Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The 2011 Fall Primetime Schedule: Comedy is back!

Thank God the world didn’t end last weekend because sitcoms are really making a comeback this fall. Just a few years ago people were saying the genre was dead. (Hey, maybe they were saved in the Rapture. I’ll have to check the bible to see if Tuesday night comedy blocks are mentioned anywhere.) But the point is, the pendulum is definitely swinging back. Comedy writers can put down that spec NCIS:LOS ANGELES. 

The Fall primetime schedule has been announced and you don’t need the Hubble telescope to find comedies this year. I say this advisedly though – if a show like THE VOICE or DANCING WITH THE STARS hits then expect the lucky network to clear the decks and air it twelve hours a week. But for the moment at least, the strategy is to return to the genre that in success is the biggest cash cow in the entertainment industry. Warner Brothers will make more money from FRIENDS than from the Batman franchise.

For the first time in six years, all four major networks will have two comedy blocks on the fall schedule. And they’re from 8-10. In the past couple of years NBC and ABC sprinkled in a few sitcoms in the 10:00 hour. This was not so much an experiment as content dump. They KNOW comedy doesn’t work at 10:00. It never has. If I was the showrunner of OUTSOURCED and learned I was being moved to 10:30 I’d say, “Have we learned nothing from Terry Schiavo?”

Unofficially, I count eleven new sitcoms on the fall sched (but my counting is as good as my spelling). More have been ordered for midseason. And 30 ROCK returns in January, thus allowing Tina Fey to have two babies, write and star in three movies, and solve the Middle East conflict.

And in addition to new comedies, a couple of the networks have renewed bubble sitcoms. But with a caveat -- shitty time periods. RULES OF ENGAGEMENT has been given a full season but banished to Saturday night at 8:00 to be followed by reruns. That’s like being sent out to Adak, Alaska to replace buoys. CHUCK is back but only for 13 and will play out its run on Friday night. Friday is now God’s Waiting Room.

And these are just the Big Four networks. TV LAND is enjoying great success with its boomer-targeted comedies like HOT IN CLEVELAND, Nickelodeon is premiering some youth-oriented sitcoms, over at the Disney Channel it’s the Golden Age of Tween Yuckfests, and other cable networks like USA, FX, HBO, TBS, and MTV have projects in development.

But before we comedy people all high-five and turn over cars and set things on fire (that’s how we Americans celebrate victory), for this trend to continue there have to be at least a few of these new sitcoms that are actually GOOD. ABC expanded because MODERN FAMILY, COUGAR TOWN, and THE MIDDLE clicked, CBS gets great numbers from BIG BANG THEORY and time-slot-hit numbers from MIKE & MOLLY. NBC? I don’t know. Even their terrific shows like PARKS & RECREATION don’t get the numbers they should. (Like I said, watch out for THE VOICE.)

I haven’t seen any of the pilots nor the trailers (I love that there are trailers for TV shows now. “In a world with no laughter…”) so I can’t comment on any of the new shows individually. Just know I’m rooting for you all. There’s a car across the street that I would just love to flip over and set on fire.

No comments:

Post a Comment