As recounted in the whispered tales of travelers of these television roads, legend says that, on Thursday evenings when the moon is whatever, you can hear the mirthless laugh of the damned that is NBC’s comedy lineup—a faraway, mocking sound that was last night heard in as few homes as the network has ever endured before. NBC tied with its all-time low for the once-venerable Thursday night comedy lineup, delivering an average 1.1 rating among adults 18-49 across all of its scripted programming. (The last time it bottomed out, Deadline reminds, was a 2012 night with three episodes of Community, a 30 Rock, and Awake. Remember Awake? At NBC, it’s the state of hurting.)
Last night’s trouble began with a 1.2 rating for Parks And Recreation, deepened with new comedies Welcome To The Family (0.8) and Sean Saves The World (1.0), then clawed its way back atop the plateau—in what is tantamount to victory for NBC these days—with 1.2 ratings for The Michael J. Fox Show and Parenthood. All told, NBC finished seventh for the night—once again losing out even to repeats of The Big Bang Theory on TBS, and the allure of watching must-see shadows dance on the wall.
For those eagerly anticipating Community’s return, this is possible good news, seeing as Welcome To The Family will almost assuredly find itself cast out soon, like a member of a family from a hilariously different background, trying to get all up in a guy’s home. For NBC, however, there’s little here to laugh about, not even a guy struggling with Parkinson’s disease. While it’s already committed to running out a full 22-episode count on Fox’s sitcom, and will most likely continue to hold out hope that people will convince themselves Will And Grace is still on, it’s not even a month into the fall season, and already NBC’s hopes of redefining its comedy brand as a place of big, family-friendly ideas with recognizable, expensive stars in them are dashed.
But hey, now it’s got that Meg Ryan single-mother sitcom to look forward to.