The emaciated Peacock has finally grown a few new feathers.
A year after NBC plucked scripted fare off its 10 p.m. lineup, last month’s decision to restore dramas has already paid off with “Parenthood.”
As the network looks toward a complete rebuild after the “Jay Leno Show” disaster, it took another step forward Tuesday by giving “Parenthood” a second-season order.
Greenlight follows renewals of first-year entries “Community” (which has earned solid critical acclaim) and “The Marriage Ref” (which has not).
“Parenthood’s” performance at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays — coupled with “Marriage Ref” on Thursdays and “Law and Order: SVU” on Wednesdays — has helped bolster NBC’s audience in the hour post-Winter Olympics.
Peacock is up 63% with adults 18-49 on Monday through Friday at 10 p.m. — having averaged a 1.6 rating with “Leno” pre-Olympics, vs. a 2.6 now. The overall audience is up 45%, from 5.3 million to 7.7 million. CBS and ABC, meanwhile, are down in the hour.
Peacock still has a long way to go — and a lot of holes to fill — to recover from several years of ratings woes and corporate neglect. For full primetime, NBC is actually down 19% with adults 18-49 post-Olympics. The nets traditionally drop in the spring because of daylight saving time but CBS, ABC and Fox are posting smaller drops.
But the 10 p.m. boost is a start and has soothed cranky affiliates, which now have a stronger lead-in for their 11 p.m. newscasts on the night.
The “Parenthood” pickup is, at the very least, good news in a year where that’s been hard to come by at NBC.
“I had one goal in coming back this season — to get one or two shows that would return,” said NBC primetime entertainment prexy Angela Bromstad, who was brought in last year, along with reality topper Paul Telegdy, to revive primetime. “To have ‘Community’ and ‘Parenthood,’ and now have Adam Scott and Rob Lowe joining ‘Parks and Recreation,’ which is getting better and better creatively, it’s so important to rebuild and have these returning shows.
“Hopefully these become building blocks and make the entire schedule healthier — and sexier,” she said.
NBC also recently gave renewals to “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Minute to Win It,” both of which can be saved as utility players at some point next season.
As Bromstad and company prepare for pilot screenings, the net also appears to have a few real contenders for fall, including David Shore’s new take on “The Rockford Files,” J.J. Abrams’ “Undercovers,” David E. Kelley’s “Kindreds,” Jerry Bruckheimer’s “Chase” and David Lyons starrer “The Cape.”
As for “Parenthood,” the Tuesday night drama has benefited from its “The Biggest Loser” lead-in, as well as NBC’s promo blitz during the Winter Olympics.
Show has averaged a solid 3.2 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 and 7.8 million viewers. “When you have auspices like Jason Katims and Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, and their passion, it’s much easier to say ‘yes’,” Bromstad said. “We wanted the show to live up to the NBC legacy of quality programming. And that’s where we wound up.”
NBC would have picked up the show sooner, but the network and studio had to resolve budget questions. With such a large cast, “Parenthood” isn’t cheap.
“We had to make sure we were going forward and producing for the right number,” Bromstad said.
But Katims is known for running a tight ship — he produced “Friday Night Lights” for DirecTV and NBC on a small budget. Berkeley-set “Parenthood” saves coin by shooting on Universal’s backlot.
Meanwhile, whether “Parenthood” stays at 10 p.m. remains to be seen. As a family-oriented show, “Parenthood” might fit earlier in the evening, allowing NBC to try some grittier new shows later in the evening. But the Peacock also might not want to mess with what’s working.
The show was originally slated in the fall for Wednesdays at 8 p.m., until original star Maura Tierney had to drop out due to health issues.
Tierney’s departure was one of several challenges that “Parenthood” faced early on. The show, which stars Lauren Graham, Peter Krause, Monica Potter, Craig T. Nelson, Bonnie Bedelia and Erika Christensen, is based on the 1989 film of the same name.
“My only concern in doing it again was to not tarnish the legacy of a great movie,” said Imagine TV topper David Nevins. “This definitely was, in a lot of ways, the seminal movie for the company, and for Brian and Ron. But between Jason and the outstanding cast, the show feels really relevant for the times.”
Katims, Grazer, Howard and Nevins exec produce “Parenthood” for Imagine TV and Universal Media Studios.