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Sunday, January 5, 2014

WEEKEND REWIND: CBS 1995-96 Season

CBS 1995-96
Heading into the 1995 fall season, CBS was coming off a decent 1994-95 that saw three decent performers emerge in Chicago Hope, Touched by an Angel, and Cybill, While they still had their arsenal of successful shows, the 1995-96 season was absolutely brutal to them. They premiered 11 new shows in the fall and only saw one (barely) survive. Only one more renewal joined from the midseason crop. It was one of the least successful seasons for new shows ever on CBS.

Mondays
(Sep 18-Oct 23)
8:00 The Nanny
8:30 Can't Hurry Love
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 If Not for You (through Oct 9)
10:00 Chicago Hope

(Oct 30-Feb 26)
8:00 The Nanny
8:30 Can't Hurry Love
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 High Society
10:00 Chicago Hope

(Mar 4-Apr 22)
8:00 The Nanny
8:30 Almost Perfect
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 Good Company
10:00 Chicago Hope

(Apr 29-May 20)
8:00 The Nanny
8:30 Dave's World
9:00 Murphy Brown
9:30 Cybill
10:00 Chicago Hope
"High Society"
CBS revamped their Monday lineup at the beginning of the season by keeping the anchors but sending Dave's World to Wednesdays and Cybill to Sundays. The new 8:30pm occupant between The Nanny and Murphy Brown was Can't Hurry Love. In 1994, Friends changed primetime TV and sitcoms with a huge premiere and it led to many clones over the next several years. Can't Hurry Love, a sitcom about a bunch of friends in NYC starring Nancy McKeon and Mariska Hargitay, was an early clone. It went the way that many future Friends clones would and was cancelled after 19 episodes despite actually placing in the Top 30. The 9:30pm show was even less successful. If Not for You was a romantic sitcom starring Elizabeth McGovern and Hank Azaria and also featuring Debra Jo Rupp, Peter Krause, and Reno Wilson. It was one of those shows that went through re-filmings, etc of the pilot and seemed doomed from the start. Then it lasted just four episodes and was gone from Mondays. It was quickly replaced by High Society, a high brow comedy starring Jean Smart and Mary McDonnell. It was somewhat of an American version of the hit British comedy Absolutely Fabulous. It was slightly more successful than If Not for You but only lasted 13 episodes. When both Can't Hurry Love and High Society were gone, they were replaced by Sunday comedy Almost Perfect at 8:30pm and the new Good Company at 9:30pm. While Perfect may have squeezed out a second season thanks to its Monday airings, Good Company was the third new failure in the 9:30pm slot. The workplace sitcom featured Lauren Graham and Wendie Malick among others and only lasted six episodes. The 8:30 and 9:30 slots changed one more time in late April when previous occupants Dave's World and Cybill finally returned to the slot as CBS seemed to admit failure with their many different attempts. Throughout this whole mess, The Nanny and Murphy Brown remained while Chicago Hope aired all season in the 10pm slot.

Tuesdays
8:00 The Client (through Apr 16)
9:00 Tuesday Night Movie
"The Client"
CBS had paired Rescue 911 with the Tuesday Night Movie for years but Rescue was put on hiatus until midseason and CBS tried a new drama in its place. Based on the hit book by John Grisham and hit movie of the same name, The Client was a legal drama starring JoBeth Williams, John Heard, and Ossie Davis. It premiered with a two hour event on Sunday night and then aired most of the season on Tuesday nights. It lasted the full 22 episodes but wasn't renewed for a second season and specials filled the slot in late April and May before the end of the season. The Tuesday Night Movie was a decent midweek movie performer and would get another new drama in front of it in fall 1996. Given what a disaster it was for new shows, The Client, with its full season run was one of the more successful new CBS shows.

