Join Date: Jan 09, 2001
Shows that NBC "screwed"
As Season 4 came to an end, NBC wasn't guaranteeing another season but did promise at least one extra final episode to resolve the cliffhanger the season ended on. They ended up giving the show nothing in the end, and the series ended with ALF becoming a military prisoner.
There was a follow-up TV movie a few years later called Project: ALF. It featured ALF, still a prisoner but generally alright and still his old irreverent self, but the rest of the cast was written out with a one-line Put on a Bus. Also, it didn't even air on NBC, but on ABC.
There was also that talk show on TV Land, but let's not speak of that.
- American Dreams: Performed fairly decently in its original Sunday-night timeslot, but it wasn't enough. NBC played a wise move and moved the show to Wednesdays at 10 in direct competition with CBS' Survivor: Palau and ABC's LOST. The show was canceled despite many fan campaigns, but the producers were able to film a brief finally to Wrap It Up, but NBC ultimately decided not to broadcast the finale, leaving many viewers hanging.
- Bionic Woman: The 2007 version didn't set the world on fire, but NBC nonetheless said it was sticking by the series when production and broadcast had to be halted due to the Hollywood writers strike. Cast members for upcoming episodes were announced, and NBC indicated several times that the show would be allowed to at least complete its 13-episode commitment. A DVD set of the episodes that had been aired was commissioned and promoted as "Season 1 Part 1". But this apparent show of support disappeared after a couple of months and NBC cancelled the show anyway. (There are likely other series impacted similarly, and to be fair there were likely other issues such as actor availability at work in the decision to cancel, but this example is notable for the public show of support given the series before the network turned its back on it, thereby, if nothing else, casting the impression of it being screwed.)
- Boom Town: This show was an interesting experiment. It featured numerous characters, overlapping storylines, out-of-order timelines, and unusual visual techniques. It could conceivably have caught on as a cult show but unfortunately it didn't find an audience. NBC deserves credit for trying something different and for bringing the low-rated show back for a second season. However, the show was given a retool by NBC in season 2, removing most of the unique elements in an attempt to make the show more like Law & Order in hopes of getting similar ratings, but they cancelled it anyways and refused to air the remaining season 2 episodes.
- Breakthrough with Tony Robbins: Which aired in Summer 2010, was screwed by NBC because it was the last program approved (for midseason) by programming non-wunderkind Ben Silverman before the merciful end of his tenure as president of the network. As anyone in the entirety of both NBC Universal and the universe but Ben and Tony knew nobody was going to watch what was pretty much a one-hour infomercial in primetime, the program got a cheap budget, the infamously lousy Tuesday at 8pm timeslot, and was absolutely not promoted at all beyond the required synopsis and a Today fourth hour interview with Robbins (you get into Hota & Kathie Lee & Wine territory for a promo interview and you know your show is the network's shame of the moment). It also wasn't broadcast in HD, a Kiss of Death for a program in 2010 unless you're on public access. It died a swift and merciful death after two weeks to be shoved off to shame on NBC.com, with the episodes finally (barely) seeing the light of day on the ever-cursed Oprah Winfrey Network.
- Chuck: Was a mild example of this. While the show was a critical success, the show was never a huge ratings hit. This resulted in every season starting with season 2 being a potential final season. In fact, were it not for a large fan campaign and a sponsorship by Subway, the 2nd Season might have actually been the final season...
Things aren't looking so great for this show. Despite critical acclaim, a cult following,and getting picked up for a fourth season it seems that NBC are trying to screw this one over.
First, Season 4 was cut from the regular 24 episodes to 13.
The series was then announced for the infamous Friday Night Death Slot.
To add insult to injury, creator and showrunner Dan Harmon got replaced without his knowledge.
And then the series was pulled before the premiere, with NBC claiming they "wanted to use the new hits on their schedule to better promote their upcoming series". The real reason is that they needed to hold it and Whitney to replace other comedy bombs - in Whitney's case, Wednesdays at 8 in place of megabomb Animal Practice. Community returned on February 7 to the same Thursday night slot it's always held, once 30 Rock ends its run.
To be fair, even though the reviews and general reception has been great, the viewership was far down to begin with.
