Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Office gets the post-Super Bowl slot, and other NBC mid-season shenanigans

So, now that the other networks have shown their mid-season cards, NBC finally decided to unveil its plans past the initial January news that came out last week. You can read the press release here, and after the jump, bullet point-y analysis...

"The Office" gets to air after the Super Bowl, which is what NBC basically said last April at their "in-front" scheduling announcement. The only difference is that it won't be paired with an "Office" spin-off, for two reasons: 1)Amy Poehler's pregnancy pushed back that show's start date, and 2)It's not a spin-off anymore. So we get an hour-long "Office" -- which, as you know, I've had issues with in the past.

"ER" wraps up its run on March 12, and is replaced the following week by "Kings," the alternate-history drama starring Ian McShane, who doesn't appreciate people misunderstanding the show's premise.

"Chuck" and "Heroes" are both back from their brief January siestas on February 2, "Chuck" with a post-Super Bowl 3-D episode, "Heroes" with the start of the new "volume" that everyone promises will be so much better than the current nonsense. "Life" is back from its own hibernation on February 4.

"Medium" reclaims its old Monday at 10 timeslot, though "Heroes" isn't the lead-in it used to be.

• As if an hour a week of Donald Trump wasn't insufferable enough, "Celebrity Apprentice" is now expanding to two hours every single week. When you need to rely on a regularly-scheduled two-hour version of "The Apprentice," you've seriously fallen down on the job of coming up with viable programming for your network.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's always been my favorite bad tv joke:

-Why do they call it "Medium"?
-Because it's not well done!

Mrglass said...

"Heroes" with the start of the new "volume" that everyone promises will be so much better than the current nonsense.

Are they going to repeat this before every new "volume"? Although I enjoy this current trainwreck of a season more than last year snoozer.

dez said...

"Chuck" and "Heroes" are both back from their brief January siestas on January 2

I think you mean February 2 :-)

Any word on which D-listers are doing Trump's latest travesty of a once-good concept?

Alan Sepinwall said...

I think you mean February 2 :-)

Fixed.

Anonymous said...

So will you be giving the new volume a shot, Alan, or are you really and truly done with the show?

dave s said...

Hopefully the hour-long Office will be full of what's usually left on the cutting room floor, instead of a second-half plot, which always seems to be over the top. I like the 40-minute episodes a lot though.

And I agree with Mrglass. Seems we've heard "we promise this time will be better" before.

Myles said...

So, explain to me again why NBC is putting their highly successful, recession-proof and well-established comedy in the Super Bowl spot when they have two underperforming sophomore series (Chuck & Life) waiting in the wings?

Oh, right, the same reason FOX gave the slot to House instead of Bones last year - sheer idiocy.

filmcricket said...

They couldn't just give "Chuck" the post-Superbowl slot? That's a show that needs and deserves the boost, and I seem to recall "Alias" cooking up a very special episode for that coveted time-slot; surely the "Chuck" producers could do well with the same opportunity.

Not that I don't love "The Office," but I think most people are aware of it, yeah?

Gah, NBC, why must you suck so?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Even as someone who tore into CBS for giving the post-game slot to "Criminal Minds" instead of "HIMYM" a couple of years ago, I realize that this can really go either way. "Alias" never got an appreciable ratings boost after its Super Bowl episode (albeit an episode that, thanks to ABC's idiotic scheduling, didn't start airing until well after 11 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday), and it's been a very, very long time since a new show became a hit after debuting after the big game. (Even "Family Guy" got canceled a few years after its Super Bowl episode, before being resurrected a few years after that.)

As with running show promos during Sunday football games, it's a hit-or-miss proposition, because the audience is a borrowed one. Even if they see your ad, or stay up to watch one episode of your show, it doesn't mean they're going to be inclined to seek out your show on a weekly basis.

Could "Chuck" benefit more from the showcase than "The Office"? On paper, sure? In reality, I'm not sure there'd be much difference.

TL said...

I would pay $100 to have been there to hear Ian McShane say "How about we do fucking none?"

Myles said...

Alan, while I concede your point that it isn't in reality as much of a guaranteed booster as we often like to think it would be (your past examples cited are quite correct), I think that there's a difference between that CBS did two years ago and what FOX and NBC did this year and last.

