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Sunday, December 8, 2013

WEEKEND REWIND: CBS 1993-94 Season

Things were turning around for CBS heading into the 1993-94 season. They had huge hit shows spread out across more of their lineup than previous years including the reigning #1 show 60 Minutes. Their Monday, Tuesday, and Sunday lineups were rock solid and Saturdays became a hit thanks to the surprise success of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. They also renewed the most freshmen shows (7) since the 1987-88 season. The 1993-94 season brought a few more hit shows to add to their growing stable.

Check out my ABC Weekend Rewind for 1993-94

(Sep 20-Mar 28)
8:00 Evening Shade
8:30 Dave's World
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 Love & War (through Mar 14)
10:00 Northern Exposure

(Apr 11-May 16)
8:00 Dave's World (Apr 18-May 9)
8:30 704 Hauser
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 Hearts Afire (through Apr 25)
10:00 Northern Exposure
"Dave's World"
CBS started the year by swapping out their lowest performer (Hearts Afire) for a new show. Dave's World starring Night Court's Harry Anderson and based on the life of comic Dave Barry was a hit out of the gate with critics and audiences alike. It ultimately didn't end up becoming the huge hit that it might have seemed like earlier as it became yet another one of CBS's four season comedies of the 1990s. They brought all these shows like Dave's World, Evening Shade, Major Dad, and Cosby to enough years for syndication but none of the shows really ended being syndication players. The rest of the lineup stayed intact from the year before until April when the quietly fading lineup was shaken up. Dave's World moved to the 8pm lead-off slot and Hearts Afire returned to Mondays to replace Love & War, which had ended its season early. Evening Shade was temporarily off the lineup but returned in May to end its four season run as it had been cancelled. Of the many four season shows, Evening Shade was arguably the most successful as it had won a couple Emmy awards. The new 8:30pm occupant was 704 Hauser, a sequel of sorts to 1970s hit All in the Family. The plot was that a black family had moved into the Queens house that was previously owned by the Bunkers of Family. It was a reversal of sorts where the main black family was liberal with a conservative son and his white girlfriend. The show tried to bring the All in the Family feel to the 1990s but it didn't work and it lasted a mere five episodes.

8:00 Rescue 911
9:00 Tuesday Night Movie
For a third straight year, CBS kept together the successful pairing of Rescue 911 and the Tuesday Night Movie all season.

(Oct 27-Dec 29)
8:00 Hearts Afire
8:30 The Nanny (starting Nov 3)
9:00 South of Sunset (Oct 27)
10:00 48 Hours

(Jan 12-Feb 9)
8:00 The Nanny
8:30 Hearts Afire
9:00 In the Heat of the Night
10:00 48 Hours

(Mar 2-May 11)
8:00 The Nanny (through Apr 27)
8:30 Tom (through Apr 27)
9:00 In the Heat of the Night (starting Mar 9)
10:00 48 Hours
"The Nanny"
Wednesday nights had a delayed start to the season thanks to baseball and other preemptions. When it did begin, it started with a new comedy block in the 8pm hour that CBS tried to make happen for over 15 years even though it was a regularly revolving door. The first attempt was to move Monday sitcom Hearts Afire over to the lead-off slot and pair it with new sitcom The Nanny starring Fran Drescher. The show wasn't a huge hit out of the gate but was a decent performer for CBS for several years. More surprisingly, it has been a success in syndication and on cable as people seem to have more fondness for this sitcom than other decently performing shows of the mid 1990s. The two switched spots in January and then when Hearts Afire returned to Mondays, it was replaced by Tom, a new family sitcom starring Tom Arnold. Arnold had failed on ABC the previous season with The Jackie Thomas Show and made a very public move to CBS amidst a divorce from Roseanne Barr. This show didn't do anything though making it two flops in a row for Arnold as his career was never the same after divorcing Roseanne. The 9pm hour was planned for South of Sunset, a detective drama set in Beverly Hills and starring musician Glenn Frey. It was one and done for this show however as CBS gave it no chance at all. The remaining episodes eventually aired on VH1. When it failed instantly, CBS aired specials until it brought over In the Heat of the Night from Thursdays. The show ended after seven years (two on CBS) though it was brought back for a couple TV movies the following season. All year long, 48 Hours aired at 10pm.

(Sep 16-Nov 25)
8:00 In the Heat of the Night
9:00 Eye to Eye with Connie Chung (through Nov 11)
10:00 Angel Falls (through Sep 30)

(Dec 9-Jan 27)
8:00 In the Heat of the Night (through Jan 6)
9:00 Eye to Eye with Connie Chung
10:00 Second Chances

(Feb 3-Mar 24)
8:00 Various Programming

(Mar 31-May 5)
8:00 Christy (starting Apr 7)
9:00 Eye to Eye with Connie Chung
10:00 Traps (through Apr 21)
Thursday nights were all over the place but it was mostly dramas and newsmagazines. They year started with In the Heat of the Night and Eye to Eye with Connie Chung in the 8pm and 9pm hours. Connie Chung was the latest newsmagazine and had been on the air since June. The 10pm hour was given to two different dramas. First up was Angel Falls, a family drama starring James Brolin that had gotten a late summer debut to get a head start on the season. It didn't work out though as it was one of the first new shows gone, not even making it to October. Specials filled the slot for two months until CBS premiered Second Chances, a romantic drama starring a young Jennifer Lopez. The show lasted just nine episodes. The entire lineup was scrapped for the Winter Olympics, movies, and specials in February and March before a new lineup came in late March/early April. Christy was an historical drama based on the novel of the same name. Set in Tennessee in 1912 and starring Kellie Martin and Tyne Daly, the show was critically acclaimed but couldn't get the same audience Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman was getting on Saturdays. It did get renewed for midseason 1995 however but only lasted a few more episodes. Eye to Eye with Connie Chung returned to 9pm and the 10pm slot was given to Traps, a police drama set in Seattle and starring George C. Scott. The drama lasted just three episodes and was quickly forgotten. So it was back to the drawing board for Thursday nights.

