“Oh, how the mediocre have fallen.” This quote from a character on “The Office,” NBC’s last true Thursday night hit, sums up the position in which the network currently finds itself. Its Thursday night comedy line-up is falling apart at the seams. NBC’s slogan for Thursdays was once “Must See TV.” This was in the era of “Friends,” “Frasier,” and “Seinfeld.” The network was forced to change it in 2006, finally accepting the fact that it was no longer winning in the ratings. “Comedy Night Done Right” became the new slogan, and lasted until “The Office” breathed its last in May 2013 and took the remaining vestiges of NBC’s comedy success with it.
What is NBC’s current slogan? “NBC’s Family of Comedies.” Based on the idea that all of the stars of its sitcoms—Amy Poehler, Mike O’Malley, Sean Hayes, Michael J. Fox—are one big family, promos running this slogan feature them eating a family dinner, having fun, and laughing. It is meant to make viewers think that if they like one of the shows, they may as well tune into all of them. However, what does it say about the family when one of its members is unceremoniously shown the door? “Welcome To The Family,” a broad sitcom starring Mike O’Malley, was canceled when its ratings became anemic. It had the dubious distinction of being the lowest-rated NBC comedy premiere ever.
NBC’s Thursday comedy lineup is abysmal, delivering an average rating of 1.1 among adults 18-49 across all of its scripted programming. Thursday tied the all time low in the company’s history, finishing seventh in broadcast ratings (behind CBS, the NFL Network, ABC, Fox, Univision and TBS), failing to keep up with even repeats of “The Big Bang Theory.”
The network has been forced to do damage control and has announced its mid-season schedule, replacing “Welcome To The Family” with “Community” on January 2, a comedy with critical acclaim but unlikely to garner ratings success. This has led to talk of NBC cancelling its entire Thursday lineup, an unprecedented move that is starting to look more possible every week.