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Sunday, October 6, 2013

WEEKEND REWIND: CBS 1986-87 Season

Check out my Weekend Rewind for ABC in 1986-87!

Heading into the Fall of 1986, CBS had a lot of shows in the Top 30 of the Nielsens but they were aging and CBS had only managed to renew two shows - the modestly rated The Twilight Zone and The Equalizer. They needed to get some new hits and they found a couple new comedies to renew but the dramas grew another year older.

(Sep 29-Nov 24)
8:00 Kate & Allie
8:30 My Sister Sam (starting Oct 6)
9:00 Newhart
9:30 Designing Women
10:00 Cagney & Lacey

(Dec 1-Mar 30)
8:00 Kate & Allie
8:30 My Sister Sam
9:00 Newhart
9:30 The Cavanaughs (through Mar 9)
10:00 Cagney & Lacey

(Apr 6-May 18)
8:00 Kate & Allie
8:30 My Sister Sam
9:00 Newhart
9:30 Designing Women
10:00 West 57th (through Apr 27)
"Designing Women"
After having a drama occupy the 8pm hour for the last three seasons, CBS went back to four comedies as they had for many years. The two returning shows - Kate & Allie and Newhart - occupied the 8pm and 9pm anchor slots while two new sitcoms premiered at the half hour. My Sister Sam starred Pam Dawber and Rebecca Schaeffer and did well in the ratings as a companion to Kate & Allie. At 9:30pm was Designing Women, an Atlanta-based workplace comedy starring Delta Burke, Dixie Carter, Jean Smart, and Annie Potts. This show ultimately became a pretty successful late 1980s/early 1990s sitcom, but it's first season was rough and the show was nearly cancelled. Its move to Sundays nearly did it in but viewers wrote in and the show was given another chance on Mondays where it eventually flourished. When it didn't air on Mondays, it was replaced by The Cavanaughs, a family sitcom starring Barnard Hughes and Christine Ebersole. It didn't do as well as Designing Women but did get a renewal for the 1988 midseason. At 10pm, Cagney & Lacey continued to occupy the slot for most of the year though West 57th aired briefly in April.

(Sep 23-Oct 28)
8:00 The Wizard
9:00 Tuesday Night Movie

(Nov 11-Dec 9)
8:00 Various Programming
9:00 Tuesday Night Movie

(Dec 16-Feb 24)
8:00 The Wizard (through Feb 3)
9:00 Tuesday Night Movie

(Mar 3-May 19)
8:00 Spies (through Apr 14)
9:00 Tuesday Night Movie
"The Wizard"
Tuesday nights were pretty quiet for CBS. A movie occupied the 9-11pm slot all season back in an era where movies were commonplace on network TV. Two different dramas aired in the 8pm slot during the season. The Wizard was about a dwarf toymaker and crime fighter. Sounds like one of more absurd premises in TV history? It looked like one of TV's weirder shows. As is often the case with these types of shows, it became a cult hit. Despite that status, it didn't have a wide enough audience after airing on three different nights and it was cancelled after a 19 episode first season. As it was on and then pulled throughout the first several months, CBS often used the spots to air holiday specials. In March, CBS aired Spies in the 8pm slot. The espionage comedy-drama starring George Hamilton aired just six episodes.

(Oct 1-29)
8:00 Together We Stand
8:30 Better Days
9:00 Magnum PI
10:00 The Equalizer (starting Oct 8)

(Nov 5-Feb 25)
8:00 The New Mike Hammer
9:00 Magnum PI
10:00 The Equalizer

(Mar 11-Apr 8)
8:00 Roxie (starting Apr 1)
8:30 Take Five (starting Apr 1)
9:00 Magnum PI
10:00 Houston Knights

(Apr 15-May 20)
8:00 The New Mike Hammer
9:00 Magnum PI
10:00 Houston Knights (through Apr 29)
"Houston Knights"
Wednesday nights went through several changes during the season. The show started with a pair of new comedies in the 8pm hour: Together We Stand was a forgettable family sitcom starring Elliott Gould among others while Better Days was also a family sitcom but with no household names. After just five weeks, Better Days was cancelled while Together We Stand was put on hiatus where it eventually resurfaced on Sundays. The comedies were replaced by The New Mike Hammer, which had relocated from Saturdays. Mike Hammer was temporarily replaced by comedies Roxie starring Andrea Martin and Take Five starring George Segal in March but they were instant bombs and both cancelled after just two episodes. Mike Hammer was brought back sooner than planned and it continued to air for the rest of the season. However, the detective drama was cancelled after one full season. Magnum PI continued to air in the 9pm hour all season even as it was past its prime. At 10pm, The Equalizer assumed its Wednesday 10pm slot it held the previous season but it was replaced temporarily for a spring run of Houston Knights, a crime drama set in, you guessed it, Houston. The show did enough to get a renewal for a second season.

