The other day I talked about how in 1990 The Flash got screwed over when CBS made the foolish mistake of giving it a stupid time slot, opposite NBC Thursday and The Simpsons (well OK it was expensive to produce too but I digress). But that is not the only series to suffer like that. Sometimes networks hurt their own shows by either giving the show an awful time slot, or switching the time slot fifteen times so that viewers can’t find it
Some shows survive tough time slots. Family Ties was moved from its Thursday perch after Cosby to Sunday nights, and was just as popular. Facts of Life had numerous time slot changes but still lasted eight years. Seinfeld shuffled around many time slots before settling on Thursday nights. Frasier had a few time slots in its run but the show was always a monster hit. Survivor was put up against the monster that was Friends and both did well, alternating between being #1 the years they competed. Murphy Brown & Everybody Loves Raymond did just fine opposite the monster that was Monday Night Football. And some shows buck the trend entirely, Saturday’s were supposed to the worst night for sitcoms and yet The Golden Girls was a major hit and flourished there for seven years.
But some shows are not so lucky, and here is are a few examples of series which didn’t do as well as they should have because the network either didn’t know the best day or time to air it, or chose to mess with a good thing and moved it to an awful time slot which killed the show.
3rd Rock From The Sun
Here’s a great example of a network bouncing a show around all over the place. Would you like to know how many time slots this show had? 20!! No kidding, I looked it up! No wonder I always lost track of this show. It was on six or seven years, that’s crazy! However, despite the bouncing around the show managed to maintain a solid fan base. Not all shows are quite so lucky.
I put these together because they shared the same fate. These were two really good NBC series, but the network could never seem to find a time slot and keep the show there long enough to really cultivate an audience. Wings had 7! They were on any day from Tuesday to Thursday over eight years. The best was the post-Cheers slot that Seinfeld would eventually take on, and that was the only time I watched the series regularly. To be fair Wings had a pretty healthy run, didn’t hurt that the creators were the same that gave us Cheers of course.What about Dear John? This was a nice little Judd Hirsch series about a man dumped by his wife. It was harmless. Hazard a guess how many time slots? Ten? Try 13!! Yep, 13 in four years, bouncing between Wednesday and Saturday’s. How in the world are fans supposed to stay with a series if it keeps changing like that?
Mad About You
This one baffles me. In 1994 NBC had a Thursday night mega block with Mad About You, Friends, Seinfeld, and ER. So the next year what do they do? They move Mad About You of course. Well, that could be OK… where did they move it to? Sunday night! At 8:00! Opposite Lois & Clark-The New Adventures of Superman!!! WHAT??? Not only did I hardly watch the show in that awful time slot but the show started to suck that year, coincidence?
No way I could do an article on a network screwing over a show with a lame time slot, and not bring this one up. NBC reluctantly gave the now classic show a third season, but gave it a god awful time slot because it was more concerned with Laugh-In. So where did NBC stick the show? Friday night at 10:00. It was a death slot, especially since their target audience wouldn’t even be home! Of course there’s the small fact hat the budget was slashed, and we see why that third season didn’t turn out so well in the end.
Of course I could do a whole list of shows that were treated like this, send to limbo by the network after they had lost faith in the show. Sometimes this happens over the summer which is even more insulting. From Alf to Who’s The Boss? to Perfect Strangers to The Single Guy to Just Shoot Me, it happens quite often.
What’s worst than being burned off by the network? How about being on the brink of cancellation for your entire run and only getting on the schedule when another show fails! Yeah this show seemed destined to be in a mid-season fill in mode, as it never kicked off a season but would magically appear on the schedule when another show bombed. No wonder I didn’t really watch in until it managed to hit syndication. It was on about seven different places over the five or six years. It did it’s best I think on ABC Friday’s (technically before it was officially called TGIF).
The Jay Leno Show
Hey, here’s a brilliant idea! Let’s take Jay Leno off The Tonight Show and put him on at 10:00! Brilliant! What could go wrong? Well gee, how about the fact that it’s a very different audience at 10:00, plus the fact that local news stations were in a panic because they were acriad of the audience they were losing. The local news station right here in my home town of Boston flat out refused to air the show! They did anyway and the show barely lasted six months. It wasn’t bad, but that kind of show at that hour just doesn’t work. Good call NBC.
Wow, I have been hard on NBC here.Â But the other networks make their mistakes too!!
Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
I always tend to focus on sitcoms for these since that is were my most experience is in. But here’s a case of this happening to a show which is sure not a sitcom. I already talked about this awesome show and how much I loved it a couple years ago (my time does fly). When it first came on it was on everyday for just two weeks. It was a sensation. So when ABC made it a series they put it on three times a week! Oh but that’s not the worst part. One night was Sunday…yeah that was OK. The other night’s were Monday (opposite the killer CBS lineup) and Thursday (opposite the killer NBC lineup not to mention Survivor and CSI on CBS). I didn’t watch and I don’t think may others did either. The show faded away, although the daytime version is still alive and kicking.
Oh CBS, what the hell where you thinking? Oh sure, not enough that this was a stupid idea from the get go. I mean, turning The Brady Bunch into a Thirtysomething-esque drama? Sure, why not. But they set the show against the ABCÂ TGIF line-up at the time, including Full House! It’s kind of ironic that the show which seems cut from the same cloth as The Brady Bunch would beat the revamp series, but that’s exactly what happened in 1990. True the series was stupid as hell but a decent time slot may have helped a little. Heck I didn’t even watch it because it was on Friday night!!
Ok one last dig at NBC. I talked about his one a long time ago. Vince McMahon had the brilliant idea of bringing extreme Football to TV to compete with the NFL. Problem was either the games were on channels no one could find, or on Saturday night! Yeah Saturday night is generally date night and I don’t think to many guys are able to sit around and watch football. There were other problems but the time slot didn’t help.
The Crap Slot
Hey, ever wonder why no good shows aired at the same time as The Cosby Show? Or opposite The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson? Or after Seinfeld? Because those time slots were always the kiss of death. Networks tried, they really did, but nothing could compete with those powerhouses. The list of talk shows that died opposite Carson is staggering. From Joan Rivers to Pat Sajak (yes, THAT Pat Sajak) to Dennis Miller! Many shows aired opposite Seinfeld and Friends but very few lasted long. Some were “time slot hits” until they were moved to another night and quietly faded away. And I already mentioned how CBS tried to put Flash on Thursday nights. The brilliant strategy was to put it on at 8:30, hoping people would turn the channel after Cosby. Because, you know, who watched Cheers…or L.A.Law! The Flash series deserved much better. Some time slots are just guaranteed failures, and while networks try nothing ever works. I already talked about Friday nights, where Star Trek went to die. Another bad night for some reason was Wednesday’s, nothing ever seems to work that night. In Living Color was an example of a show which was moved there and did horribly. I know for me personally growing up that was usually the one day of the week that nothing was one.
I know I left off a million other examples of shows ruined by their lousy tine slot, so feel free to comment and let me know what I missed. And of course, a great time slot is no guarantee of hit either. But…….that’s another article altogether my friendsÂ 🙂