Some fun facts before we jump into our NBC comedy pilots preview this week:
1. The longest running comedy currently on NBC’s slate is Undateable. All 17 episodes of it.
Not all is doom and gloom at NBC though. They won the demo during the 2013-2014 television season. They continue to draw large audiences for programming like The Voice, The Blacklist and Chicago Fire/PD/Whatever. And they have Sunday nights locked down through the next decade with NFL coverage. But where’s the funny?
In some respects, NBC was a victim of its own success. They hooked up with smart showrunners to create iconic programs like 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and Community. They cultivated loyal audiences that started demanding things like six seasons and a movie. But ultimately they were too slow to pull the plug when the Nielsen families said meh. And now the NBC comedy cupboard is empty.
There’s two ways of looking at things in Burbank if you’re a producer: 1. This is a greenfield opportunity where you can help redefine a network. Plus, there should be plenty of open programming slots. Or 2. Launching a show at NBC is going to be a slog. There’s no lead-ins to help launch new programming. And how much marketing spend will NBC really put towards comedies?
So as we go through these pilots, it will be interesting to see which showrunners and talent land at the network. What brand will they create? Will there be other reboots besides just Coach? Will NBC go more multi-cam (like Undateable) or single-cam (every other show)? And finally, can they find a broad, breakout Modern Family-style hit to put them back on the map?
Let’s find out…
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CHECK OUT THE ENTIRE RUNWAY PILOT COVERAGE HERE
Andrew Woodberry | Contributor