Anyone notice a little something unusual the other night while (or if) watching the NBC sitcom "Undateable?" Not Ed Sheeran, who opened the episode, although that was certainly unusual enough, but rather this: The little "live" bug in the upper left hand corner of the screen...
Get used to that bug -- it will be there all next season, for NBC just handed this sophomore show a new season, or specifically an all LIVE season... Right, that is notable and if not unprecedented, absolutely unique... A live sitcom? All season? Well...why not?
Meanwhile, NBC lowered the boom on other series -- "Marry Me" and "About a Boy" will not be back, nor will Katherine Heigl's "State of Affairs."
"Constantine," and "One Big Happy" are also over.
But... "Mysteries of Laura," which had a rough start but improved, got a pickup.
"Undateable," with standup vet Chris D'Elia, was the surprise of NBC's 2014-5 season.. Arriving last May, this figured on sticking around for a while, then disappearing under the waves of TV summer sludge. That did not happen: "Undateable" did well, got a new order, and now has a chance to make a little bit of history.
Why live? This is maybe a bit more than a gimmick, but acknowledgement by NBC that TV is now consumed by viewers like so many canapes -- they pick and choose at there leisure, and certainly don't bother watching a show when it's supposed to air, knowing full well they can watch the next day or later that night. But a "live" telecast theoretically is a push-back against that instinct -- inviting viewers to watch on the pretext that anything could happen that would be tweetable of Facebookable...
Also networks and producers have learned how to do "live" again. The May 5 "Undateable" for the most part looked like any other taped comedy. But clearly perfection is not the goal here. Imperfection, in fact is, which -- again theoretically -- should add to the fun or immediacy.