NBC's supposedly funny Thursday night is looking awful grim. With 30 Rock and The Office dearly departed, NBC was faced with the task of remaking their comedy lineup. Instead of beloved oddball shows though, the network decided to pack their Thursday nights with more traditional family sitcoms. The strategy is not working as Welcome to the Family, Sean Saves the World, and, yes, even The Michael J. Fox Show tanking in the ratings.
In the coveted 18-49 demographic Welcome to the Family scored only a 0.8 rating, while Sean Saves the World inched up to a 1.0 and Michael J. Fox got to a 1.2. James Hibberd at Entertainment Weekly points out that Welcome and Sean "are throwing out ratings that normally would get a show yanked pretty quickly," while NBC is stuck with a full season of Michael J. Fox, which they ordered sight unseen. Michael J. Fox is actually their best rated sitcom (alongside beloved by little-watched Parks and Recreation) so at least there's that.
Compare that to CBS new comedies—which do benefit from the Big Bang Theory lead in. The Millers, up against Welcome, had a 3.1. The Crazy Ones, up against Sean, had a 2.4. As Vulture's Joe Adalian notes on Twitter. CBS's 9 p.m. hour with Crazy Ones and Two and a Half Men, isn't doing great, "but relative to competition, NBC? It's a powerhouse."
Particularly damning for NBC? Adalian explains to the fact that among men ages 18-34 The Vampire Diaries beat Welcome to the Family. That means more dudes were tuning into see sexy vampire romance than a comedy about two dudes dealing with their families.
Now it's not like NBC's previous comedy lineup was ratings gold. When bidding farewell to 30 Rock Ray Richmond wrote on Deadline that to "keep 30 Rock going for so many critically acclaimed seasons when its ratings rarely rose above the level of abysmal is fairly unprecedented." In rebuilding their lineup, NBC didn't want critical gold: they wanted hits like ABC's Modern Family. Unfortunately for them, the shows they enlisted haven't received raves or ratings. If they are going to do this poorly they might have well have given us interesting shows.