While NBC has struggled mightily in recent weeks without its top shows, the future suddenly looks brighter for two of its veteran series.
Amid the mess that has become NBC primetime since football and “The Voice” left its air, family drama “Parenthood” and college-set comedy “Community” have emerged as shows that have to now be considered locks to return next season. They’re not especially great ratings performers, but they look like “ER” compared with some of the historically low-rated shows the net has been serving up.
Both shows have loyal followings and are considered by critics to be two of the two Peacock’s best series. “Parenthood” wrapped its fourth season in January, and “Community” kicked off its fourth season Feb. 7.
Yet it was a reasonable assumption within the biz about six months ago that this would be the final year for both. The order for “Parenthood” was for just 15 episodes, and the show was to wrap halfway through the season, while “Community,” which had lost its creator (Dan Harmon), was slated for just 13 episodes — and banished to Friday nights starting in mid-October.
“Community” never ended up airing on Fridays, though, and instead was called upon at midseason to lead off Thursday night. Its season-premiere rating was solid (a 1.9 in adults 18-49 on a network that averaged a 1.2 for the week), and though it doesn’t figure to stay that high in coming weeks, it remains one of net’s stronger scripted assets.
NBC is losing Thursday vets “The Office” and “30 Rock,” and its comedy prospects elsewhere look bleak. Wednesday’s “Whitney” and “Guys With Kids” logged 1.2 ratings in their most recent outings, while Tuesday newcomers “Go On” (1.3 for its most recent episode) and “The New Normal” (1.1) have proved to be paper tigers after putting up pretty good numbers in the fourth quarter behind “The Voice.”
“Community” and Thursday skedmate “Parks and Recreation” give NBC something around which to attack Thursday next fall. It might be a good idea, though, to get “Community” out of the 8 p.m. slot, where it’s asked to go up against the top-rated series on both CBS (“The Big Bang Theory”) and Fox (“American Idol”).
“Parenthood,” meanwhile, averaged a 1.8 same-night 18-49 average for its 15 episodes, and a 2.8 when full-week DVR playback is included. Again while not great, it’s a solid number and — unlike the comedies airing in the hour preceding it — the show didn’t droop in January for its final episodes when “The Voice” wasn’t around.
So as NBC looks ahead to next season, “Community” and “Parenthood” take on greater resonance.