Friday, September 10, 2010

22 Hours of Primetime, Friday 9/8c

Today, my fall preview looks at Friday 9/8c. This is one of the very few timeslots on TV where almost every network has had a lot of upheaval in the last few seasons. Nobody's had a staple show.

Fall '07 saw the somewhat successful if old-skewing Women's Murder Club, but the strike derailed its run on the night and gave way to Desperate Housewives repeats and expanded 20/20 until the horrifically-rated 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 moved down to the 8:00 slot in Friday and in stepped the beginning of the final season of Ugly Betty which was pretty disastrous, and after its move to Wednesday the net went with a potpourri of reality options including Shark Tank and Primetime: What Would You Do? They're back in the old-skewing drama business with Body of Proof this fall, although there is some skepticism that the show will actually make it to air in this hour.

Vampire drama Moonlight held this timeslot 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 previously axed year-ago show 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. For 2008-09 CBS brought in axed NBC drama Medium, which was more competitive with the other two shows on the night than most previous options, even if the drops of those other two shows helped with that. Medium is the only show of CBS' Friday lineup from a year ago to return, but it heads to 8:00 while veteran CSI: NY is going to try to rejuvenate the night in this hour.

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. Though it initially seemed NBC was going more aggressive with drama Southland, it got axed before season 2 even began and Dateline ran again in this slot for most of 2009-10.  It returns again in fall 2010. It averaged a 1.54 on Fridays during the last regular season.

Fox debuted reality effort Nashville here 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 returned in fall of '09 despite disastrous season 1 results. The results got even more anemic in season 2, so that show got canned and for much of the second half of the season the choice was Kitchen Nightmares. Fox will try scripted here once again with The Good Guys, which has run for much of summer 2010 to low-rated results.

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 returned for 2009-10 alongside the occasional Smallville repeat, but the net has finally shed itself of that piece of programming in favor of a regularly scheduled original in this hour, Supernatural. It averaged a 1.45 in W18-34 last season.

Forgot to mention this on the 8:00 post, but look out for Friday Night Smackdown!, the WWE wrestling franchise which heads to Syfy, its fourth network in six years. In some of its last years on broadcast, it was actually a competitive Friday player.

CSI: NY - 1.88 average (-38%), 2.4 premiere (-40%)
Body of Proof - 1.42 average, 1.8 premiere
Dateline - 1.40 average (-9%), 1.4 premiere (-7%)
The Good Guys - 1.02 average, 1.2 premiere

Supernatural - 0.70 W18-34 average (-52%), 0.9 premiere (-47%) - I cringe to do percentage drops this high, especially when the show is leaving a pretty tough hour, but losing the Vampire Diaries lead-in and moving to a night that is not W18-34-friendly is going to sting hard. I mean, Smallville only averaged a 0.75 last year, and Supernatural didn't build on Smallville in their years together, so it's tough to go higher than this. I think it'll finish a little shy of Smallville's projected 0.95 A18-49 average, also.

If Body of Proof ever makes it to air in this hour, I'll give it a shot. As with the 8:00 hour, I might manage to give the Fox show (in this case The Good Guys) another whirl if it's some lazy Friday when I have nothing else on the DVR, but I doubt that will happen much if at all. You?

For more, see my 2009 post on the hour.

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