NBC may be down, but they’re not out. The network’s 2012 Upfront presentation ran like a scene out of classic comeback kid tale, complete with a plea from Smash starlets Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee singing “Let Me Be Your Star.” We see what you’re doing, NBC. You want your shot and like so many sports movie heroes before you, you’re taking it for yourself. Only in this case, the hero’s secret weapon isn’t a heart of gold or miraculous athletic ability, it’s laughs.
New York’s Radio City Music Hall was dressed like the NBC Hall of Fame, echoing their years of past success with series like Seinfeld and Friends. (There was an era in which NBC’s self-proclaimed Must-See TV was just that: A must-see.) In addition naming comedy one of the network’s three pillars of focus in the coming year, NBC Chairman of Entertainment Bob Greenblatt opened the presentation with a promise: “We have some real strength of comedy that will span the whole network,” he said.
And it sure seems that way. With a slate full of returning comedies like 30 Rock (which will enjoy its final season) and Parks and Recreation, and a shiny new serving of family skewed series like Ryan Murphy’s The New Normal and Guys with Kids from producer Jimmy Fallon (who so boyishly demanded his own applause during the presentation), plus the surprising cherry on top of a sitcom starring an adorable monkey in a lab coat (Justin Kirk-starrer Animal Pratice) strives to bring NBC’s main set of comedy fans from the outskirts consisting greatly of comedy nerds and city dwellers to the larger nationwide audience that networks like CBS and ABC have locked down.
NBC plans to work on its audience one night at a time, building off of their success with Sunday Night Football and The Voice on Monday and Tuesday nights, benching Smash to allow their new series, including a sci-fi apocalyptic thriller trying to fill the Lost-shaped hole in our hearts (J.J. Abrams and Jon Favreau’s The Revolution), to take hold with hangers-on after the singing series.
Here’s a sampling of the peacock’s best Upfront Presentation offerings in the realm of comedy. Do they have you cheering so hard you can practically hear “Ru-dy! Ru-dy! Ru-dy!” on the wind? Or are you already looking for your Big Bang Theory DVDs?