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Can Kristen Bell Resurrect the Half-Hour Comedy on NBC?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 16, 2016 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 16, 2016 |

Last week, NBC cancelled Undateable, the only new sitcom to have made it three seasons under President Robert Greenblatt since he took over in 2011. In that time, 27 sitcoms have been ordered, and only 2 have survived, so far (The Carmichael Show and Superstore will enter their second seasons in the fall, spared from last week’s cancellation bloodbath). Greenblatt has destroyed the half-hour comedies NBC was once so well known for in an attempt to broaden the niche appeal of shows like 30 Rock and Community. In an attempt to find the next Big Bang Theory, he failed to recognize that sitcoms with smaller, more passionate fanbases are the new normal, and the only realistic way forward.

He may be backtracking on that to a degree. After letting sitcoms more befitting the old NBC — like The Mindy Project and Brooklyn Nine-Nine — go to Fox, he may be embracing a quirkier sitcom with more limited appeal.

In the announcement of NBC’s fall schedule, only two sitcoms are on the slate for the network, and both are on Thursday nights, as perhaps the network is hoping to get back some of its Thursday night mojo. Leading off the night is the second season of Superstore, which performed modestly in its first season. NBC, however, will promote it heavily during the Olympics this summer and apparently air a new episode of the sitcom during the games.

At 8:30 EST, after Superstore, NBC will debut The Good Place, with Must-See TV veteran Ted Danson, as well as super-adorable, universally beloved Kristen Bell (what happened to House of Lies?) Even better news is that the sitcom is coming from Mike Schur (Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), and in Bell, they may have found the perfect Leslie Knope … of the afterlife.

Yes, The Good Place is set in heaven, where Kristen Bell’s character finds herself after a case of mistaken identity. The Good Place looks cute, and at the very least, will give some of us one reason to sample NBC next season aside from the NFL. The trailer for the pilot looks funny and it’s a reasonably original concept for network television.

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.

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