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Sunday, December 15, 2013

WEEKEND REWIND: CBS 1994-95 Season

CBS continued to plug along in the mid 1990s. They had the #1 show in all of TV, 60 Minutes, and the Emmy winner for the Best Drama Series (Picket Fences). They also managed a couple successful new shows in Dave's World, The Nanny, and Diagnosis: Murder. They also found some more moderate successes this year and one that eventually became a Top 10 hit. The problem was CBS just didn't have that breakout hit that really changed the network and unfortunately for them, NBC got that times two in the 1994-95 season with ER and Friends.

Check out my ABC 1994-95 Weekend Rewind

(Sep 12-Dec 26)
8:00 The Nanny
8:30 Dave's World
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 Love & War
10:00 Northern Exposure (through Dec 12)

(Jan 2-May 22)
8:00 The Nanny
8:30 Dave's World
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 Cybill (through May 15)
10:00 Chicago Hope
Monday nights started with no new shows on the night. The Nanny was a surprise hit on Wednesdays in its first season so it was given an upgrade to a higher profile slot as the lead-off to the Monday lineup while previous 8pm show Dave's World slid back to its original time of 8:30pm. Murphy Brown remained the 9pm anchor but it was clearly a show that was past its peak. It fell out of the Top 10 for the first time since 1989-90 and it wasn't as much of a buzzed-about show anymore. It was originally paired with Love & War as it had been in previous seasons. In January though it got a new companion with the new Cybill Shepherd sitcom Cybill. Also starring Christine Baranski, Cybill was a critical hit and a good companion to Murphy Brown as it marked Shepherd's first return to TV since the acclaimed 1980s dramedy Moonlighting. The 10pm hour had belonged to Northern Exposure for several seasons and the show was still a Top 20 hit. But they had launched the high profile new medical drama Chicago Hope on Thursdays where it was falling apart thanks to NBC's competing comedies and ER. CBS needed to salvage Hope so they moved it over to Mondays. While it worked out for the critically acclaimed medical drama, it was at the expense of Northern Exposure, which moved to Wednesdays and promptly fell off the ratings map. It had gone from #14 in the ratings to cancelled within a year though having series star Rob Morrow leave probably didn't help. Still, CBS had a younger and arguably more accessible drama in the very important slot.

(Sep 13-Mar 7)
8:00 Rescue 911
9:00 Tuesday Night Movie

(Mar 14-Apr 18)
8:00 Under One Roof
9:00 Tuesday Night Movie

(Apr 25-May 23)
8:00 Rescue 911
9:00 Tuesday Night Movie
"Under One Roof"
CBS was on its way to keeping the Rescue 911 and Tuesday Night Movie pairing for a fourth straight year but Rescue 911 was fading so they tried a new drama for six weeks in the spring. Under One Roof starring Joe Morton and James Earl Jones was a family drama about a black family living in Seattle. There have been precious few black family dramas but this one didn't make it despite critical acclaim and an Emmy Award nomination for Jones. It only lasted for its short midseason run. Rescue 911 came back for the end of the season but then it was only renewed for midseason 1996 as it was no longer one of the top draws on CBS.

(Sep 14-Nov 2)
8:00 The Boys Are Back
8:30 Daddy's Girls (Sep 21-Oct 12)
9:00 Touched by an Angel (starting Sep 21)
10:00 48 Hours

(Nov 30-Dec 21)
8:00 Various Programming
8:30 The Boys Are Back
9:00 Touched by an Angel (Dec 7-14)
10:00 48 Hours (starting Dec 7)

(Jan 4-Feb 1)
8:00 Women of the House
8:30 Hearts Afire (starting Jan 11)
9:00 Double Rush
9:30 Love & War
10:00 Northern Exposure

(Feb 8-Mar 1)
8:00 Various Programming
10:00 Northern Exposure (through Feb 15)

(Mar 8-Apr 12)
8:00 The George Wendt Show
8:30 Double Rush
9:00 Various Programming
10:00 Northern Exposure (through Mar 15)

