NBC readies for life after Leno

HOLLYWOOD (Jan. 11) — NBC announced its lineup of new programming Monday to replace the ratings-challenged “Jay Leno Show” in its weekday 10 p.m. slot. The new shows, most of which feature test patterns as a central plot component, will debut in February.

The slate of hour-long dramas, half-hour comedies, reality series and British imports are hoped to draw more viewers than the former “Tonight” show host was able to do with his mix of interviews and stand-up.

Initial plans to air several innovative shows had to be scrapped to please affiliates who were concerned about the network taking any more risks, in light of the failure of the Leno concept. Among the promising pilots ditched at the last minute were “Stairwell 2010,” profiling life off the beaten path in a New York elevator building; “Paint (Drying),” a home-improvement reality show; and “A Year in the Life of a Rock,” about a year in the life of a rock.

Instead, NBC will rely on tried-and-true formulas that hark back to TV’s early days, when half the programming day was taken up with static images that allowed engineers to gauge pixel resolution. A sneak peek of the new lineup was shown to critics over the weekend. Given the best chance to return competitiveness to the fourth-place network were:

“Pattern” (Mondays)

This crime drama will feature a team of inner-city detectives who try to piece together seemingly random whole numbers, circles with targets in the center, and a variety of grey-scale screens into some semblance of a plot. Starring a plus sign and rapper-turned-actor Chart 156.

“What Pattern is Your Test?” (Tuesdays)

This reality show, adapted for television by HDNet and Zenith, offers contestants the chance to move down a ten-step ladder as they try to read progressively smaller typesizes. If they can pass this eye test in the allotted minute and 18 seconds, they qualify for a "Digitize the Experience" round in which they can win 40 of something by not going blind.

“Tic Tac Toe, With Puppets!” (Thursdays)

A comedy originally broadcast on Britain's BBC features a young girl and her fabric companion enduring countless ties at the classic game of X's and O's. They smile slightly off-camera while surrounded by colorful neighbors and angular rules.

“When I Saw Him Standing By” (Fridays)

A physician's assistant who leaves the Sioux reservation to assist doctors in a big-city hospital fights to keep his Native American identity and his gigantic war bonnet despite strict OR rules against feathers in the sterile field. Keanu Reeves returns to his TV roots as Chief Forceps in this star-studded romp.

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4 Responses to “NBC readies for life after Leno”

  1. Rocky Humbert Says:

    I long for the days when there was a 5 minute news summary after the
    tonight show; then the Star Spangled Banner — and then the test pattern (and that beep).

    Life was simpler before the mid-night informercials.

  2. thetownecrier Says:

    “When I Saw Him Standing By” (Fridays)” is the funniest.

  3. wrjones Says:

    I remember those days when programming on the two channels ended at midnight. Damn, then we either had to read or go to sleep, or listen to the radio. It was tough.

  4. tom1950 Says:

    I remember when my family had NO television. I was twelve years old before I even saw one. Our first one weighed as much as a Chevy and had over a hundred tubes in it. By the time it warmed up, the show was over.

    T.O.M.

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