Friday, August 28, 2009

19 Timeslots, Friday 9PM

This is one of the very few timeslots on TV where almost every network has had a lot of upheaval in the last three seasons. Nobody's had a staple show.

ABC: Fall '06 saw the debut of Men in Trees here for ABC, and while low-rated it did manage to exceed some expectations so it got moved to the plum post-Grey's spot on Thursdays. After its November move the slot saw a revolving door of two-hour 20/20's, theatricals, and repeats until the burnoff return of former post-Grey's occupant Six Degrees which lasted just two episodes on Friday. Repeats of Wife Swap would fill the slot for the rest of spring '07. Fall '07 saw another effort at a new drama, this time the moderately successful if old-skewing Women's Murder Club. But the strike derailed its relative success on the night and gave way to Desperate Housewives repeats and more expanded 20/20 until the horrific return of game show Duel. The net got a bit more aggressive for '08-'09 by plugging in Supernanny, which was coming off a very solid midseason year as writer's strike bait. That show will stay on the night in fall '09 but be moved down to the 8:00 slot so that Thursday tentpole Ugly Betty can join the evening here.

CBS: This timeslot has seemingly consisted of a series of borderline decisions with CBS making the wrong one every time. '06-'07 was the final season of legal drama Close to Home, which was cancelled despite often leading Friday in total viewers and sometimes even in the demo. Vampire drama Moonlight took over for most of '07-'08, though it was briefly replaced during the writer's strike with primetime telecasts of game show The Price is Right. Moonlight returned with some post-strike episodes but was ultimately down from Close to Home and didn't do enough for a renewal. For fall '08 it was female-targeting The Ex-List which bombed even harder and was pulled after just four episodes. Some repeats and then Canadian import Flashpoint filled in. This year, CBS brings in axed NBC drama Medium, which they hope will pair well with similarly-premised Ghost Whisperer.

FOX: Fox's choice for this timeslot for most of '06-'07 was Trading Spouses. For a brief period the net tried a new drama Wedding Bells but got no success out of it. Fox then debuted reality effort Nashville at 9 in fall '07 but it was the first show axed in '07-'08. Some two-hour editions of almost-as-low-rated American Band along with repeats of Don't Forget the Lyrics! would get some use in the slot later in the fall, and then reliable House repeats took over for much of the winter. Ancient-skewing newbie Canterbury's Law was moved over to the slot in the spring to burn off its remaining episodes. Lyrics made a move here in originals for fall '08 but was replaced in the winter by sci-fi newbie Dollhouse, which will return in fall of '09 despite rather disastrous results. It averaged a 1.5 demo in the timeslot but dipped as low as 1.0 by the end of its run.

NBC: The peacock moved veteran drama Las Vegas to this timeslot in fall of '06 and was very competitive with it in play. It was moved to 10:00 for the next season while the second season of Friday Night Lights showed up at 9. Two-hour Datelines and a slew of special airings filled in thanks to FNL's season being cut short because of the writer's strike. In fall '08 it was fantasy newbie Crusoe which posted anemic results and was shipped to Saturday. In stepped Lipstick Jungle for December and January which had bombed in two 10:00 timeslots already and kept on bombing at 9. For the first half of '09 it was another season of Friday Night Lights and more two-hour Dateline NBC. The net will go more aggressive in fall '09 with almost-newbie Southland, which opened well on Thursday in ER's old slot but dropped off considerably during its 7-ep run.

CW: For the first two years of the CW's existence they had the back half of Friday Night Smackdown! for this slot. The net gave up control of the UPN mainstay for '08-'09 and brought another tentpole, the encore of America's Next Top Model, to Friday night. Original episodes of reality flop 13: The Fear is Real were burned off here between ANTM cycles. The ANTM encore returns for fall '09.

Cable Notables: USA drama Monk kicked off its season on August 7 and will be running its entire 16-ep season consecutively, meaning its originals will be a factor in the fall - something that's never been the case before. Syfy offers a new show but an old brand in Stargate Universe.

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