“Community” Benched at NBC; But Thursday Nights Looking Good

NBC’s “Community” is one of my favorite shows on television. It’s got a great mix of characters, an incredible sense of humor and pop culture and virtually every episode has several laugh-out-loud moments (I spell that out because I think that LOL’s much overused).

So it didn’t exactly make my morning to learn that NBC had benched it to make way for the return of 30 Rock to NBC’s schedule early next year.

However, NBC at least did have the good sense to finally wake up on two of its other comedies. First off (and full disclosure: I have never seen an episode, but when the previews look terrible, I need go no further), “Whitney” has finally been dumped from the Thursday lineup where it never should have been in the first place. “Whitney” is a punchline comedy, and simply didn’t fit in with the smarter shows on Thursday nights.

Replacing it will be the smart, sweet comedy “Up All Night”, which is finally settling into its own and developing some interesting, complicated characters. “Up All Night” should have been on Thursdays to begin with, where it could have developed a nice audience before potentially anchoring a comedy block on Wednesdays, not the other way around. Hopefully NBC’s mistake won’t have long-lasting consequences for the show.

Finally, NBC also made a wise move in dropping “Prime Suspect” from the much-vaunted 10pm slot. I’m not one for police procedurals, and I don’t think that just putting a woman into a male role makes anything interesting, so I never watched it. It seemed to me that Prime Suspect should have been part of a Wednesday night that would have featured the smart “Harry’s Law” at 8pm, anchor show “Law and Order: SVU” at 9pm and “Prime Suspect” at 10pm. All law with a female slant all night would have developed a very nice audience. But…no one asked me, and NBC screwed it up (no news there).

Replacing it will be the much anticipated (by me, anyway), “The Firm”, based on the John Grisham book of the same name. The show takes place 10 years after the book (not the movie), in which *SPOILER ALERT* Mitch McDeere and his wife Abby return to the US after a decade on the run and, I would suppose, set in to take down those who might/are still after them.

Josh Lucas is set to star as McDeere, and he’s long been one on my list of under-used and under-appreciated actors. The show, which NBC bought WITHOUT a pilot (that’s a big move, if you don’t know this business) has a lot of promise. Though anything can get ruined by network television, this one has a legitimate shot to move in into the “Lost”/”24” territory of gripping, serial TV.

I hope “Community” can find a home elsewhere, because this Thursday night could hold for years to come. If anyone can do it, it’s Abed.