Peacock plumage peels off

Must-see gives way to may-see

HOLLYWOOD — NBC is enjoying its most dominant season in years, but it seems the Peacock plumage isn’t quite as bright these days.

HBO is winning the awards, younger series on other webs are getting more ink and buzz, and the net has gradually removed itself from two staples of network television: professional sports and original movies.

Still, Olympics or not, NBC will win in the key demo of adults 18-49 for the sixth time in seven seasons because of its series. Period.

Net’s core strength remains a group of five shows — “Friends,” “ER,” “Law & Order,” “Will & Grace” and “Frasier” — that have been around a combined 45 years.

Third-year series “West Wing” and “Law & Order: SVU” are also key players, but it’s clear that the net’s most recent offerings have failed to generate the rabid interest of the young, urban, upscale viewers that the net seeks.

First-year entry “Scrubs,” NBC’s strongest new comedy since “Will & Grace,” probably best sums up the net’s frustration in finding the next big thing.

The quirky, well-reviewed series about young doctors has been a solid performer for the net, retaining nearly 90% of lead-in “Frasier’s” audience. But thus far, at least, it doesn’t have that “Must-See,” water-cooler chitchat quality.

Maybe a few years ago on NBC, through osmosis or something, it would have.

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