News Briefs: NBC Is Done Making "Sophisticated" Comedies

UH-OH, HERE WE GO NEWS

... NBC held its TCA (Television Critics Association) session today, and the network has pretty much decided to give up on the whole good comedy thing. Once home to smash hits Seinfeld, Cheers, and Friends, and currently home to critically praised series Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, and Community, NBC will steer its comedy production away from "sophisticated" sitcoms in an effort to "broaden the audience." Translation: Expect a lot more shots to the balls and fewer things that are actually funny from NBC in the future. NBC boss Bob Greenblatt also said that comedies Whitney and Up All Night were "steps in the right direction" of where they want their comedy to be. Yep, here comes a new era of Must-Wince TV. It should be noted that Greenblatt also did not rule out extending Community's upcoming fourth season, but of course he's going to say that. [Time]


BUSINESS TIME

... Hey, vampires are still a thing, right? NBC, always with its thumb on the pulse of pop culture's corpse, has ordered a new undead drama Dracula to series with a 10-episode order. Former The Tudors star Jonathan Rhys Meyers will play the fanged one in 1890s London as he gets revenge on people who ruined his life and falls in love with some hot chicks. [Deadline Hollywood]

... The adult cast members of Modern Family are in the process of renegotiating their contracts, and to show they mean business, they've teamed up and sued producer 20th Century Fox Television. Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sofia Vergara, and Ed O'Neill are all asking for much more money than they're being offered, which is already a lot of money. But Modern Family is a gigantor megahit that's making ABC and 20th Century Fox a lot of skrilla, so there should be enough to go around. The cast is also suing the Emmys for not having enough Emmys for them. [THR]

... Discovery has greenlit Bering Sea Gold: Under the Ice, a docudrama from the creators of Deadliest Catch. It will follow tough guys as they dig under the ice for gold instead of making their fortunes like real men: by selling Beanie Babies on eBay. [EW]

... MTV is bringing back House of Style, AGAIN. The fashion-centric program, originally hosted by Cindy Crawford, will return October 9. No host has been announced, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he or she will be hot as balls. [EW]

... VH1 has given a series order to Bounce, a scripted series about professional dancers for a pro basketball team. Here's a description for you: "Pete Davenport (Dean Cain) is the former all-star who’s come back to coach his old team only to have to contend with the girls stealing the spotlight and distracting his players." And that's all you need to know about that. [Deadline Hollywood]

... HBO has ordered a pilot for Hello Ladies starring Ricky Gervais' buddy and The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant. The comedy will follow Merchant as he tries to find love in Los Angeles. [Deadline Hollywood]


CASTING NEWS

... Do you love awesome casting for awesome shows? Then put on your seat belt and tighten your backpack straps and polish your shoes because you're going to love this! Person of Interest will bring in two Tim Surette favorites as guest stars next season: Ken Leung (Lost) and Margo Martindale (Emmy winner for Justified). No details on either role were revealed. Leung's appearance was first announced at Comic-Con. [TV Guide]

... Alcatraz and Sons of Anarchy vet Sarah Jones has joined the cast of CBS's good-looking drama Vegas. She'll play the daughter of a Chicago gangster who works in a casino. She will continue to capture criminals who've time-traveled from famous prisons in my heart, though. Long live Rebecca Madsen! [Deadline Hollywood]


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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I watched all the "critically acclaimed" comedies of NBC...I never laughed once. Its fine being sophisticated when doing science....but comedy should have one key thing....IT SHOULD BE FUNNY...30 rock sucks...parks and rec really really sucks(what is funny about that blond old lady saying "yes"????!!!!), community would be funny if chevy chase fell down more..but he doesn't so it sucks..the office(never laughed) hated the pretentious charaters, take all those shows the only way they would be funny is if Stewie popped up in them and killed all those pretentious self involved PC bots on those shows.

If i don't laugh...it is not a comedy...all those programs are pure sheet
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Margo's pretty cool, but I want Guererro, of Human Target, to guest in Person of Interest!
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NBC makes the worst cancel vs air decisions of any network on TV which is why they have flushed themselves downed the ratings toilet.
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This is not the first time NBC has made almost this exact same eye rolling statement, except the last time they did it was light of an actual successful comedy designed around low class, er, I mean, "blue collar" viewers. My Name Is Earl. NBC was big on "No more Frasier style comedy" type comments back then, and it made me depressed, but then they flat out cancelled My Name Is Earl kind of out of the blue (I like Jason Lee, but the show was pretty stupid), and started making smart shows again, many of which largely have thrived.



