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Sunday, December 1, 2013

WEEKEND REWIND: CBS 1992-93 Season

Heading into the 1992-93 season, CBS had two really solid nights as every single show on Sunday and Monday the previous season was in the Top 16 shows on all of TV. Monday also boasted the Emmy winners for Comedy and Drama (Murphy Brown and Northern Exposure). The problem was only one other show in the whole lineup made the Top 30 and only two modestly rated newbies had been renewed. CBS had to start giving their new shows better timeslots.

If interested, check out the Weekend Rewind from ABC 1992-93.

(Sep 21-Mar 29)
8:00 Evening Shade
8:30 Hearts Afire
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 Love & War
10:00 Northern Exposure (starting Sep 28)

(Apr 12-May 17)
8:00 Evening Shade
8:30 Bob (through May 10)
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 Love & War (through May 10)
10:00 Northern Exposure
"Hearts Afire"
CBS had an extremely successful Monday night lineup but they had to break it up to get some new blood on the night and spread out their hits. It didn't work out great for them though as the shows they sent to Friday - Major Dad and Designing Women - didn't pan out while their replacements were solid but not breakout hits. With Evening Shade, Murphy Brown, and Northern Exposure as the anchors, CBS tried two new comedies in the half hour slots. At 8:30pm was Hearts Afire, a romantic comedy set in Washington DC from the Designing Women creators and starring John Ritter and Markie Post. The show tried to build on the current events feel of Murphy Brown and featured cameos from real DC figures before abruptly changing its setting to the south in the second season. Love & War was a romantic comedy set in Chicago and starring Susan Dey and Jay Thomas. Like Hearts Afire, it blended romance with media and also went through a major change in its second season when Dey was let go and replaced by Annie Potts, who was free since Designing Women had ended. Both Hearts Afire and Love & War managed decent three season runs but have been mostly forgotten as the years have gone on. Late in this season, Hearts Afire ended its season early and Bob moved over from Friday in a move that earned it a second season after a low-rated run on Fridays.

8:00 Rescue 911
9:00 Tuesday Night Movie
For a second season, Tuesday nights stayed the same all year with Rescue 911 leading into a movie. This consistent lineup helped both programs vault into the Top 20.

(Sep 16-Dec 23)
8:00 The Hat Squad (through Dec 9)
9:00 In the Heat of the Night (starting Oct 28)
10:00 48 Hours

(Jan 6-Mar 3)
8:00 Space Rangers (through Jan 27)
9:00 In the Heat of the Night
10:00 48 Hours

(Mar 10-May 12)
8:00 How'd They Do That?
9:00 In the Heat of the Night
10:00 48 Hours
"Space Rangers"
Wednesday nights were stable in the 9pm and 10pm hours with In the Heat of the Night moving over from NBC, where it had aired for five seasons. It lasted three years on CBS which makes it one of the more successful transfers among networks because they rarely work. The 10pm hour was newsmagazine 48 Hours all season. The 8pm hour was a rotating wheel however. It started with The Hat Squad, a short-lived crime drama. When it was cancelled, it was replaced by sci-fi drama Space Rangers, which was even less successful and lasted just four episodes. After specials airing in the hour for awhile, the new variety show How'd They Do That? took over. It was a little more successful than the two dramas but still cancelled though it came back as a special from time to time the next season.

(Sep 17-Oct 15)
8:00 Top Cops
9:00 Street Stories (through Oct 1)
10:00 Middle Ages (through Oct 1)

