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NBC's New Fall Line-Up: As NBC's Ratings Increase, Their Cultural Relevancy Diminishes

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | May 12, 2014 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | May 12, 2014 |

Over the weekend, NBC announced their new fall line-up, and there’s no reason to believe that the network — which is now number one in the 18-49 demo — won’t continue to rise in the ratings and potentially hang on to the number one slot again next year. But as cable programming and Netflix continue their ascent, Nielsen ratings matter less and less, which means that NBC is going to be winning a game that fewer and fewer networks are playing.

As you gander at the new NBC schedule (below), you’ll notice a few things that stand out. First off, there’s no more Community, which was cancelled on Friday. Parks and Recreation and Hannibal are also not on the schedule, though they were renewed (they’re expected to be midseason replacements). NBC has also given up on the two-hour comedy block on Thursday nights, airing The Biggest Loser from 8 to 9 and the final season of Parenthood (which will get a reduced 13-episode order) at 10 p.m., sandwich in between two new sitcoms which look likable but forgettable (trailers below).

In other words, other than Sunday night football and The Black List (which I watch reluctantly, and for James Spader only), there’s nothing on NBC’s fall schedule that I’ll likely end up watching faithfully. I’d like to believe that Casey Wilson’s new sitcom Marry Me (from her husband, David Caspe, who created Happy Endings) will be something that I’ll end up feeling passionate about, but consider this: Since Bob Greenblatt took over as President of NBC and changed their philosophy on comedies to “broader is better,” how many new sitcoms have made it to a second season?

One (I think): About a Boy, and that’s only because it didn’t air enough episodes this year to completely lose its audience (it had eroded significantly since the premiere). Marry Me will likely be as broad and uninteresting as Matthew Perry’s Go On, Animal Practice, Sean Saves the World, The Michael J. Fox Show, 1600 Penn and the rest of the forgotten NBC sitcoms over the last two years. I suspect Bad Judge and A to Z on Thursday nights will be just as ultimately uninspiring (although the trailers for all three look far better than Sean Hayes’ or Michael J. Fox’s shows).

Still, with Sunday Night football, The Blacklist (which will air for two months, go on hiatus, and relaunch on Thursday nights after The Super Bowl), and The Voice, NBC only needs one or two more minor hits to maintain its hold in the number one position, but how many of those shows will have any kind of cultural lasting power? Who is going to be binge-watching About a Boy on Netflix (and I say this as someone who kind of likes About a Boy)? Who is going to buy the DVD box set to The Voice? Constantine might be interesting, but it’s a Friday night graveyard show, so no one will know.

It’s a safe, conservative schedule that will likely allow NBC to maintain its lead in the Nielsens, which is kind of like being the most popular site on Geocities. In other words, who the f**k cares?

Here’s what NBC’s fall schedule will look like.

8-10 p.m. — The Voice
10-11 p.m. — The Blacklist / State of Affair (beginning Nov. 17)

8-9 p.m. — The Voice
9-9:30 p.m. — Marry Me
9:30-10 p.m. — About a Boy
10-11 p.m. — Chicago Fire

8-9 p.m. — The Mysteries of Laura
9-10 p.m. — Law & Order: SVU
10-11 p.m. — Chicago P.D.

8-9 p.m. — The Biggest Loser
9-9:30 p.m. — Bad Judge (The Blacklist beginning Feb. 5)
9:30-10 p.m. — A to Z
10-11 p.m. — Parenthood

8-9 p.m. — Dateline NBC
9-10 p.m. — Grimm
10-11 p.m. — Constantine

8-11 p.m. — Encore programming

7-8:20 p.m. — Football Night in America
8:20-11:30 p.m. — NBC Sunday Night Football

Here’s the trailer to Bad Judge with Kate Walsh, which looks likable but not particularly interesting (see also About a Boy).

I feel the same about A to Z with Christin Miloti (How I Met Your Mother) and Ben Feldman (Mad Men).

Marry Me looks sufficiently “wacky,” and if you’re spotting a trend here: Sickly sentimental.

Here’s the trailer for Constantine, which like The Blacklist, looks generically interesting.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.