Cursed Time Slots


Fans of time-slot arcana will enjoy James Greene Jr.’s post “The Curse of the 9:30 ‘TGIF’ Time Slot,” about ABC’s many failed attempts to fill the final time slot in their Friday night lineup.

Do you remember “Hi, Honey, I’m Home,” (great theme song by Rupert Holmes; click to hear it) “Baby Talk,” “Billy,” and “Where I Live?” Of course you don’t. (Well, you might remember “Hi, Honey” because it was picked up by Nickelodeon after ABC canceled it.)

A TV lineup is like an infield: there’s often one weak link that can never quite be filled. Some networks have as much trouble finding an 8:30 or 9:30 show as baseball teams have finding a third baseman. Everyone remembers the many terrible shows NBC tossed in at 8:30 and 9:30 on Thursdays (leading Seinfeld to do an episode about the terrible acts that only got laughs because they went on right after him).

I’m now trying to think of other networks that had a really weak time slot in an otherwise strong lineup, but I’m having trouble thinking of them, in part because a) There aren’t many programming lineups that get strong ratings all across the board, b) There aren’t a lot of shows, even successful ones, that own a particular time slot for years, and c) Sometimes shows are shuffled in and out of a particular time slot just because the network wants to give their shows a tryout after a big hit. I know ABC’s famous Tuesday night lineup of the early ’90s had problems with the 10:00 drama slot, but not huge problems (they tried a few shows in there after Thirtysomething was canceled, and finally came up with NYPD Blue).

So what are some other examples of “jinxed” time slots in successful programming blocks?

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Cursed Time Slots

  1. I can’t think of anything specific, but it seems like, over the years, The Simpsons hasn’t really launched as many hits from the time slot adjacent to it as it should have. Frankly, I can hardly remember a show that followed it during it heyday, except for King of the Hill, of course. Even The Critic, which, for all its flaws, was pretty much the most compatible show for The Simpsons on the air at the time, failed to become a hit after moving to Fox. (I think Al Jean kvetches on Simpsons commentary about how The Critic got cancelled despite good ratings, but, as with many things that Al Jean bitches about, I remember differently.)

    Other than that, all I can think is that the post-Raymond slot on CBS Mondays seemed like a pretty dicey place to be, until Chuck Lorre Hates Women was invented, with the obvious plan of moving it into the Raymond slot after a couple years.

  2. CBS had a couple of niggling problem spots throughout its recent dominance. Sundays at 8 were a big problem for a long time, and they finally just had to move Amazing Race, which performs decently if not spectacularly, there. They had even more trouble with Tuesdays at 10 after they canceled Judging Amy. They just could NOT fix that spot, even with the growing NCIS heading off the night. They finally managed to solve it by dumping Without a Trace in there, but now they’re thinking about canceling that.

  3. Fox, 1990s, Friday nights at 8 to lead in to “The X-Files.” “Sliders,” “VR5,” “MANTIS,” “Strange Luck,” “Millennium” …. I may have a few of those wrong, but man it was a revolving door.

  4. I was actually thinking of The Simpsons too, and while there have been some real duds (Drexell’s Class, anyone? Also, Arrested Development aired directly after Simpsons its second season), there’ve been a couple of exceptions too. You mentioned King of the Hill. Malcolm in the Middle debuted after Simpsons and followed it for at least a couple of seasons, drawing good numbers and was able to survive on its own after Fox moved it to a later Sunday slot (the move to Fridays pretty much killed it, although the show by that point had pretty much run out of ideas). Also, That 70s Show spent its entire first season in the 8:30, post-Simpsons slot.

  5. Wrong! Hi Honey I’m Home was not picked up by Nick afterwards, it was always intended to be seen on both networks. Nick at Nite had a deal to play the show a day or two after it premiered on ABC, and Nick promoted it as an “instant rerun” — since Nick at Nite only played reruns, even a new original show would have to air on another network first. This also explains the classic TV centered premise of Hi Honey itself.

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