NBC Monkeys with its Comedy Approach

Whatever its other failures as a network, NBC could always look to its Thursday night lineup of comedies for the kind of lauded work that just doesn’t appear on any other broadcast network, with the acclaimed “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation,” “The Office,” “Up All Night” and “Community.”

But being good isn’t enough for NBC executives who want instead to be “broader” to bring in bigger audiences.

Or as NBC Entertainment Chief Bob Greenblatt explained Tuesday, “we’re going to transition with our comedy programming and try to broaden the audience and broaden what the network does. You know, those Thursday comedies, which the critics love and we love, tend to be a bit more narrow than we’d ultimately like as we go forward.”

None, for example, had comic animals in their casts.

A new show, “Animal Practice,” has a monkey in a lab coat that seemed to epitomize the move. (Plus, reporters love monkeys in lab coats, so its star Crystal was the hit of NBC’s press day).

For some it was all a little too much like the storyline on Showtime’s “Episodes,” where the tasteless TV executive keeps kicking himself for not taking the hit show with a talking dog.

In fact some of the comments Tuesday could have been from “Episodes,” as when scripted chief Jennifer Salke said, “we’ve wanted forever to craft a way to have a show that had animals as an organic part of the show. I’m sure 99 percent of the people in the room have or love animals. We feel the same.”

Greenblatt wouldn’t exactly badmouth the current comedies that have so many fans and Emmy nominations, a creative bright spot on NBC’s dimming schedule, currently dominated by “America’s Got Talent” and “American Ninja Warrior.”

“The Thursday night shows are just great shows,” he said. “But they do tend to be a little bit more narrow and a little bit more sophisticated than I think you might want for a real broad audience.”

“I mean, they’re award winning and incredibly sophisticated and clever, and we couldn’t be prouder of them. And yet I think, given what’s happened at the network over the last four or five years in terms of just the general decline across the whole week and the loss of circulation and I think we just can’t get the biggest audience for those shows.”

So, monkeys ahoy!

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