All hope is not lost for the once-mighty NBC comedy lineup. Though it has occasionally looked that way since 2012, when NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt infamously had this to say:
“Given what’s happened at the network in the last four or five years, with the general decline across the whole week and the loss of circulation, we just can’t get the biggest audience for [niche comedies]. But they do tend to be a little bit more narrow and sophisticated than you might want for a broad audience. I hope these new shows we’ve got for the fall and the spring are also clever and also smart, but can also broaden the size of the audience.”
Translated, he was basically saying there was nothing wrong per se with NBC’s critically-loved comedies—Community, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, The Office, etc.—except that they were a little too clever to get the insane ratings that, say, Big Bang Theory gets per week. The network wanted broad appeal comedies, comedies that anyone could find humor in. Shows like A to Z, Bad Judge, Marry Me, or One Big Happy. All of which, of course, ranged from bad to terrible and were promptly cancelled.
So it’s back to the drawing board for NBC, it seems. Today at the TCA Press Tour good old Bobby Greenblatt himself, along with NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salk, announced that the network is developing two new comedies—a pilot order for 30 Rock team Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, and a 13-episode commitment for Parks and Recreation creator Mike Schur.
NBC execs explained that they were all in on Mr. Schur’s half-hour comedy from the initial pitch. Details are scarce, but Ms. Salke said the show will be “about a woman wrestling with what it means to be good.”
“Mr. Schur came in recently and pitched the entire first season, and we loved it so much we ordered it to production,” Ms Salk said. “I can tell you that the man who brought Amy Poehler to primetime is bringing us another funny, strong and particularly complicated female character—yes, the lead is a woman—in a comedy like nothing seen before.”
The Fey/Carlock- produced pilot will be penned by Tracey Wigfield, a Mindy Project writer that also shares an Emmy for her work on the 30 Rock series finale. The show will center on a “mother-daughter relationship that is challenged when an overly involved New Jersey mom gets an internship at her daughter’s workplace, a cable news network.”
“Tina and Robert are two of the pre-eminent voices in comedy, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that they’re bringing their next project to NBC,” said Ms. Salke. “We also adore Tracey, who has written some brilliant episodes of both 30 Rock and The Mindy Project. With this super-talented trio at the helm, we’re eagerly looking forward to their next great show.”
Related question: Do you think NBC regrets dropping the six-Emmy-nominated Carlock and Fey project Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?