So far within the 2009-2010 television season, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) has not been in the best of shape. Dedicating the last week night hour of prime time to a Jay Leno anchored program did not work out. Conan O'Brien taking over The Tonight Show did not translate into the major ratings coup it was supposed to, and the rest of the network's line up has varied in both quality and success.
The last two weeks of February has been spent covering the 2010 Winter Olympics, with other networks airing mostly reruns to prevent ratings losses and avoid seeming to be anti-American athletics. But after such a grand time, the Olympic games ended Sunday night with NBC dropping the torch on the closing ceremonies in an erroneous fashion by tape-delaying the broadcast of the grand finale to show the premiere of Jerry Seinfield's The Marriage Ref in the last hour of prime time.
Now, after a much publicized contract dispute, NBC has put Jay Leno back in place of hosting The Tonight Show after giving Conan O'Brien a huge contract buy-out (although to O'Brien's credit, part of the settlement did go to severance packages for his staff).
But can Leno accomplish anew the success he had as host before? And can NBC find quality programming to fill the voids created not only by the failure of the Leno prime time experiment, but the vacancy created on Sunday nights by the end of the National Football League's schedule for this past season?
At the moment, NBC's big plan seems to be extra episodes of existing series, news programs, "reality" shows, and reruns while it scrambles to fill those empty hours in its schedule. The only new program, the much acclaimed Parenthood, is set to debut in the last hour of prime time Tuesday night, but will be facing already established competition from the other networks.
Personally, I do not wish the NBC network any ill will. But they do have a long way to go and a lot of problems to overcome.
Whatever happens, it might actually be interesting to watch.