Was this week’s live Undateable episode a test for what is to come next season? In a throwback to the golden age of television and live entertainment, I hear NBC is in discussions with the producers of the Warner Bros. TV multi-camera sophomore comedy about doing a third season consisting entirely of live episodes, as many as 22 of them. I hear the renewal talks between NBC and WBTV may involve both Undateable and freshman Mysteries of Laura.
There was just a modest ratings increase for the hourlong episode this week, which aired live on both coasts — it drew a 1.3 among adults 18-49 in Live+Same Day, +8% week to week — but it was generally well received, attracted name guest stars including Ed Sheeran, Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Kate Walsh, Dr. Drew Pinsky and Minnie Driver, and it did well on social media.
That was probably an encouraging sign for NBC brass who have been mounting a major push in live entertainment or programs that have a live feel. In addition to the now-annual stage musicals, NBC has the upcoming Neil Patrick Harris variety show, which will tape in front of a live audience, and the network had been discussing doing more installments of the Maya Rudolph variety special. (NBC, of course has long traditions in live entertainment programming with Saturday Night Live).
Undateable already broke the mold once. Pushed to summer as a burn-off last year, it logged the biggest summer comedy launch in years, earning a second season renewal.
And going the live route would come natural to most Undateable cast members who are comedians, including Chris D’Elia, Brent Morin, Ron Funches and Rick Glassman. The cast was a hit at the winter TCA press tour with engaging live interaction, which may have informed NBC’s decision to go with a live episode.
Undateable, from Bill Lawrence & Adam Sztykiel and Warner Bros. TV, is about a group of close-knit friends living in Detroit, helping one another figure out their lives.
In a promising sign, NBC has cancelled all of its existing comedy series besides Undateable. Stay tuned.