What CBS did was choose one show over another - yes, Criminal Minds was already a pretty well established hit, but it was running into the return of American Idol and CBS wanted to make sure they had another CSI on their hands. No, it doesn't make good critical business sense, as HIMYM was the better show in bigger trouble, but their penchant for stability led them to the unpopular but perhaps wise decision - Criminal Minds did manage to last through a change in lead characters later that season.

In the instance of FOX and NBC, though, I don't think anyone could argue that House or The Office is in a threatened position - if The Office hasn't yet dropped off against TV's two biggest shows it won't be doing it anytime soon, and House (although down this year) was outdrawing Idol in young viewers at one point.

NBC, in particular, is a network so desperate for a hit that they renewed two low-performing shows just because they could consistently break a 2.0 demo rating - if The Office isn't going anywhere, and if 30 Rock is showing sustained gains, then their shows that are struggling to find an audience despite what NBC views as consistent quality are the ones that have growth potential.

Instead, they've demonstrated their continued willingness to whore out The Office, something that led to the disastrous series of one-hour episodes. The fact that they didn't even have any interest in doubling up with 30 Rock (which seemed logical when the Poehler comedy got postponed) just baffles me further...and while I might have been frustrated with CBS back in the day, I really don't understand the logic behind this one in any capacity.

I'd love to hear Silverman explain it.

Kenrick said...

Is there any hope that they would start Heroes off with a clean slate? And like kill everyone off and restart the series with new characters? Yeah I didn't think so.

Completely unrelated but I thought you guys might get a kick out of this:
http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/c0cf508ff8/prop-8-the-musical-starring-jack-black-john-c-reilly-and-many-more-from-fod-team-jack-black-craig-robinson-john-c-reilly-and-rashida-jones

Matt said...

The most confusing thing to me is that while they've shown a lot of faith in "Chuck" (the early full season pickup in particular), they're not moving it out of a suicide slot against House, HIMYM, Gossip Girl, and Dancing With The Stars. Personally, I would have liked to see them flip it and Heroes, though Heroes at 8 has content issues--I'd bet Heroes wouldn't lose that much there.

Pamela Jaye said...

Kenrick,

thanks for the reminder. I tried watching it on my nokia n800 and of course it wouldn't work.

Ray said...

Alan,

Do you have any comment on Fox's huge blunder last year, putting House after the Super Bowl instead of the Terminator pilot? House was already a multiyear established hit that wasn't in any danger at all. Terminator could've used the push. I think that goes down as one of the worst blunders I've ever seen a network make.

--Ray

Anonymous said...

I had hoped that FNL would premiere after the Superbowl. Seems like it would be a good fit...

Mark said...

Ray,

Terminator premiered after a Giants-Cowboys playoff football game that got huge ratings. As a result, the show's debut episode got 18.4 million viewers. Premiering after The Super Bowl would have given it a bigger boost, but certainly it got plenty of early sampling thanks to the playoff game.

I think it's ironic The Office got the post Super-Bowl slot.
A lot of people considered this to be a show that is somewhat inaccessible to a mainstream audience (it's shot documentary-style with a shaky camera and no laugh track). Now it's airing after the most mainstream program on television.

mj said...

@anonymous at 9:27pm. That's an inspired idea. The problem is that NBC has to sell the advertising slots during the show. Sure, they get ridiculous sums of money for the Superbowl advertising slots but they need those sums of money to pay for the rights to the game, of course. I don't know this for sure but I'm guessing The Office would be expected to yield the highest advertising dollars for NBC in the post-Superbowl hour (like House likely did at Fox last year). So, if we assume NBC's objective is to maximize short-term profits and not longer-term potential, then NBC's decision (and Fox's last year) is not that stupid.

olucy said...

But don't both Chuck and Life have continuing storylines? Not that that makes them completely inaccessible, but maybe the network just wants to play it reeeeaally safe with something that doesn't. Every network is going to have a different reasoning/strategy...and let's face it--none of us understand NBC's "strategy" anyway.

And while I, too, have not care for the 60-minutes eps of The Office, I thought that the one-hour Weight Loss episode this season was a nice exception. Maybe they'll get lucky again.

Gish said...

ABC just cut the Cupid order to the Pilot + 8 episodes...

Alan Sepinwall said...

Re: Terminator, what MJ said. That's another great example of how the post-Super Bowl slot really isn't that valuable, as the ratings did a fast nosedive after that first episode.

Now, you can blame some of that on the fact that early Terminator episodes weren't very good, but not to that extent, that quickly.

