Describing NBC’s recent Thursday night comedies as “simultaneously the smartest and dumbest shows on television,” a column on TheWrap.com laments what TV writer Tim Molloy calls the end of an era — NBC’s “Golden Age of Weird.”
“For years, ‘30 Rock,’ ‘The Office,’ ‘Community’ and ‘Parks and Recreation’ have brought to primetime Thursday the kind of smart-stupid absurdist comedy that David Letterman and Conan O’Brien developed in late night,” Molloy writes. “You never knew if the next joke would be about geopolitics or goofy animals. Sometimes the political joke was deliberately dumb and the animal joke head-scratchingly smart.”
Noting that “30 Rock” and “The Office” are winding down, while the ratings-challenged “Community” has been shuffled off to Friday nights, Molloy says NBC appears to be backing away from what has generally been a good run with critics and is instead focusing on courting ratings.
“It is keeping the animals. But not the jokes about North Korea,” he writes.
NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt essentially said the same thing over the summer, the piece notes, when he told reporters: "I think we’re going to transition with our comedy programs and try to broaden the audience. Those Thursday comedies, which the critics love and we love, tend to be a bit more narrow than we want going forward."
“The network’s new hopes include ‘Animal Practice,’ about a wacky veterinary hospital, and ‘Guys With Kids,’ about just that. None of the new sitcoms air on Thursday,” the piece notes. “The season only officially started Monday, so it’s too soon to identify trends. But so far the new sitcoms are earning better ratings than the Thursday shows — in part because viewers want to see if the new shows are worth watching.”
Molloy’s piece goes on to examine NBC’s comedy transition in depth, and in historical context. It’s a good read — click here to check it out.