The name of the save-Community campaign is Six Seasons and a Movie. Why? In a flashback, Abed is dressed up (and annoying Jeff) in anticipation for The Cape. Jeff bitterly tells him it'll last three weeks, which Abed emphatically denies with "Six seasons and a movie!" No one knows how to go meta like Community.
- Freaks and Geeks: Not only was this show given an inconvenient Saturday-evening timeslot, but several episodes were left unaired (until Fox Family picked up the series) simply because the NBC executives didn't like them. For example, the episode "Kim Kelly Is My Friend" was left unaired because NBC felt it was too violent/scary for what they (wrongly) perceived as a children's show.
- Hunter: This TV series was screwed over by NBC as, in the wake of the Rodney King beating and subsequent fallout, Moral Guardians were increasingly critical of a Cowboy Cop like Hunter being portrayed as a hero.
- Imagine That: This Hank Azaria show aired two episodes, and that was it. He got three episodes for Free Agents on NBC in 2011, which was a workplace dramedy mismatched with Whitney Cummings's self-titled three-camera sitcom.
- The Jim Henson Hour: Despite being critically acclaimed and being nominated for several Emmy Awards, the show aired in the Friday night death slot, right against Full House and Perfect Strangers, where it achieved very low ratings. After four episodes, it was moved to Sunday nights. However, the show performed even worse in the ratings, and NBC cancelled the series after only 9 of the 12 episodes had aired.
- Joey: This Friends Spin-Off got screwed by NBC in its second season when it was moved to the timeslot opposite American Idol (a fate nearly as bad as, if not worse than, the Friday Night Death Slot) and of course its ratings soon declined considerably. Even worse, the show was suddenly cancelled mid-season with no warning, leaving eight episodes unaired in the U.S. The only way to see them (other than downloading them of course) is to import the somewhat pricey season 2 DVD from Canada.
- Kings: When this show first premiered, NBC had put it in the 8:00 PM Sunday timeslot. However, despite the show's unique concept, strong cast, and high production quality, NBC decided to relegate the fledgling series to Saturday nights after airing just four episodes, where steadily declining ratings eventually killed it.
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: In its first two seasons, the splashy spy series became one of the most popular shows on American TV and sparked a homegrown variant of Bondmania. For the third season it was decided to capitalize on the then-current "camp" craze popularized by Batman and transform UNCLE into a spy comedy with ridiculous storylines and scenes like one in which the hero dances with a gorilla. Audiences abandoned the series; the decision to revert back to a more serious storytelling model for Season 4 was too little, too late, and the once-popular show was cancelled by midseason. Had the decision not been made to change the tone, there's every chance UNCLE could have run for several more years.
- Medium: This show was one of NBC's strongest performers (which isn't saying much), but was constantly put on hiatus and was treated like filler on its Monday lineup. Then CBS picked it up...and wins the Friday Night Death Slot.
- Miami Vice: This show itself was screwed by putting it on opposite Dallas, then moving to Sunday night. In addition, the network was so eager to open up the show's timeslot, just after it was moved back to Friday nights, that they "burned off" four Season 5 episodes just before the finale. While two of them were largely inconsequential, the other two ("World of Trouble" and "Too Much, Too Late") wrapped up storylines going all the way back to Season 1. The latter also featured the final appearance of Pam Grier's character Valerie, and gave more context to Switek and Tubbs' decisions in the finale. The episodes didn't air on television until USA picked up the syndication rights a year later, but are included in the DVD box sets.
- My Name Is Earl:
In Germany, this show got the worst treatment in existence. The first run of season one was at 11PM at Fridays. The show got cancelled after 6 weeks due to low ratings. Two years later they brought it back at the smart timeslot of 1AM in the night of Friday to Saturday. Surprisingly, it worked, and the show has better ratings than the ten viewers before. They aired two-and-a-half seasons at this timeslot and occasionally had a rerun at Saturday afternoon, which seems to have drowned because of the more popular rival channel having Scrubs and How I Met Your Mother at that time. They now announced to show the remaining episodes, now in Saturday/Sunday nights at 3AM. I have no idea how a show could generate viewers at these slots, or do they accept Tivo now?
The show also got screwed in the US when NBC chose not to renew it for a fifth season in favor of the failed Jay Leno Show experiment. TBS was offered a chance to pick it up but turned it down and creator Greg Garcia chose to do Raising Hope instead.
