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Sunday, December 2, 2012

WEEKEND REWIND: ABC 1994-95 Season

ABC 1994-95 SEASON
The previous season, ABC launched a whopping 18 new series and brought back 8 of them including the new comedy hit Grace Under Fire and its first new hit drama in years, NYPD Blue. They also had four sitcoms among the Top 6 shows on TV. But this year was a huge flop for ABC as they didn't launch nearly as many shows and only one came back (and that was a middling performer at best).

Mondays
(Sep 12-Oct 31)
8:00 Coach
8:30 Blue Skies
9:00 Monday Night Football

(Nov 7-Dec 26)
8:00 Coach
8:30 Coach (encores)
9:00 Monday Night Football

(Jan 9-Mar 13)
8:00 Coach
8:30 A Whole New Ballgame
9:00 Monday Night Movie

(Apr 3-May 15)
8:00 Various Programming
9:00 Monday Night Movie
"Blue Skies"
ABC was still searching for adequate 8pm options since the cancellation of MacGyver to lead into Monday Night Football and this year they tried a comedy block with the sports-themed sitcom Coach and the new Blue Skies, a Boston-set sitcom about a mail-order business. Coach had ranked #6 the year before airing behind Roseanne but it took a huge tumble as the lead-off show on Monday and once again proved that it couldn't survive on its own. It was only ever successful with a big lead-in but it was always a reliable companion to those hits. Blue Skies was even more of a failure and couldn't even make it to November. After two months of Coach repeats, ABC tried another new sitcom with a sports theme - A Whole New Ballgame starring Corbin Bernsen as a professional baseball player. The show was only slightly more successful than Blue Skies and the Monday sitcom block was finally scrapped in April. As usual, a movie replaced football in the spring.


Tuesdays
(Sep 20-Feb 28)
8:00 Full House (starting Sep 27)
8:30 Me and the Boys
9:00 Home Improvement
9:30 Grace Under Fire
10:00 NYPD Blue (starting Oct 11)

(Mar 7-Apr 25)
8:00 Full House
8:30 Thunder Alley
9:00 Home Improvement
9:30 Grace Under Fire (through Apr 4)/Various Programming (Apr 11-25)
10:00 NYPD Blue
"Me and the Boys"
In the summer before the season, ABC decided to flip flop the nights for its top two anchor sitcoms so Home Improvement returned to Tuesdays and became the new Tuesday cornerstone. This was done because NBC was moving Frasier to Tuesdays at 9pm and ABC thought Improvement would be more of a force against Frasier than Roseanne. At 8pm was the final season of Full House. The show was still a hit but the production costs were rising and ABC decided to end it after 8 years. It was shopped elsewhere but nothing materialized and the show has gone on to have a long and successful run in syndication. It was followed at first by Me and the Boys, a Dallas-set family sitcom that was the first TV show starring Steve Harvey before his more successful self-titled WB show. This show was like Phenom the year before: the show was doing quite well in the ratings but not well enough for its timeslot according to ABC and the show was cancelled after 19 episodes. When it was cancelled, it was replaced by Thunder Alley which couldn't make it as a lead-off on Wednesdays. It did better here but it was too little, too late and the show was cancelled after two seasons. Along with Home Improvement, ABC also slid its companion, the hit Grace Under Fire over to Tuesday so it could stay paired with Improvement. It stayed there until early April when it moved to Wednesdays and ABC aired reruns of various series in its place. At 10pm was season two of hit drama NYPD Blue and it began its season a few weeks in which was common for the show. It also successfully replaced departing star (after just one season) David Caruso with Jimmy Smits.

