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Sunday, October 13, 2013

WEEKEND REWIND: CBS 1987-88 Season

Check out my Weekend Rewind of ABC's 1987-88 Season!

Heading into the 1987-88 season, CBS had been through two straight seasons with no breakout hits. They renewed four marginal performers and many of their 80s hits were showing their age. They needed some new shows to pop but really only got a bunch more decent performers. Of course by today's standards, these so-so performers would be top rated shows!

Mondays
(Sep 21-Dec 28)
8:00 Kate & Allie
8:30 Frank's Place
9:00 Newhart
9:30 Designing Women
10:00 Cagney & Lacey

(Jan 4-Feb 1)
8:00 Kate & Allie
8:30 Frank's Place
9:00 Newhart
9:30 Designing Women
10:00 Wiseguy

(Feb 8-Mar 7)
8:00 Kate & Allie
8:30 Designing Women
9:00 Newhart
9:30 Frank's Place
10:00 Wiseguy

(Mar 14-Apr 1)
8:00 Kate & Allie
8:30 Designing Women
9:00 Newhart
9:30 Eisenhower & Lutz
10:00 Wiseguy

(Apr 18-May 16)
8:00 Kate & Allie
8:30 Designing Women
9:00 Newhart
9:30 Eisenhower & Lutz
10:00 Cagney & Lacey
"Frank's Place"
CBS had several changes to their Monday lineup throughout the year but the basic structure remained the same with Kate & Allie and Newhart as the 8pm and 9pm anchor shows all season. Kate & Allie was getting old though and was only renewed for midseason. Another growing success story was Designing Women, which aired at 9:30pm and then 8:30pm during the season. The show barely got a renewal but it was growing in the ratings in year two. The last slot in the block was given to two different newbies. Frank's Place was a New Orleans-set sitcom starring Tim Reid as a Brown University professor who inherits a restaurant in the Big Easy. The show was a critical success but it couldn't find a big audience. It was even nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series at the Emmys, the last one-season sitcom to accomplish that feat. When it moved to Tuesdays in March, it was replaced by Eisenhower & Lutz, a law sitcom starring Scott Bakula. The 10pm slot was mostly Cagney & Lacey as it had usually been but the long-running, Emmy Award winning drama was cancelled after seven seasons. CBS tried to find a Monday replacement in Wiseguy, which had some early success on Thursdayss. Ultimately, they decided it was better for it to move to Wednesdays which is where it moved after a short time.

Tuesdays
(Sep 22-Dec 29)
8:00 Houston Knights
9:00 Jake and the Fatman
10:00 The Law and Harry McGraw

(Jan 5-Feb 23)
8:00 48 Hours (starting Jan 19)
9:00 Jake and the Fatman
10:00 Cagney & Lacey

(Mar 15-29)
8:00 Frank's Place
8:30 Trial and Error
9:00 My Sister Sam
9:30 Coming of Age
10:00 Cagney & Lacey

(Apr 12-May 17)
8:00 Houston Knights (Apr 26-May 10)
9:00 Tuesday Night Movie
"Jake and the Fatman"
Tuesday nights started with a trio of dramas, which has historically been a difficult lineup for networks. Houston Knights was a marginally rated show that had been renewed and it probably shouldn't have been the lead-off show. At 9pm was Jake and the Fatman, a crime drama starring William Conrad. While not a runaway hit, it was one of the better new performers of the season. At 10pm was a less successful legal drama, The Law and Harry McGraw starring Jerry Orbach and Barbara Babcock. Do you notice how many shows and an "and" in the title on CBS: Cagney & Lacey, Jake and the Fatman, The Law and Harry McGraw, Beauty and the Beast, Simon & Simon, Kate & Allie. Just an observation. In January, Jake and the Fatman stayed but 48 Hours replaced Houston Knights while Cagney & Lacey replaced Harry McGraw for a last ditch Tuesday run. 48 Hours was a new newsmagazine at the time but it has aired in many different formats and still airs today on Saturday nights. In these days, it was hosted by Dan Rather. In March, CBS moved Jake and 48 Hours and tried to launch a comedy block from scratch using so-so performers Frank's Place and My Sister Sam as the anchors and pairing them with two new comedies - Trial and Error, a buddy sitcom, and Coming of Age, featuring a group of senior citizen friends. The lineup was a complete bust and that is what you get when you put weak shows in the anchor slots. However, the surprising result was Coming of Age was given a second season despite airing just three episodes. It only lasted eight more in season two though. At the very end of the season, Houston Knights returned to 8pm while a movie took over the rest of the night.


Wednesdays
(Sep 23-Jan 6)
8:00 The Oldest Rookie
9:00 Magnum PI (Sep 30-Nov 18)
10:00 The Equalizer

(Jan 13-Feb 17)
8:00 The Law and Harry McGraw
9:00 Magnum PI
10:00 The Equalizer

(Mar 16-May 25)
8:00 The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
9:00 Jake and the Fatman
10:00 The Equalizer
"The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour"
Wednesday night had some troubles as they had difficulty with shows sticking besides The Equalizer, which aired all season at 10pm. To start the season off, The Oldest Rookie aired at 8pm. Starring Paul Sorvino, the cop drama made it 14 episodes in the Wednesday slot before being cancelled. At 9pm was Magnum PI, which was on its last legs. It was yanked in November before returning in January but at the end of the season, it was cancelled after eight seasons. Though it wasn't a big performer at the end, it had once been on of CBS' top shows. In January, The Law and Harry McGraw took over for The Oldest Rookie but it didn't do any better. In March, both Harry McGraw and Magnum were gone as Jake and the Fatman moved over from Tuesdays and aired at 9pm. Its lead-in was the return of Tom and Dick Smothers to TV after their popular 1960s comedy series. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was not as successful but it was renewed as a midseason fill-in.

