One of NBC's big programming initiatives heading into the fall 2013 TV season was to repair its broken comedy slate by going broad (fewer edgy, Community-ish sitcoms, more wacky neighbors and laugh tracks) and thawing out tried-and-true stars from our youth (that kid from Family Ties, that gay guy from Will & Grace) to headline new sitcoms. I'm going to be nice about the whole thing and say it was a total disaster. The Michael J. Fox Show and Sean Saves the World have left stains on NBC's schedule and reputation, and though they were supposed to put the must-see back in NBC's once-famed Thursday-night comedy block, they've been outperformed by pretty much everything, including those types of comedies that NBC was moving away from. Lesson learned, right?
Maybe not. NBC just can't pry that dunce cap off its pointy head, and has dusted off another relic from the '80s to wipe away its woes. Although to be fair, it IS one of the biggest sitcom stars in history. I'm talking about Mr. Pudding Pop himself, Bill Cosby.
Cosby and NBC are partnering up on a new family sitcom starring the Cos as the grandpa of a multi-generational family, with Cosby's take on parenting serving as the focus of the series, according to Deadline. The project is currently just in development, with Cosby's old pal Tom Werner (of the Carsey-Werner Company) on board to produce.
This is an absurd idea and the same trap that NBC just hasn't been able to resist. I understand the allure of bringing Cosby back to NBC. After all, The Cosby Show kept the network afloat in the mid-'80s and broke ground as the most successful African-American family in primetime history. But the world is a different place than it was when King Cosby roamed the Earth, and NBC just can't seem to understand that the old TV landscape and all its relics were devastated by the metaphorical meteor that is the rise of cable and niche networks that have their fingers on the throbbing pulse of what's cool (not to mention what's NOT really old). We're all assuming that this new show would be an easy-going family comedy and not, like, Bill Cosby as a treasure hunter or an aging superhero, right? The wider NBC casts its net with broad comedies, the bigger the holes are in that net for viewers to escape through.
Unless Cosby is reinventing himself for today's times, there's no way this will work. The Cosby Show ended in 1993, meaning today's 21-year-olds weren't even alive when it was last on the air. How is THAT going to bring in young audiences? But that notion won't sink into NBC's noggin, as the network has totally lost touch with the last three generations, and it'll probably commit to 22 episodes of a new Cosby sitcom with an early series order.
For the record, I would totally watch a show starring Bill Cosby as a rugged treasure hunter or old superhero on FX or something. But a broad NBC comedy? No thanks.
AIRED ON 5/19/2002
Season 8 : Episode 26