Attempting to rebuild their Thursday comedy slate, NBC put two new shows featuring stars of previous NBC Thursday night comedy hits on back-to-back this season -- Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) in Sean Saves the World and Michael J. Fox (Family Ties) in The Michael J. Fox Show -- only for both to receive extremely low ratings. In fact, The Michael J. Fox Show would likely also be cancelled by this point, had it not received a 22-episode commitment right from the get-go, bypassing the pilot stage.
Greenblatt also acknowledged, "Thursday night is a real challenge for us, something that we’re well aware of, as we head into pilot season and start to think about the fall schedule next year." He said that while the network has plenty of plans for more comedy series -- including a new show co-created by Tina Fey and starring The Office's Ellie Kemper -- it may be time to finally look at changing Thursday nights and not automatically programming a two-hour comedy block there, ending a tradition that goes back decades and included hits like The Cosby Show, Cheers, Seinfeld, Friends and The Office through the years. NBC was already in trouble on Thursdays, when CBS moved The Big Bang Theory to Thursdays, kicking off a hugely successful new night of comedy for that network, as Big Bang cemented itself as TV's highest-rated, most-watched comedy
"I think anything is open for discussion," said Greenblatt. "The legacy of the comedy block has been it’s just been in existence for so long that everyone assumes that’s what it should always be. We’re going to take a really close look at that, and we may shuffle the whole deck in terms of genres on that night. At the same time, this is a network that historically has been very strong in comedy, and we’re committed to trying to bring that back. Thursday is so difficult. CBS got in there brilliantly with comedies that just completely grab the audience in the 8 o’clock hour. ABC has done a great job with their scripted dramas at 9:00 and 10:00. So it’s a very competitive night. I think we’re going to look at all possibilities."
Despite the failure of Sean Saves the World and the almost inevitable cancellation of The Michael J. Fox Show by the end of the season, NBC isn't giving up on trying new series with stars from their past hits - the network just ordered a new comedy series starring Bill Cosby.
Two new midseason comedies, About a Boy and Growing Up Fisher, are premiering on NBC in the next month.