ratings, but a fiercely loyal fan base, critical acclaim, and always did very well on DVD.

If the show had been around 1-2 seasons, I wouldn't feel overwhelmed that they should get an extended sendoff.

But Ben Silverman, on behalf of a network you were given carte blanche to, even when far nicer and more talented people like Warren Littlefield and Kevin Reilly were running the ship, do the right thing and let "Scrubs" end its own way.

In response to Maureen Ryan's comments on June, I think it really is a bit of the chicken and the egg, but I also think there's mounting evidence that if you "put something on for people to watch (in June), people will watch".

Look no further than Cable ratings.

All we have to do is go back to last Summer - the networks aired nothing but Reality series and special, ratings down across the board. Why? No "Lost", no "Office", no "CSI" - people flipped to Cable.

On Cable, they got "Mad Men", "Psych", "Burn Notice", "Rescue Me", "Entourage", etc. etc. All scored good ratings. In fact, I believe "Burn Notice" was one of the most watched shows of the summer - on cable.

The point is, Ben Silverman speaks for the networks how they want to 'change the model' of Television - so change it. Just because some kids go off to Summer camp, the rest of America goes to work five days a week in June and July, just as much as we do in October and February. So, when we come home, we would like stuff to watch.

If there are new episodes of "Lost" in June, I am watching and I bet America is too.

treved said...

sigh, no news on journeyman huh? i don't get it...

Alan Sepinwall said...

There's no news on Journeyman because it's been canceled.

Mr. Kima said...

"Life" over FNL?!?! Ben Silverman is an idiot.

Eric said...

Alex, while I agree with you, the thing to remember is that "good ratings" for a network show and a cable show are on two different scales. I don't pay much attention to the specific numbers, and the numbers are converging, but I'm pretty sure 3-4 Million for cable is spectacular, while for a network it's a spectacular failure. If a new episode of a scripted favorite will get say, 10 million in the summer as opposed to 13 million in the spring, and a reality show costing 1/4th the price will get 5 million, the choice is fairly clear.

I think if there's a movement towards a full-year season, it would have to come from advertisers pressuring the networks to get them the same level audience during the summer that they get during the winter. At this point advertisers are conditioned to pull back on ad buys during the summer anyway, so even if a series got winter-like ratings, I wonder if the network could charge winter-like rates.

dave s said...

I assumed that the 5-episode decision was based on what people's plates were already cleared for. Between the cast and all of the various crew (including, most likely, the writers) there are lots of movies and other projects that were lined up. Heck, Matthew Fox is in Speed Racer & Vantage Point. Had to do that sometime. And since these things seem like they're lined up a year in advance or more, there might not be enough wiggle room.

But, that's not on good authority or anything. Just a theory.

Andrew said...

I have a question for you: has their been a show in recent memory that has had such support from critics but such a lukewarm reception from fans?

Arrested Development?

As far as Lost and other shows truncating their seasons-- May sweeps and upfronts are still the way that advertising for the following season is sold. Lost is going to have its highest ratings around its season finale-- not the 10-13th episodes of a 16 episode season, and so ABC would want the finale to air during the sweeps period to be able to take advantage of the highest ratings.

But I wouldn't be surprised to see that this is the end of the traditional sweeps system-- with some shows playing in the winter-spring (Idol, 24), others thriving over the summer, some in the fall.

filmcricket said...

Do we assume "Chuck" and "Life" get the DVD treatment once there's a full 22 episodes out there? I didn't watch "Life" in the fall, but everything I've heard about it during the strike makes me want to catch up. And I'd probably get "Chuck" on DVD anyway.

Andrew said...

The ratings are down in the summer because people are spending more time out and about. People are spending more time out and about during the summer because there is nothing on TV keeping them home. Seems silly, right? But that isn't it. It is a heck of a lot more complicated.

First of all, remember that that summer is when studios release their big budget blockbusters, the movies that make the rest of their year possible. Any studio with a network is not about to program anything to suck money off of their movies, and a network is dumb to put a big ticket show against Spiderman 4 or Police Academy 9.

The other big issue is WHO is watching. Yes, someone is always home watching TV, every night of the week. But, generally speaking, the most coveted demographics, Teens and 18-34 year olds, are a smaller percentage of the viewing audience during the summer. That means the networks can only charge smaller ad rates. They would be stupid to waste shows that could draw come fall in the summer.