(Oct 29-Mar 11)
8:00 Top Cops
9:00 Street Stories
10:00 Knots Landing

(Apr 1-May 6)
8:00 Top Cops (through Apr 29)
9:00 Street Stories (through Apr 29)
10:00 Picket Fences
"Middle Ages"
Against the final season of Cheers on NBC and their formidable comedy block, CBS went with reality in the 8pm and 9pm hours: Top Cops and Street Stories were cheap options who did alright, but both were cancelled at the end of the season as they were never more than filler. The 10pm hour was originally Middle Ages, a relationship drama that was maybe trying to be the next Thirtysomething. It featured Peter Riegert and Amy Brenneman among others. The show started its run earlier than the official season began but that did not help it as it was gone after October 1. It was replaced by the 14th season of Knots Landing. Knots had been on the air since 1979 (!) and was one of the biggest shows of the 1980s for CBS. But it was well past its prime and the producers and CBS made the decision to end it in the spring with a two hour finale. It had outlasted the other opulent soaps of the 1980s like Dynasty, Dallas, and Falcon Crest. Bill Clinton was now in office and the lavish 80s soaps that captured the Reagan era on TV didn't really have a place in the 1990s. Knots actually went on hiatus for several weeks before its finale where it was briefly replaced by Friday success story Picket Fences.

(Sep 25-Mar 12)
8:00 The Golden Palace
8:30 Major Dad
9:00 Designing Women
9:30 Bob
10:00 Picket Fences

(Apr 2-May 7)
8:00 The Golden Palace
8:30 Dudley (starting Apr 16)
9:00 Designing Women
9:30 Good Advice
10:00 Bodies of Evidence
"Picket Fences"
CBS tried to build a new comedy block on Fridays but got themselves into trouble again by premiering too many series on the sleepy night. It was an admirable attempt though as they brought over two Top 20 shows from Monday night and paired them with new sitcoms starring established stars to build the new block. Leading off was The Golden Palace, which was a spinoff of NBC's long running hit The Golden Girls. It actually featured three of the four leads from Girls but the new network and new night didn't pan out as it lasted just one season. In the years since, it has often just been considered part of The Golden Girls since it only ran one season. At 8:30pm and 9pm were two Monday hits - Major Dad and Designing Women. Both shows could not hack it on Fridays proving they were possibly more a product of their surroundings on Mondays. Major Dad ended after four seasons while Designing Women ended after seven seasons as the new Friday plan went up in flames. The only survivor from the comedy block for the next season (and it just barely got renewed) was Bob starring Bob Newhart as a comic book writer. After six seasons on The Bob Newhart Show and eight seasons on Newhart, CBS was excited to have Bob back. This show did get a second season but it was not nearly as successful as the first two sitcoms from Newhart. The biggest hit to come out of this lineup was actually a surprise as it was the 10pm drama Picket Fences. The odd serial drama set in Rome, Wisconsin was never a huge draw but it was very critically acclaimed and bounced around the CBS lineup for several seasons, perhaps lasted in part due to the praise it received including three top Emmys for series, lead actor, and lead actress. It featured Kathy Baker, Tom Skerritt, Lauren Holly, Holly Marie Combs, and Adam Wylie among others. Late in the season, Fences moved to Thursday and it was replaced by the second season of Bodies of Evidence, which had aired its first season in the summer of 1992. Starring a pre-ER George Clooney, it was quickly cancelled. Two sitcoms joined the lineup at the end of the season as well, replacing Major Dad and Bob (which had moved to Mondays). Dudley was a very short lived sitcom starring Dudley Moore. Good Advice was a romantic comedy starring Shelley Long and Treat Williams. This show snagged a midseason renewal for 1994.

(Sep 19-Oct 3)
8:00 Frannie's Turn
8:30 Brooklyn Bridge
9:00 Raven (starting Sep 26)
10:00 Angel Street (starting Sep 26)

(Oct 31-Dec 26)
8:00 Brooklyn Bridge (Nov 7-14)
8:30 Various Programming
9:00 Saturday Night Movie

(Jan 2-Feb 27)
8:00 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
9:00 Raven (through Jan 30)
10:00 The Hat Squad (through Jan 23)

