Comedian and television star Bill Cosby is going to bring his skills to NBC once again. But can Cosby stand up to modern audiences?
The television network recently announced that they will be bringing the actor back for a new sitcom tailor made for him, 50 years after Cosby’s first appearance co-starring as Alexander Scott in the drama I Spy and 30 years after his famous role as Cliff Huxtable in his sitcom The Cosby Show.
Both of these series were hits for NBC while they were on the air and working with Cosby once again — as well as producer Tom Werner, whose company helped produce The Cosby Show — seems like a tried and true formula for success for the network.
While Cosby’s more recent attempts at launching a series have met with mixed results, he continues to have a strong showing with standup comedy — including his Comedy Central special Bill Cosby: Far from Finished — and certainly has enough charm to attract new fans alongside previous viewers. Cosby has always kept a focus on universal humour without resorting to profanity or crude jokes, looking at personal stories and comments on family life that hold a pleasant charm.
Cosby is keeping with what works best for him. In a November interview he told Yahoo TV that his new show would focus on “a married couple that acts like they love each other, warts and all, children who respect the parenting, and the comedy of people who make mistakes. Warmth and forgiveness.”
It’s a fair assumption that this series has the potential to be great. Cosby has a warm and friendly charm to his routine, and one doesn’t stay in the comedy industry for 50 years without knowing how to gain and keep an audience. NBC could also benefit from another major program in its television lineup to stay relevant.
If anything is going to interfere with the show being a hit it will likely be the production team. It won’t be enough to rest on Cosby’s fame and acting chops — NBC did that when they committed to a full season of The Michael J. Fox Show only to see it result in mixed reviews and low ratings. If they want to compete with other networks and make a good show in the process, NBC will have to work for it. And it won’t be easy.
With the current state of television, filled with reality shows, cop dramas and premises that sometimes feel like we’re stepping backward, perhaps some honest effort and a reminder of better times is exactly what we need.
Photo: Show Still