(Sep 24-Oct 15)
8:00 It Had to Be You
8:30 Family Album
9:00 Friday Night Movie

(Oct 22-Dec 31)
8:00 Diagnosis: Murder (starting Oct 29)
9:00 Bob (through Nov 12)
9:30 Family Album (Oct 29-Nov 12)
10:00 Picket Fences

(Jan 7-May 13)
8:00 Diagnosis: Murder
9:00 Burke's Law
10:00 Picket Fences
"Diagnosis: Murder"
Fridays had been a disaster the season before with a four comedy block that tanked so CBS revamped the night for 1993-94. The 8pm hour was initially a comedy block with two new sitcoms. It Had to Be You was a romance sitcom starring Faye Dunaway and Robert Urich. The show was a flop and Dunaway was fired as CBS was originally planning to revamp the show and center it on Urich but thatnever happened and the show didn't come back. It was paired with Family Album, a family sitcom starring Peter Scolari and Pamela Reed. The show aired a little longer than It Had to Be You as it moved to 9:30pm after three episodes and was paired with the second season of Bob. Both shows were yanked quickly though as Family Album only lasted three more episodes and Bob only made five episodes in its second season before being cancelled, making it far less successful than Bob Newhart's previous two CBS series. When the sitcom back slid to 9pm, the 8pm hour was given to Diagnosis: Murder starring Dick Van Dyke. The show was a dramedy that was a hybrid between medical and crime drama. It had been the subject of couple successful TV movies and then became a weekly series that lasted for several years but was part of the knock on CBS for being a network for old people. Not helping their case was the show Murder was paired with on Fridays after the comedy block failed. It was a reboot of Burke's Law, the 1960s crime drama. Once again starring Gene Barry, the show did enough in a quiet Friday timeslot to get a midseason renewal. At 10pm all season was Picket Fences, fresh off an Emmy win for Outstanding Drama Series. The Friday 10pm slot helped give it less pressure to be a top performer. 

(Sep 25-Feb 5)
8:00 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
9:00 Harts of the West (through Jan 29)
10:00 Walker, Texas Ranger 

(Mar 5-May 21)
8:00 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
9:00 The Road Home (through Apr 16)
10:00 Walker, Texas Ranger
"Harts of the West:
Saturday nights were finally stable for CBS thanks to hit dramas in the 8pm and 10pm hours. After starts and stops on the night for years, CBS struck gold with Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. The gentle drama had vaulted into the Top 30 in its first season and revamped the night. On the back end of the night, Walker, Texas Ranger became a surprise hit too after airing just three episodes the previous season. These two shows provided bookends to a night that was stable throughout the 1990s. Two different dramas tried to bridge the two hits during the season but neither one worked. First up was Harts of the West, a western dramedy set in Nevada and starring Beau and Lloyd Bridges. It seemed like it might be a good fit with Dr. Quinn but it only lasted half a season before being replaced by The Road Home, a family drama set in North Carolina. CBS was still looking for the 9pm bridge but Saturdays were looking up.

7:00 60 Minutes
8:00 Murder She Wrote
9:00 Sunday Night Movie
Sunday nights were exactly the same for a sixth straight year! Why fix something that's not broken? 60 Minutes remained the top show on TV.

CBS 1993-94 Stats

Shows in the Top 30
1. 60 Minutes
9. Murphy Brown
10. Sunday Night Movie
11. Murder She Wrote
13. Love & War
14. Northern Exposure
21. Dave's World
25. Tuesday Night Movie/Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
27. Evening Shade/Rescue 911

Fall Shows Survival: 3/7 (43%)
Dave's World, Diagnosis: Murder, The Nanny

Midseason Shows Survival: 2/7 (29%)
Burke's Law, Christy

Total New Shows Survival Rate: 5/14 (36%)

Cancelled/Ended Series
In the Heat of the Night (7 seasons)
Evening Shade (4 seasons)
Bob/Good Advice (aired in summer) (2 seasons)
Angel Falls/It Had to Be You/Family Album/Harts of the West/South of Sunset/Second Chances/Tom/The Road Home/Traps/704 Hauser (1 season)

Emmy Award Nominees & Winners
Picket Fences (WINNER, Outstanding Drama Series)
Northern Exposure (Nominee, Outstanding Drama Series)
Tom Skerritt, Picket Fences (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series)
Kathy Baker, Picket Fences (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Angela Lansbury, Murder She Wrote (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Jane Seymour, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Candice Bergen, Murphy Brown (WINNER, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series)
Annie Potts, Love & War (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series)
Fyvush Finkel, Picket Fences (WINNER, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series)
Barry Corbin, Northern Exposure (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series)
Ray Walston, Picket Fences (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series)
Leigh Taylor-Young, Picket Fences (WINNER, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series)
Faith Ford, Murphy Brown (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series)   

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