Upfronts 2014: Comedy Left Behind as Networks Turn to Drama, Reality

I’m still upset that FOX cancelled “Surviving Jack” after 8 episodes. In terms of well-written, erudite family comedy, “SJ” had it all. But without promotion from FOX, there wasn’t enough time to build a fanbase.


Desperate times call for desperate scheduling. And in the case of network comedy, that means breaking with longstanding traditions in seeking to invigorate a signature TV genre that is struggling mightily to find its place in the DVR age.

The upcoming 2014-15 season was unveiled during last week’s network upfront presentations, coming on the heels of a year where much pre-season buzz surrounded a glut of high-profile comedies and big names — Michael J. Fox! Robin Williams! — gracing TV with their presence. Many critics glommed onto new shows with “Comedy’s back” abandon, enthusing over half-hours like “Enlisted,” “The Crazy Ones,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “About a Boy.”

While the last two will be back, the pile-up of canceled comedies resembled the carnage in a summer blockbuster. NBC finally got around to pulling the plug on “Community,” and announced a closing run of “Parks and Recreation,” shows whose media footprint always…

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