Like little stars.
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” stunned Hollywood over the weekend by claiming two Golden Globes — beating reigning champ “Girls” and ratings sensation “The Big Bang Theory” to the best TV comedy prize and looping in Andy Samberg for the best actor in a comedy honor. This came just as the series, in its first season, is about to get its biggest spotlight yet — it’s one of two Fox comedies airing after the Super Bowl. And the network’s president told television critics on their press tour that he expects the show will get a second season — this despite its relatively low ratings so far.
The show, set in a loopy outer-borough police precinct, would seem to have everything going for it — a secure place on the schedule, two big awards early in its run, and the confidence of the network. So can it become a hit?
The Super Bowl lead-out time slot, as it’s known, is a good indicator of a network’s top priority, given the wide audience one can presume just leaves their television on after the game ends. There are three categories one can slot post-Super Bowl programming in recent years: an existing hit the network wants to convert into a mega-hit, a series the network wants to launch in a huge way, or a ratings-challenged but creatively strong show the network wants to reintroduce to the public.
In the former category, looking at recent post-Super Bowl airings, one can slot “Glee,” “House,” “The Office” and “Grey’s Anatomy”; in the second, the debuts of “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Undercover Boss” and two seasons of “Survivor”; in the third, “Alias” and this year’s Fox comedy block of “New Girl” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”
Fox’s four-episode Tuesday night is a major priority for a network with few ratings bright spots lately, but critical praise for three of the four comedies (sorry, “Dads”) aside, it’s not a strong performer. “New Girl,” for instance, has lately hovered between 3 million and 4 million viewers per episode, a big decline from its hit first season; “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” does about the same.
And yet the Super Bowl may not do as much as Fox executives would hope. One x-factor is the end time of the game: last year saw CBS’s hopes for huge ratings for “Elementary” evaporate when the sports broadcast ended after 11. Furthermore, the needle wasn’t substantively moved on the ratings for post-Super Bowl comedies like “The Office” in 2009 or “Glee” in 2011 after their big spotlights. The shows were sampled by a big audience for a single episode, then fell back down to their pre-Super Bowl ratings.
More than anything, the Super Bowl placement indicates just how much a priority it is for the Tuesday night comedy block to work — as if that wasn’t already clear from the network placing a splashy and thematically very different show, “Dads,” at 8 o’clock, to entice an entirely different demographic to stay on for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “The Mindy Project” and “New Girl.”
Part of why “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” will get another season to prove itself is the same reason “Parks and Recreation” and “Community” keep coming back to NBC; when a network has a number of trouble spots, there’s no reason to cancel something with a devoted core audience and critical acclaim. Fox’s entertainment chairman, Kevin Reilly, candidly admitted yesterday that “The X-Factor” would need to be retooled if it were to return at all and that new comedy “Enlisted” had been a ratings disappointment.
The Super Bowl won’t really change “Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s” ratings. But the definition of a hit is slowly changing to suit “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and its fellow Fox comedies. Reilly said that though “The Mindy Project” was low-rated, it would likely be renewed because “it is highly upscale, we make money on it, it has a desirable audience.”
Even if little is to change with regard to “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” it contributes to the sense of Fox as a place for intelligent, “upscale” (viewed by wealthy folks) comedy. It may not become a true hit — but hits are in such short supply on network TV these days that Fox is likely to take what it can get, including big prizes.
Daniel D'Addario is a staff reporter for Salon's entertainment section. Follow him on Twitter @DPD_More Daniel D'Addario.
Like little stars.
World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.
So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).
My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.
High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.
Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.
New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.
Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.
Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.
Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.
Really does taste like pineapple.