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Two recent events have had me lamenting the end of NBC’s Thursday night comedy block.  The first was the end of Parks & Recreation; the closest thing NBC has had to a comedy hit since the end of The Office, P&R‘s final season was ignominiously burned off on Tuesday nights, like NBC couldn’t wait to get out of the comedy business.  While Community is still my favorite show, P&R was a close second; it’s almost unfair to other shows to have Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Aziz Ansari, Adam Scott and Nick Offerman all in the same cast, then surround them with recurring talent like Nick Kroll, Megan Mullally, and even The Fonz himself, Henry Winkler.

The other was when Friends was added to Netflix.  It’s perfect background material for activities like cleaning or coloring a webcomic, familiar enough that it doesn’t require active viewing, that one seems to know by osmosis to check in every so often for a quotable line or an iconic moment – Mrs. Richmond and I are just about at the one where Ross said Rachel’s name at his wedding to Emily.  Friends was a national obsession pretty much from start to end, to the point where I could go up to any random person and say “because ducks have heads,” and reasonably expect to hear, “what kind of scary-ass clowns came to YOUR birthday” in response.

NBC’s Thursday night dominance stretches back to 1984 (well, 1981 if you count Harper Valley), and reads like a hit parade of memorable shows: Cheers.  Will & Grace.  Night Court.  A Different World.  Scrubs.  My Name Is Earl.  Also, Hope and Gloria, The Single Guy, and Outsourced.  Hey, there’s a lot of airtime to fill in thirty years; you’re gonna end up with a lot more Caroline In The Citys than Seinfelds.

In recent years, there were comparatively moderate successes like The Office, and low-rated critics-darlings like 30 Rock, but between cable and the internet, there was no way NBC could ever reach the ratings highs they did in the 80s and 90s.  They’ve officially been out of the Thursday night comedy business since January, with Thursdays taken up with The Blacklist and whatever The Slap is. And could that BE any more tragic?