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Why Can’t NBC Come Up With Good Genre TV Anymore?

There’s something depressingly familiar about the rumors that NBC’s The Event is destined for cancellation before the end of its first season. After all the hype and hope of the show’s launch, audiences and critics alike failed to care enough to ensure a second year. Still, at least it made it further than Undercovers, cancelled before it even reached mid-season. Why can’t NBC draw a genre audience anymore?

This wasn’t always the case; NBC has a fine history with genre series, including The A-Team, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Knight Rider, Quantum Leap and the original V. These days, what really can the network offer up? The Cape? The Event? Chuck? What happened?

I keep coming back to Heroes as the tipping point for NBC, for some reason. There was something about the way the network reacted to the surprise success of the first season – The sudden overexposure when it realized everyone was watching, with ads pushing “Save The Cheerleader, Save The World” into our heads all the time, the talk of a spin-off with big name directors that never happened, and the clear panic when audiences started to abandon the show because it had no clear direction after its first year – that felt like NBC didn’t know what to do anymore, how to keep either its viewers or its creators happy. From there, almost every genre show that followed was either a reboot (Bionic Woman, Knight Rider) that suffered both from a rushed debut and network-dictated reworking midseason or a rehash of shows that we’d seen before (The Event‘s conspiracy theories making the show feel like 24 by way of Lost, or The Cape‘s “Heroes but more ridiculous” targeting), with the one possible exception being Chuck – unsurprisingly, the closest thing to a hit NBC has had in this particular arena since Heroes.

Did Heroes break NBC’s spirit, or just its reputation? I’m not entirely sure; it’s true that NBC isn’t the only network to have trouble with new genre shows since, what, Lost…? But in NBC’s case, I really do think that’s down to its choice of material: It’s played things safe in a way that it doesn’t with non-genre drama, or comedy – It’s made what few genre programs it allows on the air to fail because it stops them from experimenting and being allowing them to succeed.

Wonder Woman might be the show that the network needs to break this cycle – the name is familiar, but the character itself still relatively obscure to the mainstream public beyond memories of the 1970s TV show, and David E. Kelley is definitely a different enough voice for this type of material that he might bring something new to it. But just in case he isn’t enough, I can think of another, more counter-intuitive idea for returning NBC to its days of genre glory: Bring Heroes back.

I know, I know: Have I lost my mind, or do I have a plan? Both, potentially. But you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to decide whether my return of Heroes pitch is the kind of thing that would get NBC’s groove back, or just bury the network once and for all.

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Comments

  • pDUB

    um…wut?

  • Bclewis6593

    I find it interesting that NBC still has the Heroes website up and running. When other networks cancel a show they usually shut down the show’s website within days or weeks after the show’s cancellation. Yet here it is over a year later and the website is still up and it’s message boards still get regular traffic, almost as much as it did when the show was still on the air.

  • Zinderel

    It all boils down to the fact that pencil-pushers have taken over Tinseltown. In the 80’s, networks were more willing to let a show build an audience, and they seemed to recognize that overnight hits were RARE, not something that happened to every show.

    In today’s world, a show like Married…with Children, which really put Fox on the map, would NEVER have lasted as long as it did. And a miniseries like the original V? What’s the last genuine network miniseries you’ve seen?

    It’s all about the bottom line now, thanks to the bean counters. And that ain’t likely to change any time soon.

  • http://twitter.com/KlingonKnitter Jay M. Hurd

    I think that one of the big problems is that as they are trying to appeal to superhero fandom with superhero shows, they are missing the mark by not being ‘in touch’ with the fans. Heroes was great because it was original, but yes, very over exposed. It could come back strong if they don’t try to over market it again. I don’t hold high hopes for Wonder Woman because from everything I’ve heard on that show, it’s going to be Wonder Woman almost in name only. When you say Wonder Woman, you instantly think of the comic book icon, either straight from the pages or the Linda Cater portrayal. I think WW will fail on the return to TV because of the departure from what everyone knows.

  • Mwedmer

    I can assure you that Wonder Woman is in no way obscure to the general public. I have met people from 6-60 who point at her and say her name.
    What NBC needs to do is embrace the material they want to bring forh and make the executives sit back and shut up.

  • HenryV

    I’m in the UK and I’ve been really enjoying The Event on Channel 4 over here. Sorry to hear it may be axed. I like the fact it regularly resolves plotlines and appears to have a clear direction – something that The X-Files and Lost (at least in the beginning for Lost) never had.

    Never understood the hype around Heroes. I nearly turned off halfway through the first episode it was so dull. It got better but I didn’t watch it beyond the first series. Sounds as though it was for the best!