Thursdays
(Sep 24-Nov 19)
8:00 Tour of Duty
9:00 Wiseguy
10:00 Knots Landing

(Dec 3-Mar 3)
8:00 Tour of Duty
9:00 Simon & Simon
10:00 Knots Landing

(Mar 10-May 12)
8:00 48 Hours
9:00 Simon & Simon
10:00 Knots Landing
"Wiseguy"
Thursday nights were fairly stable but the shows did change once each in the 8pm and 9pm hour. The night started with two straight dramas. At 8pm was the Vietnam-set war drama Tour of Duty. The critically acclaimed drama was one of two modestly rated Vietnam dramas from the late 80s (the other being ABC's China Beach). At 9pm was Wiseguy. Arguably the most successful show to come out of the newbies, Wiseguy managed a nice multi-year run. When CBS tried to move Wiseguy to Mondays, it was replaced by Simon & Simon. The show was aging but it was renewed again especially in light of the cancellation of Cagney & Lacey and Magnum PI. 48 Hours took over the Tour of Duty slot at the end of the season as the young newsmagazine was still finding its place. All season long, hit soap opera Knots Landing continued to occupy the 10pm slot.

Fridays
8:00 Beauty and the Beast
9:00 Dallas
10:00 Falcon Crest
"Beauty and the Beast"
Fridays stayed the same all season for CBS. Dallas and Falcon Crest were firmly entrenched in the 9pm and 10pm hours even though they were getting older. The 8pm slot was finally solved, at least temporarily, with Beauty and the Beast. The odd fantasy drama starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman was a cult hit and critically acclaimed (including a nominee for Outstanding Drama Series). It has lived on with its fans in the years since. I have never seen a full episode but it seems like a very unique show.

Saturdays
(Oct 3-Nov 7)
8:00 My Sister Sam
8:30 Everything's Relative
9:00 Leg Work
10:00 West 57th

(Nov 14-Dec 26)
8:00 Saturday Night Movie
10:00 West 57th

(Jan 2-Mar 5)
8:00 High Mountain Rangers
9:00 Houston Knights
10:00 West 57th

(Mar 12-May 21)
8:00 High Mountain Rangers
9:00 Tour of Duty
10:00 West 57th
"High Mountain Rangers"
Saturdays were all over the place during the season, but it started with a very weak lineup. Two comedies were chosen to lead off the lineup. My Sister Sam had been a Top 30 show the season before on Monday night but it showed it was not ready to be a lead-off show as it tanked on Saturdays. It was paired with the short-lived sitcom Everything's Relative starring a pre-Seinfeld Jason Alexander. At 9pm was Leg Work, a detective drama starring Margaret Colin. Both Relative and Leg Work lasted a mere six episodes before the Saturday lineup was disbanded for a movie while newsmagazine West 57th continued to air at 10pm. In January, CBS tried dramas from 8-10pm with the relocated Houston Knights paired with action dramas High Mountain Rangers. The action drama starred Robert Conrad and both his sons, Shane and Christian. It aired from midseason on but was cancelled at the end of the season. Late in the season, Tour of Duty moved over from Thursday and aired in the 9pm slot. Saturdays seemed to be the night for leftover dramas that either weren't working or didn't have another slot available to them.

Sundays
7:00 60 Minutes
8:00 Murder She Wrote
9:00 Sunday Night Movie
Sunday nights were a model of consistency with three ratings kings. Newsmagazine 60 Minutes, drama Murder She Wrote, and the Sunday Night Movie were the Top 3 shows on CBS for the 1987-88 season. While that's great, it's sometimes a problem when all their top shows are on the same night.

CBS 1987-88 Stats

Shows in the Top 30
8. 60 Minutes
9. Murder She Wrote
18. Sunday Night Movie
22. Dallas
25. Newhart

Fall Shows Survival: 4/9 (44%)
Wiseguy, Tour of Duty, Beauty and the Beast, Jake and the Fatman

Midseason Shows Survival: 3/6 (50%)
48 Hours, Coming of Age, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

Total New Shows Survival Rate: 7/15 (47%)

Cancelled/Ended Series:
Magnum PI (8 seasons)
Cagney & Lacey (7 seasons)
My Sister Sam/The Cavanaughs/Houston Knights (2 seasons)
Frank's Place/The Oldest Rookie/The Law and Harry McGraw/Everything's Relative/Leg Work/High Mountain Rangers/Eisenhower & Lutz/Trial and Error (1 season)

Emmy Award Nominees & Winners
Beauty and the Beast (Nominee, Outstanding Drama Series)
Frank's Place (Nominee, Outstanding Comedy Series)
Ron Perlman, Beauty and the Beast (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series)
Edward Woodward, The Equalizer (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series)
Tyne Daly, Cagney & Lacey (WINNER, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Sharon Gless, Cagney & Lacey (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Angela Lansbury, Murder She Wrote (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Tim Reid, Frank's Place (Nominee, Outstanding Lead 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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