(Apr 19-May 24)
8:00 Various Programming
9:00 Wednesday Night Movie
"Touched by an Angel"
Wednesday nights were all over the place in 1994-95. It started with three new shows occupying 8-10pm. Two new comedies led off the night - The Boys are Back, a family sitcom about parents and their grown kids. Starring Hal Linden and Suzanne Pleshette, the show lasted 16 episodes and bounced around the Wednesday and Saturday lineup until the end of January. It was more successful than its partner, Daddy's Girls, which lasted just three episodes. Starring Dudley Moore, Daddy's Girls was notable for being one of the first shows to have an openly gay actor playing a openly gay regular (Harvey Fierstein). At 9pm was the new inspirational drama Touched by an Angel starring Roma Downey and Della Reese. The show eventually became a Top 10 hit for CBS but it barely made it out of its first season alive as it floundered on Wednesdays and only aired 11 episodes. Its eventual move to Saturdays at the end of the season and into season two helped solidify it and it became a top ten hit within a couple seasons. 48 Hours occupied the 10pm hour to start the season. This lineup didn't last long and was frequently preempted in the fall. In January, CBS tried to start a brand new night of four comedies. They brought over Hearts Afire and Love & War but had two new shows as the 8pm and 9pm anchors. The highest profile was Women of the House, starring Delta Burke as her Designing Women character Suzanne Sugarbaker. Burke had an acrimonious departure from Women but made up with the creators for this show. The other newbie was Double Rush, an NYC set sitcom about a bike messaging service starring Robert Pastorelli and featuring a young David Arquette and DL Hughley. None of the four sitcoms worked and all were cancelled by the end of the season as was one late attempt, The George Wendt Show, starring the Cheers co-star. The 10pm hour was given to Northern Exposure which had been booted from Mondays. It floundered on Wednesdays and was cancelled at the end of the season after six seasons. By the end of the season, CBS had resorted to specials and a movie on a night where nothing worked all season. 

(Sep 22-29)
8:00 Due South
9:00 Eye to Eye with Connie Chung
10:00 Chicago Hope

(Oct 6-Dec 29)
8:00 Due South
9:00 Chicago Hope
10:00 Eye to Eye with Connie Chung

(Jan 5-May 11)
8:00 Due South (through Apr 13)
9:00 Eye to Eye with Connie Chung (through Apr 13)
10:00 48 Hours
"Chicago Hope"
CBS had ambitious plans for Thursday night at the start of the season. While Eye to Eye with Connie Chung would occupy the 9pm hour, they would start and end with new dramas. At 8pm was Due South, a Canadian crime drama. The show was cancelled after one season but renewed in Canada. CBS changed its mind and brought it back for a second season when a lot of their new shows in 1995-96 failed. At 10pm was Chicago Hope, a highly promoted new medical drama starring Mandy Patinkin and Adam Arkin among others. CBS had big plans for this show but it almost was a disaster at the start because it went up against another new Chicago-set medical drama on NBC, a little show called ER. When ER quickly proved to be one of the biggest out of the gate hits in years, CBS quickly had to move Chicago Hope. First they moved it to 9pm but it was still dealing with NBC's formidable comedy lineup that included another new show - Friends. They eventually bagged the Thursday idea and moved it to Mondays. It had a nice long run but was always seen as the "other" medical drama because ER was so huge. CBS moved Connie Chung back to 9pm and moved 48 Hours over from Wednesdays to finish the night as they let Due South air out and paired it with cheap newsmagazines. It was very hard to program against NBC Thursdays back then.

(Sep 16-Mar 10)
8:00 Diagnosis: Murder
9:00 Under Suspicion
10:00 Picket Fences (through Mar 3)

(Mar 31-Apr 21)
8:00 Various Programming
9:00 The Wright Verdicts (through Apr 14)
10:00 Picket Fences

(Apr 28-May 12)
8:00 Diagnosis: Murder (through May 5)
9:00 Burke's Law (through May 5)
10:00 Picket Fences
"Under Suspicion"
Friday nights were pretty quiet with a group of dramas. For most of the season, Diagnosis: Murder occupied the 8pm slot while the acclaimed Picket Fences kept its 10pm slot. The 9pm hour was a revolving door, however. First up was Under Suspicion, a police drama set in Portland, Oregon. It lasted 18 episodes and aired repeats over the summer but it was not renewed for a second season. It was replaced by The Wright Verdicts, a legal drama starring Tom Conti and Margaret Colin. This one only lasted six episodes, not all of them on Fridays. At the very end of the season was season two of Burke's Law. Anytime a show doesn't begin its year until April 28 is a sign of low renewal chances. It aired into the summer but did not come back for a third season.

