Do No Harm Is Just Another Victim of NBC's Thursday Night Problem

By Jessica Rawden 2013-02-08 10:18:00 discussion comments
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NBCís newest drama, Do No Harm, premiered last week to laughable ratings and even less critical success. The show follows a young doctor with a split personality disorder who has spent the past several years knocking himself out in order to reign his dangerous other personality in. The Jekyll and Hyde premise seemed sound enough when first described and put together at the network, but now that week 2ís ratings are in and ratings are down from last week, it looks like one of the worst flops the network has encountered in a long time. Itís likely Do No Harm is headed the way of cancellation, but itís not all the showís faultóNBCís Thursday at 10 p.m. timeslot has been a death slot for the last few years and there are numerous factors contributing to its absolute suckiness.

In the years since NBC featured a fabulous ďMust See TVĒ Thursday lineup, a lot has changed. Itís easy for procedurals like ER to do well when they are backed by shows like Friends, Seinfeld, and even Will & Grace. However, in recent years, NBCís Thursday night comedy block has focused on unintentionally niche programming from Parks & Recreation to the highly under-viewed Community. Even The Office at this point isnít really bringing in the same numbers in that it used to. If NBC canít build a lead-in audience, people arenít going to stick around for the 10 p.m. slot, especially for a show that has an extremely oddball premise.

If you read my first paragraph, you know Do No Harm is pretty strange, a show that is part medical procedural and part split personality story. It is succeeding last springís Awake, a show about a cop existing in two different realities and solving a case in each reality. This succeeded a fall 10 p.m. Thursday program, Prime Suspect, about a super-strange female police officer who dealt with violent offenders and was horribly beaten up in an early episode. Even if we take a look at unscripted programs in the timeslot, like The Jay Leno Show or The Marriage Ref, we see oddball efforts that a high number of people just canít get on board with. No one wants to watch late night talk shows before the local news and no one, especially, cares about Jerry Seinfeld doling out relationship advice to schmucks.

Itís clear NBC doesnít have a winning formula, but the networkís implosion isnít the only problem regarding the Thursday 10 p.m. slot. The other networks are sharks, and while Fox may be a baby shark that bows out after Glee on Thursday nights, both CBS and ABC are willing to go for the jugular. CBS has figured out how to crush the 10 p.m. slot with variations on procedurals for the last several years. For a while, The Mentalist raked in audiences before moving to Sunday nights and this year Elementary has taken over, becoming the highest ranked new program of the season. Thatís fine, weíll give it to the network, because at this point, CBS isnít NBCís big competition, ABC is.
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