  • Kurumais

    i think chuck is good genre show not the greatest thing ive ever seen but fun

  • http://bleacherreport.com/users/535519-nick-p nick price

    CHUCK is my best series on TV

  • Anonymous

    My question, as someone who liked The Event, is what’s going on with shows based on suspense/intrigue where the network takes it off the air for a month or two and then brings it back? As if anyone will still care? NBC’s decision making is strange. They dangle a show for a week or two at a time and if it’s not a smash hit they almost seem to WANT to cancel it.

  • MW

    I think Heroes should be revived as a comic book just as Buffy was

  • Ghost

    Heroes didn’t fail because NBC overexposed it. It failed because it turned into crap. The creators didn’t think through what they were doing very well. Bringing it back is not going to work unless they fix that fundamental problem, and even if they can… shows generally get one shot to not be crap, Heroes isn’t deserving of another.

  • Talmerian

    Do you have any idea what genre means? You use the term 8 times but never tell us what genres you are talking about.

  • DocOrlando

    Bionic Woman had all kinds of potential up ’til its pilot, and then it just started augering in harder than Steve Austin in a NASA M2-F2. Second guessing the characters (and related casting) weakened the writers’ ability to build plots and relationships. The lack of a show “bible” developed beforehand meant there was nothing to inform the world in which the characters lived. But the worst blow came in casting a relative unknown (Michelle Ryan) and expecting her to step out of the immense shadow of fanboy favorite Katee Sackhoff, who effortlessly stole every scene she appeared in. Sackhoff’s casting made the whole show lopsided; it was as if the writers intentionally wrote better for her character alone, while the rest of the show scraped by.

    Like you, Graeme, I had incredible ideas on how NBC could have turned the series around, tightened up and let loose to be the kind of dynamic show that NONE of the broadcast networks have right now. Unfortunately, having those ideas and being in a position to set them in motion are two different things…

  • Wildstorm

    I think the problem with shows is that networks don’t like to see the fan base plateau. If they are not increasing watchers every episode then it should be cancelled. For example, Farscape of the Sci-Fi channel (which is owned by NBC) had a constant fanbase but no new watchers so it was cancelled.
    But then you have the whole, “let’s do something totally different. Let’s make KITT morph into a 10-passenger van and a pick-up truck.” What is wrong with sticking with the basics of what made the original a hit. Guy drives a talking car and solves cases.

    As for the Cape, people are just burned out on superhero shows and also burned out on the long over-arching stories that take 6 seasons to tell. I know I like the one-and-done stories. Also the long, drawn out stories are really hard to watch on DVD or Blu-Ray. With Heroes, Lost, or even the Event, you can’t just pop the disk in and watch one story from start to finish.

  • rlittle

    I think the concept for Heroes was exceptional and so was the execution, for the first series at least. NBC could reboot it. Completely get rid of the storyline and start with a new group, bringing back what made the first series great. A dozen unrelated people who had to save the world. New Powers, New Varied Characters, New Locations and a New Threat would make rejuvenate it completely.

  • Squashua

    Community is fantastic as it has embraced the NON-genre by having a different genre show every week with comedy stylings. Wondering when they’ll do their super-hero episode (or did they do one and I forgot?). Donald Glover as Spider-Man.

  • DoubleWide

    I just hope the new version of Wonder Woman doesn’t make viewers pine for the TV movie starring Cathy Lee Crosby.

  • Bass Guitar Hero

    I think the thing with the action-adventure shows of the ’80s was that they weren’t serialized, for the most part. You didn’t need to see the first episode and every episode after that–you could jump in at any point during the season and still get the gist of what was going on during the opening titles. While shows like LOST, 24, and HEROES definitely found success in the 2000s with long storylines that played out over an entire season–if not the entire series–I don’t think you can do that with EVERY show. Some shows may be better served by being more episodic in nature, with mostly “done in one episode” stories.

  • Erikgalston

    i can understand saying Chuck’s a “genre show” but its not the same genre that all these other shows are… its a comedy action spy show.. its not a sci-fi program or suspense.. the lumping of together of shows and calling them genre isn’t really correct.

  • Saballleco

    !!NBC!! bring HEROES back! The world is requesting, you don’t have a choice.
    BRING HEROES, SAVE NBC!

  • pov

    One thing is that NBC and all the networks keep fighting the fact that many people watch shows online. I like both The Cape and The Event. Yet I watch everything online. Id guess that a larger percentage of the audience for “genre TV” watches online than the audience that watches the standard TV drama.

  • Cpatmaier

    Wasn’t Star Trek a CBS show?

