Thursday, November 09, 2006

Studio 60 gets the back nine

Here's the release. Given the amount of entertainment I get in picking it apart, I don't mind NBC making the stupid, futile gesture, but only if they do the same for Friday Night Lights.


Anonymous said...

Phew, I was holding my breath on this one, and coupled with the renewal of Always Sunny, I couldn't think of a better week.

Hopefully this will keep the nay-sayers at bay for at least a couple more weeks.

I still hope desperately that FNL gets a proper back nine order, but it's looking bleak. Hopefully NBC can find a good spot to tuck it into, as it's murder to keep the show where it is, and even in S60 timeslot it didn't do all that well.

Sigh, or I can resign myself to knowing that while it is running on fumes (viewer wise, not creatively), it's still a great hour of television.

Matt said...

I'd always thought that FNL would have been a better fit after football season. People who want to watch football are gonna watch football. It also generated a scheduling nightmare, because it took scheduling it in the fall on Sunday, Monday, Friday, and Saturday off the table (and arguably Thursday with increasing numbers of big college games then, not that NBC would play it there).

The problem with the Spring are that Tuesday and Wednesday are Idol dominant, and Thursday's non-negotiable for NBC. What about Fridays at 8 or 10 come spring?

Personally, I think the show is well made, but I don't particularly enjoy it, perhaps because I went to HS in Texas, so it's a bit too familiar.

Anonymous said...

I remember hearing the suggestion that FNL would be a good lead in to the football games, but really, just about anywhere they put it will have the same results. It looks like the show has a strong core of about 6.5 million viewers, and that won't change any time soon.

That and I think that people treating Friday like a dumping ground is a mistake. The show might have done decently on a Friday, and as seen by Men in Trees (not a blockbuster in the ratings), shows on Fridays seem to have good cult followings. That and considering the name of the show, it might have been suited to be in a Friday spot. Though judging by the apparent budget of FNL, a cult following is not what NBC wants/needs, so in that regard, proper prime-time is needed.

Something else that is forgotten about in terms of FNL compared to Studio 60 is the issue of foreign markets. While Studio 60 is based somewhat heavily in L.A., it is still a show that has a broad enough point that it can be watched in different markets without a problem. I mean, the UK and Ireland have already picked up the show (I think), and if it continues to do okay, and get a second season, then you have even have markets like Australia picking up the show. At the very least, there may be some okay DVD sales in places like Australia and the like where the show isn't aired.

The problem with FNL is that football is such an American thing that I doubt other countries are even giving the show a consideration (Canada is basically the US, so that's a moot point). This cuts down potential profits. Also, unlike Studio 60, FNL doesn't really have big names like Matthew Perry. Kyle Chandler is known, but even in the US he isn't a huge draw, audience wise.

I mean, this might be a point that doesn't really factor in that much in terms of decision making, but I just figure that when downloads can apparently save a show (The Office), maybe this is a point worth considering.

Anonymous said...

What the hell, as flawed as it is, Studio 60 is interesting in its own way.

Anonymous said...

@ooda. well, i know nothing about football (i'm from Germany, btw), but I think FNL is by far the best new show. Anyway, these days it is really hard to predict which shows will succeed abroad, In germany, for instance, uber hits like grey's were total flops. other shows were run into the ground by clueless programmers (Veronica Mars at two o'clock in the afternoon, on a Saturday...)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Ooda, Friday is possibly the worst place NBC could have put FNL, since it would essentially write off any fans of actual high school football. In the early '90s, NBC had another show with the same idea, Against the Grain (with John Terry as the coach and some guy named Ben Affleck as the QB), they scheduled it on Fridays at 8 and it got destroyed. Articles were written at the time where football fans were interviewed, and they all said they would have given it a shot if they didn't have actual games to go see.

Matt said...

Well, Fridays in the fall, of course that's going to be a problem. But what if you hold it until after football season? The thing with FNL that probably gives it budget problems is that there's so much location shooting and football shooting. While you can do that cheaper in Texas than in L.A., it's still not going to be cheap.

In contrast, Studio 60's filming has been mostly on a single unit set and doesn't require location travel (a plus of setting a show in L.A.).

Anonymous said...