Wednesdays
(Sep 14-Nov 2)
8:00 Thunder Alley
8:30 All American Girl
9:00 Roseanne
9:30 Ellen
10:00 Turning Point

(Nov 16-Dec 28)
8:00 Sister, Sister
8:30 All American Girl
9:00 Roseanne
9:30 Ellen
10:00 Turning Point

(Jan 11-Mar 22)
8:00 Sister, Sister
8:30 All American Girl
9:00 Roseanne
9:30 Ellen
10:00 Primetime Live

(Mar 29-May 24)
8:00 Roseanne
8:30 Ellen
9:00 Grace Under Fire
9:30 Coach
10:00 Primetime Live
"All American Girl"
ABC's Wednesday lineup shifted around somewhat all year but continued to be a four comedy, female-skewing comedy block. It started off with season two of Thunder Alley in the 8pm slot. The show had been a huge hit airing between a rerun and new episode of Home Improvement in the spring but it faltered big time when it was left on its own and it was pulled by early November in favor of season two of Sister, Sister. That show did manage to make until March but it wasn't a huge improvement. The teen friendly show didn't really fit in this slot and when ABC cancelled it, it was picked up by the young WB network where it was a much better fit. At 8:30pm was All American Girl, a vehicle for comedienne Margaret Cho about a modern Asian-American girl and her more traditional family. The show was panned critically and by the Asian community and was cancelled after 19 episodes. After six years on Tuesdays, ABC moved Roseanne to Wednesday at 9pm so it didn't have to face NBC's popular Frasier. However, the show was starting to age and this season was the first time it showed signs of fading though it was still popular. It was paired with Ellen, which had changed its name from These Friends of Mine. The show was a good pairing with Roseanne. At 10pm, ABC aired Turning Point until December when ABC finally decided they had too many newsmagazines and it was cancelled in favor of occasional specials. In its place was, of course, another newsmagazine - Primetime Live, which had moved over from Thursdays. In late March, ABC revamped the comedy lineup - Roseanne and Ellen moved up to the 8pm hour while Grace Under Fire was brought in as the new 9pm anchor and Coach returned from its failed Monday experiment to the 9:30pm slot.

Thursdays
(Sep 15-29)
8:00 My So-Called Life
9:00 McKenna
10:00 Primetime Live

(Oct 20-Dec 22)
8:00 My So-Called Life
9:00 Matlock
10:00 Primetime Live

(Jan 5-26)
8:00 My So-Called Life
9:00 Matlock
10:00 Day One

(Feb 2-16)
8:00 Matlock
9:00 The Commish
10:00 Day One

(Mar 2-Apr 6)
8:00 Extreme
9:00 The Commish
10:00 Day One
"My So-Called Life"
ABC continued to have trouble with Thursdays. They tried to start the year with two new dramas and Primetime Live but neither drama worked. McKenna, a gentle family drama starring Chad Everett, Eric Close, and Jennifer Love Hewitt, only lasted three episodes in its 9pm slot before it was pulled. The new 8pm drama was a lot more buzzed - My So-Called Life, a critically beloved teen drama starring Claire Danes, remains one of the best-loved short lived series of all time. It had an extremely loyal following but miniscule ratings opposite a breakout new hit on NBC - Friends. Life was one of the first shows to have a big internet campaign to save it and it even reran on MTV in the spring to attract young viewers. What wasn't known at the time of the decision was that Danes didn't want to continue with the show and that helped ABC justify its cancellation despite the very loyal following. Still, people have lamented the early demise of this show for years now and has even been listed on "Greatest Shows of All Time" lists. When McKenna was yanked, it was replaced by the final season of the long-running Matlock which had made a successful move to ABC a few years earlier. It had been on a long time, the ratings weren't great, and star Andy Griffith was ready to be done so it ended after nine seasons. After My So-Called Life ended its abbreviated season, Matlock was moved to 8pm and Saturday mainstay The Commish moved to 9pm where it managed to squeak out a midseason renewal for 1995-96. Matlock was pulled in February in favor of Extreme, an adventure show starring James Brolin. Extreme had a premiere out of the Super Bowl but it was one of the weaker shows in that prime slot. When it arrived on Thursdays in March, it completely tanked and networks have been more reluctant to premiere brand new shows out of the Super Bowl since. At 10pm, ABC aired newsmagazines all year - first Primetime Live and then Day One when Live moved to Wednesdays. Day One was cancelled at season's end though as ABC dropped two newsmagazines by the end of the season.

