What in the hell is wrong with you? Are you striving to drive your network into the ground?!
Yes, I’m a big fan of Conan O’Brien. No, this entry is not just about him.
You all remember when NBC decided that it’d be a great idea to cash in on our childhood memories with Knight Rider? If you do, you’d also remember that it sucked horribly. It stunk so badly they didn’t air more than four episodes despite the fact they paid for a whole season. Because Knight Rider had a car as it’s central figure, some genius at NBC figured that people must not like cars and shows about cars. With that logic in mind, NBC decided to drop Top Gear America without even showing the pilot. For those of you who aren’t in the know, Top Gear is a BBC program in the UK that is one of the most widely distributed shows in the world. It has been spun off into Top Gear: Germany, Top Gear: Russia, and Top Gear: Australia. We were inches from joining the rest of the civilized world in getting Top Gear: America! I guess people just don’t like car shows enough to watch them on TV (we do, however download Top Gear UK so much that it is the most BitTorrent’s show in the world).
Next on the chopping block? Crusoe! You remember that memorable show, right? No? Neither did I till I went through our own archives here!
So, NBC has a long time history of screwing things up. Instead of making a miniseries with a complete story arc to show (and see if people actually like it) they order entire seasons of untested shows, THEN put minimal effort into the production of said shows. Since the whole concept of television programming seemed to be failing them, I guess they decided to just make everything on their network be a late night talk show. I won’t go into the details since you’ve likely read/heard them from many other sources but the instant they announced that Jay Leno would be taking over prime time, admit it, you knew it was a bad idea. And it wasn’t even that he was starting a new show, either. The Tonight Show, was simply moving to prime time.
People watched the Tonight Show with Jay Leno for two reasons; 1) they really like Jay Leno, and 2) that’s when they get home/get kids in bed/get in bed themselves to watch TV. The people who love Leno moved to the prime time spot with him. The people in the second category stayed with the time slot. Instead of doubling their ratings, NBC effectively split them in half! Now, after admitting it was a terrible idea, they are moving Leno back to the 10PM spot, booting O’Brien, and keeping the rookie Fallon (we think). I’m honestly not going to get into who should do what, I’m just pointing out that it was a stupid idea when it was announced, and it’s even worse now that they’re trying to fix it.
This entry doesn’t actually end there, either. See, while everyone else is really interested in this late night mess that NBC has caused, they don’t really look at some of the other channels that NBC owns and operates. Top of this list in “WTF moments” for NBC would have been renaming SfiFi into Syfy. You pronounce it the same, it looks kind of the same, but one is a genre of media and the other is a venereal disease (“Syfy” is Polish slang for syphilis). Supposedly, this renaming was part of a global rebranding effort by the network to get farther away from science fiction based programming. However, their effort to do so has ended there, as they haven’t changed their programming in the slightest (other than the sudden influx of Ghost Hunter:Enter Random Destination here shows).
In their latest scheme, NBC and Syfy want to hop on the MMO bandwagon and they want to do it in a truly unique way. Instead of creating a whole new world for a game, they instead want to create a whole new world for a show, and the game goes along with the show! Of course, this was planned long ago with another, more popular property.
I have two theories behind what must be going through NBC executives’ minds regarding all this:
Theory 1: One network analyst pointed out that Conan is much more popular with younger viewers than Leno is. Top Gear is mainly watched by car and tech enthusiasts. Neither of those really fit into NBC’s target “50-60 Never Married Female” demographic. This demographic also typically doesn’t have TiVo, watch TV on the internet, or know how to program their microwave clock. Since they aren’t going to be watching pre-recorded, commercial free TV, NBC has to ensure that those ladies won’t ever turn their TV’s to another station. Instead of trying to reach out to new demographics and strengthen their viewer-base, they play to the low hanging fruit.
Theory 2: Someone in the higher echelons of NBC wants to be let go in a glorious fashion! Perhaps they’re hoping for a Rick Wagoner level severance?