At this point we realize that asking a television network to produce shows with any semblance of originality is a fool’s errand. Honestly, it doesn’t even bother us that much anymore. Some of our favorite shows are totally derivative of prior ideas. However! When major networks wantonly continue their crappy unoriginality, our blood begins to boil. Case in point: just one day after Fox inexplicably renewed Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, NBC announced that they’ve ordered a full season of Knight Rider.
Are you kidding? The only thing worse than the reviews for Knight Rider are its Nielsen ratings; the most recent episode drew in only 6.9 million viewers. While that number is almost double the audience of Gossip Girl, we’re pretty sure The CW has less clearance in some areas than public access channels. Knight Rider airs on NBC for crying out loud!
And that’s the bigger problem. What’s happening to the network right now is striking. NBC is basically rudderless; it has no identity. Viewers know that they can get soapy hour-longs from ABC, procedurals and laugh-track heavy sitcoms from CBS, and Guantanamo approved guy stuff from Fox (think 24, Prison Break, Fringe). What does NBC have? Heroes stinks, The Office is as stale as a sexless marriage and ER has come to the end of the line. Their best shows, Chuck and 30 Rock, are ratings pariahs. And once the election is over, the only legitimate ratings success on their schedule, Saturday Night Live, will fade back into obscurity. NBC hasn’t had an original hit in quite some time, and while we wouldn’t be the first, or even the sixtieth, to call for NBC Entertainment co-chairman Ben Silverman’s firing, it might be necessary. It must be pointed out that the man runs NBC like it’s the Bush Administration. Not only does he refuse to admit his mistakes, he actually celebrates them.
Perhaps the answer for what ails NBC lies with Bravo. The Peacock’s sister channel does extremely well with its reality heavy primetime schedule. Maybe NBC should promote some of those programs up to the big leagues and call it a day, eschewing narrative shows altogether. For now though, the network continues to flounder. NBC used to be the home of Must See TV; now it’s the home of Knight Rider. What happened?