(Sep 24-Dec 31)
8:00 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
9:00 The Five Mrs. Buchanans
9:30 Hearts Afire
10:00 Walker, Texas Ranger

(Jan 7-Feb 18)
8:00 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
9:00 The Boys are Back (through Jan 28)
9:30 The Five Mrs. Buchanans (through Jan 28)
10:00 Walker, Texas Ranger

(Feb 25-Mar 4)
8:00 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
9:00 Touched by an Angel
10:00 Walker, Texas Ranger

(Mar 11-May 20)
8:00 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
9:00 The Office (through Apr 15)
9:30 The Five Mrs. Buchanans (through Apr 15)
10:00 Walker, Texas Ranger
"The Five Mrs. Buchanans"
Just like Friday nights, Saturdays were established in the 8pm and 10pm hours only they were bigger hits on Saturday as Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Walker, Texas Ranger made for nice bookends to the night. Just like Fridays, 9pm was the problem. Most of the year, it was an ill-advised sitcom block featuring a rotation of the third and final season of Hearts Afire, Wednesday castoff The Boys are Back, and two Saturday premieres. One was The Five Mrs. Buchanans, a family sitcom set in Mercy, Indiana and starring Eileen Heckart. The show lasted 17 episodes and even got a couple tries on Mondays but CBS could not make the show work. The other new Saturday sitcom didn't come until March and it was The Office. Long before the hit NBC sitcom of the same name, there was another one starring Valerie Harper. This show lasted only five episodes. Harper hasn't tried a regular TV series since then as this and the 1990 failed sitcom City followed her public dispute with Valerie (later The Hogan Family). Amidst the many attempts by the sitcoms, there was a very brief two week run for Touched by an Angel. It must have been enough for CBS to see the potential of this lineup because it moved there in the summer and made a very strong lineup for the 1995-96 season.

7:00 60 Minutes
8:00 Murder, She Wrote
9:00 Sunday Night Movie
For a seventh and final season, the CBS Sunday lineup remained 60 Minutes, Murder She Wrote, and the Sunday Night Movie. 60 Minutes was no longer the #1 show this season and Murder, She Wrote was getting old (and old-skewing despite being a top 10 hit) so the lineup was shaken up the next year as Murder was sent to the wolves on Thursday and sitcoms were brought to Sunday night.

CBS 1994-95 Stats

Shows in the Top 30
6. 60 Minutes
8. Murder She Wrote
16. Murphy Brown
18. Sunday Night Movie
21. Dave's World
22. Cybill
24. The Nanny
29. Chicago Hope

Fall Shows Survival: 3/7 (43%)
Due South, Chicago Hope, Touched by an Angel

Midseason Shows Survival: 1/7 (14%)

Total New Shows Survival Rate: 4/14 (29%)

Cancelled/Ended Series
Northern Exposure (6 seasons)
Hearts Afire/Love & War/Eye to Eye with Connie Chung (3 seasons)
Burke's Law/Christy (2 seasons)
The Boys are Back/Under Suspicion/Daddy's Girls/The Five Mrs. Buchanans/Women of the House/Double Rush/The George Wendt Show/The Office/Under One Roof/The Wright Verdicts (1 season)

Emmy Award Nominees & Winners (Major Categories)
Chicago Hope (Nominee, Outstanding Drama Series)
Mandy Patinkin, Chicago Hope (WINNER, 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)
Candice Bergen, Murphy Brown (WINNER, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series)
Cybill Shepherd, Cybill (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series)
Ray Walston, Picket Fences (WINNER, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series)
Hector Elizondo, Chicago Hope (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series)
James Earl Jones, Under One Roof (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series)
Barbara Babcock, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series)
Tyne Daly, Christy (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series)
Christine Baranski, Cybill (WINNER, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series)

1 comment:

  1. I think another reason why CBS lost some viewers on Sunday nights was due to the loss of NFL football.