Friday, April 13, 2007

Dear NBC,...

Okay, let me get this straight; 'Thank God You're Here' is fit for audience consumption, but 'Andy Barker, P.I.', after only four airings, is not? A hastily thrown-together spin-off of an already pretty hit-and-miss Australian show trumps a well-acted, brilliantly written, anti-clich├ęd sitcom?

Was it that the ratings were not up to par? You're very impatient when it comes to ratings for new shows, aren't you? Especially when you doom them to fail. Here's my theory -- see if you follow along with this. Conan O'Brien has creator, producer, and writer credits on the thing. He's got clout with the Peacock now that he's signed up to take Leno's spot in 2009, so you can't really turn down his pitch. You politely order six episodes, but you need a way to make sure the ratings stink. Why? Who knows. Maybe your execs just don't like Andy Richter. Maybe they just like running shows that insult their audience's intelligence. It's worked for FOX for the past few years, why not you, too? So, how can they screw them? I know! Put every episode produced available free on the NBC website to be watched whenever people want; that will drain the ratings!

Okay, to be fair, you did give the show a great time slot on Thursday nights, among hits like 'My Name is Earl,' 'The Office,' '30 Rock,' and 'Scrubs.' Thursday nights are slowly becoming "Must-See TV" again (although in a very different way). When 'Friends' ended, the network went down the tubes, yes. Personally, I think the end of Friends was the end of the era of the 3 camera sitcom. 'Scrubs' hearkened a new age higher-end sitcoms, with smarter humor, edgier characters, and creative cinematography. The entire line-up meets the criteria of this new breed of sitcom, although I have to question the wisdom of putting all your eggs into the Thursday basket. Despite its seemingly generous placement in your most popular line-up, don't think I didn't notice that the new episodes of 'Andy Barker' aired along side reruns of the other shows, which would drastically reduce the ratings of any fledgling show trying to ride the coattails of its already established brethren.

Or was 'Andy Barker' your back-up just in case the negotiations with Zach Braff didn't work out, and you were forced to end 'Scrubs' this season? Losing a show that popular (as I mentioned, 'Friends') was the reason for your network's drop from #1 in primetime to the bottom of the barrel. In only a couple of short years. Oh, we viewers are a fickle, fickle folk. Imagine, not watching your network just because you're not airing anything good.

So, yeah, you've still got four shows to fill up the 8-10 on Thursdays (although I grow increasingly weary of 'My Name is Earl', a show that essentially has one joke that it keeps beating to death), but how long before you decide '30 Rock' is too smart for the flyover states? It's bound to happen, I know. It's too good, too nerdy, too urbane to last very long. Watch out, Tina Fey!

Yours Truly,

P.S. Speaking of Thursday nights, how much longer are you going to try to drag out 'ER'? It seems you hold down both ends of the spectrum; impatience with new shows, stubbornness in holding on to old programs that should have been mercifully put to sleep years ago. Ensemble casts are versatile, but when the ensemble is made up of an entirely different ensemble than it was when it first started, you're really pushing it.

P.P.S. Keep that itchy trigger finger away from 'Raines.' I know, it's tempting to kill something so shiny and promising, like hunting the most beautiful creature in the forest and hanging it on your wall, but Jeff Goldblum is really going somewhere with this character, and once he finds his groove, you won't be sorry. Besides, your only alternative is another "Law & Order" spin-off, and how much more of those can we take, really, before we start projectile vomiting every time we here the "duh DUN" opener?

P.P.S. Where did 'Studio 60' go? I know you haven't canceled it. Come on, I'm experiencing Sorkin withdrawal.

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