(Mar 6-May 1)
8:00 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
9:00 A League of Their Own (Apr 10-24)
9:30 Brooklyn Bridge (Apr 10-24)
10:00 Raven (through Apr 17)/Walker, Texas Ranger (Apr 24-May 1)
"Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman"
Saturday night was a mix of shows as usual but CBS actually found some things that worked on the night that allowed them to build a pretty successful (by Saturday standards) lineup for most of the rest of the 1990s. It didn't start at the beginning of the season though. The 8pm slot was given to the short lived Frannie's Turn, a brash family sitcom set in Staten Island. The millionth version of Roseanne didn't connect with viewers and it was oddly paired with Brooklyn Bridge, the critically acclaimed hit that could never find an audience. At 9pm was the end of the summer run of Raven, a martial arts drama starring Lee Majors. It returned later in the season for a second season. At 10pm was Angel Street, a cop drama starring Robin Givens that lasted a mere four episodes. A movie took over for the rest of the fall. Then in January, Raven and The Hat Squad were given new chances from 9-11pm but the real surprise was Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman which became a surprise Saturday hit in the 8pm hour. It wasn't just a hit for Saturdays, it was a bonafide hit. Starring Jane Seymour and set in 1867, the warm family drama was the perfect fit for Saturday night and it kick-started a winning Saturday lineup that evolved over the years. Part of that lineup was the much parodied but successful Walker Texas Ranger, which premiered with a movie and two additional episodes in a very short first season. It did well enough to get the 10pm slot back in the fall. The 9pm slot was still a problem though and comedies weren't the answer as CBS learned in April when they tried them for three weeks. At 9pm was A League of Their Own, a short lived sitcom version of the hit movie. And once again, a TV show based on a hit movie fails. It was paired with the last ditch effort for Brooklyn Bridge but CBS reluctantly cancelled the acclaimed show because it just didn't work anywhere.
7:00 60 Minutes
8:00 Murder She Wrote
9:00 Sunday Night Movie 
For a fifth straight year, Sundays remained exactly the same with the proven hit lineup of 60 Minutes, Murder She Wrote, and the Sunday Night Movie. For a second year, 60 Minutes was the top show on all of TV.

CBS 1992-93 Stats

Shows in the Top 30
1. 60 Minutes
4. Murphy Brown
5. Murder She Wrote
8. Sunday Night Movie
11. Northern Exposure
12. Rescue 911
14. Tuesday Night Movie
15. Love & War
19. Evening Shade
20. Hearts Afire
23. Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman
26. 48 Hours

Fall Shows Survival: 4/9 (44%)
Hearts Afire, Bob, Picket Fences, Love & War

Midseason Shows Survival: 3/7 (43%)
Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Good Advice, Walker Texas Ranger

Total New Shows Survival Rate: 7/16 (44%)

Cancelled/Ended Series
Knots Landing (14 seasons)
Designing Women (7 seasons)
Major Dad/Top Cops (4 seasons)
Brooklyn Bridge/Street Stories/Bodies of Evidence/Raven (2 seasons)
Middle Ages/Frannie's Turn/Angel Street/The Hat Squad/The Golden Palace/Space Rangers/How'd They Do That?/A League of Their Own/Dudley (1 season)

Emmy Award Nominees & Winners (Major Categories)
Picket Fences (WINNER, Outstanding Drama Series)
Northern Exposure (Nominee, Outstanding Drama Series)
Murphy Brown (Nominee, Outstanding Comedy Series)
Tom Skerritt, Picket Fences (WINNER, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series)
Rob Morrow, Northern Exposure (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series)
Kathy Baker, Picket Fences (WINNER, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Angela Lansbury, Murder She Wrote (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Janine Turner, Northern Exposure (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Candice Bergen, Murphy Brown (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series)
Marion Ross, Brooklyn Bridge (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series)
Barry Corbin, Northern Exposure (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series)
John Cullum, Northern Exposure (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series)
Fyvush Finkel, Picket Fences (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series)
Cynthia Geary, Northern Exposure (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series)
Peg Phillips, Northern Exposure (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series)
Michael Jeter, Evening Shade (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series)

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