NBC released a midseason schedule that received much outrage from Critics and TV fans alike yesterday. We all know they’re not having a great fall and any fan of TV or the biz general, including their rivals, probably don’t enjoy seeing a once strong network struggle so much. They certainly needed modifications and while there was much outrage for benching Community (especially in favor of shows that aren’t doing much better and that are certainly less loved like Whitney) one can’t help but understand that they certainly needed a better opener for their Thursday night lineup than a show getting a 1.5. I know that I have had some questions since upfront day when they scheduled Up All Night on Wed and Whitney on Thu after The Office. Tonally it just felt like a bad mishmash. Once Up All Night started to do well on Wednesday, against very strong competition, it appeared NBC would leave it there as it could possibly jump-start a night they have had trouble with. (Up All Night was self staring better than Community and had as much, if not more, competition). In recent weeks it has come down, so of course it made sense to finally move it after The Office where it fits much better than Whitney and has the perfect slot to grow and be nurtured. One could make the argument that if it was doing no lower than a 1.8 by itself on Wed, then on Thu it should certainly do far better than Whitney’s 2.1 after The Office and thereby be a better lead in to The Firm.
I will say that some of NBCs scheduling since the fall has surprised me. Once all their new 10p drama offerings flopped at 10, I was surprised they didn’t at least try Grimm in a better slot (especially since they were spending money to promote it) and just leave 2 hour Dateline’s on Friday where it was one time period they were winning all week. After Grimm premiered very well, even opposite Game 7 of The World Series, I was really surprised NBC didn’t schedule a new ep for Thu at 10. What would they have to lose even for a one week experiment? Prime Suspect was doing terribly and the argument could be made that Grimm would match up much better with the Male 18-34 skewing comedies that would precede it. Either way they had this huge momentum after the premiere, why not take advantage of it? Instead they left Prime Suspect and its 1.1 on Thu and left Grimm on Friday where it has trended down each week. I appreciate that NBC wants to give Prime Suspect its best shot to succeed and I think they are making a great statement to the creative community, but to not even try Grimm on Thu at 10 (or another weekday slot) for one week, while they had positive momentum seemed perplexing to me. Even down at 1.6 this past Fri it was a mere tenth away from the highest rated dramas on Friday (on CBS) and it did that all while it had a lead in with a .9. So NBC is leaving it on Friday through midseason. I guess I can understand that to an extent: Monday is Smash, Wed is SVU and they want to try a new show The Firm on Thu. I do not understand why they didn’t at least try Grimm for one week there now, because how The Firm will perform is still unknown while on Friday against similar sci fi competition Grimm is a mere few tenths away from NBCs highest rated scripted dramas on much higher viewed nights. So it feels like a missed opportunity for them
Yet, to me, that’s not the most surprising thing about NBC midseason. The most surprising thing to me is the fact that NBC is still planning on capping the episode count of Parenthood’s 3rd season at 18 eps. Just to put it in perspective, it had a 2.0 in the demo last week. It was also higher rated last week than SVU (1.9), Community (1.5), Parks and Recreation (1.8). It was a mere few tenths away from CBSs Unforgettable which had a mid 3.0 lead in compared to NBC which had a mid 2.0 lead in, plus its on NBC. Even more importantly Parenthood is critically acclaimed, deservedly. It’s a show that usually moves me to tears at least once a week. It does it without being treacle or manipulative and sports a fantastic cast. Jason Katims has crafted another sublime show about real life, but unlike his magnificent Friday Night Lights, this show has decent numbers. I’d imagine it also does well with high income households. But more importantly it’s one of NBC highest rated demo shows. Lots of people were shocked that NBC was yanking off Community temporarily but you can’t really fault a network for attempting to do better than a 1.5 and 3.5 millions viewers. But a show like Parenthood that regularly gets no lower than a 2.0 and is never less than #2 in demo and not too far off #1 AND is loved by critics, why would you not increase that order to at the very least whats considered a full season of 22 eps? Initially NBC planned to use that slot for Awake and I thought NBC would schedule a The Voice results show Tue at 9 to lead into one their special new dramas. Yet according to yesterday’s schedule NBC is scheduling a Fashion reality show there. It’s possible they sill might schedule a Voice results show at 9 to lead into Fashion Star, but either way, Parenthood wont be getting that slot after Feb 28th. Whatever their thought process is, why wouldn’t NBC still want at least 22 (or dare I say 24 eps) of their most critically acclaimed dramas and easily one, if not their highest rated, dramas in a season where nothing has worked for them? They could always use those extra eps somewhere else. What if The Firm doesn’t work? Parenthood would fit nicely with their comedies (especially out of Up All Night) and would be a return to that prestige that the Thu 10p drama slot has always held for them. I ask this question as someone who really doesn’t understand the reason. I’m not being flippant or glib. As I said, despite wide love for Community one can understand it going on hiatus, especially since NBC didn’t shorten their order and their full season of 22 eps will ar this year. I don’t understand why NBC would not want Parenthood on their schedule past Feb 28th, especially in a season that hasn’t been one of their best. If anyone has any guesses, I’d honestly love to hear them.