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Saturday Rant: Is NBC Trying to Fail?

Personal rants that have no real purpose except to let me stand on my soapbox will be reserved for Saturdays, so you can plan to specifically visit, or not visit, the site as you please.

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We’re not big TV watchers, espcially now that we cut the cord and dropped cable. Vanessa loves Bones. I enjoyed the Stargate franchise and “dorky” stuff in that realm. Except for sports, there isn’t anything on TV that I enjoyed enough to make it part of my regular schedule.

Until Prime Suspect.

Prime Suspect is/was a new crime drama in NBC set in New York City. Unlike the NYC cops of Law & Order, these homicide detectives are more human. They have massive character flaws. They get worked up with inner-office politics. They get outright enraged with each other. The main character fights to be respected as a female homicide cop from outside trying to break into the boys’ club of that division’s squad.

I thought it to be well-done and critics agreed. After it debuted, I told a number of people about the show and, if they watched an episode, they agreed that it was fun to watch. We scheduled our workout routine around Thursday nights being an off night (Bones at 8 p.m. and Prime Suspect at 9 p.m. Central typically).

On Thursday night last, I went online to find out if Bones and Prime Suspect were new that week or not. I knew Bones was going to have a weird schedule for part of the spring due to Emily Deschanel’s real-life pregnancy (who plays Bones), but hadn’t seen promos for a new episode of Prime Suspect.

Because NBC stopped production.

The show wasn’t officially cancelled, but without new episodes and needing a pick-up for a second season, I’m not holding my breath. (Would CBS pick it up like they did JAG many years ago?)

This is raised to level of rant by what I read next: Whitney was spared.

If you haven’t seen it, let me explain it in a completely neutral, non-biased way: Whitney is a show written around one female stand-up, Whitney Cummings, surrounded by one-dimension characters that are poorly-written and are only funny because a sound engineer pressed play on the laugh track. Like I said, completely neutral synopsis.

When the Fall lineup was being promoted, Vanessa thought Whitney looked funny (me: eh) and we both thought Up All Night had promise, after all they’re new parents, we’re not-that-new parents. Prime Suspect (all three promo’d together often) looked bad. The badge and gun against the shield of the taxi, while funny, didn’t capture anything of the show’s dramatic element, which made it look like a bad cop drama on a network who cancelled their long-time running cop/court drama, couldn’t find a replacement (Law & Order: LA, anyone see that? Me neither.) and started just throwing badges and guns in front of the camera hoping one would stick.

When premier week rolled around, we watched all three. Vanessa and I were horrified by Whitney. Bad one-line stand-up jokes all piled up into a 22-minute show read by random actors placed in a room and told “go” would be my one-line summary. No chemistry. Not funny, short of the two or three lines promo’d to death by the “marketing” department.

Up All Night. It was decent. The Oprah character was poorly done and enough to get me to not get invested in the show. One of those “Oh, Up All Night is on. Where’s the remote? Over there? Ah, well, this is fine then.” shows.

Prime Suspect. Whoa. Vanessa and I were blown away. It grabbed us. It held us. It made us laugh, get excited, try to figure out who did it, try to figure out the character flaws. Great. Then we kept watching it. The character development over the episodes were well-done. Written well, acted well. The characters, like many of us in real life in challenging office-political situations, would take one or two steps forward and one or two steps back in their relationship.

NBC, the network of “You mean we can’t air Seinfeld and Friends forever?” and the network of “We have the funniest late-night line-up ever! Let’s screw it all up!”, had again dropped the ball. If you don’t believe me, the 1/3rd of the featured items on their online store (visit NBC.com and click “Shop” and a dropdown appears, as of Friday morning) are from one cancelled show (Friday Night Lights) and one show put in “hiatus” (Community, not airing Spring 2012).

My guess is NBC is trying to push people to buy cable to support their numerous cable ventures (A&E, Bravo, CNBC, E!, ExerciseTV, G4, Golf, MSNBC, Oxygen, Sprout, Style, SyFy (which canceled SGU once it actually got a stride going), Weather Channel, USA, VERSUS, among others) since NBC is owned by Comcast and GE.

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By Brandon Kraft

My life is an open-source book.

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