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Sunday, November 18, 2012

WEEKEND REWIND: ABC 1992-93 Season

ABC 1992-93 SEASON
Heading into the Fall of 1992, ABC had mostly purged its lineup of the long-running series that defined the mid-late 80s on the network. Who's the Boss?, Growing Pains, and MacGyver had all been cancelled while Perfect Strangers was held off until it was burned off in the summer of 1993. ABC had some new success stories, particularly Home Improvement, which was the biggest new series since Roseanne. However, they really had no successful dramas on the air heading into the season and the season as a whole didn't really bring any new hits to ABC's lineup which meant all their existing shows were one year older. That's never a recipe for success.

Mondays
(Sep 21-Nov 2)
8:00 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (through Oct 12)
9:00 Monday Night Football

(Nov 9-Dec 28)
8:00 FBI: The Untold Stories
8:30 American Detective
9:00 Monday Night Football

(Jan 4-May 17)
8:00 FBI: The Untold Stories
8:30 American Detective
9:00 Monday Night Football
ABC cancelled the long running Monday Night Football companion MacGyver the previous season and attempted to pair football with a different drama. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles had only gotten moderate ratings the season before but the high profile show got a second chance in the fall. However, the second chance didn't last long and the show was yanked after four weeks and it didn't return until March when it was benched to Saturdays. The drama was replaced by low budget filler with the return of FBI: The Untold Stories and American Detective. Neither show did well enough to last another season however. As usual, ABC replaced football with the Monday Night Movie.

Tuesdays
(Sep 22-Nov 17)
8:00 Full House
8:30 Hangin' with Mr. Cooper
9:00 Roseanne
9:30 Coach
10:00 Going to Extremes

(Dec 1-Jan 12)
8:00 Full House
8:30 Hangin' with Mr. Cooper
9:00 Roseanne
9:30 The Jackie Thomas Show
10:00 Going to Extremes (through Jan 5)

(Jan 19-Mar 2)
8:00 Full House
8:30 Hangin' with Mr. Cooper
9:00 Roseanne
9:30 The Jackie Thomas Show
10:00 Civil Wars

(Mar 9-30)
8:00 Full House
8:30 Hangin' with Mr. Cooper
9:00 Roseanne
9:30 The Jackie Thomas Show
10:00 Homefront

(Apr 6-May 18)
8:00 Full House
8:30 Hangin' with Mr. Cooper
9:00 Roseanne
9:30 Delta (through Apr 27)
10:00 Homefront (through Apr 13)
"Hangin' with Mr. Cooper"
"The Jackie Thomas Show"
Tuesdays went through a lot of changes over the course of the season but only in the 9:30pm and 10pm slots as the first three shows stayed the same all year. At 8pm, Full House had made a very successful transition to Tuesdays and landed among the Top 10 shows. It continued to be a powerful lead-off to ABC's most successful night. At 8:30pm, they launched the new Hangin' with Mr. Cooper which starred Mark Curry as a teacher and coach. The show did well with Full House but seemed better fit for ABC's TGIF lineup on Fridays which is where it moved the following season. It was one of the shows that had a moderately successful run but never became a major player for ABC. At 9pm, Roseanne continued to dominate as it was fresh off of a #2 finish in the ratings and it finished in #2 yet again. At 9:30pm, ABC started the season with the always reliable Roseanne companion, Coach. However, ABC was always looking to use Roseanne as a launching pad for new shows and they thought they found the perfect companion in The Jackie Thomas Show, starring Roseanne's real life husband Tom Arnold and executive produced by Roseanne. The show, about a nightclub comic starring in his own fictional sitcom, was brassy and loud like the pair behind the camera. The Arnolds used their considerable clout at the network to secure the post-Roseanne slot and it paid off initially with huge ratings. But eventually it struggled to hold on to Roseanne's audience even though it still placed in the Top 20. Roseanne publicly threatened to leave ABC if they cancelled Thomas but ABC called her bluff and cancelled it anyway. Roseanne and Tom Arnold divorced not long after and Roseanne of course stayed with the network. At the very end of the season, ABC gave Delta one more chance to find an audience after Roseanne but it was not meant to be for Delta Burke's sitcom. The 10pm slot had several different occupants. It started with Going to Extremes, a new medical drama about medical students learning the ropes on a tropical island (long before Off the Map had a similar premise in 2011). It didn't connect with audiences and swapped nights with Civil Wars before getting cancelled. Civil Wars was given one more night to succeed in its second season but it couldn't make Tuesday work. ABC replaced it with another failed second year drama in Homefront which returned to its original timeslot the season before for one final chance. Despite much critical love, it didn't do enough to get a third season and ABC had now gone two straight seasons of a revolving door in this slot since thirtysomething's cancellation.