Garcia was aware that the show's ratings had declined in Season 4. He asked the network if they were going to renew or cancel the series. He said he could make the final episode of Season 4 a series finale that wrapped up various plotlines, or a cliffhanger that would hopefully draw viewers for the fifth season premiere. NBC told him the series would be renewed and he should make the cliffhanger. Garcia did and then NBC cancelled the series.
- The New Normal: This show was cancelled after only one season, despite it's strong cult following and general well reception. The only consolation fans got was that the season had wrapped up neatly with Bryan and David getting married and Goldie giving birth.
- Quantum Leap: This show was also moved around to different time slots, and fans overwhelmed the network with mail to keep it on the air. The series finale was just supposed to be a season finale. A rather depressing title card was added to the very last shot of the series in order to wrap things up.
- Revolution: Many fans are crying foul, because NBC has decided to put this show on a four-month hiatus after episode 10 aired in late November 2012, and we all know how well this went for other sci-fi and/or serialized shows on network TV. However, the show is getting a second season, production is being moved to Texas, and episodes will be aired Wednesday 8:00 PM, instead of Monday 10:00 PM.
- Rex Is Not Your Lawyer: NBC managed to screw an actor along with a show once. One reason David Tennant left Doctor Who after an acclaimed run was to shoot this pilot, which had a guarantee that the show would be picked up. But after a test screening where audiences didn't exactly understand the concept, they simply canned the show without reshoots and went back on the guarantee. As a result, Tennant was screwed out of not one, but two shows due to focus groups!
- Saturday Night Live: Norm MacDonald was fired from the "Weekend Update" segment of this show in 1997 at the insistence of NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer, who claimed that MacDonald was "not funny", despite his popularity: Norm's appearances in sketches and on "Weekend Update" were frequently greeted with extended applause breaks, to the extent that he once had to quiet down the Studio Audience during a mid-monologue sketch involving host Sarah Michelle Gellar by saying, "Alright, I've gotta do this skit now." (One rumored reason for Ohlmeyer's distaste for MacDonald was the comic's constant quips about O.J. Simpson beating a double murder rap, because Ohlmeyer and Simpson were friends.) He later got his revenge by being asked to host the show a couple of years later, during which he poked fun at his firing, and said that while he still wasn't funny, it was okay because the show had gotten "really bad", thereby making him look much funnier by comparison.
- She Spies: Had this happen twice. It started out pretty well, with its first four episodes being aired on NBC. After that, the show was dumped into first-run syndication, with some markets airing it at unholy hours in the morning. However, the show was still pretty successful, and it got renewed for a second season. However, they decided to completely retool the show, taking it from a light-hearted action/adventure/comedy series (like a gender-flipped version of Chuck) to a straight action series (basically, yet another lukewarm rip-off of Charlie's Angels). As it turns out, the comedy aspect was one of the show's strengths. It was canned soon after.
- Star Trek: The Original Series:
The granddaddy of all Screwed by the Network examples is this show. After two seasons of middling ratings, NBC announced its intent to cancel the show. However, a national campaign of letter writing, led by a fan named Betty Jo Trimble, resulted in an unprecedented backdown by the network. NBC renewed the show for Season 3...but also cut the show's budget by approximately half and placed the show in the Friday Night Death Slot, when the show's demographic was likely to be doing anything but watching TV. Episode quality, and consequently ratings, suffered meteoric falls (although it was responsible for some of the series' most memorable episodes), followed by cancellation at the end of the season.
Interestingly, many of the cast and crew involved in the show later declared that the show's cancellation was the best thing to happen to the franchise — instead of the slashed budget taking its toll and resulting in a steady decline in quality, Star Trek cemented itself in the public consciousness as an excellent show killed before its time, which left fans clamoring for more and led to the creation of eleven films and five subsequent series, the second of which would win critical acclaim and eighteen Emmys in the process, and another of which would garner the highest critical ratings of any Trek series and pioneer Character Development and serialized plotlines and Myth Arcs several years before that became common on network television.
