For the new season, NBC is trying to crack the multi-camera
format. It's also moving away from the "sweeter, more emotional
comedies," it has developed the last few years, which Ms. Salke
said "are not as accessible."
"We are going to try to be less sweet and get funnier with
bigger, attention-getting ideas," she said.
Finding a hit comedy is a challenge for any network, but NBC's
arsenal of sitcoms pales in comparison to that of rivals CBS and
ABC -- a tough position for a network that was once the home of
"Must-See TV" with hit sitcoms like "Cheers" and "The Cosby Show"
and later "Friends" and "Seinfeld."
Ms. Salke praised ABC for putting its own stamp on the genre
with "smart, family shows." The alphabet network has seen several
notable successes with freshman comedies "Black-ish" and "Fresh Off
the Boat," as well as "The Goldbergs," now in its second
Currently, NBC has just a handful of comedy series with mediocre
ratings, like "About a Boy" and "Marry Me," both of which are
expected to go the way of freshman comedies "A to Z" and "Bad
Judge," which were canceled earlier this season.
NBC also recently bid farewell to "Parks and Recreation," its
last vestige of niche, quirky comedies that included "30 Rock,"
"Community" and "The Office."
While these series were critically praised and developed loyal
fan followings, they did not translate into ratings successes. For
this reason, Ms. Salke said the network is not focused on
attempting another comedy of that nature. It's also why NBC was
supportive of Tina Fey's latest project, "Unbreakable Kimmy
Schmidt," which originally was expected to appear on the network's
mid-season schedule, moving to Netflix.
Ms. Salke is looking forward to shows like "Mr. Robinson," which
stars "The Office" alum Craig Robinson as a journeyman musician who
gets a job as a music teacher at a middle school. While the series
was picked up in January 2014, it's been delayed following several
re-castings and switching from single-camera to multi-camera.
NBC is attempting to cultivate comedy talent with initiatives
like "Comedy Playground," where it is inviting aspiring writers to
submit short video pitches for original comedy projects. The
network will also introduce an online-subscription comedy network
that Ms. Salke said could serve as an incubator for sitcoms that
could appear on TV.
While thus far NBC's attempts at creating more inclusive
comedies haven't panned out, Ms. Salke is optimistic.
"People don't want to go down really dark paths right now. They
want more escapists, entertaining and fun programming that exudes
hope, positivity and heroism," Ms. Salke said. The hope is this
desire for lighter fare could also signal a resurgence in comedy,
"It's tough, but we believe we will win," Ms. Salke said. But
when it comes to pinpointing exactly what will work for the network
she admits that's not exactly easy and they will know it when they