I'm back now from the Television Critics Association sessions in Los Angeles. The 17 busy day were stuffed with interviews and more. In the previous blogs, you'll see the stories I've sent to papers so far. There are a lot more coming, however; here's another:
By Mike Hughes
Imagine that your
uncle's bail-bondsman just landed an ad in the Super Bowl. Or your
3rd-grade music teacher will be opening for Beyonce.
Now you're ready for
a new “Superstore” episode, in the middle of NBC's Olympics
Yes, that's a
mismatch: A typical “Superstore” episode last season reached 6.6
million viewers; a recent Olympics night averaged 28.8 million.
Consider this the result of new math and old problems.
“We think that
'Superstore' is really something special,” insists Alan Wurtzel,
NBC's research chief.
Especially if you
remember what happened in recent years. “Everyone who had been ...
through this comedy roller-coaster (said), 'Finally, this feels like
back to an NBC smart, specific show that has heart,” said Jennifer
Salke, the president of NBC Entertainment.
network of “Seinfeld” had became the must-flee network of “Animal
Practice.” After all its troubles, NBC wants to consider
“Superstore” a hit; after all:
-- Yes, it finished
No. 66 in total viewers; seven shows with more viewers were
cancelled. But if you only consider ages 18-49, which advertisers
prefer, it moves up to a tie for No. 42.
-- Then there's the
notion of the “long tail.” If you include that, said NBC
Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt, “the 'Superstore' pilot
actually equaled the 'Voice' season premiere.”
The number of people
who saw the show later – as many as four months later -- matched the
number who saw it the first night. “The Voice” doubled
“Superstore” in instant ratings, but in long-range viewers, the two
were almost the same.
Those viewers found
a show set among workers and shoppers in a big-box store. “We're
representing working-class people, in ... the intersection of
American consumerism,” said America Ferrera, who stars. “You'll
see every race, religion, background, class. And it's so ripe to have
On Friday, the
conversation turns to the Olympics. Filled with patriotic zeal, Glenn
(Mark McKinney), the store manager, plans a special promotion; some
others are skeptical.
This plays through
the rich variety of the cast. McKinney and Lauren Ash (who plays
Dina, the assistant manager) are Canadian. Ferrera – the only star
with America for a name – is the daughter of Honduran natives. Nico
Santos was born in the Philippines and moved to the U.S. at 16; he plays Mateo
... who, we'll learn Friday, is undocumented.
been built on contrasts. In its first moments, Jonah (Ben Feldman)
displayed a sort of middle-class arrogance toward his job. The
contrasts are easy to play, the actors said.
“My mom actually
works at a big-box store,” Santos said. “She works at Home Depot.
So every time she sees an episode, she'll call me, excited.”
Feldman – who grew
up in the Washington, D.C., area, where his dad ran an ad agency –
has opposite roots ... which the Canadians will gladly point out.
“Ben started a
sentence by saying, 'I believe it was Shakespeare who said ...,'”
“We're not going to get out of here today without him quoting
Colton Dunn, who
plays Garrett, recalled the time actors were chatting with a crew
member about driving a stick shift. “Ben's like, 'Oh, I can be
included in this conversation, because I learned how to drive stick,
too. I learned it when I was in France, in the back country.'”
It was in Provence,
a long way from any big-box store. That's the sort of contrast
new episode at 10:30 p.m. Friday, NBC.
-- Second season
starts at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22. For the first five weeks (when
CBS has Thursday football), it will have a comedy monopoly. Then it
collides with “The Big Bang Theory.”