The final chapter, ending with a virtual shrug, on broadcast TV’s least interesting nights (an interesting fact in itself, actually).
The Friday lineup (new shows in blue)
|ABC||America’s Funniest Home Videos||Men In Trees||20/20|
|CBS||Ghost Whisperer||Close To Home
|FOX||Nanny 911||Trading Spouses|
|NBC||1 vs. 100||Las Vegas
||Law & Order|
The Saturday lineup (new shows in blue)
|ABC||Saturday Night College Football|
|CBS||Various reruns||Various reruns||48 Hours Mystery|
|FOX||Cops||America’s Most Wanted|
|NBC||Dateline NBC||Various reruns
Let’s start with Friday, which at least has a quorum of actual programming onboard. Only two real newbies, though: ABC’s Northern Exposure-ish Men In Trees, and NBC’s bizarre quiz-show variation 1 vs. 100 (which premieres later in October). The problem tonight is that Friday is only kinda-sorta a real night of network TV. These shows are going to air, but fairly irregularly, with scads of repurposed stuff tossed in the mix. CBS has the edge here, with a pretty compatible crime-laden lineup. I’ll say this much for CBS: they know how to schedule a consistent night of TV.
Meanwhile, it appears that NBC is attempting to jump-start something on Friday night, clearly hoping that Deal Or No Deal was no fluke, and that the neo-neo-prime-time game show revival is underway. Las Vegas and Law & Order are still solid for them, and could perhaps do well enough to make a night of it, and sustain the lineup for the season (though it’s shocking that L&O has been relegated to Fridays at 9/10).
ABC is throwing their hands up; Men In Trees is about as “what the hell” a project as it gets (and when did Anne Heche get marketable again?). Still, odder things have happened on Friday nights. Once upon time, a little show called The X-Files started out in that very time slot, before moving on to greener pastures on Sunday nights.
Fox and the CW are wisely sticking to some weekend meat-and-potatoes. It won’t cost as much, and it’ll do them very well.
My Friday suggestion is the Sci-Fi Channel, which will offer not one, but two fantastic series, back-to-back. The 2006 episodes of Doctor Who make their American debut tomorrow, followed next week by the return of TV’s best drama, Battlestar Galactica.
As for Saturday… Well, it used to be a great night for TV. But that was in the seventies. Nowadays, it’s a sad remainder table of repeats and low-profile stand-bys (yet more Cops and Dateline NBC). It’s amazing to think that the networks have essentially given up on this night, that they’d rather basically fill the time with whatever’s on the shelf than try some new programming. It’s a night that screams out “what the hell are you doing watching TV? Get a life, will ya?” Still, I have to give ABC some credit for scheduling a weekly prime-time college football game; at least it’s something fresh, even if my annual Keith Jackson cravings can no longer be satisfied (he retired).
Winner: Sci-Fi Channel, Netflix, your local bars and restaurants