Today’s Search Term is “Johnny Dakota,” which, of course, means you readers out there are looking for the Saved by the Bell episode “No Hope With Dope.” And sure, we could give you a clip from that episode featuring fictional mega-hunk Johnny Dakota, played by dancer/choreographer Eddie Garcia, but that would be the easy way out. We prefer to present you with a clip that offers the biggest guest star in the episode, the truly special guest star, NBC Chairman Brandon Tartikoff.
By this point – 1991 – Tartikoff had a habit of popping up in NBC shows as himself, or as a version of himself, and this was a particularly meta appearance where he posited the idea of an NBC sitcom about a principal and his students. He ultimately ruled the idea out, but of course, that very idea was the show that he was on, one of a string of a hits on NBC under Tartikoff’s reign. It does say something special about Saved by the Bell’s specific success that it inspired the network chairman to appear on a Saturday Morning teen show, which is decidedly a different hosting SNL, which Tartikoff did in 1983. But always adept at self-promotion, Tartikoff knew an opportunity when it presented itself.
And speaking of promotion, you can read more about Tartikoff’s tenure at NBC in the new book Top of the Rock: The Rise and Fall of Must See TV, just like we did last week. Written by Tartikoff’s protege and successor Warren Littlefield (well, more curated than written by), the book takes a look at NBC’s dominance in the 90s. And while most of the tome focuses on the post-Tartikoff era at the Peacock, he was an important figure in shaping the network and laying the groundwork (Cheers, Cosby, Hill Street Blues, etc.) on which Must See TV was built. It’s that perfect gift for anyone who likes to read oral histories but hates anything of substance. But, be warned, there’s no talk of Saved by the Bell in the book, so you’ll have to rely on Behind the Bell for that.
Remember kids, say no to drugs! Or you could end up like Dustin Diamond.
This week we’re checking in on NBC’s Thursday night comedies as they finish their respective seasons. Today: ‘Parks and Recreation.’
Perhaps the greatest compliment you can offer Parks and Recreation is that it’s no longer referred to as the quasi-Office spin-off (ignore the fact that we just did that in the first sentence). We’re now multiple seasons into an excellent run where Parks and Recreation has cast off the chains of its origins, found its own voice, become its own show, and surpassed its progenitor by all metrics save for Neislen ratings. We still maintain that Community is the best show of the night, but Parks and Rec has not been behind by much, outpacing The Office during its second season.
At the end of Parks and Rec‘s brief, unimpressive first season, we laid out a plan for how the show could not only improve but excel, and we revisited this primer just prior to the start of the show’s brilliant third season. We also presented three more key points as the show moved forward and they were as follows:
More: What do you with a problem like Rashida?
We’ve admittedly, regrettably, been remiss with our recaps and analysis of NBC’s Thursday night comedies. There was a time when we provided weekly thoughts on ‘The Office’ (luckily our neglect kicked in just around the time when Friday morning post-mortems on that show would have been unbearable) and periodic temperature checks on ‘Parks and Recreation.’ With the season already complete for half of these shows, and the other two concluding their runs this week, we thought it was high time that we put aside some real estate to check in on these programs, starting today with a discussion about ‘Community’ (whose season (and not series) finale airs Thursday night (preceded by two other new episodes and the ’30 Rock’ closer).
NBC announced their Fall 2012 pick ups last week and, despite lots of rumors and hand-wringing, Community will return for a fourth season. That much wasn’t quite a surprise to us. Could NBC have axed the criminally low-rated comedy? Sure, and they would have the cold, emotionless Nielsen numbers to back it up. But, at the same time, they know what they’re getting with Community. Will it ever break out into a Friends or even These Friends of Mine sized hit? Unlikely at this point. But does it have a devoted, die-hard fan base? Absolutely. Attractive cast? You bet. A smart, discerning, relatively affluent audience? We guess. Close to reaching enough episodes for lucrative syndication? Definitely. So the renewal, especially for the 13-episode order it received, is not all that shocking to us. What was unexpected, however, was the announcement at the NBC Upfronts that come this fall Community will be found on Fridays, as the lead-in to…Grimm?
Read on: Go ahead and step back from that ledge…