  • GuestyMcGuesterson

    Why focus on “genre TV”? NBC can’t come up with good TV, period. All of their new shows this season failed.

  • demoncat_4

    think after Heroes lost its way NBC mostly being the network for comedy kind of tried to keep duplicating heroes like with the cape or got stuck on the every thing old is coming back trend. thus with bionic woman and knight rider. though Nbc big problem trying to get out of its slump is that it really stuck on throw something to the wall and see if it sticks and old is new again.

  • Bass Guitar Hero

    It’s currently owned by CBS Studios, but it was on NBC–after CBS initially passed on it in lieu of LOST IN SPACE.

  • kalorama

    Have I missed something or, aside from WB/CW (which has a much lower threshold of ratings success), have the other broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, FOX) recently had a staggeringly high success rate with “genre shows”? No? Then maybe the the problem isn’t NBC. Maybe the problem is that the general (i.e., non geek nation) audience for those kinds of shows isn’t large enough to sustain them under the existing model of financial success used by the broadcast nets?

    Heroes came out of the gates strong and then petered out. Same with a lot of the genre shows that came after it. I think general purposes audiences just have developed a limited tolerance for these continuity based shows and their never ending stories. Heroes and Lost garnered a lot of attention because they were novelties (at the time). Now that everyone’s seen the card trick, they know how it works and they’re not ll that impressed anymore.

  • Anonymous

    ’cause the forget it’s all about the story – not the powers. The story should stand alone and the powers be the frame work where the story plays out.

    TPTB at NBC also become gun-shy when people have their ‘fantrums’ and post on the internet “what they want or how the show SHOULD BE.” Remember when people wanted David and Maddy to get together (ref. Moonlighting)? When they did – those same people began searching for the exits. Heroes – a classic case of killing the goose that laid golden eggs.

    And they should have a better hand at approving these shows – the original Bionic Woman was a SPIN OFF! The Cape looked goofy – the name silly.

  • ATK

    Dear NBC, please Disregard that last request. Thank You.
    Sincerly, someone who recognizes the fact that Heroes was going nowhere fast.

  • ATK

    The Sad thing is NBC has great Genre Shows they just never make it to the Network. Battlestar Galactica was an NBC Universal Production and did well on sci-fi. Around the time the last season rolled around I asked, “Why arn’t they running the past seasons as a summer show or giving it some sort of network exposure?” for a show as big and as epic as it got I always wondered why they did not try and take advantage of that market. That being said, I wouldn’t mind a network Stargate program either. They wonder why genre shows slowly lose viewers, well they don’t exactly show reruns they way they used to for people to catch up.

  • Kelly

    How is Wonder Woman “relatively obscure”?
    She’s been dominating the news cycle for a couple of weeks now, and she’s instantly recognizable from the 70’s show. In addition, she had five years worth of exposure on Justice League and JLU, which was an immensely popular show. On top of that she rakes in millions for DC on licensing alone, with her likeness on shoes, clothes, stationary, backpacks, lunchboxes, etc.
    “Relatively obscure” is an understatement. What other character (besides Superman) has caused such a ruckus in the mainstream just from a change in costume or a haircut?

  • Anonymous

    Chuck IS Science Fiction, in that as far as I know we still cannot download computer data directly into people’s minds. Maybe someday we will, which is the difference between SF and Fantasy- in the latter, there’s never any expectation of the base elements being remotely possible. Though yeah, storywise Chuck is a Spy Comedy (and a damn good one.)

  • Anonymous

    The worst part is that NBC may not realize that by canceling so many shows on a row, they might give the fans (genre or not) the impression that sticking with one of their shows is a waste of time… thus making their problem worse.

    But then, these are the people who thought that replacing Leno on the Tonight Show (a then-current hit) with Conan (a big maybe) was a good idea. Instead of just waiting for Leno to retire on his own or the ratings to go down.

  • werehawk

    Um. Battlestar Galactica? Or does that not count because it was SciFi not a mainstream network.

  • werehawk

    I like Chuck too, but I’m not sure if it fits the definition of a genre show as the author says it is. To me its a tribute to genre shows, not one itself (but I love it).

  • werehawk

    I disagree. There are fantastic things that occur in typical shows that do not make them genre. Think James Bond, can all his toys really do what they do? Chuck still fits squarely in a spy comedy as you say.

  • I-Ching

    This isn’t about drawing an audience or what happened back in the 80s it’s about one thing and one thing only….QUALITY!!!

    Lost was tremendously well done and was a level of quality you won’t find on NBC. Heroes started off so well and was stunningly awful season two and got progressively worse. It was almost like NBC wasn’t even watching or cared.

