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Sunday, February 10, 2013

WEEKEND REWIND: ABC 2001-02 Season

ABC was still riding the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? wave heading into the 2001-02 season but it was getting ready to backfire on them as Millionaire's ratings dropped heavily this year and ABC pulled the plug on the primetime version of the show just two seasons after it was #1 on TV. That spectacular collapse, due in large part to overexposure, left ABC's lineup in shambles and there weren't major new hits to take over. This was the beginning of three very lean years for ABC in the lost years of the early 2000s as only three shows placed in the Top 30.

Mondays
(Sep 24-Jan 7)
8:00 Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
9:00 Monday Night Football

(Jan 14-Feb 25)
8:00 Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (through Feb 4)
9:00 Monday Night Movie

(Mar 4-11)
8:00 My Wife and Kids (encores)
8:30 The Wayne Brady Show
9:00 Various Programming
10:00 Once and Again

(Mar 25-Apr 22)
8:00 America's Funniest Home Videos
9:00 The Bachelor
10:00 Once and Again (through Apr 15)
"The Bachelor"
By the fall of 2001, ABC was down to just two airings on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? a week with one of them coming on Monday nights leading into Monday Night Football. The thrill was gone with Millionaire though as it didn't even make the Top 30. Football was one of ABC's few successful slots on the schedule. In fact, it was the only show to make the Top 20 in the Nielsens from ABC. When it ended, ABC replaced it with a movie for awhile but then they ended the Millionaire Monday edition. For a brief time, they tried to air encores of My Wife and Kids with the second season of summer entry The Wayne Brady Show but that lasted a mere two weeks before they added a second airing of America's Funniest Home Videos. ABC also moved Once and Again to the 10pm slot in a last ditch effort to improve ratings but it was unsuccessful and Again was cancelled after three seasons despite lots of pleading from fans. In late March, ABC premiered the reality show The Bachelor. The show did ok but it wasn't a breakout hit which makes it all the more surprising that it's still on the air over 10 years later.

Tuesdays
(Oct 2-23)
8:00 Dharma & Greg
8:30 What About Joan? (through Oct 9)
9:00 Bob Patterson (through Oct 16)
9:30 Spin City
10:00 Philly

(Nov 6-Jan 8)
8:00 Dharma & Greg
8:30 Spin City
9:00 NYPD Blue
10:00 Philly

(Jan 15-Feb 26)
8:00 The Chair
9:00 NYPD Blue
10:00 Philly

(Mar 5-19)
8:00 Dharma & Greg
8:30 Spin City
9:00 NYPD Blue
10:00 Philly

(Mar 26-Apr 9)
8:00 Dharma & Greg
8:30 Spin City
9:00 NYPD Blue
10:00 The Court

(Apr 16-30)
8:00 Dharma & Greg
8:30 Spin City
9:00 NYPD Blue
10:00 Philly (through Apr 23)
"Philly"
Tuesdays were a mess all season for ABC as none of the five shows that started the season on the night lived to see another season. Millionaire was gone from Tuesdays and ABC attempted to go back to four sitcoms. They used Dharma & Greg and Spin City as the bookends and put two more unproven shows in-between. At 8:30pm was season two of What About Joan? but it lasted a mere two episodes before being yanked... clearly it was not a good decision to renew the show. At 9pm was the new Bob Patterson starring Seinfeld alum Jason Alexander. The show, about the nation's #3 self-help author, was a highly anticipated new show due to Alexander. But it bombed out of the gate. It was yanked after three airings on Tuesday and was tried twice on Wednesday before being cancelled before November hit, making it a high profile flop. ABC once again decided to hold off on NYPD Blue until midseason and instead used the Tuesday 10pm slot to launch Philly, a legal drama starring Blue alum Kim Delaney as a criminal defense attorney. The show lasted a full season, airing in this slot for most of the year, but it couldn't make it to a second season. When Joan and Bob faltered, ABC brought NYPD Blue sooner than expected but it aired at 9pm for the first time ever and the ratings suffered for a show that was clearly a 10pm drama. Meanwhile, Dharma & Greg and Spin City occupied the 8pm hour for awhile until they were temporarily pulled for The Chair, a ridiculously stupid game show hosted by John McEnroe. The show monitored contestants' heart rate as they answered questions and dealt with surprises. The show lasted two months before the sitcoms returned. Also in midseason, Philly briefly took a break for another legal drama - The Court, starring Sally Field as a Supreme Court justice. The show lasted just three episodes before it was cancelled and Philly returned. At the end of the season, ABC cancelled long time sitcoms Dharma & Greg and Spin City, which had suffered without a Millionaire lead-in. Both shows have lived on somewhat in syndication but haven't been major players.

