Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 07/21/2014 8:18 AM | Comments: 0
HOLLYWOOD — So, a funny thing happened to NBC on its way to the U.S. networks’ semi-annual press tour in Los Angeles.
It stopped being the network everyone laughs at.
This might not be so amusing to its broadcastnetwork competitors — ABC, CBS, Fox and the CW — but for NBC, there was plenty of reason to smile after it won the fallto- spring ratings race for the first time in more than a decade and finished the job of shedding the "mired in fourth place" label that it had worn in recent years.
"We had a pretty great season," NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt said during the obligatory Q&A with press-tour reporters that all network bosses face twice each year. "We’re No. 1 in the (18-to-49) demo; we’re the only network up year to year, almost 10 per cent to date. Even if you take the (winter) Olympics out of our numbers, we would still be No. 1 for the year."
The resurgence of NBC is a direct result of the choices Greenblatt and his programming team have made since he took control of the struggling network’s prime-time schedule three-and-a-half years ago, creating a lineup that includes The Voice, The Blacklist, the Dick Wolf-produced duo of Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D., Parenthood, Grimm, Law & Order: SVU and the TV-sports franchise that has become television’s top-rated program,
Sunday Night Football.
Of course, as big a job as it has been to get NBC back to the top, keeping it there will be an even bigger challenge. The hopes for continued NBC dominance are pinned to a handful of new shows that will première this fall and a cluster of other new titles that will be added throughout 2014-15.
There will be more failures than successes; that’s the simple mathematical truth during the mass-launch frenzy of the fall season. But realistically, all NBC needs is for one or two of its new shows to stick, and for its returning series to maintain their momentum, for the once-again-proud peacock to continue its current ratings ride.
Based on pilots shown to critics in the lead-up to this summer’s TV press tour, one of the rookie offerings most likely to break out of the fall-launch clutter is A to Z , a quietly charming romantic comedy that brings Cristin Milioti (the finally revealed mother in How I Met Your Mother) back in another girlwho- will-meet-the-guy role.
A to Z , which will air in a Thursday-night block with another new comedy, Bad Judge, follows the burgeoning relationship between a
hopeless romantic named Andrew ( Mad Men’s Ben Feldman) and a commitment-averse lawyer named Zelda (Milioti), whose paths cross one day when her work takes her to the office of the online-dating service where he’s employed.
Their eyes meet, and each recognizes something in the other — maybe they’ve met before; maybe they were just meant to meet — but while Andrew embraces the sentiment, Zelda is quick to dismiss, deflect and deny.
What happens next is what the show’s producers, and NBC executives, hope will play out over the span of several seasons.
The chemistry of the two young stars is what makes the series pilot as intriguing as it is.
"I think that chemistry, both as people and as actors, it’s either there or not," said Milioti.
"You can put two people together in a show and put two people together on set and hope for the best and light it in the right way, but I would say that you can tell when it’s there, and it’s from the second you meet someone.
"You know the minute that it’s right, both in life and even in front of 20 executives with notepads. It’s either there or it’s not, and it was absolutely there (at Feldman’s A to Z audition). We had quick rehearsal in an office, and then we went in and it just... I don’t know. It’s not tangible. I don’t think it’s something you can manufacture. You can’t."
Come September, NBC may be counting on that chemistry to support the mathematics of its recent ratings triumph.
email@example.com Twitter: @BradOswald
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 21, 2014 C3
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
It ain't easy to boss the Boss
Talkin' 'bout a revolutionary
TV picks of the week
Correction to `Ice Pilots NWT' story
Return to Dog River so much fun you could spit
Country singer Boyd crowned 'The Voice' champion
The D'oh of Homer: Professors employ TV's Simpsons
Conan O'Brien takes you out in new primetime TBS special
Ice Pilots set to fly off into sunset
CBC-TV to adapt Ava Lee book series
It's the end of truthiness as we know it
Over and out: TV flops, exits and endings in 2014
Don Rickles overcomes leg infection
2014 gave viewers great shows on-air and online
David Arquette on working with Courteney Cox
TV Blog Buzz: The next 'Walking Dead' villains?
Sorkin's show spirals to irrelevancy
TLC to launch 'All About Sex' late-night talk show
English Premier League to play on Friday nights
Johnson provides 'Wake Up Call' in new TV series
Weather porn? Storms take over evening news
Baeumlers go country in new 'House of Bryan'
Boyhood, Birdman top Globes list
Ex-TV pitchman accused in owl attack released
'Beverly Hillbillies' actor sues CBS over chain
CBC's local newscast cut to 60 minutes
David Arquette 'so excited' for sister
Popular 'Home Alone' almost didn't get made
Podcasts reviving classic television shows
CBC shortens local supper-hour newscasts
HBO, Showtime dominate TV nods
Globe nominations for TV comedy series actor
Golden Globe nominations for animated film