Sunday, August 31, 2014

CBS Abandons Comedy on Mondays at 9:00 PM Eastern

A Vanity Fair article from this past May proclaimed "Must-See TV is Dead", Must-See TV being the block of comedies on NBC that dominated Thursday nights from the Eighties to the early Naughts. Other articles published this spring did not announce the death of Must-See TV, but did acknowledge that NBC was abandoning its block of comedies on Thursday nights. As for myself, I did not particularly see this as news of any real sort. For one thing, as far as I am concerned Must-See TV died in 2004 when NBC scheduled The Apprentice at 9 PM Eastern/8 PM Central, breaking with a 22 year tradition of four sitcoms on Thursday night. For another, to me there was a much bigger story than NBC abandoning its comedy block on Thursday night again. Quite simply, CBS scheduled the drama series Scorpion at 9 PM Eastern/8 PM Central on Monday.

To many this might not seem significant, but the fact is that CBS had scheduled a block of two sitcoms at 9:00 Eastern/8:00 Central on Monday nights far longer than NBC had scheduled comedies on Thursday night. Beginning with I Love Lucy on 15 October 1951, CBS consecutively scheduled a block of situation comedies in the 9:00 Eastern/8:00 Central time slot for the next 62 years. At no time on the network schedule was any show from any other genre in the time slot. What is more, some truly legendary shows aired at 9:00 Eastern/8:00 Central on Monday night on CBS. The Danny Thomas Show (AKA Make Room for Daddy), The Andy Griffith Show, All in the Family, M*A*S*H, and Murphy Brown all aired at 9:00 Eastern/8:00 Central on Monday night on CBS.

I have no idea if the scheduling of a one hour block of comedies at 9 PM Eastern/8 PM Central Monday was intentional on the part of CBS. I would almost think it would have to be. Perhaps because CBS had a huge hit with I Love Lucy in the time slot, the network simply continued to schedule sitcoms at that time. In other words, sitcoms in the 9:00 Eastern/8:00 Central Monday night time slot became something of a tradition on the Tiffany Network. At any rate the one hour comedy block on CBS Monday nights certainly lasted longer than Must-See TV. Even though the slogan "Must-See TV" only dates to 1993, NBC's comedy block that would bear that name lasted from 1982 to 2004. At 22 years at the time of its demise (counting 2004 as its last year), Must-See TV was a mere youngster to CBS's one hour 9:00 Eastern/8:00 Central Monday night comedy block. Having begun in 1951 and ending this year, it spanned 63 years.

I have no idea why CBS decided to forgo their traditional comedies in the 9:00 Eastern/8:00 Central Monday night time slot. They certainly were not hurting in the ratings. While Mike & Molly, the last sitcom scheduled in the time slot, was not a ratings smash, it came in at a very respectable 33 in the over all ratings for the 2013-2014 season. I suppose it is possible that CBS thinks Scorpion, which from its trailers I assume would be best classed as a thriller, will do better in the time slot than their traditional sitcoms, but I am not sure why. At any rate, CBS scheduling a drama in a time slot in which they have scheduled sitcoms for the past 62 years would seem to be more of an end of an era than NBC doing away with its Thursday night comedy block (which they had already compromised from 2004 to 2005 anyway).

Lest you doubt me, below is what I believe to be a complete list of the situation comedies that aired through the years on Monday nights at  9:00 Eastern/8:00 Central on CBS.

1951-1958 I Love Lucy
1958-1964 The Danny Thomas Show
1964-1965 The Lucy Show
1965-1968 The Andy Griffith Show
1968-1971 Mayberry R.F.D.
1971-1974 Here's Lucy
1974-1975 Maude
1975-1976 All in the Family
1976-1977 Maude
September 1977-December 1977 The Betty White Show
December 1977-January 1978 Maude
January 1978-September 1983 M*A*S*H
1983-1984 AfterMASH
1984-1986 Kate & Allie
1986-1988 Newhart
September 1988-March 1997 Murphy Brown
March 1997-December 1997 Cybill
January 1998-February 1998 George & Leo
February 1998-May 1998 The Closer
May 1998-June 1998 Cybill
June 1998-September 2005 Everybody Loves Raymond
2005-2013 Two and a Half Men
September 2012-October 2013 2 Broke Girls
November 2013-Present Mike & Molly

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