D. said...

I seem to recall "Alias" cooking up a very special episode for that coveted time-slot

Although didnt they end up not showing the very special episode they had originally made for that time slot? I seem to recall that the Ethan Hawke episode was originally going to be shown then, what with the 'big name' guest star and the fact that it was pretty standalone, but they decided to switch it out for a big mythology-laden reboot with the end of SD-6 instead, making it harder for new viewers to follow the episode, although having Sydney in much skimpier clothes -- probably a good tradeoff, come to think of it.

zodin2008 said...

I am one of those TV-holics who despises ALL reality Television.

However, I am going to watch "The Apprentice" for the first time, EVER, this year because being a Georgia Bulldogs football fan trumps everything for me (except my wife & child) and Herschel Walker will be one of his celeb contestants.

As soon as Herschel is "done" on "The Apprentice", I'll be done.

dez said...

Every network is going to have a different reasoning/strategy...and let's face it--none of us understand NBC's "strategy" anyway.

If you think of NBC's style as "strategery," it makes a lot more sense :-D

nancy said...

Alan - Any word from NBC as to when they will air Episode 12 of CHUCK?? It seems to have mysteriously vanished from the schedule. (the 3D one the day after the superbowl is #13)

thanks

KB said...

NBC is not putting The Office after the Super Bowl in order to promote The Office. NBC needs to promote the brand of NBC. They're simply putting their highest quality show in the most coveted timeslot in order to showcase the very best the network has to offer to the largest possible audience. It seems like a good strategy to me for such a struggling network.

CM said...

Celebrity... Apprentice? Isn't the whole reason the Apprentice was any good that it took people with actual knowledge, skills, and ambition and pitted them against each other doing actual work? Not to mention that The Donald is hardly on top of the world these days...

Alan, can you explain the deal with The Office -- was there a spin-off planned, and what was it? Did plans change?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, can you explain the deal with The Office -- was there a spin-off planned, and what was it? Did plans change?

NBC wanted Greg Daniels to do a spin-off. Greg Daniels tried to write a spin-off, but eventually realized that it wouldn't work and instead said he was going to do a show with a similar tone but set in its own world. At the TV critics' press tour in July, crazy Ben Silverman tried to suggest that what we would now be getting was the non-spin-off and a spin-off to be named later, but no one has discussed the latter option at any point since, so it was clearly just Silverman wishcasting.

The new show apparently features Rashida Jones in a role other than Karen Fillipelli, so it's definitely not a spin-off.

olucy said...

ABC just cut the Cupid order to the Pilot + 8 episodes...

Kinda makes sense. It's not premiering until early-to-mid March, right? So 9 eps will probably take them to about the same place in May where most seasons end, anyway. And then they'll probably judge its future from there.

I'm willing to check it out, out of respect for the original, but I loved the original so much and am still puzzled over the decision to re-make this. Plus, I've seen the trailer and I'm not feelin' it like some of your are.

amysusanne said...

Me either, olucy. I had actually watched it without sound (I was on a computer with dead speakers at the time), just to see what it looked like and wasn't horrified. At home I watched with sound and was far less optimistic about it after that viewing. I'm just not feeling him as Trevor. And I didn't think Trevor and NotClaire had any chemistry.

As for this, I get Alan's point and actually agree, but it would have felt really great to see "Chuck" get that great promotional push of the post-Super Bown airing.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Any word from NBC as to when they will air Episode 12 of CHUCK?? It seems to have mysteriously vanished from the schedule. (the 3D one the day after the superbowl is #13)

The 3D episode is the 12th episode, narratively. They just shot it 13th because they needed extra time for all the 3D stuff.

Eric said...

And I thought Jeff Zucker did a bad job as the NBC prime-time boss....Two hours of Celebrity Apprentice a week is a cry for help (and I say this as someone who actually watched the last version of Celebrity Apprentice). Not sure I have the time or the stomach to spend two hours a week with it this year. And if I do, I probably need a hobby or something.

Nicole said...

I thought at some point NBC was going to air "Merlin", a BBC show with Anthony Stewart Head, as a midseason replacement.

I can only hope they do, because I've been watching and it is probably better than any rookie show on network tv. Sure it's a bit Smallville meets Camelot, but a hoot nonetheless.

nancy said...

Thank you Alan for clearing up the Chuck episode 12 vs 13 question!!