Wednesdays
(Oct 3-Dec 26)
8:00 My Wife and Kids
8:30 According to Jim
9:00 The Drew Carey Show
9:30 Whose Line is it Anyway?
10:00 20/20

(Jan 16-Mar 13)
8:00 My Wife and Kids
8:30 According to Jim
9:00 The Drew Carey Show
9:30 The Job
10:00 20/20

(Mar 27-Apr 17)
8:00 My Wife and Kids
8:30 George Lopez
9:00 The Drew Carey Show
9:30 Wednesday 9:30 (8:30 Central) (through Apr 3)
10:00 20/20

(Apr 24-May 22)
8:00 My Wife and Kids
8:30 According to Jim
9:00 The Drew Carey Show
9:30 Various Programming
10:00 20/20
Wednesday nights were a little more stable than Tuesday nights as they featured the trifecta of sitcoms that guided ABC through the lean early 2000s (My Wife and Kids, According to Jim, George Lopez). The anchor shows stayed the same all year - My Wife and Kids at 8pm and The Drew Carey Show at 9pm. My Wife and Kids was never a mass hit but it was a solid performer for ABC in these years. The Drew Carey Show was past its peak but still occupied the 9pm slot it had for years. At 8:30pm was According to Jim, a new family comedy starring Jim Belushi and Courtney Thorne Smith. The show consistently defied the critical drubbing it received and managed to run for over 200 episodes. It was briefly replaced in the spring by George Lopez, another family comedy starring the comic. It only ran four episodes but it did well enough to get a second season. The 9:30pm slot was more of a problem. At first, ABC aired Whose Line is it Anyway? which was already airing on Thursdays. In January, it was replaced by season two of The Job. The critically acclaimed show couldn't do any better in a re-tooled season two than it had in season one and it was cancelled. Replacing it for two weeks only was the aptly titled Wednesday 9:30 (8:30 Central), an oddball comedy about a struggling TV network featuring Ed Begley Jr and John Cleese. The show aired just two weeks before being yanked and burned off in the summer. All season long, 20/20 aired at 10pm.

Thursdays
8:00 Whose Line is it Anyway?
8:30 Whose Line is it Anyway?
9:00 Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
10:00 Primetime Thursday
For another year, Thursdays did not change at all as the unscripted combination of Whose Line, Millionaire, and Primetime was effective enough for ABC to leave it alone after years of trouble on the night. However, the cancellation of Millionaire when the phenomenon ended left the night without its anchor heading into the next season.

Fridays
(Sep 28-Oct 12)
8:00 The Mole
9:00 Thieves
10:00 Once and Again

(Oct 19-Nov 16)
8:00 Various Programming
9:00 Thieves
10:00 Once and Again

(Nov 23-Dec 14)
8:00 America's Funniest Home Videos
9:00 Various Programming
10:00 Once and Again

(Jan 4-11)
8:00 America's Funniest Home Videos
9:00 Once and Again
10:00 Various Programming

(Jan 18-May 17)
8:00 America's Funniest Home Videos
9:00 Various Programming
10:00 20/20
"Thieves"
ABC had finally completely given up on comedies on Friday nights and instead opted to go with a very odd flow to start the season. At 8pm was reality game show The Mole, at 9pm was new adventure drama Thieves, and at 10pm was the third season family drama Once and Again. For the first time in well over a decade, 20/20 was not airing on Friday nights to start the season. The Mole lasted a mere three weeks before being pulled but then it finished its run in the summer of 2002 and did enough to get a midseason renewal for the next season despite its early troubles. Thieves, starring John Stamos and Melissa George, as a thieving couple who was caught and must retrieve goods to pay back the US government. The hokey premise didn't work well and the show was cancelled at the end of November. The 8pm slot was filled by America's Funniest Home Videos, which had risen from the dead in the summer of 2001 and was now hosted by Tom Bergeron. ABC tried to move Once and Again to 9pm but finally pulled the drama off Fridays and aired specials at 9pm leading into the return of 20/20 at 10pm.


Saturdays
8:00 Saturday Night Movie
ABC was well past competing on Saturday nights by 2001 and aired a movie on most Saturdays during the season.

Sundays
7:00 Wonderful World of Disney
9:00 Alias
10:00 The Practice
"Alias"
Sunday nights remained very stable for ABC as they finally found a compatible drama for The Practice. First up, Wonderful World of Disney continued to air from 7-9pm and mostly aired Disney feature films. At 9pm was a new spy drama Alias, starring Jennifer Garner as a CIA agent. The show was never a mammoth hit in the ratings but it had a very loyal group of fanboys and fangirls who made it more buzzy than the ratings might suggest. At 10pm, ABC continued to air The Practice, which was coming off a top 10 season. The problem was that was the peak for The Practice and the popular legal drama showed signs of slowing down during this year.


ABC 2001-02 Stats

Shows in the Top 30
7. Monday Night Football
23. The Practice/NYPD Blue

Fall Shows Survival: 2/5 (40%)
Alias, According to Jim

Midseason Shows Survival: 2/5 (40%)
The Bachelor, George Lopez

Total New Shows Survival Rate: 4/10 (40%)

Cancelled/Ended Series
Spin City (6 seasons)
Dharma & Greg (5 seasons)
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (4 seasons)
Once and Again (3 seasons)
The Job/What About Joan?/The Wayne Brady Show (2 seasons)
Philly/Thieves/Bob Patterson/The Chair/The Court/Wednesday 9:30 (8:30 Central) (1 season)

Emmy Award Nominees & Winners (Major Categories)
Jennifer Garner, Alias (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series) 
Victor Garber, Alias (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series) 

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