Day Twelve – Can’t Go Home Again

12 01 2010

What television writers have routed for ever since the show’s inception has finally happened. The Jay Leno Show has been axed. The 10pm hour has proven that it belongs to scripted, adult dramas and has sent Jay Leno running back to the late hours of the night.

Though NBC has a couple of my favourite shows, they need a lot of work before they're back on top.

Everyone wants to focus on the impending scheduling conflicts this will create, and I’m not saying it’s not worth talking about, but what I find just as interesting is the void created in the 10pm hour.

NBC has lost a lot of viewers in the 10pm hour and getting them back will be no easy task. Some have been burned by the move, losing interesting, gritty shows like Southland to the Leno experiment. Others have taken an interest in the CBS prime-time schedule.

More than anything, NBC will have to convince viewers that they still care about scripted drama. This will be hard to do with 2-hour episodes of The Biggest Loser and The Apprentice taking up four of the network’s sparse prime-time hours, but a necessary evil with another unexpected five hours to fill. Will they make the same mistakes and give us another reality show to fill the time?

Summer programming in the winter wouldn’t be the direction I would take, but given that NBC was trying to cut costs before this entire debacle, they’ll be looking for even cheaper ways to bring back eyeballs.

NBC’s decision doesn’t only effect their network, but CityTV in Canada. The show was actually performing quite well in Canada, but now Rogers and CityTV will be forced to come up with a new plan for 10pm. The difference between them and NBC is that they had no say in the matter. NBC axed the show, CityTV has to pick up the pieces.

Right now, the worst thing about NBC is their reputation. The CW has their market cornered, with tween girls eating up Gossip Girl and 90210. As does CBS, with the CSIs and NCIS, and FOX, with House and juggernaut American Idol. The only image NBC has now is one of the loser, forced to sit alone at lunch time as the cool kids court all the high-priced advertising. The Jay Leno Show was one way to shake things up, but it became a step in the wrong direction. Rather than going for quality, they went for lower rent. In the end, it’ll cost them more than they ever could have saved.

What I’d like to see NBC do is find their voice. Do they want to continue with reality-programming like a slightly higher budget MTV? Do they want to focus on adult-drama like AMC or the cable networks? The only thing NBC has going for them now is that everyone’s eyes are on them, waiting to see their next move. They’ll be back for the Olympics, too.

With a nation watching, will they be able to bring everyone back home to the peacock?