What NBC has riding on ‘Four Kings’
It's the promise of attracting younger men
January 11, 2006
Critics tore it up. And on the face of it, viewers didn’t seem to think much of it either, awarding its premiere a third-place finish last week. To say the least, NBC’s new Thursday sitcom “Four Kings” is not the quality television that NBC was once known for.
No matter. The sitcom about four New York guys is dear to the hearts of NBC executives, and it could be dearer still tomorrow morning. All depends on how the show does tonight, its second outing, and whether it can return anything like the audience it drew last week.
True, “Kings” may have placed third in 18-49s last week, but it did impressively well among men 18-34 and men 18-49, critical demos for the network as it struggles against an alarming loss of younger viewers (See today’s “As NBC sags, its viewers are also aging”).
Kings won its time slot among males 18-34, averaging a 3.1 rating and 10 share, and it finished second among men 18-49, averaging a 3.4 and 10, according to Nielsen Media Research data.
Also promising, “Kings,” airing in the 8:30 p.m. hammock between Will and Grace at 8 p.m. and My Name is Earl at 9, built on its W&G lead-in among 18-49s by 20 percent, delivering a 14 percent improvement versus that timeslot’s season average.
Overall, media people are impressed.
NBC has not had a strong Thursday line-up among men since the glory days of ˜Seinfeld’ and ˜Frasier,'” says John Spiropoulos, vice president and group research director at MediaVest. “If ˜Kings,’ in combination with ˜Earl’ and ˜The Office,’ can bring some of that back, it would be a big win for the network.
Heralded as Sex in the City” with guys and Friends” without girls, Four Kings follows the lives of four twenty-something male friends sharing a Manhattan apartment. It’s from W&G co-creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, and stars Seth Green.
But reviewers passed on all the positive comparisons, finding “Kings” sophomoric and suffering from an overload of frat-house wit.
“It’s clear that NBC wants the young male market to buy into ‘Four Kings.’ The series is littered with the type of one-liners seemingly mined from UPN’s old ‘Shasta McNasty’ or even NBC’s own failed British import ‘Men Behaving Badly,'” wrote Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
And David Kronke of the Los Angeles Daily News opined: “It’s as generic as sitcoms get, exemplified by lame gags such as Barry proclaiming, ‘And the weekend officially begins’ as he takes off his jeans, explaining, ‘The boys have got to breathe.’ NBC did a previous uninspired sitcom, “Men Behaving Badly,” to which this seems an even more wan cousin.”
The Washington Post’s Tom Shales wrote: “Four Kings” isn’t just tediously sitcommy, it’s painfully sitcrummy.”
Spiropoulos says NBC’s big challenge will be to ignore the reviews and get the show sampled before the network turns its schedule over to coverage of the Winter Olympics, which begin Feb.10 and run through Feb. 26.
After that, warns Spiropoulos, CBS will be bringing ˜Survivor’ back to the Thursday 8 p.m. hour, and the competition will be even more intense.
Spiropoulos dismisses the show’s critical drubbing.
Critical opinion seldom translates to rating success or failure, he says. If it did, longtime hits like ˜The Beverly Hillbillies’ “ vilified by reviewers when it debuted “ would never have gotten a second airing, and critical successes like ˜Arrested Development’ would be our No. 1 show.
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