Fridays
(Sep 23-Feb 24)
8:00 Family Matters
8:30 Boy Meets World
9:00 Step by Step
9:30 Hangin' with Mr. Cooper
10:00 20/20

(Mar 3-17)
8:00 Family Matters
8:30 Boy Meets World
9:00 Step by Step
9:30 On Our Own
10:00 20/20

(Mar 24-Apr 14)
8:00 Family Matters
8:30 Sister, Sister
9:00 Step by Step
9:30 On Our Own
10:00 20/20

(Apr 21-May 19)
8:00 Family Matters
8:30 Sister, Sister (Apr 21-28)/Boy Meets World (May 5-19)
9:00 Step by Step
9:30 Hangin' with Mr. Cooper
10:00 20/20
Despite the way things may look, ABC's TGIF lineup was pretty steady this season. In fact, it actually ended the same way it started with the compatible quartet of Family Matters, Boy Meets World, Step by Step, and Hangin' with Mr. Cooper. All four shows were pretty closed to each other in the ratings too. Both Boy Meets World and Hangin' with Mr. Cooper took a break for Sister, Sister and On Our Own respectively. Neither show worked in other timeslots and they weren't as successful here so by season's end, they were both gone. 20/20 continued to air at 10pm all year.

Saturdays
(Sep 17-Jan 28)
8:00 Saturday Night Movie
10:00 The Commish

(Feb 4-May 20)
8:00 Saturday Night Movie
10:00 The Marshal (through Apr 8)
"The Marshal"


ABC frequently tried scripted programming before bagging it for a movie on Saturdays so this year they didn't even bother and aired a movie from 8-10pm. The 10pm slot was first given to The Commish which had posted respectable but not amazing 10pm numbers for a few years. At midseason, it moved to Thursdays and the new The Marshal - an action series - took its place. Despite very mediocre ratings in a tough slot, The Marshal was actually the ONLY new show to get a renewal from ABC. That goes to show what a rough year 1994-95 was for new shows on ABC.



Sundays
(Sep 18-Dec 25)
7:00 America's Funniest Home Videos
7:30 On Our Own
8:00 Lois & Clark
9:00 Sunday Night Movie

(Jan 1-May 14)
7:00 America's Funniest Home Videos
8:00 Lois & Clark
9:00 Sunday Night Movie
"On Our Own"
ABC had cancelled America's Funniest People and tried to pair the fading America's Funniest Home Videos with a sitcom - On Our Own, a family sitcom starring Ralph Louis Harris. 7:30pm on Sundays is a real tough time to launch a sitcom as ABC learned and it was yanked from the Sunday lineup before the new year in favor of an hour of America's Funniest Home Videos. At 8pm was cult favorite but low-rated Lois & Clark. It was filling the void of a ratings challenged but acceptable enough Sunday show just as Life Goes On had before. 9pm continued to be the Sunday Night Movie.



ABC 1994-95 Stats

Shows in the Top 30
3. Home Improvement
4. Grace Under Fire
5. Monday Night Football
7. NYPD Blue
10. Roseanne
13. Ellen
17. 20/20
20. Me and the Boys
23. Sunday Night Movie
25. Full House
29. Monday Night Movie/Primetime Live

Fall Shows Survival: 0/6 (0%)

Midseason Shows Survival: 1/3 (33%)
The Marshal

Total New Shows Survival Rate: 1/9 (11%)

Cancelled/Ended Series
Matlock (9 seasons)
Full House (8 seasons)
Day One (3 seasons)
Turning Point/Thunder Alley/Sister, Sister (2 seasons)
Blue Skies/On Our Own/All-American Girl/My So-Called Life/McKenna/Me and the Boys/A Whole New Ballgame/Extreme (1 season)

Emmy Award Nominees & Winners (Major Categories)
NYPD Blue (WINNER, Outstanding Drama Series)
Dennis Franz, NYPD Blue (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series)
Jimmy Smits, NYPD Blue (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series)
Claire Danes, My So-Called Life (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
John Goodman, Roseanne (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series)
Roseanne Barr, Roseanne (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series)
Ellen DeGeneres, Ellen (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series)
Sharon Lawrence, NYPD Blue (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series)
Gail O'Grady, NYPD Blue (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series)
Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series)       

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