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The era of NBC’s Thursday night, laugh track-generated dominance is officially over. While NBC has had trouble competing with the other big networks on Thursday nights for a few years now, the channel stubbornly held on to the hopes that it could make a comedy lineup work. Now, however, NBC has officially yielded, signing on for a midseason lineup that only includes dramas.
This spring, NBC will premiere dramas Allegiance and The Slap on Thursday nights, with the popular drama The Blacklist headlining the evening. The Slap is a 10-episode limited series that will hit the schedule on Thursday, February 12 at 8 p.m. The Blacklist will follow at 9 p.m. ET, starting on February 5 and Allegiance will air at 10 p.m. ET, also beginning on February 5.
It’s hard to underscore how huge the change will be to NBC’s Thursday night lineup. While drama Parenthood has landed that 10 p.m. ET slot recently on Thursday nights, it has always been preempted by comedies. In fact, to give you a more telling idea of how weird NBC’s Thursday night lineup is going to look come February, Deadline reports that the network has had comedies as part of Thursday’s lineup for the last 35 years. In fact, in order to find a NBC Thursday night without a comedy, you’d have to go all the way back to the 1979-1980 TV season when Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Quincy M.E. and Kate Loves a Mystery airs.
Back when NBC was still the primetime king, its Thursday night lineup was dominated by comedies as part of the network’s “must-see TV” branding. That included such iconic comedies as Seinfeld, Friends and Will and Grace. In more recent years, NBC tried to branch off with more unusual comedies, including the likes of 30 Rock, The Office and Parks and Recreation. While viewership was down on those shows when compared to NBC’s dominance in the nineties and early 2000s, it didn’t get truly bad until the last couple of years, when shows like The Michael J. Fox Show and Sean Saves the World, as well as this year’s already-canceled Bad Judge and A to Z were given timeslots on Thursday nights.
While on the one hand it is sad that something that worked so well for so many years is officially over, on the other hand it is much better that NBC tries to move in a new direction than continues to dwindle as it attempts to hold on to the remnants of its past successes. I’m not sure that new shows The Slap and Allegiance will able to compete with the programs that CBS and ABC already offer on Thursday nights, but it’s nice to see that the network is finally turning a corner and giving something new a chance. And I can’t wait to see how NBC does when Red Reddington is pitted up against Olivia Pope on Thursday nights.