When NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke notes that the network went from “must see” to “number 5 or 6 behind Telemundo” at the New Voices in Primetime Comedy panel in Denver on Friday, you know things are dire for the once great network. Out of the bulk of sitcoms that made their debut this past season, only a few seem to be doing well — The Carmichael Show, despite its delay in gaining a renewal, and Superstore.
The tone at this panel seems to be one of determination and course correction, with a strategy of taking a step back from the controls for a bit. Instead of attempting to cram shows like The Paul Reiser Show or The Michael J. Fox Show down viewers throats, NBC is going to attempt to capture lightning in a bottle by letting shows grow and stand on their own feet before cancellation. They’re also going for a certain feel in their programming according to The Hollywood Reporter:
“The comedy brand got a little murky for us,” she said. Now, she noted, NBC’s comedy brand is intended to be “smart, specific, a little sophisticated and not too sweet.” (By way of negative example, Salke noted the “saccharine” quality of Growing Up Fisher, the failed 2014 blind-dad sitcom.)
As part of the hoped-for comedy turnaround, Salke pledged, “we won’t cancel shows quickly.”
“How do you redefine a classic brand?” Pakosta asked. The new recipe is “smart, sophisticated but not alienating,” she said, with the goal to be a little bit more “big tent,” like the Andrea Martin overbearing-mom premise of Great News, but to remain a family show at the core. “We continue to build a comedy brand and redefine what is comedy on NBC.”
Words that seem to be tossed around here are “be authentic” and according to Superstore star Lauren Ash, standards and practices has loosened up compared to past years:
The censors have backed off, partly in response to changes driven by cable, and “the Standards thing has really calmed down,” Salke said. Superstore’s Ash agreed: “It’s cool to see how far they’ve let us go. We get the scripts and think, ‘This won’t make it.’ But it does! It feels a little more relaxed.”
This follows statements from other sitcom stars, like John Stamos with Grandfathered and Rob Lowe with The Grinder, calling out the death of network television. NBC hopes to turn the trend around with some new series and this new attitude. There’s no evidence that it will work, but allowing a show time to grow is better than just killing it early.
(via The Hollywood Reporter)