There is no "Chicken and the Egg" in Hollywood. They spend more money each year than I will ever make on figuring out how to squeeze as much ad revenue as they can out of every show.

With downloads, streaming and DVRs, things are changing. Ten years from now, network television will look more like cable or HBO, without reruns and shorter seasons. Four cycles a year.

mp said...

I have a question for you: has their been a show in recent memory that has had such support from critics but such a lukewarm reception from fans?

(By lukewarm reception I am going to assume you mean mediocre to poor ratings and not lacking a core group of crazy diehards.)

Freaks & Geeks
Sports Night
My So Called Life
Wonderfalls
EZ Streets
Boomtown
Andy Richter Controls The Universe
Action
Firefly
Bakersfield PD
Once and Again
...

There are tons more that could fit the bill (including, obviously "Arrested Development" as mentioned before). It's not a rare phenomenon.

BF said...

Chuck & Life (& Journeyman!) will all get the DVD treatment even w/ only 13 episodes. Look at Kidnapped last year.

Alex R. said...

Andrew, I realize I am at the end of the advertisers "dream" cycle, since I just turned 33 years old about 10 days ago, but I have in fact been a "working stiff" for around 10 1/2 years now, and sure, while there is the occassional 'week off' for vacation here or there during the Summer, everyone I know in the mid to late 20's and 30's (at least) goes home normal during June and July on weeknights, just like they would in the Fall.

When I was a kid growing up, I was at summer camp or sleepaway camp and I knew back in the 80's, there was nothing at all to watch on Television since Cable was a small blip and there was no original shows.

TV gave us nothing so we gave nothing back.

But in June and July, Americans in the 20's and 30's work five days a week and on most given Mondays or Wednesdays, we are trying to find something to watch. That's why anyone with half a brain is turning off the reality dreck defiling the networks, and switching to quality original cable shows.

You talk about the "apples and oranges" difference of ratings, but that's not necessarily true - the ratings for the summer reality shows were an all time low, and barely above the top flight cable series.

Now imagine "Lost" or "The Office" doing original episodes and being 'promoted' in June - you would see good ratings.

yes, maybe advertisers are the ones at fault. But I also stupidly believe that if NBC told the Ad folks they were going to run "original" episodes of "The Office", "Law & order" and "er" in June, you don't think McDonald's, Coke, Budweiser, Tropicana and everyone else wouldn't hop on board?

They wouldn't want to miss out.

Besides, with the Summer Olympics on NBC in the later part of the Summer, what better promotional vehicle to promo the Olympics in that original episodes of say "Heroes", rather than "Last Comic Standing"?

Anonymous said...

I just clicked on your links to the press releases and it seems like "Scrubs" has been added to the lineup. It says that it will return with original episodes on April 10th, so it might have the ending it deserves, after all.

special k said...

Yay to Chuck and Life being renewed! And as much as I loved Heroes in season 1, I hated season 2, so I guess I don't really care that it was renewed... kinda sad.

Which brings me to my other point, to answer Mo Ryan's question about FNL. Yes, I really, really, REALLY want the show to continue, even though most of season 2 hasn't been amazing or as good as season 1. Oh, but when it is good, it blows me away. And even in the not so great episodes, I never got to the point like I did with Heroes in Season 2 where I wouldn't even finish watching an episode if I fell asleep, or I would delete it altogether because I just didn't feel like watching. FNL was always watchable and worthwhile in my opinion.

Robin said...

I'll speak up for the people who don't want normal TV on in the summer. I'm 34, and I am home alot in the summer during primetime. But I'm generally listening or watching a baseball game (it's easy to be a sports fan in Chicago) or spending time outside in my backyard, or just reading a book. Summer is my time away from the weekly tv schedule. If anything, I get to catch up on cable shows on DVD. So I offer a resounding vote "no" to the idea of having summer network tv be anything but reality shows and re-runs.

But that's just me.

Ken said...

Ben Silverman is an idiot, but I have enjoyed Life more than Season 2 of FNL. Season 1 was just fantastic, so this follows the pattern of that other Jason Katims show, Roswell. Anyway, I still hope that FNL gets renewed, as long as the writers have some good ideas.