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View Full Version : ‘Joey’ spins out of sitcom favor


Brian Damage
12-18-2004, 12:01 AM
LeBlanc’s follow-up to ‘Friends’ not doin’ so good with audiences

By Scott Collins

Los Angeles Times


HOLLYWOOD – On the NBC comedy “Joey,” star Matt LeBlanc plays a struggling actor who lives in constant fear of unemployment. Last week, for instance, Joey got his hands on an advance script for his latest project, a “Baywatch”-type series set in a ski resort, and became frantic that the writers were about to ax his character.

Joey might not be the only one whose job is on the line. A spinoff of “Friends,” one of the biggest comedy hits ever, “Joey” is on a downhill slide. The show has been shedding viewers fairly consistently since its premiere Sept. 9, particularly among its target audience of young adults.

The producers are scrambling this month to improve scripts and beef up the cast with special guests, such as “Charlie’s Angels” star Lucy Liu, who’s shot three episodes and might do more. But “Joey” suffers a problem common to many spinoffs – the inevitable comparison to the show that preceded it.

It’s also struggling for traction during one of the worst seasons ever for scripted comedy.

NBC likes to point out that “Joey” is the top-rated new comedy this year, but that’s not saying much. The competition includes marginal shows such as ABC’s “Rodney,” CBS’ “Listen Up” and “Center of the Universe” and NBC’s already-canceled “Father of the Pride.” Fox’s decision to move its hot youth soap, “The O.C.,” to Thursday is likely pulling away viewers as well.

Whatever the cause, “Joey’s” weakness is creating new headaches at NBC. It was counting on the sitcom to stay competitive on Thursday nights, when movie studios and other advertisers shell out top dollar for airtime. The show’s low ratings were one of the main reasons NBC lost its dominance among young adults – with CBS taking the lead – in last month’s sweeps, which helps set ad rates for local stations.

Kevin Reilly, president of NBC Entertainment, downplayed the show’s problems but noted that its creative pedigree gives “Joey” an extra hurdle to clear in terms of perception. “Were ‘Joey’ not a ‘Friends’ spinoff, it would be called an unequivocal hit,” he said. “But being held to the standard of a ‘Friends’ spinoff, it somehow seems as if it’s underperforming.”

More than 18 million viewers watched the premiere, but recent episodes have lured fewer than 12 million viewers, according to figures from Nielsen Media Research. The series’ main rival, CBS’ “Survivor: Vanuatu,” averaged 19.6 million viewers.

Among adults ages 18 to 49, “Joey” is down 43 percent compared with the viewership “Friends” drew last year during the same 8 p.m. Thursday slot.

Still, NBC has ordered a full season’s worth of 24 episodes (11 have aired so far). So “Joey” has plenty of time to improve before executives decide which shows to renew in the spring.

But some TV analysts are skeptical that “Joey” will ever find its way. “It’s not an engaging show,” said Stacey Lynn Koerner of Initiative Media, a New York-based ad company. He predicted “Joey” is doomed to be a one-season series.

On paper, it had everything going for it. And NBC had reason to be optimistic. During the phenomenal 10-year run of “Friends,” about six young Manhattanites navigating friendship and romance at the fictional Central Perk coffee shop, fans had grown to love LeBlanc’s portrayal of Joey Tribbiani – a none-too-bright but good-natured lug known for luring women with his guileless greeting: “How you doin’?”

By the time “Friends” ended its run in May, NBC had already locked down the spinoff with LeBlanc, the only cast member seriously interested in continuing with his character. (LeBlanc was said to be busy with rehearsals and unavailable for comment.)

Warner Bros. Television, which produces “Joey,” picked two “Friends” writers to run the show – Shana Goldberg-Meehan (the daughter of “Family Ties” creator Gary David Goldberg) and Scott Silveri. Kevin Bright, who with partners Marta Kauffman and David Crane supervised “Friends,” signed on as an executive producer and is directing some episodes.

NBC isn’t giving up, though.

Reilly said “Joey” viewers could expect more appearances by stars, such as Liu’s, as well as an expanded ensemble in the coming weeks.

TJL
12-18-2004, 03:06 AM
Compared to the other new shows this year, "Joey" is one of the best the networks have offered.

To think that "Joey" would pull the same ratings as "Friends" is stupid.

They said the same thing when "Frasier" premired, and look at what happened with that show.

So what if the show isn't pulling in the same numbers as "Friends," does that mean you're giving up on it?

Here's an idea; nurture the show, allow it to build an audience.

Leave it alone! It's a good show. Give it time.

spunkygirl
12-18-2004, 05:51 AM
Well said TJL, I agree! :)

Also Friends wasn't that high rated in it's first season either, neither was Cheers, or Seinfeld, and look what happened with those shows, they went on to be classics.

Joey just needs a chance, I hope NBC gives it that.

Brian Damage
12-18-2004, 12:56 PM
I agree with the both of you. Joey cannot be compared to Friends. Retooling the show might make it worse not better.

sonyab
12-18-2004, 07:07 PM
I agree with you TJL!! NBC DON'T GIVE UP!!!! :(

snl75
12-18-2004, 10:20 PM
agreed

spunkygirl
12-18-2004, 10:34 PM
Honestly the ratings don't seem that terrible to me. I mean it's not like Joey is getting the kind of ratings a WB or UPN show would, there's an audience out there for Joey and NBC needs to tap into that.

bananasplit
12-19-2004, 02:36 PM
Originally posted by sonyab
I agree with you TJL!! NBC DON'T GIVE UP!!!! :(

I agree!

tiff7
12-20-2004, 03:05 PM
Couldn't they put Joey on a different day or time or channel?