Wednesdays
(Sep 13-Nov 8)
8:00 Bless This House
8:30 Dave's World
9:00 Central Park West
10:00 Courthouse

(Nov 15-Dec 27)
8:00 Dave's World
8:30 Bless This House
9:00 Various Programming

(Jan 3-24)
8:00 Dave's World
8:30 Bless This House (through Jan 17)
9:00 Matt Waters
10:00 American Gothic

(Jan 31-Mar 27)
8:00 Dave's World
8:30 The Louie Show (through Mar 6)
9:00 Wednesday Night Movie (starting Feb 14)

(Apr 3-10)
8:00 Dave's World
8:30 My Guys
9:00 Wednesday Night Movie

(Apr 17-May 22)
8:00 Various Programming/Wednesday Night Movie
"Central Park West"
If you thought Mondays were a mess, Wednesdays were far worse. Most of the season had comedies at 8pm and dramas from 9-11pm. The 8pm hour was originally Bless This House followed by season three of Dave's World. Bless This House was a family comedy starring racy comedian Andrew Dice Clay. This was Clay's attempts at settling down but it was an odd fit for the notorious star. It flipped slots with Dave's World for awhile but was gone by January. Two new sitcoms were paired with Dave's World as the Wednesday 8:30pm was like the Monday 9:30pm slot in that there were three failed shows over the course of the season. At the end of January was The Louie Show, starring Louie Anderson and also featuring Bryan Cranston. It lasted just five episodes. The last entry was arguably the biggest failure in a season of bombs for CBS. My Guys was a family sitcom that lasted just two episodes before it was yanked. The dramas were an even bigger problem. The season started with two new dramas - the sultry soap Central Park West was an attempt to bring the opulent soaps of the 80s to a 1990s feel with an urban, sexy approach. It was one of the most talked about shows heading into the season but it failed quickly, perhaps due to an odd fit in between family comedies and the procedural new drama Courthouse at 10pm. Both shows were gone in November though CBS did briefly try to revive Central Park West until the abbreviated name CPW in the summer. After airing specials and movies through the new year, a new drama pairing aired in January. American Gothic moved over from Fridays and aired at 10pm. At 9pm was Matt Waters, a drama starring Montel Williams as a high school teacher. This lineup lasted only into early February and a movie took over. By April, the entire night had been abandoned for specials and movies as it was back to the drawing board for CBS.

Thursdays
(Sep 28-Jan 25)
8:00 Murder, She Wrote
9:00 New York News (through Nov 30)
10:00 48 Hours

(Feb 1-Apr 11)
8:00 Murder, She Wrote
9:00 Rescue 911
10:00 48 Hours

(Apr 18-May 16)
8:00 Various Programming
10:00 48 Hours
"New York News"
After over a decade on Sunday nights, Murder, She Wrote moved to Thursday nights despite still being a Top 20 show and the protests of star Angela Lansbury. CBS was making a move to get younger and Murder was the one of the oldest skewing shows on TV. It was unceremoniously moved to Thursdays where it aired against Friends on NBC as it plummeted in the ratings and was cancelled after 12 seasons. It did get a chance to go out with the final four episodes back in the Sunday slot as specials took over the Thursday slot. The 9pm hour was initially a new drama - New York News - a drama set at a tabloid magazine and starring Mary Tyler Moore, Gregory Harrison, Madeline Kahn, Joe Morton, and George C. Scott. The drama was Moore's final attempt at a network series (and I doubt given her health now, she will try again). Moore was unhappy in the show and ready to quit but the show was cancelled before she got a chance. Specials aired until February when Rescue 911 came back to the lineup. It aired half a season but was cancelled at the end of the year after seven seasons. All season long, 48 Hours aired at 10pm.


Fridays
(Sep 22-Nov 3)
8:00 Dweebs (through Oct 27)
8:30 The Bonnie Hunt Show (through Oct 27)
9:00 Picket Fences
10:00 American Gothic

(Nov 10-Dec 1)
8:00 Various Programming

(Dec 8-Mar 8)
8:00 Due South
9:00 Diagnosis: Murder
10:00 Picket Fences (through Feb 16)