    The Cape is not even Syfy worthy and Bionic Woman basically a How To Guide in what to do WRONG.

    Wonder Woman needs a well guided hand towards an engaging season pong story arc

  • ATK

    Relatively obscure for the non-nerdly and for those born after 1990.

  • Theoneandonlyhawkeye

    “Chuck” is a lot better then any of the shows in your “fine history” …

  • Joe

    Don’t forget that when NBC does get it right (ie Journeyman) They just up and cancel it…even with decent ratings…

  • Tired of inane nonsense

    There are no reports about “Wonder Woman” being in trouble; there’s just a lot of internet whining. You lost all credibility when you made the false claim. The show hasn’t even aired yet; it might do very well.

  • Anonymous

    I think they could bring back Heroes. I thought that there was a lot of potential left after the last season. They had done all they could with those characters, but I think that they should’ve had a soft reboot. Same world, but new characters. The ending, with the whatever they’re called (they never did give the super-powered people a good name) being revealed left a lot of potential, and starting again with an all new cast of powered people, now revealed to the public, could’ve been good. Using the old characters sparingly, only showing up in the background.

  • Randomengine

    FYI: Heroes sucked.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wallyoeste Esteban Pedreros

    Why are you counting “Heroes” among the good ones?

  • http://www.audiocomics.wordpress.com AudioComics

    I agree, adding that this unfortunate reality doesn’t just apply to genre TV. Years ago, there was a struggling sitcom. In its first year it was failing to find an audience. At the time, Brandon Tartikoff was at the helm, and not the aforementioned bean counters. He said, give it a chance. It’s a funny show, it will find its footing. In its second year, it did, and quickly rose to become one of the top sitcoms of all time. Or at least of the ’80’s and ’90’s.

    I was told a while back by a friend of a friend who works in the TV industry (literally a friend of a friend) that in today’s climate, the show would have been cancelled before 13 episodes. Too many channels, too many choices; you HAVE TO BE a hit out of the ballpark from day one or you’re dead in the water.

    That’s how the current network heads see things, and you’re right, its not going to change; rather we’re going to see more and more reality TV through NBC and NBC’s sister stations (Bravo and SyFy especially…why do you think Jeff Zucker bought ‘em in the first place) to make more money for the network. And good SCRIPTED shows will get the axe. Unless they’re a hit from day one.

    Oh, for the curious among you, the name of that sitcom? “Cheers.”

  • http://profiles.google.com/maskedmanissue1 Masked Man Issue 1

    I think the problem for all these shows continues to be due to two basic, yet crucial elements: a) good writing and b) good acting. You cannot write a show like The Event essentially ripping off all the promise for intrigue from other good shows (say Lost) and underdelivering with lousy writing and characters you can’t care for (see rightfully-cancelled Flashforward).

    This essential rule applies to superhero shows. Heroes had a stunning first season, and an OK second season. Then it went downhill into fiery self-destruciton. The actors were pretty much the same set of core actors, with whom, during Season 1 and even part of 2, we couldn’t tell if they were bad actors or if they were hiding something bigger. That did not matter. The writing was so well crafted, this was the stuff of legend. Then it seemed the writers stop caring after the writer’s strike and the show went downhill. However, I think bringing Heroes back (and maybe rebooting/retconning it with some parallel universe event in which we rewind to the end of Season 2- hello, Irish girlfriend stuck in parallel future, remember her?), would be preferable over another Cape, and the likes of No Ordinary Family.

    That leaves Wonder Woman up in the air. I think recognizability will help. I think catering to the fans will help. I think staying away from campy plots would be important. I think bringing great writers that understand the character and the mythos, and what makes it accessible to fans but also to the everyday couch potato will be huge. People want to be entertained, but they want it to be done well. Bring Gail Simone and have her write a few episodes and work closely with McG on director’s chair. It will be hard to sink that ship.

    I will probably get crucified for this, but Smallville is a case in point. The only person that can act in that show is Cassidy Freeman (in the role of Tess Mercer), and yet the shows does very well when there is a good set of writers in it. Bad writers produce bad episodes, good writers make epic entertaining episodes that are accessible to everyone, are critic-proof and cater to the fans (for reference, see latest epsiode “Scion”).

    So, I’m looking forward to Wonder Woman, because I think there are ways to make it a good show.

  • Fero

    um.dont you mean syfy?

