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Careful, NBC, or Your Initials Soon May Stand for "Nothing But Crap"
February 19, 2008  | By David Bianculli
There's an old network trick when it comes to promoting truly tacky TV shows: If a new program is mind-numbingly bad or indefensible, don't send preview copies to critics. Fox used to be the champ at that in the reality-show genre, and did it again recently by unveiling Moment of Truth.without sending advance episodes.

But guess which network suddenly is swimming in the bottom of the barrel? NBC, whose colorful peacock is in danger of being shoved aside by a smelly skunk.

Once upon a time, boys and girls, NBC was a major network - tops in the ratings, unbeatable on Thursdays, and honoring a legacy as a place where quality television was presented and nurtured. But baby, look at you now.

On Sunday, NBC premiered a telemovie revival of Knight Rider, a tacky 1980s action series in which David Hasselhoff drove around with a computerized talking car. Guess what? The new Knight Rider was not sent out for critics to preview. Guess what else? It was awful.

How bad? Worse than NBC's remake, earlier this season, of The Bionic Woman. Worse than the previous record-holder of horrendous TV updates, the defunct WB network's rancid remake of The Lone Ranger.


And yet I'm glad that NBC didn't sent out preview copies, because that meant I had to watch Knight Rider like a TV civilian, with commercials intact. Otherwise, I wouldn't have known that a series of commercials, starring the same human and automotive headliners of Knight Rider, played throughout the two-hour movie, advertising the brand of vehicle.

The commercials were better made, and slightly better acted, than the telemovie, but otherwise were indistinguishable from the program. (See if you can tell, from the pictures, which comes from the show, and which from the ad. It's not easy.)


That Sunday debacle was followed, last night, by another show not sent out to critics: My Dad is Better Than Your Dad.

I just watched it. Unfortunately. It's the sort of show that used to be seen, more than a decade ago, in the afternoons on Nickelodeon, back when green slime was new and the target audience was preteens with Attention Deficit Disorder. But on this show, the family dynamics are dysfunctional, most of the kids (and parents) act like brats, and the whole thing has the low-rent tackiness of American Gladiators - another recent NBC "innovation."

This Friday, NBC presents yet another new game show, called Amnesia. I haven't seen it yet, but that's because, as of this point, NBC hasn't sent a preview copy. But maybe it doesn't mean NBC has another cringingly hollow new show on its hands.

Maybe, given the title, someone at NBC just forgot.

But if NBC doesn't remember, and embrace, its few good shows worth watching -- 30 Rock, Friday Night Lights, The Office, My Name Is Earl and a precious few others - all its broadcast competitors will be able to mock NBC with a familiar taunt:

My Network Is Better Than Your Network.




Gregg B said:

Well I think this pretty much shows you where we were headed if the writers strike had continued. Other than American Idol which I think still has merits and Boston Legal, I have pretty much taken to watching TBS for old reruns of Family Guy and The Office. Besides 30 Rock which has become the best show on TV, NBC is getting ridiculously low brow (coming from someone who is watching Family Guy now on a consistent basis).

Comment posted on February 19, 2008 11:47 AM

Steve said:

Friday Night Lights may get another shot...

Comment posted on February 21, 2008 1:39 PM

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