After NBC's bad winter, can spring bring new life?
This publicity image released by NBC shows Danish actor Mads Mikkelson as Dr. Hannial Lecter in a scene from the upcoming TV series, "Hannibal." The series, based on the Thomas Harris novels and starring Mikkelson, Hugh Dancy, and Laurence Fishburne, will premiere on April 4, 2013 on NBC. (AP Photo/NBC, Brooke Palmer)
NEW YORK (AP) — Can "Hannibal" and "Revolution" signal spring for NBC?
What a bleak winter it's been for broadcast networks and their new scripted shows!
While the jury is out for CBS' "Golden Boy," ABC's "Zero Hour" was a zero and "Red Widow," based on early ratings, seems as doomed as its gunned-down mobster hubby.
And then there's NBC, whose "Do No Harm," a multiple-identity crime drama, was identified after just two airings as a flop.
But that isn't the only harm done to NBC. Just as sinkholes dominated recent news, NBC was suffering its share of them across its program schedule.
Its midseason comedy "1600 Penn" is limping, as is its midseason whodunit, "Deception." In January, Broadway melodrama "Smash" returned for a second season to such dismal ratings it's since been banished as a lost cause to Saturday night.
It wasn't supposed to go like this.
Last fall, downtrodden NBC entered the new season with brave but only modest aspirations. Then, juiced on audience-grabber "Sunday Night Football" and further boosted by robust singing competition "The Voice," the network vaulted to front-runner status, winning 13 of the season's first 15 weeks.
With full recognition that football goes away each January, NBC's bosses prayed that the network's unanticipated surge, plus positive reception for its upcoming new shows, might propel it across the wintry void.
But NBC has been left out in the cold. While CBS reclaimed its customary lead, NBC last month brought up the rear not only behind ABC and Fox, but also, for the first time in history, the Spanish-language Univision — "or, as we call it here in Los Angeles, Cinco de Ratings," as Jay Leno cackled on NBC's "Tonight" show.
"It's so bad, 'The Biggest Loser' isn't just a TV show anymore. It's our new motto," Leno pressed on. "It's so bad, NBC called Manti Te'o and asked him to bring in some imaginary viewers."
If NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt wasn't joining in the laughter (he fired off an email to Leno saying knock it off, according to The New York Times, a directive Leno continues to defy), you could understand the boss' misery.
Now, in the next few days, NBC will confront two indicators of how soon, if ever, it can hope to regain life.
On Monday, the network brings back its sci-fi drama "Revolution," an apocalyptic lights-out thriller produced by fan favorite J.J. Abrams. In NBC's heady days last autumn, "Revolution" emerged as a budding hit. But in November, it took a midseason break.
Will viewers come back for it now? Can "Revolution" reclaim its hit status on a diminished NBC, however buoyed by the return of "The Voice" as its lead-in?