To riff on a popular Seth Meyers/SNL segment: Really, NBC?
What is going on over there these days? Your new mid-season schedule has elicited more jokes, ire, shock and ridicule from fans and critics in the last few hours than I can recall in some time. I don't get your decision making at all.
Do you really expect Whitney to get better ratings on Wednesday nights when it's obvious the only reason it's been doing decently - by your standards, only - is because it follows The Office? I'm certainly no fan of Whitney, but if something is working, why change it? So rather than hang on to some semblance of desperately-needed momentum, you instead opt to christen the Wednesday 8 p.m. hour "Must-Flee TV" by pairing Whitney with her drunker, sluttier cousin, Chelsea?
To make matters worse, you are removing Community from your schedule altogether to make room for 30 Rock's return?!? Evidently, you are completely unaware of the power of the Communies. They're as crazy as Dan Harmon. They'll cut you.
Do you actually think 30 Rock will fare any better at 8 p.m. than Community has? Really?!? It's essentially the same type of uber-smart/ultra-wacko comedy that 98% of America just doesn't get, yet somehow you expect miraculous results? Why replace one of your most critically acclaimed shows when you have a better chance of getting Chelsea Handler to switch to gin than of getting a hit in that time slot?! Really!
Why are you suddenly popping Geritol and keeping Harry's Law on the schedule when Prime Suspect is at least getting mostly positive reviews and has a slightly better shot of attracting the younger demographic to which you network execs would sell your mothers, not to mention your own souls?
And now suddenly you're riffing off your little brother Bravo by bringing us the Elle Macpherson-hosted reality competition Fashion Star in the hopes that somehow you'll attract a larger average of the American audience? I'm sorry... are you new to our country?
Your only bright light on the entire grid is the vocal competition The Voice, and I think that's mostly because people expect that if they watch long enough Adam Levine will eventually get so excited he'll drop trou. Or Christina Aguilera will eat him. Whichever comes first.
The only thing I learn from your mid-season schedule is that you have no clear direction. You might as well invite in second graders to play "Pin The Tail On The Peacock" with the schedule. They could certainly do no worse. In fact, I think someone needs to let a couple of them loose in the pen with you, and tell them to play live action Angry Birds - because clearly you are not getting the picture.
In the last six weeks, you have made a staggering twenty-five (25!?) script purchases and/or pilot orders and, to be frank, they generally sound like losers. Snoop Dogg in a family comedy? Really!? What is the matter with you NBC? Have you no pride in your content? I may have just answered my own question.
If I may suggest: look to your freewheeling kid sister, USA Network. She knows how to make shows that people want to watch. And she doesn't just offer herself up to every snazzy car that cruises by, either. She takes her time and nurtures shows that fit her vision and in which she has confidence. Imitate her example! Maybe you can be home to the next Suits!
Check out some of the other cable competitors who have made names for themselves developing quality content, such as FX and AMC. A little grit never hurt anybody. Dig deep and bust out some humanity-centric stories around flawed, but identifiable, characters. And, for goodness sake, stop playing it safe and don't be afraid to push the envelope. We'll respect you for it, and you won't be forced to take that morning after walk of shame anymore.
I know you can do this, NBC. Your plumage has been prestigious in the past. It can be again. I want this for you. But mostly for me because I'm sick of the sound of your three-chime tone. It reminds me of a death knell, and I don't like it.
Jeffrey Kirkpatrick is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.