Brow Beat

Saved by the Bell Will Tackle School Integration, and Other Surprises From NBCUniversal’s Streaming Service, Peacock

The word Peacock with a rainbow-colored series of dots to the word's immediate right.
The name and logo for NBCUniversal’s new streaming service.
NBCUniversal

NBCUniversal plans to leverage everything it has toward the successful launch of its new streaming service, which, as the company announced Tuesday, will be called Peacock.

The network is marshaling not only all of its intellectual property, with reboots of critical darlings like Battlestar Galactica and a new show from Late Night With Seth Meyers’ Amber Ruffin, but also all of its anti-intellectual property, including spinoffs of both Saved by the Bell and The Real Housewives.

All told, Peacock will boast more than 15,000 hours of NBCU film and televisual content when the streaming service launches in April. The media company has already made plans to secure the streaming rights to The Office in 2021.* Another fan favorite the Universal TV–produced Parks and Recreation will also be pulled from its wide availability across services including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. All the bannermen in the content wars are evidently returning to defend their house lords in the streaming battle to come—and perhaps for reasons of strategic secrecy, an exact launch date or pricing scheme for Peacock has yet to be announced. (NBCU did say, however, that it anticipates Peacock will be ad-supported and possibly may come free with certain cable packages or virtual cable services like YouTube TV or Hulu.)

Here’s some of what the new streaming service plans to offer.

New Business

Good Place creator Mike Schur, Superstore writer Sierra Teller Ornelas, and The Office’s Ed Helms are creating a light-hearted satire called Rutherford Falls about a “local legend and town namesake” who objects to the moving of a historical statue in a small town in upstate New York.

• Writer Kara Brown and director/executive producer Rashida Jones have a pilot order for an odd couple–style comedy starring Jada Pinkett Smith.

• Season 3 of NBC’s A.P. Bio will stream exclusively on Peacock.

• A new comedy called Armas de Mujer, from the creators of La Reina del Sur, that will be coming to the service along with many hours of Spanish-language content from Telemundo.

Reboots and Adaptations

Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail will get a chance to refashion Battlestar Galactica in his own image with his past collaborator Chad Hamilton as an executive producer.

• A miniseries version of Brave New World, part of the entertainment industry’s ongoing effort to ensure that, one day, no adolescent in America will ever have to do the required summer reading ever again.

• A dramatic adaptation of the investigative podcast Dr. Death, with Christian Slater and Alec Baldwin bringing the story of Dr. Death to life on the small screen.

Old Business

• Peacock will also be home to NBCU’s vast library of movies from Universal and DreamWorks Animation’s, among them: Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, Erin Brockovich, Do the Right Thing, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Mamma Mia!, Bridesmaids, and Dallas Buyers Club. The platform will also be home to past and future entries in the company’s major franchises, like the Jason Bourne movies, all things Despicable Me, and the Fast and the Furious series.

• Reruns of Downton Abbey which, fun fact, was partially produced by a U.K. subsidiary of Universal Studios called Carnival Films.

• Many, many USA Network originals shows including Monk, Psych, Royal Pains, and a new made-for-streaming Psych movie, called Psych 2: Lassie Come Home.

Prestige Political Content

• Tracey Wigfield, a former 30 Rock writer and the creator of Great News, will be reviving NBC Saturday morning’s iconic ’90s teen sitcom Saved by the Bell with a logline that, quite honestly, has to be read to be believed:

When California governor Zack Morris gets into hot water for closing too many low-income high schools, he proposes they send the affected students to the highest performing schools in the state – including Bayside High. The influx of new students gives the over privileged Bayside kids a much needed and hilarious dose of reality.

For many millenials, Saved by the Bell had a formative role in shaping their positions on a variety of serious social issues, from caffeine pill addiction to fat shaming to knowingly orchestrating a car accident. It’s the only franchise that this demographic would trust to convey the gravity and complexity of public school busing, so it’s good that they are tackling this.

What’s Missing?

• Thus far, Peacock has no stated plans to incorporate material from the media firm’s corporate parents pokerfastlane.com or Sheinhardt Wig Company.

Correction, Sept. 18, 2019: This post originally misstated that Peacock had acquired the streaming rights for Friends. Warner Media’s HBO Max now has the rights for that show.