NBC was in a bad bind, but not the worst bind when Shonda Rhimes worked her magic and got Scandal on to the air. In recent weeks the show has been pulling in around 8 million total viewers, and while those numbers aren’t super high, they do represent millions of eyeballs straying even further away from NBC’s timeslot. The fact that Scandal’s ratings are up during this portion of Season 2 tells me the show has nowhere to go but even higher up, and NBC has a bigger problem on its hands.

Think of a night of television like a mixtape. All of the pieces should generally appeal to roughly the same audience. With NBC’s comedy block, that’s actually in play. The general audience for 30 Rock is the same as the general audience for Parks and Rec and The Office and, to a lesser extent, Community. None of these programs are very highly-rated, but they have loyal fanbases, and most of them have earned critical praise. The network already tried extending the comedy block to another hour with additions like Outsourced and The Paul Reiser Show, and that imploded. NBC needs to go broader, which means the network really needs to blow up Thursday nights and start over.

Any network in its right mind would want to shoot for eight figures in total viewers and, in order to do this, NBC needs to pick an anchor program from another night and launch it on Thursdays around a brand new programming block of procedurals or dramas with broad appeal (or, anything, really, other than the programming the network is currently rolling with). Sure, it’s a little scary and there aren’t a ton of anchor programs NBC could pull from one night and throw on to another, but if the network can make one new show work on Thursday night, then the next year it can hopefully find another until the 10 p.m. slot. is no longer the death slot and NBC is no longer the most pathetic horse in the Thursday night race. Skeptics are probably thinking this may not work, and you might be right, but I can guarantee what NBC is doing right now will continue to fail.

I’m a fan of Community. I love Parks and Rec too, but with The Office and 30 Rock retiring, NBC’s best call is to blow up the night and start over. There’s no point in letting this poorly rated horse limp along any longer. NBC can’t control the success of Scandal or Elementary but it can choose to take a real chance rather than sitting on its haunches into the foreseeable future.

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