NBC Comedies Promote 'Cougar Town' and More Shows on Other Networks
Friday, March 25, 2011
I've become accustomed to network synergy. Usually if a TV show makes
references to other shows, they'll be on the same network. But NBC's
Thursday night comedies clearly don't believe in that.
Instead, they reference shows on rival networks, sometimes shows they're
in direct competition with, which is kind of like having a Coke
commercial where someone enjoys a refreshing Pepsi. This is nothing new
to NBC's comedies, but last night it was particularly strong.
It all started on Community, where Abed delivered a hilariously long and serious monologue about his love for ABC's Cougar Town, talking about creating a fan group, getting invited to the set and watching Courteney Cox nail a scene in one take.
You have to give NBC a lot of credit for being willing to give such heavy promotion to a rival comedy. Abed's love for Cougar Town has long been a minor, background joke on Community, but this episode put it front and center.
But Community wasn't the only show getting into the cross-network promotion. On Parks and Recreation, Tom brought a pimped out tent complete with TV and DVD player on a camping trip. While he did express an interest in watching season 6 of Top Chef (which airs on Bravo, which is part of NBC's family of networks), he also wanted to watch season 1 of NCIS: Los Angeles on DVD. The joke could've very easily been for an NBC show like Parenthood, but instead they chose to diversify.
The biggest culprit of un-synergy, however, is definitely 30 Rock. The show has always mocked NBC while praising shows on other networks, but last night's episode was the biggest example of it yet. By my count, there were six references to rival networks and three insults to NBC.
-When Jack told Liz he acquired a new network, Liz prayed that it was TNT because she wanted to know if Rizzoli and Isles are friends in real-life.
-Liz revealed that she doesn't have any other skills because she's spent the past few years watching every season of The Amazing Race on CBS.
-One of the TGS writers reveals that she was in the Dutch version of The Mentalist about a psychic cop, a particularly pointed reference since The Mentalist airs in the same time slot as 30 Rock.
-When Liz is looking for another job, her agent suggests writing something about vampires since Twilight and The Vampire Diaries are so hot right now. I've grown used to Twilight references, but for 30 Rock to actually give a shout-out to a CW show is something special.
-When Frank talks about various "Save Our Show" campaigns, he digs back into the teen sci-fi bag to reference sending in Tabasco sauce packets to save Roswell.
-Frank also makes an insulting joke (but a shout-out nonetheless) to people sending douchebags to HBO to save Entourage.
-Aaron Sorkin made a cameo walk-and-talk appearance as himself, and while he boasted about writing things like The West Wing and The Social Network, Liz Lemon pointed out that he also did Studio 60, prompting him to tell her to shut up. Studio 60 was, of course, a big failure for NBC.
-Jack revealed plans to remake Knight Rider using the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile, which I assume is a reference to NBC's failed attempt to remake Knight Rider in 2008.
-Finally, Frank's "Save Our Shows" speech also references fans sending light bulbs for Friday Night Lights, which is a bit of an insult since NBC cancelled the critically-acclaimed show anyway and it was picked up by DirecTV.
The entire night of NBC comedies was a bit like watching a long commercial for shows on other networks, which can't be a good strategy for NBC. However, the important part is that all of these shows are actually funny and they represent the network's only realistic shot at earning any critical or awards show success. So kudos to NBC for being willing to go along with the joke, even when it's at their own expense.
(Image courtesy of NBC)