As NBC gets ready to debut its new lineup at its upfront presentation next week, word is trickling in that an order for the final season of 30 Rock is imminent, but that it will likely be a truncated season of only thirteen or fourteen episodes instead of the standard twenty or so.
We'd gotten word of the shorter than usual season a little while back, but the news today, at least according to Deadline, is that NBC is considering giving smaller orders to all of its preexisting comedies (provided they're renewed at all, that is) in order to make room for new shows. NBC has already made pickup announcements about several new comedies — among them the high-profile gay surrogate comedy from Ryan Murphy The New Normal, the buzzed-about 1600 Penn from a former Obama speechwriter, and Anne Heche's Save Me — and will likely make more at upfronts.
It's no secret that NBC is in dire straits, and while it's at least been able to rely on its Thursday night comedy bloc to be a bright spot in an otherwise dark, dark week, those shows are all getting old. And critically lauded cult favorite shows like 30 Rock, Community (which is on the bubble), and Parks and Recreation (a renewal seems likely) never really did that well in the ratings anyway. So NBC needs new blood, and in order to give new potential hits room to find an audience and flourish, the network may need to slash the orders of its current shows. Hence the 13-episode model, which will mean a lot less of Leslie Knope and the Dunder Mifflin crew next year. Which is fine by us. Sometimes these 20-plus-episode seasons feel a bit long. We're better inured at this point to the shorter cable seasons, which are able to tell tidy and concise stories without dragging things out (unless it's The Killing). If it works for FX, it can work for NBC! Well, maybe.