Tiff7

Happy Holidays!!!!!! :xmas:

slackermonkey
12-20-2004, 05:40 PM
Day? The only other option would be Tuesday and it'd do worse there.

Time? Maybe. They should probably experiment with flipping it and Will & Grace for a week and see what happens.

Channel? ...Um, no. NBC has the distribution rights to it.

Brian Damage
12-20-2004, 05:52 PM
Different channel???

slackermonkey
12-20-2004, 06:34 PM
Yeah, I don't know either.

Brian Damage
12-20-2004, 06:41 PM
If anything, a different channel kills a show. Look at Different Strokes and The Jeff Foxworthy Show.

slackermonkey
12-20-2004, 08:06 PM
Or Taxi.

Brian Damage
12-20-2004, 08:09 PM
Originally posted by slackermonkey
Or Taxi.

You're right, I forgot about that one.

tvfan0101
12-20-2004, 08:29 PM
It looks like Joey is doomed to become another AfterMASH, rather than another Frasier as many had hoped.

Although, really, AfterMASH may wind up having done better than Joey, regardless of whether or not Joey returns for a second season. AfterMASH was highly rated its first season, although it too saw a slide following the first few episodes (it still ranked at #15 for its first season, I believe).

It is a shame, too, because it is obvious that Joey could be a great show, if the scripts were stronger. The writing is the big problem, in my mind. Every episode I watch shows promise, but usually winds up stretching a bit too far for laughs. Maybe the second half of the season will show some changes.

In any case, I think waiting until the end of the season is a good idea. A lot can change in the second half of the season.

stratman
12-24-2004, 12:01 AM
I've only seen a few small clips of Joey but I think it should be good. I think what helped Frasier was the fact that the writing was so strong in the first season. And it was even better the second season. Season 3, there was a slight dip but in season 4 they came back even stronger than ever. I think Joey should keep for atleast a few seasons. There isn't much else on NBC's roster, other than 'Scrubs'.

WilCap
12-25-2004, 10:00 AM
they just need to give it a chance and it will prove that it belongs on the air. Plus, once the Friends stars start guest starring next season, it will make the audience want to watch more.

bananasplit
12-25-2004, 09:04 PM
Originally posted by WilCap
Plus, once the Friends stars start guest starring next season, it will make the audience want to watch more.

Definitly. I do watch Joey every week but Friends guest stars will make it alot more interesting and will definitly bring in more people.

Dennis3264
01-02-2005, 04:27 AM
I think major retooling to Joey would only be good for it. Because as of now, it is terrible. It is cringeworthy, bad, un-entertaining. It tries too hard to be funny and fails.

Sheesh, and I thought Friends was bad the last few seasons. Actually, it was, awful, even. But compared to Joey, the last 3 seasons of Friends were excellent. Friends was never that great of a show in the first place, but unlike Joey, it was a) funny and b)marginally realistic and relateable.

spunkygirl
01-02-2005, 08:56 AM
Originally posted by Dennis3264
I think major retooling to Joey would only be good for it. Because as of now, it is terrible. It is cringeworthy, bad, un-entertaining. It tries too hard to be funny and fails.

Sheesh, and I thought Friends was bad the last few seasons. Actually, it was, awful, even. But compared to Joey, the last 3 seasons of Friends were excellent. Friends was never that great of a show in the first place, but unlike Joey, it was a) funny and b)marginally realistic and relateable.


Friends is not Joey and vice versa, two completely different shows that should never be compared. I mean if we compared Cheers to Frasier, alot of people would say Cheers would come out seeming not very funny or anything, and vice versa.

Brian Damage
01-02-2005, 12:11 PM
I agree. It is unfair to compare the two shows.

Dennis3264
01-02-2005, 03:24 PM
How exactly are Friends and Joey so different?

Brian Damage
01-02-2005, 06:09 PM
How exactly are they the same? Besides Joey being on both shows?

stratman
01-03-2005, 11:33 PM
I always thought Friends tried too hard to be funny.
The episode where Chandler and Monica get married was a prime example. I thought the Joey subplot was too much for that kind of episode.

slackermonkey
01-04-2005, 12:19 AM
Friends could at times go a little silly, but I never felt it was straining for laughs. Most of the comedy came from character, which always feels more genuine to me.

stratman
01-05-2005, 11:27 PM
Yeah, most of the time it wasn't strained, but sometimes I think it they did try too hard, which isn't really a bad thing, I suppose. And don't get me wrong, I love Friends.

slackermonkey
01-06-2005, 12:26 AM
But I think every sitcom has tried too hard at some point, especially in their later years. It's not easy to deliver consistent laughs for ten years (not that I'm belittling your argument, just saying).

stratman
01-06-2005, 12:54 AM
Yeah, that's true. But sometimes the later years can be better. I always preferred Cheers later in the series, same with Friends.

spunkygirl
01-06-2005, 02:47 AM
How exactly are Friends and Joey so different?

Friends=A show about 6 Friends in New York, considered a bit soap operaish at times.

Joey=about a single guy who moves from New York to CA to find bigger success and moves in with his nephew, so really the show revolves around Joey, I like Gina and her son(darn I'm blanking on his name) but I would consider them supporting characters

Brian Damage
01-06-2005, 10:38 AM
I like Gina and her son(darn I'm blanking on his name) but I would consider them supporting characters

Michael :)