The Worst Thursday NBC Has Ever Had (and What I’ve Taken Away From It)

by George Watches Things

Today, I criticize both 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation. No, these aren’t activities I usually enjoy, but something must be said. NBC’s Thursday night lineup used to be must see TV (hence the name). But no longer. 30 Rock and The Office are shattered, decaying bits of their former shells; Parks and Recreation is suffering from something nearly inexplicable; and Up All Night is, well, Up All Night. Last night, I only saw the first hour of their famous two hour comedy block, but knowing what has happened to The Office and how much I don’t care about Up All Night, that was enough. Below, I have listed a few solutions to our problem, and I hope NBC, the network on a roll thanks to their recent Community announcement, takes note and fixes a few things.

1. Cancel everything

Note: “everything” refers to the six Thursday comedies this season (30 Rock, Community, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Up All Night, and Whitney).

This is, by far, the most drastic option, but it might just be the most successful one. And why not do it? It’s not as if there’s a ratings hero of the bunch that you could salvage. And the quality of each show (with the exception of Community, which hasn’t aired a new episode since the beginning of December) is doing down, some of them precipitously. But NBC is still getting Emmy, SAG, and WGA nominations (no Globes this year), and they’ll probably want to bask in that bright light, so…

2. Cancel everything not nominated for a major award (with the exception of the criminally under-awarded Community)

This leaves 30 Rock, Community, and Parks. And I have a problem with (only one part of) that.

30 Rock was brilliant in 2011. Some of their best episodes ever came from the second half of their fifth season. But 2012 has not been good to the aging veteran. So far, I have despised three of the nine episodes they’ve produced (including the hour-long fiasco of a Valentine’s Day episode). Their high so far, “Idiots Are People Three,” might not be able to match some of the earlier seasons’ lows.

The show can still be productive (see all of the increasingly weird Season 5/this season’s Dance Like Nobody’s Watching, Today You Are a Man, and The Tuxedo Begins), but it must be better. I honestly don’t know what needs to be fixed, since they do so much crazy stuff, but it really hurts to see what was my favorite show at one point in shambles like this. Ugh, #firstworldproblems. #AmIRiteJustin?

And that is the perfect segue for…

3. Make Parks the “anchor”

The Office will be done soon, and that will leave a void at the precious 9:00 anchor spot. So who should take it over?

30 Rock? No, because they don’t have that many years left in the tank, either.

Community? Bahahahahahaha. Not with those ratings.

Up All Night? The experiment in which NBC tries to force Office fans to like UAN has officially failed. I give it one more season tops.

Whitney? See: Community, but replace the word “ratings” with something dirty (just like Whitney would).

Parks and Rec is the obvious choice. It’s shot in the same mockumentary style, but it’s less in your face. It doesn’t do too poorly in the ratings (for NBC). The lead is lovable and easy to become obsessed with emotionally attached to. And Office devotees with enjoy spending time with Karen Filipelli’s nicer and hoter alter ego, Ann Perkins.

4. Take comedy to an/other night/s

This one is the riskiest of all of them. CBS has Mondays, Fox has Tuesdays, ABC has Wednesdays, and NBC has Thursdays. That’s how it is meant to be.

But imagine a world in which NBC just up and moved their comedies to another night, or took certain comedies and moved them in groups of two to three separate nights. NBC actually has nothing to lose by doing this. I would actually move all the non-perfect shows (so all the shows that aren’t Parks or Community) out of prestigious Thursday.

Create a new, three hour block on Tuesdays, the most vulnerable days. The Glee-hating, Raising Hope/New Girl-loving Fox fans would watch from 8-9; the Cougar Townians who dislike horror could stop by at 9; and there are no comedies being shown at 10, so that’s an instant ratings boost. The Biggest Loser is easily movable, and starting that program at 9 (after Idol ends) would make sense.

5. Keep everything the way it is and hope Damon Wayans, Jr. and whoever is judging American Idol now-a-days die


6. Reward quality and face the fact that you’ll never not be NBC

This is a summation of all of my arguments.

Parks and Recreation wasn’t bad this week. Of course, it was in no way a season high for them, but it really does bear repeating; their worst is better than most of television’s best (that goes for you as well, Community).

But 30 Rock was. And The Office has had only a handful of good episodes this season. (And Up All Night is Up All Night.) You do know how many people I tell about your quality shows on a daily basis? 15… that’s how many. And it’s not only the comedies/the shows I’ve actually seen. I tell people about Smash, The Voice, Parenthood, Awake, Grimm, even Sunday Night Football; all in the hopes that they’ll watch your network.

When it comes down to it, I love you, NBC. I really do. I’ve spent more quality time with you than nearly anyone (do the math: 21 minutes of JUST Parks and Rec X each week since the “Indianapolis” episode, not including re-watches on Hulu or the summer reruns). I know who you are and what you do. And no matter what… no matter how many viewers the Super Bowl fetches The Voice, you’re still NBC. The ratings fade, and you return to week after week of finishing behind Univision.

I want you to know that I’m here for you. But you have to give up some* of your bad habits (benching good shows, airing AYTC, etc.) and devote yourself to having the best shows on TV. PBS is doing just that, and look at what they can achieve.

*You can keep Whitney. I’m fine with her.

One last thing: it’s going to be okay. Keep your chin up and don’t cancel any of my shows. Thank you.

So, what do you think the solution is? Do you like me writing about TV? And is it just me or does this post feel really sloppy?