A satirical and often over-the-top look at office life within a big corporate company was the theme in the NBC sitcom WORKING, which the peacock network put on the air in 1997, in he midst of their run as most successful TV network of the 1990s. Unfortunately for the show though, it was thematically not ready for the Must See Thursday block (and NBC probably didn’t want to break up the grounded FRIENDS and SEINFELD with anything that was not grounded), so the Fred Savage starrer was put on Wednesdays, where it aired at 9:30pm against ABC’s already established and slowly dying ELLEN. The ratings for WORKING were an up and down for NBC. Sometimes it found itself as the winner against the 9:30pm sitcom competition, but most of the times the show landed in the bottom third of the weekly Nielsen charts.
Three episodes landed below 10 million viewers and a 7.0 Household rating, which could mean two things: 1) These were ratings anomalies. 2) I would say that one episode with these numbers is an anomaly. Two episodes might be a freak occurrence. But since three episodes crashed like this, that might have been just the first sign for NBC that the show is not a ratings hit and will never be one, no matter how often you try to save the show and try to make it a hit. WORKING was renewed for a second season (because after all, it wasn’t always mediocre in the numbers), but NBC probably knew back then that this might have just been a decision to extend the inevitable. And the network could afford it – the Must See Thursday block saved NBC quite a few times.