On Wednesday, NBC announced that it had shelved The Michael J. Fox Show for the time being, and that the series would not return as scheduled in March after the Winter Olympics. Though not officially cancelled, the show has been pummeled in ratings by American Idol on Fox, and even if it does return later in the season, it probably won’t be in its usual Thursday night timeslot. This news comes just a week after NBC cancelled Sean Saves The World, which premiered alongside Fox in the fall and lasted only a half-season. Half of NBC’s Thursday night comedy lineup has been effectively dismantled.
And yet, still standing are unlikely stalwarts Community and Parks and Recreation. When Community premiered in 2009, it completed a solid foursome, joining Parks (which had a six-episode run the preceding spring), The Office, and 30 Rock. If it wasn’t “Must See TV,” it was certainly want to see TV. But NBC didn’t know what a good thing it had going. Though The Office was left alone, the network screwed around with 30 Rock, Community, and Parks, all of which underwent schedule tweaks, mid-season delays, and in one infamous case, the removal and return of a showrunner. Community and Parks especially, seem to have been perpetually on the verge of cancellation (though that might have a bit to do with neurotic fan bases).
Since that 2009-2010 season, NBC has tried its darnedest to make its Thursday night comedy block “work,” and as a result, it has produced some horrifically bad television. A whopping ten shows have been aired somewhere in the 8-9 p.m. time-block and subsequently removed since 2010, with Fox the latest.
Now that Parks has officially been renewed for a seventh season, and Community is a “strong possibility” for renewal according to Robert Greenblatt, let’s take a look at which shows these two underdogs have outlasted:
Outsourced (September 30, 2010 – May 12, 2011)
A facsimile of The Office, Outsourced followed American Todd Dempsey as he managed a call-center in India. It ran for a whole season before being cancelled on May 13, 2011. It was maybe–probably–a little racist.
Perfect Couples (Dec. 20, 2010 – April 7, 2011)
Olivia Munn’s break into network television, Perfect Couples followed three couples that weren’t so “perfect.” The show, which derived most of its humor from gendered relationship stereotypes, had a 13-episode run before it was taken off the air in mid-April and officially cancelled on May 13, 2011.
The Paul Reiser Show (April 14, 2011 – April 21, 2011)
It’s all right there in the name: The Paul Reiser Show was about the life of Mad About You star Paul Reiser, and served as the prototype for the Michael J. Fox Show. You might think NBC learned its lesson about dredging up its former TV stars for new shows, but apparently not. The Paul Reiser Show aired two episodes and was cancelled on April 22, 2011.
Whitney (September 22, 2011 – March 28, 2012)
Created and produced by comedian Whitney Cummings, Whitney actually had a two-year run on NBC. It first aired for a season on Thursday nights before NBC tried it as an anchor for a new Wednesday night comedy lineup. It didn’t work out, and the show was cancelled on May 9, 2013.
Up All Night (September 14, 2011 – December 13, 2012)
Up All Night was another show that spent part of its run on Thursdays. It originally aired on Wednesdays before transplanting to Thursday nights, and followed new parents played by Will Arnett and Christina Applegate. The show actually had some potential (which explains the season-and-a-half run) before production chaos took its toll, and NBC cancelled the sitcom on May 9, 2013.
1600 Penn (December 17, 2012 – March 28, 2013)
A sitcom about the first family in the White House, 1600 Penn starred Bill Pullman as the president, Jenna Elfman as the first lady, and Josh Gad as their screw-up son. Maybe NBC remembered the success it had with The West Wing and figured it could do well with a White House comedy, too. The show ran for a few months before being cancelled on May 9, 2013.
Go On (August 8, 2012 – April 11, 2013)
The latest installment in things Matthew Perry has been doing since Friends, Go On revolved around Perry’s sports radio host and the support group he joins after the death of his wife. Yet another example of NBC pulling from its past, it was cancelled on May 10, 2013. At this point, maybe NBC should just say fuck it and start airing Friends reruns.
Welcome to the Family (October 3, 2013 – October 17, 2013)
Allegedly, roughly 2.5 million people watched the three episodes of this show that actually aired last fall, but I don’t believe it. Welcome to the Family is about a white family and a Latino family who are forced to interact when the Latino son gets the white daughter pregnant. I’m pretty sure that’s all you need to know for this one. Apparently, it still airs on Hulu.
Sean Saves the World (October 3, 2013 – January 23, 2014)
Sean Saves the World, starring Will and Grace alum Sean Hayes, is the story of a divorced father as he tries to balance parenting and work. That, as far as I can tell, is it. Oh, he happens to be gay. Right. So yeah, it lasted half of a season and was cancelled on January 28, 2014.
The Michael J. Fox Show (September 26, 2013 – January 23, 2014)
Maybe there’s still hope for The Michael J. Fox show, as it hasn’t been officially cancelled yet. Incorporating Fox’s Parkinson’s disease, it’s about a TV anchor as he–get this–balances work and family. Genius. The show aired a half-season, but as of yesterday has been put on hiatus. Rumors are that it’ll return in April, but it’s unclear if it’ll be on Thursdays.