  • http://iamwallis.tumblr.com iamwallis

    no it won’t. absurd optimism is ridiculous. if it looks and sounds like garbage from the planning stage, it really doesn’t have much room to improve.

    for example: see any of Fox’s comic adaptations, specifically “Origins: Wolverine”

  • http://twitter.com/sillymander sillymander

    I think what’s missing is that, in some cases, network executives seem to care more about the end product than the production company executives do, and that’s bad. And in other cases, the networks seem to just want something they understand, and to cater only to what fits their sensibilities.
    It matters greatly how much everyone involved insists on a good product, and also allows the show appropriate marketing and time for its appropriate audience to see it. When someone’s not on the right page, it shows.

  • Anonymous

    Bring back STARGATE Atlantis!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    The Event and The Cape are both really cool. Especially the Event.

    I would like to see some closure in The Cape though. I think given more time it could have been pretty epic. It’s got a all kinds of crazy and likable characters, not to mention awesome actors like the though little guy in the Carnival of Crime, the guy who played Scales, and the Cape himself. Even if its a little goofy it is a cool show! Plus tv history is full of goofy-ass shows that have been successful. Even if they just gave it another 6 or 8 episodes and allowed Farraday to get back his family that would be acceptable. It would in essence be an extended length film. Too bad. I think that show was really fun.

    I think out of all the shows right now on the channel, tho, that The Event has the most promise. It has a wild plot, great writing and acting, suspense, building suspense and mystery, shocking moments and cliffhangers, a plot showing realistic government/corporate/private corruption, potentially the inclusion of Ancient Astronaut Theory, and great cinematography and production quality. DON’T CANCEL THE EVENT!!!!!!!!

  • Justinmortega27

    This begs to ask the question, “Is there really any channel that has good shows?” Well, of course channels such as Showtime and HBO have clearly set themselves apart in all aspects, from network television channels. Personally, I love the History Channel, but even that has a lot of crap on it. I just can’t watch the same 30 second grainy film clip from World War II, 8 times in 4 different programs, and be expected to learn something new from it.

    But we are discussing “Genre” television shows, correct? So let’s exclude non-fictional shows. Oh wait, does “Reality” tv count as “non-fiction?” Technically (in theory), yes. So, let’s disregard Reality shows as well. And for the sake of film making purity, lets exclude cartoons as well, since they animate their actors and special effects and such, its not really fair (but for the record, even genre cartoons have really gone downhill).

    And to be fair to NBC, lets only look at cable network television channels, and the “genre” shows that they have, and try to find out what’s good that hasn’t been, or isn’t on the verge of cancellation. What’re the big ones out there, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox? Okay, now let’s loosely define our desired genre as “sci-fi/fantasy/action(?)”

    NBC: The Cape, Chuck, The Event.
    ABC: Castle, No Ordinary Family, V
    CBS: The Mentalist
    Fox: Bones?, Fringe, Human Target, Lie To Me.

    (Never noticed until I gathered this list how many shows are about cops and/or doctors. Ridiculous.)

    Honestly, most of those shows are generously borderline along the structure of our genre; however there are certain elements in all of the aforementioned shows that I feel, qualify them to be included in the genre, if only just. What I find funny is that Fox has the most shows in the genre, but are notorious for killing great shows in this genres (Firefly, Terminator: SCC, Dollhouse). From the chatter I’ve heard, Chuck is borderline cancelled, and The Cape got axed after like the first episode, and The Event’s most likely out too.

    Of course, there are other stations that contribute to the genre. SyFy comes to mind, though I can’t imagine why. The CW, USA, TNT, TBS, Comedy Central, etc…but their productions don’t nearly have the type of budget and quality of production that the big 4 stations can afford to produce. Another station that almost has me considering getting cable for the first time in like 6 years, is AMC. The Walking Dead. ‘Nuff Said.

    Heroes: Season 1 was awesome. Season 2 was disappointing (with a writer’s strike to blame). Season 3 floundered hopelessly; however, there was some good in it, though too few and far between to renew public interest in a show hit hard by the writers strike. Now Season 4 is rather tricky to judge. After the effects of season 3, season 4 had to be hard to write from the start. They took a different direction, introduced some great characters, played by exceptional actors, but the plot did take a long time to develop, and the climax of the 18-20 some-odd episode arc took about 10 minutes, and as a result the show was left on a cliffhanger.

    In season 1 of Heroes, the creators said they wanted to have a sort of rotating cast and settings. They first screwed up by making the show the Petrelli soap opera based in New York and California. It seemed like they just ran out of good ideas. When a comic book like The Avengers gets stale, Marvel doesn’t just cancel it, call it garbage, and throw it away, never to be touched again. They may or may not take a few months away from publications, usually not though, and get a new creative staff. If I had to guess, NBC probably had a hand in the direction of the show going into the second season. They saw how well-received Nathan, Sylar, Claire, and HRG were, and decided to make their lives the center-stage drama, and kill off any new characters. Another thing, in comics, the superhero (and villain) groups also rotate their members. There may be certain mainstays, for iconic purposes, that are always affiliated with the team or book, but they do change frequently.