So I have to ask NBC...why u so retarded about stuff?
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i believe the way TV shows measure their success must change, critically aclaimed and very popular shows suffer because their watchers have moved to different mediums other than television to watch them, so good TV goes aways, while mediocre TV begins to seem like the winning formula ( but it isn't ) and who suffers...us.

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Screw NBC, they cancelled Awake.
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I hear that, next to Awake and Parks, Grimm was only thing left to dvr. Network greed pits shows in same time slot and nights as everything else and surprised when shows fail. lol Awake was perfect! Much like Missing, had a major film star . Neilsen needs to cater to the working class who can't dvr everything and rely on Hulu to catch up, they pay cable bill, Dish etc that help pay networks to entertain . Time to start counting dvr and Hulu etc as ratings markers! This is 2012 and Neilsen stuck in the 50's. sad
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Wait Whitney was a step into the right direction? Seriously!? LOL! Wow.
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NBC has had so many good shows, so WHY would they want to dumb it down for crap. Whitney is such a terrible show--we do not need MORE of those.
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I want to see Weeds actor on his new Vet show, But of course on a Wednesday. One of the busiest TV nights. Sunday thru Wed and in Fall Thursdays super busy. In Fall will now only have Last Man and Fringe on Fridays, CW and Grimm both moving. auuugh! When Fringe exits, what is left? LOL good luck networks.
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"NBC will steer its comedy production away from 'sophisticated' sitcoms in an effort to 'broaden the audience.'"



I can't believe he worded it in that way, he's essentially calling audiences stupid.
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I don't care...they fired Harmon...NBC is dead to me.
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NBC: Nothin' But Crap
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Sophisticated seems the wrong word, Friends and Cheers were just well written and funny, you can have less sophisticated and still be good. Up All Night genuinely made me laugh and has a good cast, Whitney does look fairly bad though. It's controversial but the few times when Community has failed have been when it crawls too far up it's own a$$ and forgets that it's a sitcom at heart, same for 30 Rock the quality has dipped a little over the seasons. Parks and Rec. is often not that sophisticated but is well performed, damn funny and embraces the fact that it is a situation comedy. I think NBC just mean that they want to be lazier hire cheaper writers and not worry too much about how the show comes out, and that's the most deplorable thing. Show some balls, make it funny and I'll laugh, trot out the same old cliches and have bad scripts and they can p*** off.
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Whitney is the right direction! I'm dying! You're killing me NBC!
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sad, if whitney and up all night are in the right direction then i'm done with nbc after this year.



Geez the modern family cast are a--holes, suing the emmys for not having enough emmys for them. Their entire cast is nominated in every damn category. The show is good but not that good.
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The part about the Emmys was obviously a joke. Maybe you're joking too, but the last two sentences make it look like you're not.
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No sir, you are correct, I am an idiot. I have the flu and am heavily medicated, so I hope that played a role in me not seeing that as a joke. Never comment while under medication, lesson learned
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It's unfortunate that NBC, once the king of television with shows like The Cosby Show, Cheers, Frasier, Friends, and Seinfeld (among many other classics), has gone in this downward spiral that they just can't seem to get out of. My suggestion would be to return to comedies like those, not to go in the other direction and dumb everything down. You think viewers won't immediately catch onto that act and stop watching those new shows as well?! Honestly, I've never seen a more incapable group of network executives.



On the other hand, it is also up to viewers to actually tune in to shows or buy them on iTunes, not just stream them online. Many people claim to be loyal fans of certain shows (such as Community, The Office, Parks and Recreation, or 30 Rock), but then also refuse to actually watch these shows legally. In the end of the day, NBC is forced to cancel the great shows, simply because nobody actually wants to support them.



In sum, it's a two-way street: NBC needs to return to the gold of the 80's, 90's, and early 2000's, but viewers also need to pledge to actually (legally) watch those shows. Otherwise, NBC will, from time to time, strike gold with a comedy, but will be forced to cancel it, or will just produce garbage to save money and try to attract "that" viewership.
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Hunky vampires huh? That's original! Really fresh... teenagers will love it.... you may be onto something truly groundbreaking NBC....
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I didn't realize I was sophisticated. How 'bout that? The sophisticated comedies are about the only shows I still watch on NBC.



I heard that the Modern Family actors want to get rid of the exclusivity clause in their contracts, more than just more money. What's up?
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I always find it hard to understand why great shows like 30 Rock & Community struggle to find an audience but dross like 2 Broke Girls is a hit.

