NBC’s Creative Highs, Ratings Lows in ‘1600 Penn’

NBC's Creative Highs, Ratings Lows '1600

Though its audience struggles continued Thursday with another sub-1.0 rating in the 18-49 demo, “1600 Penn” keeps finding new gears creatively, setting itself (and its star, Josh Gad) up to be among the top underdog Emmy contenders of 2013.

You can underline “underdog,” because “1600 Penn” is another sad tale of a good comedy on NBC that is in trouble but doesn’t deserve to be.

Here’s a scene that tickled me from Thursday’s episode. Perhaps you need to have been watching the show all along to appreciate it, but everything is working in this sequence: good direction, clever dialogue and a pitch-perfect emotional buildup, thanks in no small part to Gad’s silky line readings with Andre Holland.

Because of the show’s shaky future, it’s not surprising that someone from the “1600 Penn” cast has already found a potential new gig — though the one who did from a group that includes Gad, Bill Pullman and Jenna Elfman might surprise you. Benjamin Stockham, who plays pre-teen Xander Gilchrest, has been booked for NBC’s adaptation of “About a Boy” with Minnie Driver and David Walton — the latter, appropriately enough, a graduate of last year’s unappreciated NBC comedy, “Bent.” There’s still a show to be saved here.

It sure is weird about NBC, isn’t it? Even with sunset arriving on “30 Rock” and “The Office,” the Peacock could have had a Thursday night block in 2013-14 of “Community,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Bent” and “1600 Penn” that creatively no network could match. (Since we’re speaking hypothetically, Dan Harmon could still be running “Community,” which is getting mixed reviews in his absence.)  Maybe NBC has comedy pilots that will do better in the ratings right off the bat — maybe “About a Boy” is one of them — but how long have we been hearing that one?  I’m not sure there’s a better strategy for NBC than for it just to let its best shows run and taking what it can get from them.

If nothing else, here’s one other thing: Along with talent like exec producer/director Jason Winer and exec producer Mike Royce, if I had Gad, the ex-“Book of Mormon” star, under contract, I sure wouldn’t let him go.

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  1. Beth Norman says:

    As long as people will watch and find pleasure in Kardashians, Honey boo boo, or other similar, of course that smart shows like 1600 Penn won’t be appreciated. Intelligent, deep ideas, wise lines, are too much for them, and this tells the level of education, intellect, I wouldn’t know whose: the network or the audience?
    Anyhow, too many good shows have been cancelled.

  2. Just wanna say I hope the show goes on! Loved it instantly. Spiderman beating up Batman, anyone?

  3. Larry Morris says:

    1600 Penn is just not funny. Josh Gad is too stale and his character’s presence requires so much suspension of disbelief that it ruins already luke warm jokes the episode delivers. The premise is funny but the show is highly underwhelming. I don’t know why it’s not funnier?

  4. TC says:

    We skipped on the first six weeks of 1600 Penn because it looked like it would be bad, but we have been pleasantly surprised by it. I think it all comes down to whether you find Skip to be a funny character or not, and we find him funny.

  5. jazzy says:

    This is not a clever show.

    It is a clever show if you are a moron.

    The ratings are terrible for a reason. People don’t want to watch this garbage.

    • JONI says:

      People are not morons based on their TV preferences. I find it much more telling that you came onto a forum to disparage a show you consider garbage and the antithesis of clever. Save everyone your hostility and rudeness and don’t waste your own time. Generally TV is mindless entertainment. May I suggest a book to counter your distaste?

  6. Love 1600 Penn! It’s silly but so smart under it all. I hope it makes it!

  7. Jon P says:

    1600 Penn is fun and sweet and one of the best new shows I’ve seen in awhile. I hope NBC keeps it around.

  8. Lauralee says:

    I love 1600 Penn! I hope it doesn’t get cancelled. I want to know what’s going to happen with Becca and “DB.” As a stepmom myself, I’m enjoying watching Emily’s relationships with her stepkids develop. I think this show has a lot of potential. I agree that at first I wasn’t as ‘into’ all the characters – but now, I’m really starting to like each character as I get to ‘know’ them better. I hope NBC gives it at least another season. :-)

  9. Steve says:

    Is this an article or a fanboy site? The people have spoken on both 1600 and Bent and they’re not interested. 1600 had the best lead in NBC could give it and it couldn’t hold half the audience.

    • Jon Weisman says:

      Well, if NBC went by “the people have spoken” they’d have to cancel everything that wasn’t football or singing. In particular, “Bent” didn’t have a chance – six episodes airing in three weeks, including a premiere against “Modern Family.”

      Ultimately, the good shows should be given a longer leash.

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