Oh, I get that putting it on Friday would be a bad thing, but I'm also saying that wherever the show goes, it will probably remain constant in terms of viewers. But yeah, you are right that it would get slaughtered, as it could also be that I'm comparing apples and oranges (not to generalize, but you're looking at a, I assume, vastly different audience when it comes to the successful Friday night shows - Ghost Whisperer, Men in Trees, Close to Home) in terms of programming, and with FNL skewing younger, it wouldn't really work.

But yeah, Friday is only second to Saturday as far as television wasteland is concerned. Alan, what you said about "Against the Grain" is interesting, not just in the Friday night spot, but also that after all these years it still seems like America has not really warmed to shows about sport (sadly I can't think of many examples, other than Sports Night and that show about baseball a few years back staring Dean Cain. Well, I guess the shows on The CW can also be included, though they're in a completely different ball park as far as drama is concerned). At the very least, and I know I've said it before, but I can't fault FNL on not giving it the best it can creatively. Then again, the movie was critically acclaimed, but not so much audience- wise. Will the networks even bother trying the sports drama again?

And Manuel, I know what you're saying, but I think compared to other shows in that have a universal appeal (crime fighting, sordid housewives, medicine...), the subject of gridiron may turn people away, and while it may gain viewers once people start to tune into the drama aspect, I don't know if the networks will be willing to take the chance. Even here in Australia (my locale) where we have been extremely Americanized in terms of our culture, and specifically television, the viewing habits generally hold true. House is a hit, same as Grey's, CSI, Idol (we used to have American Idol showing for a couple seasons) with shows like Jericho and Criminal Minds still doing decently, though I doubt we'd as readily welcome FNL as we would Studio 60.

Anonymous said...

I recently asked a good friend of mine who is a football fan AND a tv fan if he was watching FNL. He said he wasn't because "the commercials make it look like it's just about teenagers f***ing." I wonder if there are a lot of people out there who got turned off by the previews b/c they thought it looked like it was just a cheesy teen drama.

As for Studio 60, it reminds me of what happened with Joey. NBC spent a huge amount of money promoting it, it was supposed to be their big savior, it had a good pilot and good early buzz, and then it turned out to be a flop. NBC basically stuck with it, though, because they would have lost a lot of face if they'd cancelled it right away. I think they're doing the same with Studio 60. With a $3 million/ep. price tag, though, I don't expect to see this one back for a second season.

Anonymous said...

While I no longer plan to watch every week, I may check out S60 again down the road, to see if Sorkin ever pulls it together.

On one hand, it's admirable that NBC would commit to a full season... which type of patience, years ago, led to the eventual success of "Cheers" and "Hill Street Blues." On the other hand, like anonymous says, could be just a "Joey"-style face-saving gesture.

Meanwhile, if you're interested in the real behind-the-scenes stuff of the making of cutting-edge comedy, check out Hill & Weingrad's "Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live" (I prefer it to Tom Shales's "Live from New York"). Also, Tony Hendra's "Going Too Far," a backstage history of the National Lampoon (including its early-'70s radio show, which at one point featured this cast: John Belushi, Christopher Guest, Joe Flaherty, Harold Ramis, Brian Doyle-Murray and Gilda Radner. Holy crap!)

Also, "Something Wonderful Right Away," a backstage history of the Second City. Also, the panel discussions and track commentaries on all the great "SCTV" DVDs. Also, Jay Mohr's slender memoir, "Gasping for Airtime: Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live."

By the way, remember that S60 storyline about the writer who ripped off a stand-up comic? That was based on something Jay Mohr did. He admits in his book that he ripped off a club comic, submitted the guy's routine as an "SNL" sketch... it even got on the air. Believe it or not, Jay Mohr wasn't fired for this.

Matt said...

Well, "Studio 60" is no longer even remotely the most inexplicable full-season pickup, as ABC has picked up a full season of "What About Brian?

Maybe it got a lot cheaper after they wrote Sarah Lancaster off?

Anonymous said...

Hmm, well, "Brian" is getting good ratings, and while I don't watch the show, I did read something about Sarah Lancaster being back on the show.

For me, the shock of the season is that 30 Rock has not been cancelled yet. Hopefully the Thursday slot will give some salvation.

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