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Community is the only show that I really watch on NBC, if they drop that they lose me as a viewer.
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Actually Grimm is not too bad ... and not proud of it but watching Smash too...
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Like in business, "location, location, location." It's all about "ratings, ratings, ratings" with shows. It's just a rarity that a sophisticated show of any kind will be a ratings bonanza in America. A big problem is the archaic ratings method through Nielsen. I'm not sure if DVR's are tracked to find out what people record but if so it'd be more representative. And nowadays with illegal downloading that gets ratings way out of whack.



Since the networks own all the cable networks, I wish they'd set aside sophisticated comedies to a cable network and some are I suppose.





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Most of the audience for sitcoms today are kids. Making a comedy that requires actually reading or refers to something that happened 30 or 40 years ago may be too complex for someone watching today. And way too many sitcoms rely upon the same old tired jokes ripped from sitcoms of the past.

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"I think the fans of Community are going to get the same show that they have loved from the beginning. Every so often, it's time to make a change with the showrunner. You sort of evaluate the creative and how the show is run and how the writing staff works [and] sometimes you want to freshen the show. We just decided it was time to do that on Community. No disrespect to anyone."



Can you believe this guy? So first he says it's gonna be the same show, and then he implies that they fired Harmon because the show needed a change.
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This will not be difficult to check: if the public wants unsophisticated comedies, good for NBC. If it doesn't, it will be the public itself to make them know they were horribly wrong by turning on other channels.
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Wow, I honestly thought a few years ago that NBC would realize what they've been doing wrong and FIX it but no..they've just taken yet another huge step toward the cliff of TV network doom. I don't know what's up with the VIEWERS, but NBC put out a bunch of solid shows and then they either failed in the numbers or just sucked!



Look at Heroes. It was as good as a TV should could possibly be for the first 2 1/2 seasons and then blam! Dead. Next, we have Chuck. My personal favorite show but because of its lack of viewers, the writers were backed into a corner time and time again forcing out all their best ideas way too fast giving them little to work with toward the end and thus: blam, dead! Again! I could go on and on but you get the picture now.



I guess I understand why they'd throw in the towel and decide to put out more crap; I mean, at the end of they this IS a business and they do have jobs which they probably want to keep... The problem is CBS. The peddle rancid puke for the masses that's easy to swallow. That's the reality of this matter; it's what people want. Just sucks for those of us who think.
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You shouldn't blame anyone but the writers for what happened with Heroes. The first season was great, except for the disappointing finale. The second was meh. The third was the worst written garbage ever shown on TV. Every character was randomly flip-flopping between good and evil for no reason whatsoever, and nothing made sense. So a lot of viewers abandoned the show.



The show was pretty much dead by then, but NBC still renewed it for a fourth season. I'm not sure why. Maybe they were desperately holding on to the hope that some of the viewers would come back. Maybe they just wanted to reach the magic 88 episodes needed for syndication.



I enjoyed Chuck, but the concept had gotten pretty stale by the end. It ran much longer than I ever thought it would. I'm surprised that they didn't cancel it a couple of years earlier.
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True what you said about the writers for Heroes, that's undeniable; however, Chuck was another story. NBC threatened the cancel the series at the end of literally every season (except maybe the first). So, in this case the blame goes to the network for putting the writers in such a jam..
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Sophisticated sitcoms is where to go in Network TV, they dont have the same creative freedom as cable (FX is a prime example).....The problem with Network tv is that they have to water down everything, if they loosen up and give the makers more freedom then shows like Community and Parks might have a broader audience and shows like TaaHM and TBBT wont be ratings juggernauts
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As long as Parks and Rec stays on the schedule I don't really care what NBC does. I would love it if Community continued, but considering the low ratings I get that it might not be a possibility. NBC is a business, and at the moment it is failing, so I understand that it is trying new things to be successful, but I hope making crappy TV shows isn't the answer they're looking for.

I am kinda hoping this Modern Family situation doesn't go well, so that come next year they don't suck up all the Emmy nominations.

And as a Lost and Justified fan, the casting news for Person of Interest is awesome.
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Oh God NBC...Whitney is a a horrible direction to go in.
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What is wrong with tv execs? do they not watch tv themselves?
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Nope, they are too busy bossing people around and massaging their huge egos
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NBC, you are everything that is wrong with TV. I know you're not much for sophistication, so I'll say this in the broadest way I know how:



GO. FUCK. YOURSELVES.



There. Was that unsophisticated enough for you?
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I won't call any of the shows NBC has ever made "sophisticated". They're funny and they don't always have low brow humor like family guy and south park but saying they sophisticated is a stretch. Parks and Recreation is probably the closest to that description but I would still never call that show sophisticated.
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SouthPark is a very sophisticated show, it just wears a low brow disguise.
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I can't think of another comedy more philosophically sophisticated than Seinfeld.
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Have you seen "Remedial Chaos Theory?!"
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NBC steering away from sophisticated comedy: A slap in the face.

