NBC at TCA: The Peacock Goes to Camp, Reignites the Revolution, and Removes All Heads From All Asses

NBCUniversal press tourAh, the Television Critics Association’s winter previews — that special, special time of year when broadcast networks get together and promise us that, at some vague point in the near future, the shows that they show will be somewhat less terrible. First up: NBC, which rode the stalwart back of Sunday Night Football and the resplendent deltoids of Adam Levine out of fourth and last place all the way into … second. Considering the fact that The Unmistakable Stench of Failure had come to occupy a seemingly permanent home at Peacock HQ, that’s no trifling matter. So can head honcho Robert Greenblatt keep the good times rolling? To the TCA highlights!

  • “Last year I came out here and admitted we had a bad fall,” Greenblatt told the assembled TCA masses. “I’m not saying that this year … CBS is down 13 percent, ABC is down 4 percent, and Fox is down 23 percent. We all know CBS still beats us among total viewers, but we’re now a clear no. 2., [where] we were a distant fourth a year ago.” More importantly: Responding to comments that Fox chief Kevin Reilly had made about how many network execs were clueless these days, Blatty let it be known that while “that may be true of other places … I can guarantee you, we don’t have our heads up our asses.” To prove his point, Bob pointed first to his forehead, then to his butt, at which point it was confirmed — via much excited murmuring — that the former was, indeed, not inside the latter.
  • So what’s new? How about a show about camp called Camp? It’s a rare scripted summer offering, described by NBC exec Jennifer Salke as possessing a great number of “rich and dysfunctional characters in that great setting where millions of families and young people go each summer” and as being “in the tradition of Meatballs and Dazed and Confused.” When reached for comment, Camp sheepishly explained that it did not have a joint on it, then admitted that, yes, it’d be a lot cooler if it did.
  • Wanna get psyched up for the return of Revolution? Yeah, sure you do! Here’s a preview:

    Ahhh post-apocalypse stuff ahh awesome ahhhh! And now just please calmly wait until March 25, when Revolution will actually return.

  • Michael Scott is dead! Well, actually, he’s alive and well and living in Colorado with Holly Flax. But as far as seeing him on screen again — you can kill those hopes. Despite ongoing chatter about Steve Carell making a small-screen return for the The Office series finale, our pal Greenblatt says “I’m hopeful, but I don’t think he will be back. He left in the way that he wanted that character to leave … There’s maybe a little Hail Mary pass on a cameo.”
  • Speaking of things that are not happening: Greenblatt says Community’s got a chance for a fifth season because “I’m always hopeful for a show to continue. We co-own it, and I’d love nothing more than to see it continue.” Also: “I don’t know that I’m the Community expert, but I think you’re going to see relatively the same show that you have seen before … There is a little bit more heart built in to it, but we didn’t fundamentally change it.” “I’m not the Community expert but”? “More heart”?! I swear to God, NBC is now just actively trying to get Dan Harmon on the water tower with a rifle.
  • Good news: Michael J. Fox is back and working. Bad news: He has to make Parkinson’s hilarious. The A/V Club reports: “[NBC’s MJF comedy will have] its first table read in two weeks, and it will incorporate Fox’s Parkinson’s disease into the scripts. The idea is that Fox plays a TV newsman forced to quit his job because of his condition. Once he moves back to his home, his family tries to adjust to the new status quo. A joke floated by Salke was that his kids would hear a clamor from the bedroom and wonder if dad was taking a nap (so his Parkinson’s controlling medication would have time to wear off) or their parents were having sex. Ha?”
  • Liz Heldens had to fend off some accusations that her new show, Deception — which stars Megan Good as an undercover cop solving the murder of her BFF — rips off ABC’s Revenge, and explained that her motivation wasn’t just to make a prime-time soap: “I was thinking, ‘How can you do [an] undercover show with a female protagonist?’ … Could Donnie Brasco and Sabrina have a baby?'” Presumably, by Sabrina, Liz means the Audrey Hepburn flick and not The Teenage Witch, but hopefully I’m wrong about that.
  • Vulture reports that “Up All Night’s creator-executive producer Emily Spivey had left the series just as it’s about to be remade into a multi-camera sitcom … so why won’t the network let it — and stars Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, and Maya Rudolph — go? Salke said … ‘We are not fools. We know that that talented cast of actors doesn’t grow on trees. They felt there were still stories left to tell in that world … They felt a little tied down in the format they were in and the creative direction of the show.’ They were also ‘itching’ to perform in front of a live audience.” Yes. Exactly. The show is wholeheartedly restructuring because Maya Rudolph really wanted to make a guy in a “Seriously, Who Farted?” hat laugh.

Filed Under: Community, Michael J. Fox, NBC, Revolution, The office, TV Press tour, Up All Night

Amos Barshad has written for New York Magazine, Spin, GQ, XXL, and the Arkansas Times. He is a staff writer for Grantland.

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