Funny story: this week, I had written a full article on the fate of the shows remaining on NBC, FOX and The CW. Then I lost the article. And it was complete. And I lost it. I guess that's the way it goes sometimes. But in the meantime, NBC decided to renew a large portion of its dramas: Revolution and Chicago Fire are back for second seasons, Grimm is back for a third season, Parenthood received a full 22-episode fifth season, while Law & Order: SVU is back for whatever number season. Does it matter at this point?
So instead of looking extensively at NBC along with FOX and The CW, I thought I would just break it down show-by-show, giving my predictions as to what's in, what's out and what will be a game-day decision come May upfronts.
Hannibal - Who knew placing a high-profile adaptation of a well-known character of literature and film on a night of low-rated comedies would produce a low-rated adaptation of a well-known character of literature and film? Oh yeah, everybody. Ratings continue to trend downward with no real indication of slowing at this point. After renewing five of their dramas already, Hannibal is hardly necessary for NBC next season. I actually predicted it to return in my original article, but after Thursday's ratings, it's finished.
Parks & Recreation - NBC needs an anchor comedy with the loss of The Office, and while it's hardly a surprise now, it would have been a huge surprise even two seasons ago to suggest Parks & Recreation would be the anchor to their sitcom slate. It's still not a runaway hit by any means, but it's the closest NBC has to a stable, consistent comedy. It's coming back.
Deception & Smash - Next.
1600 Penn & Guys With Kids - Double next. Though it's worth mentioning that even with enough low-rated comedies on the air, NBC doesn't need two more with no chance of growth. 1600 Penn was supposed to be some bizarre presidential take on Modern Family, while Guys With Kids proved the rule that most laugh-track sitcoms suck today.
Community - Without its trusted creator, Dan Harmon, and with the removal of Chevy Chase, can Community come back for a fifth season? Short answer: yes. Long answer: with the loss of The Office and 30 Rock, NBC finds itself in a weird place where it needs Parks & Rec and Community to move forward with their comedy slate, though neither show will ever be able to launch any other sitcoms. NBC could decide to drop Community, but with a strong fan support and solid critical acclaim, Community should be back for a fifth go.
Go On - One of two question marks for NBC. Since the network is starting to find stability via The Voice and a few decent dramatic hits, will they go back to just one night of sitcoms? If so, it's coming down to Go On and Whitney. But Whitney doesn't belong on the Thursday schedule, which opens the door for Matthew Perry's well-liked Go On. My best guess: if NBC continues with its expanded lineup of comedy, Go On is back. If not, Matthew Perry is 0 for 3 post-Friends.
Whitney - See Go On, though Go On has a shot at Thursdays even if NBC downsizes on comedy. I think at just two seasons, NBC will nix Whitney in favor of anything else.
The New Normal - It always dropped Go On's lead-in, never benefitting from its controversial storyline and has virtually disappeared from the schedule. It's the low-man on the totem pole as far as the comedy slate is concerned.
What Does NBC Need in 2013?
Shockingly, the peacock network has found stability and consistency in mediocrity. Aside from The Voice, they haven't found a smash hit, especially with Smash. They certainly haven't started a ratings revolution, especially with Revolution. And you could say being a last-place network is their new normal, especialy with Guys With Kids.
Anyway, NBC needs a new king in their comedy department. The vultures have been circling on The Office since Steve Carell left, and they've never really recovered. They almost had a hit with Go On, but once The Voice departed in the fall, Go On floundered big time. They need to find something, anything, that will allow the sitcom slate to grow. One or two new hit dramas won't hurt either, but their concern now is a depleted comedy lineup.
The Cleveland Show - Sorry, Seth MacFarlane. You were able to resurrect Family Guy multiple times, you launched a successful counterpart in American Dad, and you've dominated the box office with Ted, capping off a great year with an announcement that you would host The Oscars. But The Cleveland Show? Still an epic failure. I'm not sure anyone genuinely likes the show. With Bob's Burgers pulling at least the same numbers, FOX doesn't need Cleveland Brown on its schedule anymore. Send Mike Henry and his creation back to Family Guy where he belongs.
Touch - Talk about not standing a chance. After doing relatively well last season, FOX dumped the sophomore series on Friday nights, putting the proverbial final nail in its coffin. Unlike Fringe, which coasted for its final three seasons on a wing and a prayer, Touch is as good as dead, even with a high-profile star in Kiefer Sutherland. If FOX can do as well with Gordon Ramsay and reruns of Bones, why bother renewing Touch?
Glee - After four seasons, the musical dramedy is barely making it by with abysmal numbers compared to its hayday, regularly bleeding away American Idol's healthy lead-in. I won't be surprised to see FOX give it one last season to wrap things up, but I won't be surprised if FOX decides four seasons is enough for the one-time hit dr...
Pardon me? Renewed already, you say? Well like I said, i wasn't going to be shocked to see one final sea... Renewed for two mor seasons, you say? Oh... right, this is April Fool's! I know it's a few weeks late, but better late than never, that's the FOX motto. You say it's not an extremely late April Fool's joke and that FOX is entirely serious about renewing a show that's been dropping viewers on a weekly basis since Season 2? Wow. Did not see that one coming.
What FOX Needs in 2013:
Not to sound like a broken record, but FOX also needs a strong sitcom this fall. New Girl is barely cutting it and FOX could use something fresh. It could also use a new drama or two, but with Bones, The Following, Glee, the Gordon Ramsay series and its reality competitions, FOX would be best to focus on comedy for 2013.
Nikita - After renewing Beauty & The Beast and Hart of Dixie for next season, you'd think Nikita was a goner, but after three seasons and so close to a syndication deal, wouldn't The CW be better off going for one more season, to finish things off? The short answer is yes. The long answer is yesss. Nikita will be a last minute announcement and not a moment sooner. To be fair, The CW could be doing a lot worse on Fridays. But I suppose that's irrelevant. Either way, Nikita will be back.
The Carrie Diaries - The final nail in Carrie Bradshaw's coffin came this week when The CW renewed Beauty and Hart of Dixie. That leaves little room for the failed Sex and the City prequel. It was a good idea that seemed destined to succeed, but things never took off. The R-rated audience of Sex and the City wasn't going to accept a teen drama substitute while the teen viewers know next to nothing about Sex and the City. The beautiful AnnaSophia Robb will have to look elsewhere for work.
What the CW Needs in 2013:
What doesn't the CW need? It's time they abandoned their teen drama fetish in favor of their teen fantasy/horror drama fetish. They've found hits in The Vampire Diaries and Arrow, continue to thrive with Supernatural, and the newly announced The Originals (Vampire spinoff) should work well on the network. The days of the teen drama seem to be over with the endings for 90210 and Gossip Girl, so maybe The CW may actually start gaining viewers?
Next week, I'm starting the first of a two-part article on the end of The Office, examining the series, my favorite episodes, the final season and my take on the failed backdoor pilot to Dwight Schrute's The Farm.
Until next time, stay tuned.