    If Heroes was truly intended to be a comic-book style of television show, they should have recognized that. And in my personal opinion, their BIGGEST mistake was killing off Isaac Mendez. An interesting character, with depth and an interesting power, who kind of narrated and at the same time, conducted the plot of the show. And of course, bringing Sylar back in season 2 just showed viewers that they are going to be getting the same thing over again, just a little different.

  • Kal El

    another pointless article that makes no sense.

    Wonder Woman will only last 3 months MAX.

    The show will be yanked before Xmas and forgotten about by spring.

    WW the show is too different from the 70s version. Completely UNFAITHFULL to comics.
    And even the NON fans can see the costume is a TARGET halloween crapfest.

    oh and the chick is Butter. ( ugly)

  • Kal El

    Galactica was ABC.

  • Anonymous

    I think the article shouldn’t just be about genre shows because that is the least of NBC’s problems. They can’t produce a hit show of any kind. They actually have decent shows that people just don’t watch. I wouldn’t be surprised if they put on the greatest show on television and nobody watched because the actual NBC brand is that damaged. The Office is the biggest thing it has and that doesn’t necessarily burn up the ratings. Then they have shows like Parenthood, Chuck, Community, 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation that are great shows (at least I feel they are and it seems a lot of the critics think so as well) that relatively nobody watches. 30 Rock has won how many Emmys? It still can’t pull a 3.0 in the demo if it was the only thing on television. Chuck was named last year’s most downloaded show and also gets a lot of views on Hulu and nbc.com. They seemed to try and offset that by using blatant product placement (especially with Subway). The Biggest Loser continues to plummet and Celebrity Apprentice as done the same thing. America’s Next Great Restaurant seemed to be a great idea for a reality show and that hasn’t found an audience. Law and Order SVU is falling and LA had to be retooled it was so bad.

    Anything NBC touches turns to shit, and I feel its the brand more than anything. Universal had done a great job building it’s cable division before the sale. Bravo has turned out huge hits (for cable) in Top Chef, and The Real Housewives shows and spinoffs. Somebody mentioned SyFy which turned out great tv with Battlestar Galactica and then has done relatively well with its current original programming and now has WWE Smackdown which has been it’s most watched program in history. Then the crown jewel has been USA… Psych, Burn Notice, White Collar, Fairly Legal have all found a solid audience and can be considered cable hits. I believe I read a report that USA was valued at something like $13billion (i think that was it) while NBC was valued at zero and would actually be negative if the measure allowed for it.

    So this isn’t just about genre shows, it is about NBC in general. It is about the flaws in the current ratings measuring system and there really needing to be a better way to find out and measure what people are watching. It’s about the difference between cable and network tv and thinking whether broadcast stations are going to be a thing of the past very soon.

  • Bitch my dick’s huge

    Clearly you don’t know what dude’s talking about. “Genre TV” doesn’t mean a specific genre, moron.

  • MOTA

    you start with the misapprehension that genre was sucessful in the past on NBC
    “NBC has a fine history with genre series”

    The A-Team, wasn’t so much genre
    Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, cancelled in the middle of it’s second season after being retooled for a lackluster 1st season –ie it returned because NBC had nothing else to replace it yet..
    Knight Rider,… well it was never really a big hit the first time… again when you are the number three network (out of three at the time…. you take what was even doing partially well)

    Quantum Leap (could be the exception….)

    The Original V has a disaster of the first regular season that crashed and burned i a way that wasn’t match til Twin peaks

    Star trek was by no means a success on NBC but in syndication….

    (sometimes it helps knowing the actually history of shows and the networks before you make a asssumption and postulate a useless article.

  • http://twitter.com/MirabilisDave Dave Morris

    You’re being very charitable towards Heroes. No clear direction after the first season? How about after the first six episodes?

  • Capnbludd

    Because this is a genre site?

  • YeaSayer

    You nailed it.

  • CJEH

    Looking forward to watching the 17th Precinct pilot on NBC- has lots of promise, if NBC actually gets a clue.

