Wednesday, January 24, 2007

TV: Always Looking for the Perfect Lineup

There's an article in Entertainment Weekly this week that covers probably the best new show on television, Friday Night Lights, and the usual "can this show be saved?" discussion due to its low ratings.

My So-Called Life, Freaks & Geeks, Arrested Development, etc., are other examples of television shows unable to find a big audience, despite having a rabid cult audience, which of course doesn't pay the bills.

I've always felt that a network's lineup is always going to contain nights with some low ratings. Always. No network has a seven-day lineup that works at the optimum level at all times. They spend millions on tons of shows and fill the air with loads of crap, hoping something will catch on (very few do). For strictly bottom line purposes, isn't it better to have a show that has a rabid fan base with low ratings than a revolving-door of shows that suck that get the same ratings? I guarantee they spent more developing a ton of shows with no shot than allowing one show to try to breathe, and there will be plenty of time left on the schedule to try other shows.

The other thing is the day that they decide to put these fledgling shows on. NBC's big move was to put FNL on Wednesdays at 8 Eastern, just in time for American Idol's results show (or right now, the auditions...doesn't really matter)! The previous timeslot was Tuesday at 8, another awful place where Dancing with the Stars usually rules. Sure, you gotta try it somewhere, but how about not against established hits? There's only one in a million Grey's Anatomys out there that can impose its will on an established competitor's lineup (and even that is dubious: the other shows were on their way down anyway, and Anatomy was already a pretty big hit).

My suggestion with such shows is to try nights where it doesn't matter if the show gets low ratings, like Friday. Or in NBC's case, Monday after Heroes. It doesn't make any sense that Studio 60 follows the hit Heroes. So what, the audience for a superhero show is going to stay around to watch brainy Aaron Sorkin afterwards? Heroes, with the "save the cheerleader" thing this past fall, would have blended nicely with FNL, which has a cheerleader of its own needing saving. That seems like the ultimate Monday team, and then you can put Studio 60 on more "adult-oriented" nights like Tuesday or Wednesday, same timeslot, at 10. It would be better for both shows, and I don't know why no one at NBC has figured this out.


At 1/25/2007 06:45:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I am in total agreement that "FNL" is the best new show on television this season which is saying a lot since there are quite a few really good new shows (Heroes, Studio 60, The Class, Knights of Prosperity, Jericho). And it is a sad state that it can't get the viewers that will entitle it to a second season most likely. Especially when you consider that something as mundane and banal as "Ugly Betty" is able to get a ton of people to watch every week.

My one problem with "FNL", and it's more of a humorous one, is that why are there no ugly people in this freaking small Texas town? Everyone's a damn model, even the dorky friend of Matt Sarenson kind of looks like Matt Damon. Even the parents are all good looking people; Connie Britton is by far the hottest mother to ever grace the boob tube. But having to look at beautiful people aside, this is a really well thought out show, and maybe that's part of the problem. Much like other great youth oriented shows like "Veronica Mars," it stays a little above the heads of your average teenage audience, and most adults aren't going to give the damn thing a chance because they just assume it's another "90210" or "One Tree Hill," but it's not. I'm just happy it was given the full season order, so at least we'll get to see a good 20-22 episodes of this great drama before it most likely fades into the sunset like so many other great losses before it.


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