NBC counts on ‘Earl’

20th skein is first fall laffer to score a pickup

NBC is giving the thumbs up to “My Name Is Earl,” ordering the back nine episodes of the frosh laffer from 20th Century Fox TV.

Skein is the first fall comedy to get a full-season pickup. With the extra episodes, Peacock’s commitment to the show has been extended to 22 episodes.

“Earl” had aired just two episodes prior to the pickup, but early ratings have been encouraging. Last week’s second seg averaged a 5.1/13 in adults 18-49, a 23% decline from the show’s boffo premiere numbers and good enough to rank it as the week’s top laffer in 18-49. Overall, “Earl” has boosted NBC’s 9 p.m. Tuesday average by a staggering 61%.

“We are extremely encouraged by the response to ‘Earl’ from the audience and critics alike,” NBC Entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly said.  “(Creator) Greg Garcia and the producers are doing a great job creatively and Jason Lee’s Earl is a truly original TV comedy character that we hope will be around for years to come.”

NBC could have waited until seeing this week’s episode-three numbers for “Earl” before greenlighting the back nine, but apparently wanted to give the show a strong vote of confidence.

Success of “Earl” is key for Reilly, who was a passionate voice of support for the laffer last May, when the net was deciding its fall lineup. While it’s too soon to declare “Earl” a hit, indications are positive that NBC at the very least has found a much-needed comedy building block.

While “Earl” is the first frosh laffer to get a back nine, a few others are looking good. CBS likely will order more segs of 20th’s “How I Met Your Mother,” while Fox has to be happy with the solid showing of Warner Bros. TV’s “The War at Home.”

Not doing so well: NBC’s “Inconceivable.”

Peacock has pulled the fertility clinic sudser from its lineup this week— not a positive sign for the show. Instead, net has slotted a repeat of “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” in the 10 p.m. Friday slot where “Inconceivable” has been airing the past two weeks.

Latter skein was dead on arrival in the ratings and slipped to near record-low Nielsen numbers in the timeslot last week.

Ironically, NBC killed another “Law & Order” skein — “Trial by Jury” — to make room for “Inconceivable.” “Trial by Jury” performed significantly better than the new series.

For now, “Inconceivable” is slated to return to the NBC lineup on Oct. 14, and production on the show is continuing.

However, if the “L&O” repeat performs much better than “Inconceivable,” Peacock brass will be hard-pressed not to make a permanent sked change to the Friday slot.

Net already has problems elsewhere on Friday, with “Dateline” taking a dive this season and “Three Wishes” not generating much heat. To try to drum up interest in “Wishes,” net is planning a two-hour edition of the skein this week from 8 to 10.

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