  • Jack R

    Well, NBC isn’t failing alone. This has become an industry wide issue across most of the networks. ABC is is crashing on No Ordinary Family, V and last seasons Flash Forward. CBS as given up altogether, FOX puts every genre show on Friday night, even Sy Fy hasn’t had a break out hit since BSG. As with almost everything in entertainment, (except in film when it’s also often about the editing) it’s the writing. There’s simply no comparison between something like The Event to Fringe. No comparison to V versus Walking Dead. When you write something that plays to 8 year olds (No Ordinary Family, The Cape) and compare it to sophisticated writing in LOST, a lesser extent Fringe, or even the non genre Modern Family, you get the difference between a hit and a near canceled series. The same can be said of Super Hero/ Sci Fi movies who play it straight versus ones that play it for camp. The Event suffers from the same mission creep as Flash Forward or the latter seasons of Heroes. Unlike something like LOST & BSG (or the first season of Heroes) which maintained the over all mystery but still told personal, character driven stories with heart, these failing shows drift around killing time between plot progressions with mindless scenarios that often defy internal story logic. .. which is what Heroes seasons 2-4 descended into. Each week was literally contradicting the previous week.. Which means they had no idea where they were going at all after Season 1. So, I wouldn’t pick on NBC, per se, so much as wonder where all the modern day Rod Serlings and Gene Roddenberrys went and why the networks keep supporting the Irwin Allens out there. Abrams and Moore can’t carry the entire genre on their backs forever..

    BTW, Chuck survives entirely on character, heart and the fact they don’t let an arc go longer than 8 episodes…

  • http://twitter.com/HeroicTStudios Michael Sacal

    You’re not MOTA. Why anyone would pretend to be MOTA?

  • Ninja Bob

    NBC has the same problem most of the networks do and that is they rely on the same group of writers/producers for shows and ideas. NBC is owned by GE so they’re not hurting for money–they need to get people with fresh ideas and stop playing it safe. There are tons of stories that need to be and should be told, but the people in charge of the networks are stuck on stupid.

    A new live action “Wonder Woman” with David E. Kelly at the controls? Good luck with that one.

  • http://twitter.com/Sheindie Sheindie

    Wonder Woman should be written by women, w. a woman showrunner who understands, respects and enjoys this amazon…. David E. Kelly, imo, is a terrible terrible choice! + poor casting, costume, direction.

  • Picard

    patience. they have none.
    used to be shows like Cheers (I know it wasnt scifi but listen) could be given time.
    cheers was low rated its first season, but was allowed to build up.
    by the second season it was a hit.
    heroes got too hot too soon.

    make a good scifi show, hold the budget down, then give it time, and you could have a hit on your hands.

    i think it important to keep cost down, because lets face it, scifi on tv is a niche category, which is why the longest running scifi shows were syndicated (stng) or on second tier cable (stargate, b5).

  • kalorama

    I don’t really think Journeyman had decent ratings.

  • kalorama

    (A) Any idea or concept can be improved upon during the journey from the drawing board to implementation. That’s a basic truth. Doesn’t mean it will, but it certainly can. (B) There’s a difference between how movies and TV work. (C) Regardless of what some people may have thought about Wolverine’s quality, there’s no question that it did well, well enough to warrant a bigger-budgeted sequel.

    So, to recap: Everything you said was untrue and refutable either by established experience or provable fact.

  • kalorama

    Yeah, because Kelly has such a terrible track record of writing female characters, right?

  • Anonymous

    Sadly, if good quality was all it took for a series to be a hit, there would ONLY be good shows on the air. Things like appropriate publicity, and enough of the audience being being receptive to it, matters as well.

  • http://twitter.com/MirabilisDave Dave Morris

    I’ve never seen the 1970s show and probably I’ve read like two Wonder Woman comics in my whole life. And I’m a comics nerd and proud of it! How can they think this will play with the mass market?

  • http://twitter.com/MirabilisDave Dave Morris

    The “concept of Heroes” was X-Men. They just figured a more modern way into it. That was the only original thing the show did.

  • http://twitter.com/MirabilisDave Dave Morris

    Er… aren’t “NBC” and “the executives” the same people..?

  • Brian from Canada

    That’s unfair to call No Ordinary Family written for 8 year-olds. It’s written for families, and twenty years ago would have fit right in with everything else on television.

    It doesn’t work today because we have cable. All those people who think USA and Bravo and Showcase and AMC and HBO bring out fantastic shows should stop and realize that what they’re actually showing is content that — for the most part — the networks themselves could never air. There’s no reason why a show like Covert Affairs or Psych couldn’t be on one of the networks today, except that they’d have to write more episodes and be weaker and then die in the ratings.

    No Ordinary Family would be a smash hit on ABC Family, but ABC took the risk of putting it on its regular networks. Had Desperate Housewives not been there, I think Pretty Little Liars might have even made a success of it too.