Wednesdays
(Sep 23-Nov 18)
8:00 The Wonder Years
8:30 Doogie Howser MD
9:00 Home Improvement
9:30 Laurie Hill (Sep 30-Oct 28)
10:00 Civil Wars

(Nov 25-Jan 6)
8:00 The Wonder Years
8:30 Doogie Howser MD
9:00 Home Improvement
9:30 Coach
10:00 Civil Wars

(Jan 13-Mar 3)
8:00 The Wonder Years
8:30 Doogie Howser MD
9:00 Home Improvement
9:30 Coach
10:00 Going to Extremes (through Jan 27)

(Mar 10-24)
8:00 The Wonder Years
8:30 Doogie Howser MD
9:00 Home Improvement
9:30 Coach
10:00 Sirens

(Mar 31-Apr 28)
8:00 The Wonder Years
8:30 Home Free
9:00 Home Improvement
9:30 Coach
10:00 Sirens
"Sirens"
ABC made a very bold move with its comedies heading into the 1992 season. After one successful season sandwiched between Full House and Roseanne, ABC let Home Improvement fly on its own by moving it to the pressure slot of 9pm Wednesdays and it passed with flying colors. This has been a problem for many shows when they were moved from a cozy timeslot but it didn't matter for Improvement, which remained one of TV's top shows and greatly strengthened ABC's Wednesday lineup. Earlier in the night was a pair of aging shows in their final season. The Wonder Years had a critically acclaimed run but it was running out of gas. Doogie Howser MD was one of ABC's moderate successes but it also was losing steam. Both shows suffered from popular young leads who were growing up which can sometimes lead to shows "jumping the shark." ABC actually pulled Doogie in March and burned it off over the summer but The Wonder Years was given enough notice to put together a memorable one hour finale in May. When Doogie was pulled, it was replaced by Home Free, a family sitcom starring a young Matthew Perry. This show was actually a vehicle for the young and upcoming Perry but it didn't work out and Perry of course found superstardom a year and a half later when Friends launched. The 9:30pm post-Home Improvement slot was originally given to Laurie Hill, a family sitcom about a pediatrician featuring a young Ellen DeGeneres. From the creators of The Wonder Years, the show was critically panned and was one of the first cancellations of the season when it lost a huge part of Home Improvement's audience. It was replaced by Coach, which was moved on Tuesdays to make room for The Jackie Thomas Show. Coach was always successful when paired with a powerful lead-in and it usually did better than many other shows in that role but it could never be an anchor show. At 10pm, ABC started with the second season of Civil Wars which had narrowly snagged a renewal. It struggled in the Wednesday slot and was sent to Tuesdays in January where it flipped with Going to Extremes. Fresh off a poor Tuesday showing, Extremes lasted only 3 episodes on Wednesday before being cancelled. ABC's last effort in the slot for the season was Sirens, a Pittsburgh-set police drama about three female rookie cops. The show was critically acclaimed but cancelled after its midseason run. However, it was picked up in syndication where it aired for 22 more episodes.

Thursdays
(Sep 17-Dec 17)
8:00 Delta
8:30 Room for Two
9:00 Homefront
10:00 Primetime Live

(Jan 14-Feb 11)
8:00 Matlock
9:00 Jack's Place
10:00 Primetime Live

(Feb 18-May 20)
8:00 Matlock
9:00 Misc. Programming
10:00 Primetime Live
"Delta"
Thursday nights continued to be troublesome for ABC. They started by trying comedies at 8pm including the highly anticipated Delta starring Delta Burke as a country singer. Burke had just been on Designing Women for several years before a highly publicized departure and ABC thought audiences would follow her over to Delta especially with The Cosby Show no longer in the Thursday 8pm slot on NBC. Unfortunately, Delta flopped and couldn't connect with audiences. It was pulled from the lineup in December along with its companion, the second season of Room for Two. Room was a top 10 show in its cozy timeslot the previous midseason but it tumbled all the way to #79 without a comfortable timeslot. This was the opposite of Home Improvement, a show that did great with a lead-in but stumbled when left to its own devices. At 9pm was season two of Homefront. ABC wanted this show to work but, like so many period dramas, it couldn't get a mass audience. It didn't helped that it faced off against the final season of Cheers. After December, ABC scratched the whole 8-10pm slot and gave 8pm to Matlock starring Andy Griffith, which it had picked up after it ran 6 seasons on NBC. The old skewing show was a better option for Thursday 8pm than comedies had been plus it had a built in audience so it became a rare Thursday scripted show to be renewed by ABC. It was initially paired with Jack's Place which had aired in the summer of 1992 and did well enough to get a second season. In the tougher time of year, it couldn't hack it. It was yanked in February and ABC spent the rest of the year airing two hour episodes of Matlock, repeats of other shows, and specials. Throughout the year, Primetime Live continued to occupy the 10pm hour for ABC.

