One of the things that has always been quite perplexing about Lost has been its inability to provide a solid lead-in for any shows. Both this season (‘The Nine’) and last (‘Invasion’), ABC attempted to build new series in the 10/9c timeslot to no avail; Lost just wasn’t providing the right lead-in audience for either show to thrive enough to be worthy of renewal. In fact, ABC got so tired of it that they moved Lost into the timeslot to give newscasts a strong lead-in and to boost 18-49 numbers in the time period. But, it looks like the mystery has been solved: Sci-Fi fans don’t like to stick around for the rest of the network’s offerings. Because, as the season nears its end, the post-‘Heroes’ slot on NBC is about to get its third occupant.
“The Real Wedding Crashers,” a hidden-camera show based on the hit 2005 movie…will debut at 10 p.m. ET Monday, April 23, following the return of “Heroes.
“…A group of five improv performers will take to the churches and reception halls or our fair nation, posing as guests or cater-waiters or other attendees to disrupt the proceedings, presumably to make sure that the happy couple never forgets their wedding day…One catch: The bride and groom know what’s coming. They’re in on the joke and will help the “crashers” reveal the hoax at the end of each episode.”
Now, I won’t speak to the reality show in question, as that’s an entirely different issue altogether. However, from a programming perspective, this has quite a few ramifications for NBC:
A ‘Black Day’ for the ‘Donnelly’ Brothers
It’s a tough break for Paul Haggis and company, as the show is more or less dead at this stage. The show opened to meager returns to begin with, and has continued to fall over the past few weeks. While the show appears to have stayed on fairly good ground creatively, it reminds me of the debut of Daybreak in the fall: the show wasn’t the problem, it just lacked the marketability of other hit shots. Of course, Daybreak was taking over for a hit show; the Black Donnellys had the biggest watercooler show as its lead-in, and should have been able to take better advantage of it.
The Fate of the Black Donnellys? Chances are the remaining episodes will be available online at NBC.com over the summer.
Lights Remain Out at ‘Studio 60’
It’s somewhat less than surprising that NBC isn’t quick to move Studio 60 back into a timeslot where it struggled to find an audience, but it’s still yet another sign of indifference to Aaron Sorkin’s drama. It’s very clear at this point that the show won’t be renewed for a second season, but considering the star power involved chances are that NBC is looking for a place to burn off the rest of the series. Its ratings were actually above what the Black Donnellys was averaging, so we should be returning to Studio 60 at some point before summer hits.
The Fate of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip? Chances are that it will take over for Raines on Friday nights at 9/8c once it finishes its 8-episode run (Or sooner if its ratings fall substantially)
Bad Luck for ‘Jordan’, says ‘Medium’
I’m stretching for titles here, but the fact is that two of NBC’s returning dramas are currently fighting it out in tough time periods on Wednesday, and each could have used a reprieve. ‘Crossing Jordan’ has moved from its safety on Sundays into a battle against ‘American Idol’ and ‘Criminal Minds’ on Wednesdays at 9, while ‘Medium’ finds itself against ‘CSI:NY’ and ‘Lost’ at 10. Mondays at 10 is Medium’s old timeslot, and any chance of the drama regaining its past ratings success has more or less been lost with this decision. Similarly, after struggling against ABC and CBS on Sundays and failing to improve on Wednesdays, Jordan is officially out of options.
The Fate of ‘Crossing Jordan’ and ‘Medium’? They’ll be riding out their remaining episodes in their current timeslots, and chances are that NBC will be looking for some new dramas next season. That said, Medium has the best shot at renewal.
The Bigger Question:
What is the Fate of Non-procedural Drama at NBC?
‘Raines’ already had its episode order cut before it even began airing. The above four shows have languished in the ratings and appear to be out of favour with NBC executives. Heroes is the network’s only breakout drama hit, and while the network has their comedy in order their drama side is a huge handicap right now.
The drama slate is so weak that ‘Friday Night Lights’, similarly struggling in the ratings, is likely to turn its critical success into a second season. Procedural dramas like Law & Order and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, down dramatically year-over-year, are likely to stick around as well. Other than ‘Heroes’, ‘ER’, and ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,’ NBC doesn’t have a thing going for them on the drama side of things.
All they can do is hope for a solid pilot season, and that their new reality strategy will connect with audiences. Will the ‘Real Wedding Crashers’ be able to do what two shows have not and actually take advantage of its Heroes lead-in? We’ll find out when Heroes returns on April 23rd.