Wednesday, July 31, 2013

2013-2014 Sitcoms: NBC

NBC did not have a great season comedy wise last year.  Their two biggest critical and commerical successes, 30 Rock and The Office both ended their runs (albeit on a high note).  And they had a total of seven cancelations (Animal Practice, Guys with Kids, The New NormalWhitneyUp All Night1600 Penn, and Go On).  So this season has only two returning sitcoms.

About a Boy
Jason Katims who developed TV adaptations of movies Friday Night Lights and Parenthood to critical success is now developing a series based on About a Boy.  David Walton plays the Hugh Grant character, Walton is recognizable from the short-lived Bent and an excellent stint on New Girl.  Minnie Driver is also part of the cast.  No trailer yet, but this seems to be more of a dramedy in a half hour format.

Growing Up Fisher
Formerly called The Family Guide, narrated by Jason Bateman and starring J.K. Simmons and Jenna Elfman (who replaced Parker Posey, who I personally think would have been a bigger draw as Elfman's last few sitcoms were very short-lived).  Don't have too much faith in this as it is developed by the producer behind Hank, Accidentally on Purpose, 'Til Death, Traffic Light, Bent, Up All Night and Guys with Kids.  As it is going up against Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC can see this being cancelled.

Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation, which has never done well with The Emmys or ratings, has always been extremely well liked and is now NBC's most veteran sitcom.  It leads the lineup that was formerly known as Must See TV and is a good lead in.  However it is going up against CBS's Big Bang Theory which was number 3 in the ratings last year.  Hopefully this series remains resilient and its Hulu and Netflix popularity can keep it going.  But with Chris Pratt being unavailable for part of the season and the recent announcement of Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe exiting, the ensemble dynamic will have to change.  I still have faith in my favorite sitcom, but this could very well be its final season.  Which six great seasons (alright five, as the first was mediocre) is pretty good.

Welcome to the Family
The first of three new series is a culture clash sitcom, but unlike the short-lived Rob the jokes do not seem to be just based around Hispanic stereotypes.  Mike O'Malley and Ricardo Chavira (a stand-out on Desperate Housewives) seem tailor made for their respective roles and I can see their chemistry making the series work.  I am excited for this one, it could get the Modern Family audience and could be decent competition for The Millers on CBS.

This is NBC's sole multi-cam sitcom.  NBC is selling this around Sean Hayes return to the network, however if Matthew Perry's comeback only lasted a season it is safe to say that the return of a nineties star is not a huge draw.  This seems like a poor fit for Thursday nights and the trailer does not inspire much confidence.  A lot of the humor seems to go to the lowest denominator and the main joke is that Sean is gay.  Although it is going up against CBS's one Thursday night single cam comedy and this feels a lot like a Chuck Lorre series.  But then again Robin Williams is much more popular than Sean Hayes.  I can see this being replaced with Community or one of the Tuesday night series pretty early this season.

Thursday night ends with the much anticipated The Michael J. Fox Show.  There was a huge bidding war for this series and people are understandably looking forward to seeing Michael J. Fox act again.  There is a lot of goodwill towards the actor and everyone recognizes him from at least Back to the Future (let alone his other sitcom roles in Family Ties and Spin City).  This could make Thursdays Must See TV again, I can really see this doing for NBC what Modern Family did for ABC.  There is potential for failure, as evidenced by Go On, audiences may not want to see comedy based around dramatic material.  It is also going up against the long-running successful Two and a Half Men, however that series has to run out of steam one of these days.  I do foresee this being a critical hit and building good word of mouth.  Also this could be revolutionary in its portrayal of a main character with a disability.

Sometime this season will be the fifth season of the internet favorite Community.  As much as fans constantly victimize the show and fear its cancellation it is astonishing that it has made it to a fifth season as it has never had good ratings.  Show creator Dan Harmon returns as has a difficult job turning the series around after a less liked fourth season, the loss of Chevy Chase and the limited role of Donald Glover.  But I have faith in Harmon and am curious how creatively he deals with these obstacles.  My money is on this replacing Sean Saves the World around November.  But no matter how horribly it will inevitably do in ratings it will do well online.  Which with the success of Netflix original series is an audience that NBC needs to figure out how to replicate.

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