Fridays
(Sep 18-Feb 26)
8:00 Family Matters
8:30 Step by Step
9:00 Dinosaurs
9:30 Camp Wilder
10:00 20/20

(Mar 5-May 7)
8:00 Family Matters
8:30 Step by Step
9:00 Getting By
9:30 Where I Live
10:00 20/20
TGIF was in place for 1992-93 but it wasn't dominant like in years past as the 9pm hour really suffered with two different lineups. At 8pm all year was ABC's strongest Friday show, Family Matters, in its prime. It was followed by Step by Step which was fresh off a successful first season. The problems came at 9pm though where they started with Dinosaurs. This show always did better than you might think but it was clearly not able to be an anchor. It hurt the new addition to the night - Camp Wilder. Wilder was a family sitcom featuring Mary Page Keller, Jerry O'Connell, Jay Mohr, and Hilary Swank, but it couldn't find an audience on Friday night. It lasted 19 episodes but was pulled in February and never returned. Dinosaurs was moved to Sundays at that point too. In their place were two new freshman sitcoms. Getting By was a family sitcom about two mothers - white (Cindy Williams) and black (Telma Hopkins) and their teenage children all living together. It didn't last on ABC but was renewed by NBC for a second season. Where I Live was a Harlem-set family sitcom starring Doug E. Doug. The show did not do well at all but was critically acclaimed for its realistic portrayal of life in Harlem. Even Bill Cosby weighed in on the quality of the show and that helped it get renewed for a season two where it only managed to last a few episodes. Throughout the season, 20/20 continued to air at 10pm.

Saturdays
(Sep 26-Oct 31)
8:00 Covington Cross
9:00 Crossroads
10:00 The Commish

(Nov 7-Mar 6)
8:00 Saturday Night Movie
10:00 The Commish

(Mar 13-Apr 17)
8:00 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
9:00 Misc. Programming
10:00 The Commish

(Apr 24-May 15)
8:00 Saturday Night Movie
10:00 The Commish
"Covington Cross"
Saturday nights were problematic for ABC this season as they were most seasons. ABC tried to begin the season with three straight dramas including two brand new ones - British drama Covington Cross which took place during 14th Century England and Crossroads, a family drama starring Robert Urich about a father and son traveling cross country together. Both shows were pulled before November and were two of ABC's lowest rated shows. Despite the poor lead-ins, ABC managed to get decent numbers from The Commish in its second year in the 10pm slot. When the first two dramas were pulled, ABC aired a movie until March when they made one more attempt with The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. When it didn't work here, the show that had many chances to succeed was ultimately cancelled though they made four TV-movies in the next couple years.

Sundays
(Sep 20-Feb 28)
7:00 Life Goes On
8:00 America's Funniest Home Videos
8:30 America's Funniest People
9:00 Sunday Night Movie

(Mar 14-28)
7:00 America's Funniest Home Videos
7:30 America's Funniest People
8:00 Day One
9:00 Sunday Night Movie

(Apr 18-May 2)
7:00 America's Funniest Home Videos
7:30 Dinosaurs
8:00 Day One
9:00 Sunday Night Movie
"Day One"
Sunday nights seemed to be getting progressively weaker year after year. ABC started the night with Life Goes On but the family drama couldn't cheat death once again. Despite continued letter writing from fans, it wasn't enough to save the show which was truthfully lucky to run four seasons with its low ratings. At 8pm was the hour of funny videos but they were getting progressively weaker each year. After ABC pulled Life Goes On, they moved the videos to the 7pm hour and then they pulled America's Funniest People for the last two months of the season in favor of Dinosaurs, which had been moved from Fridays. Dinosaurs did get a renewal, probably for syndication reasons, but its next season didn't premiere until the summer of 1994, more than a year later. When the videos shows moved to 7pm, ABC launched a new newsmagazine - Day One, hosted by Diane Sawyer and Forrest Sawyer (not related). The show joined 20/20 and Primetime Live in an era where TV newsmagazines were becoming more and more common thanks in part to how cheap they were to produce. Throughout the season, they aired a movie at 9pm that usually did worse than a competing movie on CBS but better than the one on NBC.

ABC 1992-93 Stats

Shows in the Top 30
2. Roseanne
3. Home Improvement
6. Coach
7. Monday Night Football
10. Full House
12. 20/20
16. Hangin' with Mr. Cooper/The Jackie Thomas Show
22. Primetime Live
28. Sunday Night Movie/Matlock

Fall Shows Survival: 1/7 (14%)
Hangin' with Mr. Cooper

Midseason Shows Survival: 2/6 (33%)
Where I Live, Day One

Total New Shows Survival Rate: 3/13 (23%)

Cancelled/Ended Series
Perfect Strangers (8 seasons, aired in Summer 1993)
The Wonder Years (6 seasons)
Doogie Howser MD/Life Goes On (4 seasons)
American Detective (3 seasons)
Homefront/FBI: The Untold Stories/Civil Wars/The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles/Room for Two/Jack's Place (2 seasons)
Crossroads/Delta/Going to Extremes/Camp Wilder/Covington Cross/Laurie Hill/The Jackie Thomas Show/Getting By/Sirens/Home Free (1 season)

Emmy Award Nominee & Winners (Major Categories)
Homefront (Nominee, Outstanding Drama Series)
Home Improvement (Nominee, Outstanding Comedy Series)
Tim Allen, Home Improvement (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series)
John Goodman, Roseanne (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series)
Roseanne Arnold, Roseanne (WINNER, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series)
Chad Lowe, Life Goes On (WINNER, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series)
Kellie Martin, Life Goes On (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series)
Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne (WINNER, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series)
Shelley Fabares, Coach (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series)
Sara Gilbert, Roseanne (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series)  

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