Will Southland Be NBC’s First Dramatic Hit Since Heroes?

Looks like NBC’s new chief programmer of dramas and comedies, one Angela Bromstad, might just be capable of saving the network, after all! Her decision to add Parks and Recreation and Southland to NBC’s Thursday-night lineup helped boost NBC to a second-place finish last night. Despite some bad buzz brought on when Nikki Finke leaked the results of some difficult test screenings of P and R, Amy Poehler and friends managed to improve on the average ratings for the 8:30 Thursday time slot by some 32 percent, which is good news to everyone except the creators and stars of Kath & Kim. But the real surprise of the night was just how well the cop drama Southland performed in its new 10 p.m. time slot.

In yesterday’s LAT piece on Bromstad, the programmer discussed her initial hesitancy about NBC’s plans to abandon five hours of original prime-time programming next fall when Jay Leno’s new talk show takes over the 10 p.m. slot. And although she’s since started toeing the corporate line by singing the praises of Jay, now she’s got to figure out where to put Southland next fall, which looks like it could end up being NBC’s first dramatic hit since Heroes debuted in 2006. The new show scored a strong(ish) 6.9 in the Nielsens, toppling the debut of CBS murder mystery Harper’s Island while also building some 53 percent on its 30 Rock lead-in. While we won’t know until next week if each of these new shows will be able to draw in the people who tuned in purely out of curiosity, after all the abuse NBC has been taking since Ben Silverman started steering the network down a slippery ratings slope in May 2007, you can bet that everyone over there — regardless of religious affiliation — is having a good Friday.

What did you think of the new shows, VultureWatchers?

NBC’s Southland Opens Stronger Than Harper’s Island on CBS [MediaWeek]

Will Southland Be NBC’s First Dramatic Hit Since Heroes?