NBC saying that Whitney and Up All Night are steps in the right direction: A kick to the balls. (OK, I'll give Up All Night a break, but Whitney? Seriously, Whitney?)



Sigh, we live in a messed up world. Previous comments sum up my feelings towards NBC, but as much as I hate to admit it, mrjimmyjames's comment reflects reality. NBC wants to rise up and fight with the other networks, but the ratings of it's comedies haven't been that great. It's all about business. They have to do something. If there is someone to blame for NBC's decision to can smart comedies, it's the viewers. If the viewers want dumb TV, NBC has to aim at the lowest common denominator.



However, NBC isn't off the hook yet. It can't claim that the ratings are fully to blame for its decision. ABC, for example, is doing well with its comedies. While they might not be as clever as the ones on NBC, I still find them pretty "sophisticated". So if ABC can do it, so should NBC. It appears a part of the problem NBC has is with planning its schedule and marketing. When NBC is done with kicking its unwanted children to the curb, I hope other networks step up and fill the gaping hole left in the TV landscape with new smart comedies.
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Seinfeld, Cheers, and Friends .... funny shows. Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, Community are not. While all are or have been hits for NBC, the first 3 are completely different TYPES of comedies. The network has been going downhill with comedies for quite some time, maybe not ratings wise, but funny wise, so trying anything new is a step in the right direction.
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List of Programs Ive watched that aired on NBC: Friends. Heroes. Chuck. Community.



I tried Grimm for 4 episodes...it just didn't float my boat, missing that IT factor.



anyway...when Community's gone..I'm gone. sorry NBC. you kinda made up with canceling Heroes by giving Chuck a 5th season...but Community deserves to stay on the air for at least 6 seasons.



I hate the Nielson System
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Whitney and Up All Night are steps in the right direction? People like Greenblatt are the reasons why we can't have nice things.
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About time NBC you have been a crap station for the last 25 plus years the only thing watchable in that time was Whitney right on, I love this knews, I can't wait for this new NBC.
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25 years?! That's just not true. In that massive span, shows like The Cosby Show, Cheers, Frasier, Friends, and Seinfeld were airing, so this comment is the farthest thing from the truth. Recently, NBC has been a terrible station, but they were definitely the kings of TV in the 80's and 90's (and maybe a bit of the early 2000's).
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NBC, don't do this! You have a good thing going! Sure, you might not win in ratings, but your current comedies (Whitney as the exception) are gold. I adore Community, and while The Office has run its course, it was a brilliant comedy in its prime. Please stay away from any intellectually demeaning slapstick comedies, especially ones based on gender, sexuality, or trite family romances.
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In the end of the day, they are a business. If viewers wanted their current comedies, they would have watched them, but NBC consistently gets low viewership. Amazingly, they did not finish last in the ratings last season, but they have to do what they think will be best for business. The only people to blame are the so-called fans of all of these shows - Community supposedly has a massive fan-base, but very few of them actually watch the show on TV or through iTunes - that's not what I would call a loyal fan-base.
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I have to politely disagree with you there. I consider myself a loyal fan of Community even though I rarely have time to watch the show as it airs live. Why? Because I have school, and I am never free to watch shows during the week. I would love to be able to sit down for a half hour or hour to watch my favorite shows, but it just doesn't fit in with my life. Ironically, the only time I do watch TV on the actual television set is Friday, the TV death day. I still, however, watch Community on my DVR or online ASAP.

Furthermore (and I know this is a debatable topic), NBC and other major networks still base their viewership off Nielsen ratings--which now is such an archaic form of judging who the "loyal" fans are.
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NBC has pretty much burned every bridge with me anyway, so I'll be glad to not have any reason to watch it after this season. If Parks and Rec goes, I'm done. Good riddance, (pea)cocks.
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Not shocking. As much as I love shows like 30 Rock, Parks, and The Office, these shows have never done very well in the ratings (despite the critical acclaim). It was inevitable that NBC started to go this route.
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Honestly, it's the supposed fan-bases of all of these shows. The people claim to be loyal fans, but they do not watch the shows on TV or through iTunes. These are not loyal fans, and have no right to complain when NBC cancels these shows.
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yep, that seems about right...
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In related news, NBC is done making compelling dramas, entertaining late night or, you know, any television shows worth making in any way.
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Modern Family overtaking the Emmys in the supporting categories for a subpar season was irritating enough, but then they ask for further salary increases and sue their production company? I'm over this show.



