Still Too Soon to Tell on NBC ‘Comeback’ Story

My former colleague Joe Adalian takes a timely look at NBC’s performance this fall, and whether its competitive gains are legitimate.

Frankly, I say we hand the whole question over to Nate Silver. He appears to be on a roll after calling the election right.

But just to throw in my two cents, I have to say the “NBC comeback” story feels premature, in part because seven hours of its primetime lineup — or roughly a third of the entire schedule — will be gone during the first quarter of 2013, with “The Voice” taking a breather and “Sunday Night Football” (which fills in four hours on Sunday nights) going away.

Granted, NBC has had the Sunday problem for years, and managed to eke out a decent showing with “Celebrity Apprentice,” which also means dealing with the publicity train-wreck that is Donald Trump. Then again, in this business you can’t make an omelet without whipping up a few attention-starved bozos.

Still, I’m not entirely sold on some of NBC’s new shows, most notably “Revolution” and “Go On,” having legs, and the dismantling of Thursday night looks like a problem with no exit right now.

NBC brass deserves credit for rolling the dice on a fall edition of “The Voice” and being rewarded. Not only has the show performed well, but it has given the network a launching pad it has sorely lacked.

That said, I’m not sure there’s really a way to pump up something like “Smash” when it returns, and all the networks are finding getting positive reviews of new comedies is somewhat easier than inspiring audiences to watch them.

NBC has made some inroads, but in terms of its competitive standing, the best weapon in its arsenal might be the collective challenges broadcasters are facing. In other words, gravity.

So unlike the judges on “The Voice,” I wouldn’t be jumping out of my chair just yet.



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