NBC is going through some dark times lately. Just last month it was revealed that the network had finished fifth place in their ratings for the Nielsen's February Sweeps, falling behind, like, everyone — including the Spanish-language Univision. In a (mostly) English-speaking country, that's gotta be like finishing last after Mama Cass in a “who can refrain from having a second helping of Buffalo Wings” contest, so I figure they're just about ready to pack their stuff and move back in with their parents, right?
Well, there's hope on the horizon. Before NBC's historical plunge, the network was actually riding high, placing first amongst other broadcasting companies, largely due to the successes of The Voice, their American Idol type thing, and Revolution, a series about how electricity is the one thing keeping us from becoming a bunch of unrelatable, clichéd morons who can't do good dialogue. In November, both series entered a hiatus, and they are about to come back, and NBC's hoping they can step up to the plate once again.
To me, they're kind of hanging by a thread. If those are their best hopes, it's like their car stalled on the mud and they're trying to tow it using two skinny goats and a kid. The Voice, as I said, is pretty much just a repackaging of American Idol, and Idol ain't doing so good itself.
And as for Revolution, well, it is one of those shows trying to be “The New Lost,” and people have been treading that path pretty much ever since the second episode of that series and everyone ended up falling off a cliff. You got Heroes, Fringe, The Event, FlashForward, Alcatraz ... You can say Revolution at least has J.J. Abrams on board, but the same can be said about both Fringe and Alcatraz and they went nowhere near the success of Lost, the latter being sacked after just one season. All of which makes me think ... Lost is the new what? The new X-Files? The new The Prisoner? I don't think so.
Perhaps a strong case could be made that the success of ABC's sci-fi drama about people from every ethnicity stranded on a supernatural island is due to its being, not exactly original, but at the very least different from everything else on the market at the time. It wasn't just high-concept, an ensemble cast of characters and a mystery, it was the unique flavor that that series delivered at the time. Plus, the strong characterization and occasionally brilliant plots didn't hurt any.
For that reason, I don't think Revolution will be able fulfill its lofty goal. It may even go as far as a second or a third season, but it won't be the new Lost and it certainly won't save NBC. The network is now scrambling around trying to figure out how to stay afloat, even going so far as declaring their niche sitcoms Parks and Recreation and Community too “sophisticated” for a broad audience and announcing that they will try to bring in some bland crowd-pleasers in the tradition of CBS's Two and a Half Men or The Big Bang Theory, and best of luck to them, but it's probably just pushing back an inevitable realization: that to stand above the competitors, NBC will have to do more than jump on whatever bandwagon they happen to be riding. They will have to present the public with a product they will want to consume instead of the ones available, and to do that, they will have to come up with something new to offer or play second bananas forever.