It is no secret that NBC is currently struggling in the ratings. Last week it had only 3 shows in the top 20, with Deal Or No Deal at 9, and SVU and Heroes coming in at 18 and 19. Recently, it has had trouble with the Monday 10 pm slot following the continued ratings failures of Studio 60. In its spot they put Irish mob drama The Black Donnellys, hoping to play on the growing Irish mafia trend made popular recently by the success of The Departed. But Donnellys is having no luck in the spot either. Following a strong night by Heroes (8.5/13), The Black Donnellys could only muster a 4.5/8, getting thoroughly beat by a CBS rerun of CSI: Miami. So, with the current ratings making it seem like a full season of The Black Donnellys unlikely, NBC has taken an interesting path with its web content. They are currently airing a special, web-only full episode of the drama, hoping to spark a strong enough online turnout from a dedicated fan base to warrant a continuation on Monday nights.

Right now, viewers can see the episode “God Is A Comedian” right here.  According to wikipedia, the episode was turned into an online exclusive because it was too violent to air on network TV.  But as a viewer of the show, I watched the episode and can safely say that important plot elements take place that any viewer needs to know about before seeing the next episode.  While not filled with huge events, some things that take place (I’m purposely not mentioning them here to avoid spoilers) are crucial to the story arc.  It is interesting that NBC would do this to a show that has potential, because any casual viewer tuning in next week who does not have time to sit through a buggy online presentation will likely turn off the show when they realize things have taken place that they do not remember.  If NBC wants to kill the show, just come out and do it.  Don’t start airing episodes in all different media and angering fans until the show implodes in on itself.