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NBC: That Old Familiar Feeling

NBC had a chance to knock it out of the park.


But instead, we got … "Parenthood."


At Monday’s "infront,"* the network unveiled its fall shows — a list that would hopefully make us forget about last year’s "hot prospects," mainly "Knight Rider" And "My Own Worst Enemy." A list that would hopefully make up for the horrendous "Kings."


No such luck.


Talk about the same ol’ same ol’. "Parenthood" has great people in it (Peter Krause, Craig T. Nelson) and behind it (Imagine’s Ron Howard and Brian Grazer) but is a total retread. Did we mention the movie came out in 1989? 


As "ER" fades into the sunset, there will be "Trauma," a medical drama about emergency-response teams from producer Peter Berg, and nurse POV entry "Mercy." Not one medical drama … but two.


"Community" sounds most promising, as it has the feel of "The Office. " But that’s what everyone said about returning show "Parks and Recreation."


None of this sounds groundbreaking in the least. But shouldn’t it?


NBC has had a terrible year. The network commonly finishes fourth in the ratings. The latest example of its weekly problems: NBC was fourth in total viewers last Thursday night – once its night of dominance – just ahead of the CW.


To be fair, props are in order for the imminent Jay Leno experiment. While the decision to run his new talk show as a 10 pm strip irks everyone from scripted writers (fewer shows are hiring) to Conan O’Brien’s camp (cannibalization of laughs), at least it’s something different.


And that’s what NBC needs. It doesn’t need an online dating comedy like "100 Questions." What it needs is to totally reinvent itself. To be turned on its head in order to redefine what a primetime hit is. Or even just what an NBC show is.


What’s more, Jeff Zucker and Ben Silverman have become punchlines among  many people who love the fact that the network has fallen so precipitously from its days of must-see-TV.


Nobody’s expecting "Seinfeld" anymore. But there’s nothing in this line-up that says "water cooler show," from the network that once defined that kind of television.


"Parenthood" ain’t the answer.


*Industry definitions from TheWrap:

in-front – n – a network presentation to advertisers of new season shows, usually associated with NBC. related to up-fronts, the traditional presentation done two weeks later to sell advertising time ahead of television’s big season.