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I’m not sure what NBC was thinking when they scrapped My Name is Earl in favor of having a line-up of Community, Parks and Rereation, The Office and 30 Rock.
The Office, 30 Rock, and My Name is Earl are all successes with built-in audiences. The My Name is Earl numbers might have been less strong but the show still had an audience. The president at NBC reportedly had difficult calls to make on Chuck and My Name is Earl and Chuck won him over because fans had a strong write-in campaign. They apparently mailed him Subway sandwiches. That’s the way to run a network?!
My first complaint is why are TV networks so oblivious to everything but Nielsen ratings? Just look up TV guide or Entertainment Weekly and see how often people are writing praises for My Name is Earl as opposed to a show like Yes, Dear or Two and a Half Men. Go to tv.com and imdb.com and see how many people have posted votes or reviews on a series like My Name is Earl. See how active the message boards are. Talk to people. See how many fans of these shows exist on facebook. Look at Q ratings. Look at the volume of My Name is Earl-related twitter messages. Look at traffic on your site. Look at itunes sales and hulu sales. There are so many ready-made substitutes to Nielsen that a network can sell advertisers on. The fact that the network presidents are only looking at Nielsen ratings makes me annoyed at how oblivious to culture they are. It's also worth noting that Nielsen ratings have been thought to be statistically insignificant and are even more faulty in the digital age as people have more options for skipping commercials.
The NBC President’s decision only shows that Chuck has fans were more successful at mobilizing themselves. Chuck fans were a niche group who were strongly devoted to that show, but steady My Name is Earl watchers are more numerous I believe. Judging by the angry responses, I believe they existed as well.
Lastly, My Name is Earl was more important than Chuck because just think how good it would be for NBC to have a solid Thursday night line-up. Remember the days of Must See TV? How many years has NBC actually had 4 good sitcoms in a row and how excited were we as sitcom viewers to stay glued to our TV screens for two whole hours during those years? Remember those disastrous 8:30 shows like Union Station, Single Guy, Jesse, and that animated one King of the Pride? The brief My Name is Earl, Scrubs, Office and 30 Rock was one of the only years in my memory where that two hour block was solid. Scrubs moved networks and Parks and Recreation was worth a shot so the 2 hours were still pretty intact but most people agree that Parks and Recreation has a lot of kinks to rough out for the second season to be watchable.
Community is pretty promising but it could easily not live up to expectations either.
My bet? One of these two shows will bomb and the end result is that you’re only gonna have one and a half hours of comic gold to work with. Then My Name is Earl is going to be sitting there looking like a pretty attractive option. But, oh wait, you cancelled My Name is Earl and the actors have signed contracts for other things. Won’t you be kicking yourself when that happens?
The annoying thing: I’m not running a TV network but I can easily run it better than someone running a TV network because I see the same thing happening every year. In the meantime, I have to live with the decisions made by incompetent TV network execs.