    And blame the censors in there as well: cable gets to be edgy because there’s some lines networks SHOULD be approaching but can’t because they are networks and cable’s cable. Sex & The City is one show that should be on cable only, Secret Diaries Of A Call Girl (from the UK) is another. Deadwood, for language, sure. But a lot of the others? No way.

  • Brian from Canada

    I totally agree with this statement, adding that NBC just can’t get the CRITICS to push them enough like other networks.

    Today’s TV writers are trendsetters and fanboys gone wild. It’s either spoilers from the set or regular spoilers about shows that are so amazing despite everybody not watching.

    The only one who got the problem was Dick Wolf. Wolf was pleading with the press to note how many seasons Law & Order was at and still going steady despite having a completely different cast from when they started.

    And NBC destroyed Law & Order as a result. They got the record and, within 12 months, we’ve seen the end of the original series and Criminal Intent, the pitiful LA (which should not get a second season), and what is probably a set ending for SVU as well given that Criminal Intent has proven you can’t get rid of the main cast if they sit for too long.

    NBC has some decent shows. NBC has some excellent shows too. But right now, I’d say their biggest problem is that they’re relying on repeated buzz over the same shows critics aren’t watching in order to get noticed.

    The only way to get noticed at this point is to jettison the same-old and go with something new. Wonder Woman will get the attention of the media — that’s for sure! — but they need to find something radically different to get momentum going again. And right now, I don’t see anything getting there.

  • Brian from Canada

    What killed the network wasn’t the end of Heroes. It was Jay Leno. Leno retired, then changed his mind and went prime time, forcing their 10 pm dramas out to pasture or in spots that they should never have been. (And ER’s termination helped that along too.)

    NBC quickly became a joke about itself afterward. They need to go back to pushing quality first, and giving it time to click with audiences. But, unfortunately, in this TV economy, that’s not going to happen. ABC will follow it soon, and one day CBS too.

  • Bass Guitar Hero

    If I understand it correctly, Leno didn’t want to retire in the first place–he was told he was BEING retired–but then NBC turned around and offered him a new show at 10 PM (which he naturally accepted). Then NBC turned around yet AGAIN, this time dragging Conan into it and Conan told NBC where they can go…

  • Event Fatigue

    The Event is a good show and I watch it every week. I am not one of the few Nielsen households so the fact that I watch The Event goes unnoticed. It’s more of a mystery than a sci-fi show, and that may have turned off most of the people that were initially interested. You have to watch it every week or you get lost…like Lost. Lots of folks prefer to watch shows like that on DVD, but that often gets them cancelled like Flash Forward. The supposed hot demographic of 18-34 just doesn’t watch a lot of network tv anymore. When you’re young and have a life, appointment television is a crazy idea. It’s too difficult and just not worth the effort to follow a show when you know it’ll hit DVD and you can watch it all at your own pace and pause at will. I watch The Event because I was hooked from catching the first few episodes. I was going to skip it, but I watched the first 4 and was hooked. I also tend to not watch television as it airs even if I’m at home because I could be doing something else and can fast forward through commercials when I watch the show later. I don’t have a nice TV, and streaming is uncomfortable to watch at a desk. I’m just a regular television watcher that often doesn’t really want to watch television but I like a good show and I prefer to watch it at my own pace. NBC is really good about having their shows available to view on their website, so I would hope they take those numbers into account before they cancel a good show like The Event.

    And Heroes turned to crap because of the writers’ strike. After that, I disliked the overall direction and changes made to the show. Bring it back to wrap the story, but not to keep it going.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QKN5MHOI6VUFOYCTV5REK7M7A4 Jacob

    There’s already a Heroes comic.

  • Sephy

    The thing is that Leno did say he was planning on stepping down, that was when NBC lined up Conan to be his successor. The problem arose when Leno pulled a Brett Favre and didnt want to retire, thus we got the flop known as “The Jay Leno Show” and instead of punishing Leno for being a flip flopper they tried to bone over Conan.

  • dark

    Heroes was a ripoff of X-Men. Also, it had some boring characters. The reason TV sucks these days is TV shows have good storylines with terrible character development. Heroes sucked.

  • http://iamwallis.tumblr.com iamwallis

    I think you missed the example i provided. X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Reread my statement, watch that film, and then take your  recap of what was untrue and refutable and well, shove it.

    or continue being excited about and defending pure feces. Im sure you are overly ecstatic about the teen wolf remake on mtv. im sure thats up your alley on something that was improved on. Have fun watching repeats of the remakes of Knight Rider and the Bionic Woman.

    Oh and it turns out NBC even thought the show was crap and didn’t order it.