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Over the last week or so, NBC has begun to cement its schedule for the 2016-2017 TV season, which means the network has sadly had to say goodbye to a slew of TV programs that were on the schedule this fall, winter and spring. Among those were dramas including The Mysteries of Laura, Heroes Reborn and Game of Silence, but there were also two comedies that got the axe: Crowded and Undateable. While it may not seem like a big deal to cancel two comedies when there are a slew of dramas that are also cut from the network, it’s a really big deal, because it means NBC has completely butchered its comedy block… again.
Reports indicate that NBC ultimately opted to cancel both its freshman series Crowded and its longer-running comedy Undateable. Neither had been shining stars in the network’s comedy lineups, but they really hadn’t fared much worse than the other comedies NBC aired during the 2015-2016 TV season. Those cancellations do show that NBC is still struggling to find comedies that really resonate with audiences. The network, in fact, has only two returning comedies that will be hitting the schedule next season. Those comedies are The Carmichael Show and Superstore. (Plus, the latter series got renewed despite having its episode order cut, which doesn’t strike us a major success story.)
NBC has not had a juggernaut comedy lineup since Must See TV wrapped up more than a decade ago, however, the network had a string of hits, including The Office, 30 Rock and Parks of Recreation that brought in critical acclaim and helped to build the NBC comedy brand. Unfortunately, while those three shows were getting older, NBC was having trouble attempting to rebrand. It seemed like the network might actually have a shot during the 2013-2014 TV season when the network heavily advertised a Thursday night comedy lineup featuring Michael J. Fox and Sean Hayes with the shows The Michael J. Fox Show and Sean Saves the World. It didn’t work, and both series were cancelled. Last season, newcomers Marry Me, A to Z, Bad Judge and the slightly older comedy About A Boy were cancelled—plus Parks and Rec ended its run—leaving Undateable as the only returning comedy on the network this past season.
Late last summer, NBC launched The Carmichael Show and it seemed to be the type of series that could bring in an audience for many years to come, but clearly the network has had trouble finding comedies that can stick around over the long haul. This year, even Undateable didn’t last. In the fall next year, NBC will air Superstore on Thursday nights along with new comedy The Good Place—which stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson—before airing more dramas. Those two comedies will be the only laughers in NBC’s lineup until The Carmichael Show returns, presumably in the spring. It’s a dismal place to be for a network that used to pride itself on bringing the best comedies to TV.
Comedies have had a rougher go of it in recent years. Because comedies frequently aren't serialized in the way that dramas are, they don’t have a must-watch component and they almost certainly don’t have a must-watch live component, making it harder to bring in the live numbers that are becoming so coveted by the major players. Regardless, Fox still has two nights of comedy in its lineup. CBS’ entire Thursday night lineup is devoted to comedy, and ABC brings the laughs on both Wednesdays and Fridays. It makes NBC look even worse in comparison. You almost have to feel bad for the network at this point, even though they ultimately put themselves in this position.
You can check out the full trailer for The Good Place, below or take a peek at NBC’s full fall schedule here.