That the letter writing campaign saved Star Trek is actually a myth created by Roddenberry, who also organized the "fan campaign"; in reality, it had little to no effect (and why would it? NBC knew how many people were watching, and these numbers don't magically change if the audience starts writing letters). Though Lucille Ball, who owned series producer Desilu, did make a big stink and threatened to leave, which shook the house. But according to Inside Star Trek, the true reason Star Trek got a third season was because back then, NBC's parent company was RCA, which owned the patent for color television. Star Trek was one of the biggest reasons why people bought color TV sets, and RCA made more money by selling them to Star Trek fans than NBC lost by airing Star Trek instead of something else.
- The Tonight Show:
In a tragic and inexplicable move, NBC decided to move this show, hosted by Conan O'Brien, from its regular 11:30 timeslot to 12:05. Because he knew it would push out Late Night, do more harm to The Tonight Show than help, and because he was just plain tired of being dicked around by the network, Conan threatened to quit the show and leave the network in protest. NBC paid him a penalty of $44 Million to leave while Jay Leno took The Tonight Show back. Conan was so badly screwed by the network that even his direct competitors are furious on his behalf: David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, George Lopez, and Jimmy Kimmel have all directly reamed NBC for their atrocious behavior.
Not to mention, in a rare example of knock-on screwing effect, the ill-advised decision to park Jay's talk show — and promote it exclusively and not Conan, even in the nightly lead-ups — five nights a week at 10:00 PM managed to screw Conan and every NBC station due to the decision to cancel five nights of prime-time scripted drama, causing ratings for the late local news to tank across the country. It arguably didn't help Jay, either.
Supposedly, the reason for this change was because NBC was tired of shelling out money for prime-time dramas that no one watched and ended up tanking, and realized it was cheaper to just produce a variety show for Jay (who was leaving The Tonight Show anyway) so he could stay with the network.
Conan and Andy did "The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour" from April-June, then moved to TBS.
Conan got screwed by NBC again with the handling of his production Outlaw, which not only got the Friday Night Death Slot but got canceled after just five episodes due not getting the desired 18-49 demographic (who probably don't even watch TV on Fridays). Its replacement, School Pride, got far worse ratings but didn't seem to be on any sort of cancellation threat...until the producer died.
NBC started the whole Tonight Show mess by offering O'Brien Tonight in order to prevent the same problem that occurred when Letterman quit NBC after they refused to give him Tonight after Johnny Carson retired. O'Brien was announced as the new host of Tonight more than five years earlier, during a special segment on Leno. But in the intervening years, Leno decided he didn't want to leave, and started making noises about leaving NBC if he was forced to stick to the plan. Hence, they gave him the prime-time series...so basically Leno changes his mind and NPC gives him what he wants while screwing O'Brien over. But now O'Brien's with TBS so...who's laughing now?
- In 2005, ESPN opted not to continue its relationship with the National Hockey League (fresh out of the lockout that canceled the entire 2004-05 season), and the cable rights were taken over by OLN (which then became Versus), a channel dedicated to outdoor sports with distribution not as wide as ESPN's. When NBC finally offered to air the 2007 NHL playoffs, they cut away from a series-clinching playoff game IN OVERTIME to show 90 minutes of pre-race coverage of the Preakness Stakes, knocking the remainder of the game over to Versus (except in Buffalo, one of the NHL's smallest markets, and Ottawa, where the CBC knows better). Though thankfully, they've learned their lesson (and Versus, now known as the NBC Sports Network following Comcast's acquisition of NBC, has become a lot more established since.) The Preakness Stakes incident was Executive Meddling of its own, as NBC's contract with the race (negotiated years before, mind you) had advertising commitments.
In 1991, NBC broke away from the NHL All-Star Game (from 1990-1994, NBC broadcast the All-Star Game, which was pretty much the only time that the NHL was nationally broadcast on over-the-air television in the United States outside of ESPN's paid programming on ABC during the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons) in favor of a press conference from the Pentagon regarding the Gulf War. The previously unaired third period was rebroadcast on SportsChannel America. Unfortunately, SportsChannel America (who replaced ESPN as the NHL's primary cable broadcasting outlet in the United States in the 1988-89 season and continued through the 1991-92 season) was for all intents and purposes was a premium outlet that was available to about 1/4 less of the homes that ESPN was in at the time.
