Saturday, March 13, 2010

Should NBC pause the ticking clock on '24?'

Last week, rumblings were that 24 would finish out its eight-year run this May on FOX. Now, Ausiello is reporting that 20th Century Fox (the studio) is pitching the series to NBC, who obviously need space-fillers on its schedule.

One question for NBC: why?
Let's break this down a little bit. What are the primary reasons that FOX is probably going to ax 24 in the first place? To wit:

The ratings are shrinking. Though it's still pulling in a respectable 2.8ish in the 18-49 demographic, that's not where the series used to be. Eight years in and with a few lackluster seasons behind it, that's expected, but still not a positive.

It's expensive. These specific things aren't released to the public so I cannot say for sure, but I have to guess that 24 is one of the top 10 most expensive series on broadcast television, if not the most expensive outside of Lost. Thus, decline ratings + rising costs = bad combination.

The movie. We've heard rumblings about a movie series for years and now they've hired someone to write a script. A 24 movie is going to happen and it cannot until the series is dead.

FOX needs the room. Despite the train wreck that is broadcast television, FOX is doing okay, so much so that they could actually use the prime real estate spot that is Mondays at 9 PM. The network is already having to push Lie to Me to the summer just because they don't have a damn spot for it -- and that's a fairly successful series. Next season they'll no holes to fill unless you count Friday nights, so if you consider Monday-Thursday gives them 8 hours of television. With House, Bones, Fringe, Glee, Lie to Me, (probably) Human Target, American Idol and The X-Factor (two series that will run multiple days in the fall and spring), it's packed. And again, 24 is probably the most expensive scripted out of the lot.

And why would FOX bring it back? Maybe to wrap up the TV series before jumping into the movie, but it's not like 24 relies on continuity or cares about character development. That's all I can think of.

On NBC's side of things, bigwig Angela Bromstad noted that she would be "interested" in the series a little bit ago. But all the factors that are leading FOX to end it still apply. PLUS, series on NBC are almost always going to get worse ratings than series on FOX, just because no one is loyal to the Peacock like they are to FOX. It's not like the numbers are going to go up, even if 24 would automatically become NBC's highest rated drama (as pathetic as that is).

And isn't NBC the network that is so concerned with cost? I know that might be one of the reasons they're in such a dire situation now, but that still has to be in the back of their mind. So taking on one of the most expensive series on broad TV doesn't quite fit that penny-pinching mantra.

Moreover, as numerous people have discussed in the last year, NBC needs to re-build their brand, reconnect with fans, etc, especially with their drama series. Parenthood might not be the answer and Chuck probably is not either, but isn't borrowing, remaking, rebooting or adapting one of the things that got NBC this trouble in the first place? And dating back further, holding on to series way too long in the early-to-middle part of the '00s was another contributing factor to their current position.

Thus, there is literally not one good reason for NBC to bring 24 aboard. And really, I don't think there is a chance that the Peacock will go for it anyway. This could be a bargaining maneuver on the part of 20th Century Fox in hopes of getting another season or maybe to get a higher budget for the movie -- or really anything. But to seriously think 24 will join NBC's schedule is pretty foolish. And I think even NBC isn't foolish. I think.

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