There was a time when debuting a terrible show during the summer months wasn't just OK, it was common practice. Indeed, summer burn off was so prevalent that your very own sister network, USA, made a name for itself simply by running good original shows during the three months everyone else was dedicating to reruns and midseason rejects.
But those days have passed, NBC, as you well know. Dozens of new shows debut in June alone, many with big-name writers, directors and actors; on Friday, you yourselves will premiere "Crossbones," a series so premium it stars Mr. John Malkovich.
So how then do you explain the presence of "Undateable," which premieres Thursday, on our screens?
I understand that producer Bill Lawrence is usually a good bet and certainly star Chris D'Elia, last seen in "Whitney," is appealing enough for us to wish his luck would change. But do we honestly need another show in which all the men are varying degrees of moronic, especially the wise-cracking, rigorously immature lead?
Honest to God, it's enough to make a person miss "Two and a Half Men's" Charlie Harper, and that's something that should never, ever happen.
D'Elia plays Danny, a man of unclear profession drowning in the left-behind panties of too many one-night stands and the belief that life is better lived without emotional connections.
We meet him as he is losing his roommate to (gasp) marriage; fortunately (whew), he quickly finds a replacement. That would be Justin (Brent Morin), a straight-arrow bar owner who has spent the last year longing for his comely bar keep Maddie (Briga Heelan). Meanwhile, a geek chorus of buddies watches and offers brain-stunted encouragement.
These include Burski (Rick Glassman), the rude nerd; Brett (David Flynn), who has just come out, and Shelley (Ron Funches), the big, shy guy. Who is also black and therefore the punch line of far too many jokes involving the name of the bar, which, for reasons known only to creator Adam Sztykiel, is Black Eyes. Which sounds like … well, you get the idea.
Why, NBC, why? I realize we all miss "Friends" and "Cheers," and certainly it would be nice for you to have your own version of "The Big Bang Theory." Perhaps the mild success of "About a Boy" renewed your faith in the attractive powers of self-centered men.
But that show at least had an adorable kid; this show's got nothing but laugh track. And frankly, with all the great stories new and returning to television this summer, none of us has time to waste on something that admits it's "Undateable."
Looking forward to "Crossbones," though.
When: 9 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday
Rating: TV-14-DL (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with advisories for suggestive dialogue and coarse language)