Fall TV Breakdown: Fridays and Saturdays

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)

  7/8 8/9 9/10
ABC America’s Funniest Home Videos Men In Trees 20/20
CBS Ghost Whisperer Close To Home
CW WWE Smackdown  
FOX Nanny 911 Trading Spouses
NBC 1 vs. 100 Las Vegas
Law & Order

The Saturday lineup (new shows in blue)

  7/8 8/9 9/10
ABC Saturday Night College Football
CBS Various reruns Various reruns 48 Hours Mystery
FOX Cops America’s Most Wanted
NBC Dateline NBC Various reruns
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


2 Responses to “Fall TV Breakdown: Fridays and Saturdays”

  1. Travis Says:

    It’s interesting what happened to Friday and Saturday’s the networks have seemed to give up. Perhaps they need to go back to the old TGIF line-up. But really go back to TGIF. AFV and Kelly Ripa being herself just isn’t like Full House or Family Matters.

    I will probably tune in to L&O an give 1 vs. 100 a chance, but for the most part, Friday nights will be TV free. Saturdays might be good for the shows that I missed during the week.

  2. dkompare Says:

    I think the days of TGIF are gone for good, as polls are consistently showing that tweens and teens are preferring the Internet to TV. Still, they’re not even trying, unless you count reruns of shows that have already hit, or they’d really like to hit, as trying.

    I agree, Saturday is a great night for catching up (especially if you’ve got a DVR).

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