Despite all of last week’s talk of new development for the 2005-06 prime-time season, NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly took time out of his presentation to advertisers to announce that four shows currently on the network schedule will return next season, while one old-timer will be back through 2008.
The freshman comedy “Joey,” along with drama veterans “The West Wing,” “Crossing Jordan” and “Las Vegas,” have all been given a green light for 2005-06. “ER” had already been renewed for 2005-06, but Mr. Reilly announced last week that the medical drama has received an order for an additional two years. “ER” premiered in 1994.
The Warner Bros. Television-produced “Joey,” the high-profile spinoff of NBC’s long-running hit “Friends,” averaged a 4.6 rating in the adults 18 to 49 demographic for the season through the week ended March 13, according to Nielsen Media Research. “Joey’s” Thursday 8 p.m. (ET) numbers pale in comparison with the mega-hit “Friends,” but the show remains the highest-rated comedy rookie of the season.
“They’d be crazy not to pick it up,” said Mark Hoebich, CEO and founder of TVTracker.com. “But it says something about the state of the sitcom.”
Mr. Hoebich said that with so few new comedy offerings on the schedule-NBC canceled its only other new fall sitcom, “Father of the Pride”-the bar for comedic success has been lowered.
“In years past, [`Joey’] might not have made the cut,” he said.
Now in its 11th season, Warner Bros. Television’s “ER” is averaging a season-to-date rating of 7.8 in the demo, down 13 percent from last year. Despite increased competition from CBS on Thursdays, “ER” is still NBC’s highest-rated scripted show in adults 18 to 49.
The sixth-season “West Wing” has scored a 3.8 rating in adults 18 to 49 for the season, down 11 percent from last year. “West Wing,” which has suffered on Wednesdays due to competition from Fox’s “American Idol,” is considered on the rebound creatively after what many considered last year’s lackluster story lines. This season a presidential campaign featuring characters played by Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits has driven a season-long arc.
“Las Vegas” has a 2004-05 average of 4.5 in the demo, down 6 percent from its debut season, while the fourth-season average for Sunday’s “Crossing Jordan” has a 4.2 in adults 18 to 49, down 12 percent from last season.
“They are smart pickups,” Mr. Hoebich said. “They are safe. There aren’t a lot of risks there.”
Mr. Hoebich added that having so many drama pickups will allow NBC to focus on its new half-hours.
“Certainly it goes with their development, since so many of the networks are focused on getting that elusive half-hour,” he said.