(Sep 25-Nov 13)
8:00 Simon & Simon
9:00 Knots Landing
10:00 Kay O'Brien

(Dec 4-Jan 1)
8:00 The Twilight Zone
8:30 Simon & Simon
9:30 Designing Women
10:00 Knots Landing

(Jan 8-Feb 12)
8:00 Shell Game
9:00 Simon & Simon
10:00 Knots Landing

(Mar 5-Apr 30)
8:00 The Wizard
9:00 Simon & Simon
10:00 Knots Landing

(May 7-21)
8:00 Scarecrow and Mrs. King
9:00 Simon & Simon
10:00 Knots Landing (through May 14)
"Kay O'Brien"
Thursday nights were mostly dramas but the lineup shifted a lot throughout the season, It started with Simon & Simon at 8pm. The show was past its prime and was only renewed for a midseason berth in 1987-88. At 9pm, Knots Landing moved up an hour to make room for Kay O'Brien at 10pm. Kay O'Brien was a medical drama starring Patricia Kalember but it only lasted eight episodes before it was cancelled and Knots returned to the 10pm slot. A unique set-up of shows followed where a half hour edition of The Twilight Zone led off the night followed by the one hour Simon & Simon starting at 8:30pm and the comedy Designing Women at 9:30pm. This lineup had a very odd flow: anthology-detective drama-sitcom-soap opera and it only lasted a month. In January, Simon finally returned to 9pm while Shell Game aired at 8pm. The buddy cop comedy featured Margot Kidder and Marg Helgenberger and only lasted six episodes. CBS tried to air The Wizard for about two months before finishing the season with Scarecrow and Mrs. King in the slot. The modestly successful show was cancelled after four seasons.

(Sep 26-Mar 13)
8:00 Scarecrow and Mrs. King (through Feb 27)
9:00 Dallas
10:00 Falcon Crest (starting Oct 3)

(Mar 27-May 15)
8:00 Together We Stand (through Apr 24)
8:30 The Popcorn Kid (through Apr 24)
9:00 Dallas
10:00 Falcon Crest
"The Popcorn Kid"
Friday nights were actually pretty steady for CBS. The year started with the final season of Scarecrow and Mrs. King at 8pm followed by hit soap operas Dallas and Falcon Crest. This lineup worked pretty well but Scarecrow was a weak link. In late March, CBS tried another two comedy block which hadn't worked on Wednesday. Together We Stand was given a third different night to try and succeed but it didn't work and neither did its companion, The Popcorn Kid, about a movie theater worker who dreams of stardom and featured a young Faith Ford.

(Sep 27-Oct 18)
8:00 Downtown
9:00 The New Mike Hammer
10:00 The Twilight Zone

(Oct 25-Dec 27)
8:00 Downtown
9:00 Saturday Night Movie

(Jan 3-May 23)
8:00 Outlaws
9:00 Saturday Night Movie
CBS tried to be aggressive with Saturday nights to start the season as they aired three straight dramas: Downtown was an LA-based crime drama featuring Blair Underwood and Mariska Hargitay among others. The New Mike Hammer was a detective drama starring Stacy Keach. The second season of The Twilight Zone rounded out the night. The new lineup was not successful as Mike Hammer was put on hiatus and Twilight was retooled as a half hour show. Downtown stayed on the air until December, paired with a Saturday night movie, but it was cancelled after 13 episodes. In January, Outlaws aired at 8pm. The western/sci-fi hybrid drama was a unique show and one of two set in Houston that season, but also only lasted 13 episodes. 

(Sep 28-Jan 18)
7:00 60 Minutes
8:00 Murder She Wrote
9:00 Sunday Night Movie

(Feb 1-22)
7:00 60 Minutes
8:00 Murder She Wrote
9:00 Designing Women
9:30 Together We Stand (starting Feb 8)
10:00 Hard Copy

(Mar 1-May 27)
7:00 60 Minutes
8:00 Murder She Wrote
9:00 Sunday Night Movie
"Hard Copy"
Sunday nights were mostly the familiar trio of top rated shows 60 Minutes, Murder She Wrote, and Sunday Night Movie. Murder and Minutes were the top two rated shows on CBS as Sunday was their best night. However, they briefly tried something different in February as they ditched the movie and gave Designing Women and Together We Stand yet another night. Designing eventually made its way back to Mondays where it was a hit while Together was cancelled at the end of the season. At 10pm was Hard Copy, a newspaper drama starring Wendy Crewson. The show was cancelled after a mere four episodes.

CBS 1986-87 Stats

Shows in the Top 30
4. Murder She Wrote
6. 60 Minutes
11. Dallas
12. Newhart
15. Sunday Night Movie
19. Kate & Allie
21. My Sister Sam
23. Falcon Crest
26. Knots Landing

Fall Shows Survival: 2/8 (25%)
Designing Women, My Sister Sam

Midseason Shows Survival: 2/9 (22%)
The Cavanaughs, Houston Knights

Total New Shows Survival Rate: 4/17 (24%)

Cancelled/Ended Series:
Scarecrow and Mrs. King (4 seasons)
The Twilight Zone (2 seasons)
The Wizard/Together We Stand/Kay O'Brien/Downtown/The New Mike Hammer/Better Days/Outlaws/Shell Game/Hard Copy/Spies/The Popcorn Kid/Roxie/Take Five (13 seasons)

Emmy Award Nominees & Winners (Major Categories)
Cagney & Lacey (Nominee, Outstanding Drama Series)
Murder She Wrote (Nominee, Outstanding Drama Series)
Edward Woodward, The Equalizer (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series)
Sharon Gless, Cagney & Lacey (WINNER, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Tyne Daly, Cagney & Lacey (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Angela Lansbury, Murder She Wrote (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Bob Newhart, Newhart (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series)
Jane Curtain, Kate & Allie (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series)
John Hillerman, Magnum PI (WINNER, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series)
John Karlen, Cagney & Lacey (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series)
Tom Poston, Newhart (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series)
Peter Scolari, Newhart (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series)
Julia Duffy, Newhart (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series)

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