By Josef Adalian
Late on Friday, NBC announced a slew of schedule changes, as well as the cancellations of newbies “Ironside” and “Welcome to the Family.” Somewhat lost among all the shifting was this sad fact: “Parks and Recreation” is going on hiatus, effective immediately.
This week’s planned episode is being replaced by a repeat of “The Voice,” next week will feature an “SNL” Halloween clip show, and November 7 will offer a long-scheduled live episode of “The Voice.” “Parks” will then return on November 14, but only for two weeks, with back-to-back episodes airing that night and on November 21. (This means the show’s planned Halloween/election episode will now air two weeks after Halloween and a week after Election Day.) After its two-week return, “Parks” disappears again, this time staying off the air completely until early 2014. NBC will fill the “Parks” time slot until then with a mix of football, a live broadcast of “The Sound of Music,” two weeks of “The Sing-Off,” and the hour-long return of “Community” on January 2. Unless NBC changes its mind, “Parks” will be back on January 9 in its new/old 8:30 p.m. time slot.
If you’re wondering why NBC is futzing with “Parks,” it’s actually pretty simple: The network desperately wants to get more viewers to sample 9 p.m. comedy “Sean Saves the World.” It’s betting that all of the special programming it’s planned for the 8 p.m. hour will do better than “Parks,” thus boosting “Sean.” It’s also a very clear sign than NBC, perhaps not unreasonably, has given up on the idea that “Parks” will ever grow its audience. What this doesn’t mean, at least not yet, is that this will be the final season for “Parks.” The failure, so far, of NBC’s new comedies means that the Peacock has not yet proven it can do better than “Parks” on Thursdays. That doesn’t mean NBC still won’t decide to move on, but for now, its comedy choices are pretty limited.