Low-rated football drama gets 2nd season
“Friday Night Lights” has scored a second season from NBC.
Also Thursday, the Peacock firmed up its drama plans for next season, giving the go-ahead to four new hourlongs: “The Bionic Woman,” “Chuck,” Journeyman” and “Life.”
The “Friday Night Lights” touchdown came in the fourth quarter with just seconds left on the clock. News ends weeks of speculation over whether the critically acclaimed but low-rated show would pull off a last-minute Hail Mary.
The stats weren’t stellar for the primetime pigskin player after all. Season to date, “Friday Night Lights” has averaged only a 2.3 rating/6 share and 6.1 million viewers overall. With those low numbers, an order for “Friday Night Lights” wasn’t guaranteed.
But NBC Entertainment prexy Kevin Reilly has championed the show as part of NBC’s “first be best, then be first” mantra — and the net already renewed another highly praised but low-rated skein, the Tina Fey laffer “30 Rock.”
Net wasn’t ready to officially confirm the order Thursday — preferring to make the grand reveal during its New York upfront presentation Monday — but is expected to order a full 22 episodes of the drama. Move is sure to spur a spate of high-fives among the nation’s TV critics.
NBC Universal TV Studio and Imagine TV are behind “Friday Night Lights,” which comes from exec producer Peter Berg (who wrote and directed the feature on which the show was based), as well as Jason Katims, Brian Grazer, David Nevins and Sarah Aubrey. Kyle Chandler stars as coach Eric Taylor in the show set in the world of small-town Texas high school football.
“We were confident but all experienced enough to know that anything can happen,” Berg said of the show’s prospects. “It was never a sure thing. All I can say is that Kevin Reilly and Jeff Zucker are men of their word.”
Berg said he was told that “Lights” will most likely air later than its current 8 p.m. slot — a move the producers have been advocating.
“Lights” already received a six script order last month, giving the show’s writers an early jump.
NBC “hasn’t asked for any changes,” Berg said. “They’ve embraced the personality of the show. Hopefully, we can continue to grow.”
“Friday Night Lights” also stars Connie Britton, Scott Porter, Gaius Charles, Taylor Kitsch, Zach Gifford, Minka Kelly, Aimee Teegarden, Adrianne Palicki and Jesse Plemons.
As for the new pickups, “The Bionic Woman,” from exec producers David Eick, Glen Morgan, Jason Smilovic and Michael Dinner, stars Michelle Ryan as a woman remade into a techno wonder (on a show itself remade from a 1970s hit). NBC Universal TV Studio produces.
Josh Schwartz is behind “Chuck,” a spy comedy/drama that stars Zachary Levi as a regular guy who accidentally learns government secrets. Warner Bros. TV produces; Schwartz and McG exec produce.
“Journeyman,” from 20th Century Fox TV, centers on a man (Kevin McKidd) who travels through time to right wrongs. Kevin Falls and Alex Graves exec produce.
“Life” stars Damian Lewis as a wrongly imprisoned cop who decides to take his old job after he’s released from prison. NBC Universal TV Studio is behind the show, exec produced by Rand Ravich and Far Shariat.
Comedy pilot producers were still waiting by the phone Thursday, but sure shots appeared to include “The I.T. Crowd.” Other laffers said to still be in contention included “Lipshitz Saves the World.”