Given the announcement of its midseason schedule, we can say two things: NBC is in big trouble, and NBC is paving a path to success.
NBC is in big trouble generally because its new fall shows have either been watched with a minimum of enthusiasm or by virtually no one. More specifically, NBC is in big trouble, public-relations-wise, because it will yank Community from its Thursday-night 8 p.m. slot to make way for the return of 30 Rock as of Jan. 12. And Community fans are, I can tell you from experience, some of the most passionate and social-networky fans in the uni-Twitter-verse.
One of NBC’s problems is that it has too many shows, of varying quality, which don’t do well in the ratings. Yes, we all adore the multi-Emmy’d 30 Rock, but it’s not your traditional evening-anchoring hit. Its ratings are solid but modest by that standard. Thus a new January Thursday-night lineup of 30 Rock, my beloved Parks and Recreation, The Office, and a relocated Up All Night is by no means a guaranteed audience-improver. (As for the show that now occupies Thursday nights at 10, Prime Suspect? This getting-better-all-the-time drama is not picking up viewers, and NBC isn’t talking about its future. (My translation: I hope it lasts long enough to air the episode in which my friend Graham Beckel is a guest star.) (UPDATE: Oh, damn: NBC has “shut down production” on Prime Suspect, probably code for “impending cancellation.)