I'm fine with NBC's broad comedy experiment - it'll make it easier to part with them when 30 Rock, Community, and Parks & Rec are done (and may the latter two each have a long series run ahead).
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It's not like they don't deserve the extra money. Modern Family has been one of the highest-rated shows on TV, they bring in a TON of ad money for ABC, the show and its actors consistently receive accolade after accolade, etc. That's just how the world works - the people that bring in the most money for their employers are rewarded with the most money. They bring in hundreds of millions of dollars for ABC and 20th Century Fox, so they should be rewarded with higher salaries. That's capitalism, so there should be no reason to be upset with their current salaries or by the fact that they are asking for more money.
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True, it is all just business and Modern Family does rank high in viewership. It's just that rewarding the actors for a show that hasn't been at its best doesn't sit well with me. But that's life, like you said! I guess the actors' occupation of the Emmy slots is just too bothersome that any negative news of MF clouds my mind about it.
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I'm confused? You decide what to watch on TV by what the actors do OFF SCREEN? This is a joke right. I always thought I was supposed to watch a show if I enjoyed it and didn't watch it if I didn't like it, now I get it, I understand why I enjoyed watching TV for all of these years, I screwed up. Now I will surely hate every moment I spend watching the shows that the Actors make no money and never ask for raises. Thank you for clearing this up with all of us.
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Read the post again. Janter23 didn't in any way insinuate that the off screen behaviour of the actors is the reason why he/she is over modern family. You don't need any other reason than to have watched an episode to be completely turned off by by it banility.
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Dude I was making a joke! I don't watch the show either since I watched 1 episode and it just didn't agree with my stomach. Sorry if I hurt your feelings.
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Ugh. NBC, why must you make me hate you so much? I love Community. It's my favorite comedy show on TV right now, and one of my favorites of all time. I also really enjoy Parks and Recreation, even though I wouldn't put it on the same level as Community. And I've just recently started watching 30 Rock, which seems very promising as well. Granted, I don't know how good current seasons are (I've heard that they're not as good, but I'd prefer to make up my own mind when I get there, and can't see it being as bad as the kind of shows they're planning on picking up). I guess I shouldn't be surprised, considering how royally they screwed with Community after season 4 (not saying it will be bad next season, but even if it's good I still hate the way they're treating the show). I don't mind some more simplistic comedies now and then, but I'd much rather have something along the lines of Community or the other NBC comedies I've seen, so it looks like I'll have to stick with cable for my major comedy fix.
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Sarah Jones is coming back, and working in a casino? Hey, maybe she'll look sexy this time.
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Ah NBC, were bad ideas go to thrive, but not thrive because the audiences aren't as stupid as NBC executives. I only watch Community, Parks and rec, Grimm and the Jimmy Fallon show. And that is it. Hopefully Jimmy Fallon will smarten up and jump to CBS when Letterman retires. But other than him there is no longevity really in the other three. After they are gone, I have no use for your network. And actually, I think next season I might just stream everything and give you know ad revenue from me what so ever. Whitney is probably tied with New Girl as the worst comedy last year that inexplicably is still alive. Except I can understand why people like New Girl. And Up all Night isn't that far behind. So sad.



Margo Martindale will be excellent on POI. i can't wait to see who she will be.



As for Rebecca Madsen, she was a horrible character. Utterly horrible. Such a waste of a great plot.
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I think the first part of your post would make an excellent new tagline for the network.
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NBC, you are so streets behind.
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Dexter during it's early (and best) years, Justified, and now Person of Interest? If Margo Martindale somehow manages a guest spot on this final season of Breaking Bad, she'll officially become the woman of my dreams.
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Dear NBC. When my 3 comedies are gone from your channel, with the exception of The Voice, I'm done with you. Community, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock and maybe The Office. I don't watch anything else on NBC.



And to vicbjones, I knew there was a reason I had an ingrained hate of CBS. And Modern Family, you can leave while you're at it. I'm sick of it. Glee too.
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Hey.



NBC.



Let me put this in "lowest common denominator speak" so - HOPEFULLY - you'll understand...



Ur doin it rong.
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Totes rong.
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Didn't NBC make a similar announcement a few years ago that it was going to broaden its audience with lower-quality shows? And how has that worked out so far? I'm not sure what's more of a turn-off: that NBC is trying to put on crappy shows or that the executives there think bragging about putting on crappy shows would appeal to anyone other than a knuckle-dragging nose picker with no self-esteem. It's like CBS1972 in reverse, when it canceled all its country shows like The Beverly Hillbillies while they were still doing well.
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NBC sucks with its shows.
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