This coming season might be a better one for NBC, not just because it has dedicated the 10 p.m. timeslot for scripted programming, but also because they have invested quite heavily in event programming -- so much, NBC is calling one of its upcoming genre shows "The Event."
A highly serialized series from Nick Wauters -- a writer who has lent a hand to shows such as "Eureka," "The 4400" and "Medium" -- "The Event" stars Jason Ritter, Ian Anthony Dale, Zeljko Ivanek and Blair Underwood, all finding themselves inside an event that after the pilot will leave viewers asking for more.
However, judging by what happened with ABC and "FlashForward," will the viewers want to keep coming back week after week for a high-concept, don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it series?
"We are going to do everything in our power to guard against the 'FlashForward'" problems," NBC Entertainment president Angela Bromstad recently told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour. "We take those lessons very seriously. Audiences and critics will be rightly ... skeptical."
"FlashForward" was a high-concept series that some at ABC touted as the replacement for its "Lost" juggernaut. Adapted for television from a Robert J. Sawyer novel by David S. Goyer from "The Dark Knight" and Star Trek spinoff alum Brannon Braga, "FlashForward" suffered from what many called poor execution of the storyline, a premise that wasn't sustainable past a single season (if even that long), and scheduling woes that created gaps lasting months between the first half and the second half of the show's first and only season.
The fear by many observers is that no matter how well executed "The Event" might be, if NBC can't figure out what it would take to not only attract audiences to the show -- but keep them there -- "The Event" could be gone by spring.
"The Event" is not NBC's only genre show coming this season, and certainly not the only one causing network executives to lose some sleep at night. "The Cape," a new series from "Empire" executive producer Tom Wheeler, stars David Lyons as a good cop framed by bad ones. Forcing to fake his death, he takes on the persona of a masked vigilante that just happens to be his son's favorite comic book character.
While the "superhero" aspect of the show is drawing interest from genre lovers, NBC has made it clear there is nothing supernatural or extraordinary about the abilities of the characters in the show. In fact, during San Diego Comic-Con last weekend, actress Summer Glau told Airlock Alpha she was not sure the show could actually fall under the realm of science-fiction or comics, like some of her more recent projects of "Dollhouse" and "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles."
It's because of that NBC isn't willing to draw too many comparisons to "Heroes," it one-time signature program that likely was left on the air too long.
"'Heroes' was a great show, and we had four tremendous years with that, and it was a very good business for us," Bromstad said. "One of the things that we found was so much about the discovery of their powers in the first year."
"The Cape," however, is more of a procedural show with an underlying vigilante element arc. So expect more standalone style stories than overreaching arcs, and NBC might be able to grow the audience for this mid-season show rather than watch it erode.
NBC will be moving all of its premieres in a single-week span, an effort to have eyes on the Peacock in September, and no other networks. Whether that strategy will help pull NBC out of the bottom of the major television networks will be evident before the end of the year.
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