- The Arena Football League may be another one screwed by NBC. After the network lost its NFL games to CBS in 1997 and the 2001 XFL debacle, NBC signed what looked like a good deal with the Arena League at the time (both sides would split ad revenues 50/50 instead of one side getting rights fees). NBC even convinced the league to move up its normal Summer schedule, saying the league could be promoted better if it started the week after the Super Bowl. But when the NFL came calling back to NBC in 2006, the network promptly forgot about the Arena League, leaving it to play at a time of year where it had to compete with the NBA, NHL, and college basketball for viewership. After returning to ESPN, the league suspended operations for the 2009, reviving in 2010 with half the previous teams choosing not to come back with it (the league slots were filled by teams coming from AF2, a secondary arena football league).
- Major League Baseball screwed themselves with their short-sighted television deals back in the early 1990s. First and foremost, MLB signed a $1.2 billion (approximately) deal with CBS for the next four years. They replaced ABC (who had covered Monday and later Thursday night baseball games consecutively since 1976) and NBC (who had covered Major League Baseball in some shape or form since 1947) as the national, broadcast TV outlet for Major League Baseball. Once CBS came into the picture, Major League Baseball, under the leadership of then outgoing Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, proceeded to systematically destroy the Saturday afternoon Game of the Week (a longtime institution on NBC). CBS became notorious for their sporadic regular season scheduling (often airing golf events on weeks in place of baseball). MLB's logic was that since a myriad of games were going to air on ESPN, the concept of a nationally televised Game of the Week was growing obsolete. When the dust was settled, CBS (who by the end of 1993, had also lost the National Football League to Fox, the National Basketball Association to NBC, and college football) lost at least, half a billion dollars off of that baseball deal. Despite all of this, CBS was willing to renew their contact with MLB for two more years. Unfortunately, mid-way through the 1993 season, MLB was already working on a revenue sharing joint-venture with ABC and NBC called "The Baseball Network". The Baseball Network was even worse than what CBS had to offer (with ABC and NBC each covering six weeks of regionalized coverage following the All-Star Break). Without going into full blown detail (check the Wikpedia article on The Baseball Network to get a proper perspective) here, all that you need to know first and foremost, is that the first two rounds of the playoffs were regionally televised simultaneously. Perhaps the one positive thing to come out of the 1994-95 baseball strike, was that it hastened the premature demise of The Baseball Network (which was supposed to run through the 1999 season). Shortly afterwards, both ABC and NBC (who had to split coverage of the 1995 World Series) publicly vowed to have nothing more to do with Major League Baseball for at least the remainder of the 20th century. NBC however reluctantly (they could only be bothered to show postseason games and the All-Star Game in even numbered years) reconsidered and wound up sharing the broadcast rights with Fox through the end of the 2000 season.
Reluctantly is putting it mildly. When the 1997 World Series ended up being played by two small-market teams (Florida and Cleveland), NBC's West Coast head Don Ohlmeyer publicly declared that he hoped it would end in a four-game sweep, since even a fifth game would mean pre-empting his precious "Must See TV" Thursday lineup. (He didn't get his wish; the Series went the full seven games.)
- The Fan Nicknamed Heidi Bowl where, in November 1968, NBC broke away from the final minutes of a much-anticipated American Football League match up between the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets to air Heidi, causing most fans to miss The Miracle Rally. Ever since, it's been network policy not to break away from a live sporting event. At least until 2007 (see the NHL entry above).
- Here are linked examples of shows: Yo Yogi!, Captain N: The Game Master, Super Mario World, and other popular animated shows all ended getting spoiled and later axed by NBC because they no longer considered cartoons profitable for them. They cut their budget so drastically that it affected their programs dramatically. First, Yo Yogi! and Super Mario World ended up lasting only thirteen episodes and suffered cheap animation and bad writing (especially Yo Yogi!, which was said to be so bad that it was the reason why NBC stopped airing Saturday morning cartoons). In addition, Captain N's third season had shorter plots and also suffered from bad animation and worse writing, and it had many key elements missing. After all this madness, NBC scrapped the block entirely one year later and drove away from the cartoon industry in favor of their line-up of teen shows.
- NBC's handling of the UK/New Zealand production Stressed Eric basically consisted of "remove nearly every trace of the show's cultural identity and turn it into a ripoff of The Simpsons". Burned off into the summer of 1998 (and even banned by some NBC affiliates), it was lambasted by critics and died quickly. The second season never aired in the US.