(Mar 29-May 3)
8:00 Due South
9:00 Diagnosis: Murder
10:00 Nash Bridges
"Nash Bridges"
Friday nights were a bomb at first but they eventually found a lineup that was serviceable and actually produced a rare renewed freshman. The first lineup only lasted a couple months. An ill-advised new sitcom block started the night with Dweebs, about a bunch of geeky computer programmers and starring Peter Scolari. The show was not nearly as successful as The Big Bang Theory over a decade later despite a similar premise. It was paired with The Bonnie Hunt Show. Hunt had already failed in The Building a few years earlier and this was not any more successful though it did get a second chance on Sundays later in the season while Dweebs was cancelled outright after six episodes. At 9pm was Picket Fences in its fourth season. It was paired with American Gothic, a horror drama starring Gary Cole. The show only lasted 18 episodes on Fridays and Wednesdays but became a cult favorite. Specials aired for a couple weeks when they revamped the lineup with season two of Due South at 8pm, Diagnosis: Murder at 9pm, and Picket Fences moved to 10pm. Fences aired for awhile but was finally cancelled after four seasons. It never did that well but the critical acclaim kept it on the air longer than it probably deserved. It was replaced by Nash Bridges, a new cop drama starring Don Johnson and Cheech Marin. The drama was one of many CBS dramas that survived many years thanks to the low pressure Friday slot (Blue Bloods is the current show enjoying that status). It was also far and away the most successful new show from this poor 1995-96 class. Both Nash and Diagnosis were renewed while Due South was not, though it continued to air new episodes in Canada.

Saturdays
8:00 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
9:00 Touched by an Angel
10:00 Walker, Texas Ranger
Saturday nights were without question the best night of the week for CBS in 1995-96. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and Walker, Texas Ranger continued to be solid anchors at 8pm and 10pm and CBS finally found a perfect fit for the 9pm hour in Touched by an Angel. The show had narrowly escaped cancellation as a freshman but it found its niche on Saturday nights and became a huge hit for CBS. So big that it moved to the high profile Sunday 8pm slot the following year where it became a Top 10 show.

Sundays
(Sep 17-Mar 3)
7:00 60 Minutes
8:00 Cybill
8:30 Almost Perfect
9:00 Sunday Night Movie

(Mar 10-Apr 14)
7:00 60 Minutes
8:00 Cybill
8:30 The Bonnie Hunt Show (through Apr 7)
9:00 Sunday Night Movie

(Apr 21-May 19)
7:00 60 Minutes
8:00 Murder, She Wrote
9:00 Sunday Night Movie
"Almost Perfect"
Murder, She Wrote was gone from Sundays after over a decade while 60 Minutes remained at 7pm and the Sunday Night Movie continued at 9pm. The 8pm hour was a rarely seen comedy block on Sunday nights with Cybill thrown to the wolves after a good start Monday nights in its first season. It was paired with Almost Perfect, a romantic/workplace sitcom starring Nancy Travis and Kevin Kilner. The show was one of the more successful new shows and it didn't completely tank so it joined Nash Bridges as the only two freshmen shows renewed by CBS. That may have been due to its late move to Mondays as it was replaced on Sundays by a second attempt of The Bonnie Hunt Show. The comedy block was eventually abandoned and Murder, She Wrote came back to Sunday nights for a final four episode run after 12 years.

CBS 1995-96 Stats

Shows in the Top 30
9. 60 Minutes
16. The Nanny
18. Walker, Texas Ranger/Murphy Brown
23. Chicago Hope
24. Sunday Night Movie/Can't Hurry Love

Fall Shows Survival: 1/11 (9%)
Almost Perfect

Midseason Shows Survival: 1/6 (17%)
Nash Bridges

Total New Shows Survival Rate: 2/17 (12%)

Cancelled/Ended Series
Murder, She Wrote (12 seasons)
Rescue: 911 (7 seasons)
Picket Fences (4 seasons)
Due South (2 seasons)
Bless This House/Central Park West/Courthouse/The Client/Can't Hurry Love/If Not for You/Dweebs/The Bonnie Hunt Show/American Gothic/New York News/High Society/Matt Waters/The Louie Show/Good Company/My Guys (1 season)

Emmy Award Nominees & Winners (Major Categories)
Chicago Hope (Nominee, Outstanding Drama Series)
Kathy Baker, Picket Fences (WINNER, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Christine Lahti, Chicago Hope (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Angela Lansbury, Murder She Wrote (Nominee, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series)
Fran Drescher, The Nanny (Nominee, 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)
Tyne Daly, Christy (WINNER, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series) - eligible due to airing in summer 1995
Christine Baranski, Cybill (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series)
Jayne Meadows, High Society (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series)
Renee Taylor, The Nanny (Nominee, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series)

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