Grading The Networks: NBC

Last, and certainly least, the week brings us to NBC. What can you really say about the Peacock these days?


THE GOOD: Thank goodness for the Olympics, or NBC really would have been in trouble. (Thank goodness for the CW, as well). Ratings wise, NBC had little to smile about. Even the shows that have solid fan followings -- "Chuck," "The Office," "30 Rock," etc., would not have very good odds of seeing another season had they been on any of the other Big Four. NBC still draws OK numbers for its Thursday comedies, but nothing approaching its heyday.

Midseason replacement shows "The Marriage Ref" and "Parenthood" drew well enough for renewal. And NBC pioneered the concept of partnering with DirecTV, which saved "Friday Night Lights" and may be the model for other networks to keep critically acclaimed, if low-rated, shows.

NBC's season triumph was the appearance by Betty White on "Saturday Night Live," earning some of the best buzz of any program this year.

THE BAD: Well, see above. The schedule was a mish-mash. NBC unceremoniously cancelled "Law & Order," among the longest-running dramas in TV history. Shows like "Community" and "Parks & Recreation" drew some buzz, but not big numbers. And NBC has shown no strategy of any sort for the near future, unless they try to make Betty White a regular on the network.

OUTLOOK: Look at the bright side -- NBC can really only go up from here. With Jeff Zucker's days numbered at the network, that actually is a distinct possibility, particularly since NBC has moved over some of its USA execs over to the main network.

GRADE: D (Betty White kept this from being an F).

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Sunday is all about beginnings and endings. ABC debuts two new summer series, "Scoundrels" and "The Gates," from 9-11 p.m. Both are decent, if light, summer fare. "Scoundrels features Viriginia Madsen and David James Elliott as the parents of a family immersed in crime, but with their own code, in this dramedy, while "The Gates" takes place in an upscale development with supernatural elements. (Macon native actor Justin Miles appears in the series as a deputy).

Meanwhile, TNT returns its best show with two episodes of "Leverage" from 9-11 p.m.

As for the goings, "The Tudors" (Showtime, 9 p.m.) wraps up its four-season run as Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) has finally run out of episodes and wives. Also on cable, there's a new "True Blood" at 9 p.m. and "Treme" at 10 p.m.

Tonight, it's a new "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 8 p.m.) and a new "Flashpoint" (CBS, 9 p.m.), followed by "Miami Medical" at 10 p.m. On cable, there's a new "Merlin" (SyFy, 10 p.m.)

On Saturday, "Doctor Who" (BBC America, 9 p.m.) wraps up a two-parter as the human race takes on the Silurians.