NBC’s ‘The Good Place’: Actually, not really
Quirky comedy takes over Thursday slot where the network has struggled
September 13, 2016
One in a series of Media Life previews of the new shows debuting this fall. You can find past previews here.
NBC’s “The Good Place”
Premieres Sept. 19 at 10 p.m., then moves to regular timeslot Thursdays at 8:30 p.m.
Eleanor (Kristen Bell) wasn’t the nicest person in life. After she dies, a clerical error accidentally sends her to heaven (the “good place”) and not that other place below in this comedy.
With the help of her afterlife guide (Ted Danson), she sees that she didn’t always act in the best manner.
Alas, while Eleanor’s having epiphanies about the way she lived her life, her presence in heaven prompts a lot of weird things to happen after she upsets the good place-bad place equilibrium.
Creator Mike Schur also executive produces “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and formerly executive produced “Parks and Recreation.”
“Place” is the biggest gamble on NBC’s schedule and represents a risk for the network on three fronts.
First, it’s a very quirky comedy unlike anything else on television. While buyers always appreciate ingenuity, they also note that quirky hasn’t worked on broadcast for years.
That could mean “Place” will have trouble finding an audience, because it’s just too different.
Second, the network has had little luck with comedies on Thursday night of late. Its last major comedy push was a disaster, with star vehicles from Michael J. Fox and Sean Hayes canceled after just one season.
“Place” is paired with “Superstore,” a second-year comedy that drew okay ratings last season but isn’t strong enough to launch a new show.
Finally, “Place” will only run on NBC for two months before it gets booted off the schedule for “Thursday Night Football,” which the network will air in November and December.
That’s not a lot of time to establish an audience, and even if “Place” finds one, there’s no guarantee those viewers will return after the show’s long football layoff.
What media people say
Buyers say the pilot is winning, and Bell and Danson are excellent.
They are both intrigued by and wary of its different-ness. People are used to turning to cable or streaming sites for this sort of humor.
Still, the biggest issue may be the NFL interruption.
“How will NBC handle launching their new shows on a Thursday for a couple of weeks, before yanking them for football and then Christmas specials and repeats?” wonders one buyer.
“While those five weeks’ worth of football will bring awesome ratings, it will cause havoc on their schedule.”
What our readers say
In a Media Life poll asking readers to weigh in on the fall season, they voted “Place” NBC’s second-least promising new show of the fall, out of three programs.
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