The good news is that it looks like I will continue watching my favorite shows like “Community,” “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation,” and “Cougar Town.” At least that’s the way things look heading into upfronts later this month when the networks announce their schedules.
The bad news is that all of them may only get orders of 15 episodes or less and that “Cougar Town” might move from ABC to TBS. But is any of that really bad news?
When I hear people complain about these kinds of shows and react to one less-than-stellar episode as if it ruins every good episode prior to it, I try to point out how difficult it is to put together close to nine hours (that’s what 24 22-minute shows represents) of comedy with defined story lines while servicing every character and all the confines of television production and still make fans happy all the time.
So maybe shortened orders for these less than typical comedies might make sense. Maybe they need to tighten the structure to eliminate the lulls in the season. However, the networks need to do their part too – no stunt casting, fewer breaks in the schedule for new episodes and a commitment to embracing the weirdness of the shows. That might work for the first three since NBC needs all the stability it can get, but I think the ship may have sailed for “Cougar Town” on ABC.
I would welcome a move to TBS because the expectations are much lower on a cable network and the rumored two-season order (15 episodes each) clearly indicates this is a move for long-term viability in syndication, something that bodes well for a show with a smaller, fanatical fan base. The change could let Kevin Biegel, who I assume will step in as showrunner if Bill Lawrence’s Fox Pilot “Like Father” gets a pickup, have freedom to tailor the show to the people who already love it.
A place on TBS’ lineup could also mean more consistency and possibly even greater flexibility as cast members – like Josh Hopkins and Dan Byrd who are in pilots for shows that might be picked up – plan for their post-wine-drinking days on screen. Don’t fret though, “Cougar Town” has first position on both actors so they wouldn’t leave if their new gigs made the fall schedule. The only bad part is that Byrd is in the Louis CK pilot, and I would love to see Louis make fun of his hair.
But I would give that up for another two seasons of Penny Can as well as the return of the Greendale 7, the debut of City Councilwoman Leslie Knope and a final season on the set of TGS.