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The Friday night death slot is a notable graveyard slot in American television, referring to the concept that a television program in the United Statesmarker scheduled on Friday evenings is destined for imminent cancellation.

The term possibly began as a reflection of certain shows' dominance of Friday night in the 1980s, which condemned to death any show scheduled opposite those programs. Today it reflects the belief that Americans rarely watch TV on Friday or Saturday nights, as these are days people (especially younger people) tend to leave home for other activities, thereby removing the most lucrative demographics for advertisers from the household.

Programs affected by the "death slot"

NBC

The following shows were successful in the ratings until they were moved to Friday nights:

1986 The A-Team Fifth and final season
1985–86 Knight Rider Fourth and final season
2003–05 Third Watch Final two seasons
2006–08 Las Vegas Final two seasons


1960s: Star Trek vs. Laugh-In

One of the oldest and most famous examples of the start of the "Friday Death Spot" phenomenon started with the original Star Trek on NBC.

After fans deluged NBC with such a mail-in protest, Producer Gene Roddenberry stated that he was promised the 8:30 p.m. Monday-night time slot upon Star Trek's renewal. However, that would have meant Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In would have had to start a half-hour later. Producer George Schlatter did not see why his show, which was such a ratings smash at the time, had to yield their "8:30" slot to the poorly-rated Star Trek, and made no secret of his displeasure.

In the end, Roddenberry lost and he never forgave NBC for moving the show to Friday nights. He made good on a threat to withdraw from personally producing the show. Others involved in running the show from behind-the-scenes demonstrated their frustration by departing. These, along with other factors, hastened the decline of the show and helped to ensure that there would be no fourth season. Laugh-In would remain until 1973, although this would be its final season at #1 going into decline afterward.

In an ironic twist of fate, one year later, NBC began using demographic breakdowns to decide which shows to air. When they did this, NBC discovered that even in the 10 p.m. Friday slot, the show nevertheless attracted an audience segment advertisers would have found highly desirable, as it consisted mainly of married couples with lots of disposable income .

In an echo of what happened with the original Star Trek, the prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise was rescheduled from Wednesday to Friday nights on UPN for its fourth season (2004–2005), a move which preceded its cancellation in February 2005.

Pink Lady and Jeff

On the other hand, the 1980 variety show Pink Lady is an example of a show purposely moved to Friday nights to kill it off. The show featured the Japanese band Pink Lady struggling through corny comedy and awkward English-language performances of disco hits (the duo spoke very little English). Though Jim Varney was added to the cast to improve the show's comedic value, little else was done to improve the show's ratings when it moved to Friday night after a single episode. The show burned off the rest of its episodes in that time slot, and a variety show would not be seen again on NBC until 2008's Rosie Live, which was canceled after one episode.

Southland

The police drama Southland premiered in spring 2009 following the cancellation of ER. Initially airing Thursdays at 10 p.m. EST (ER's time slot for 15 seasons), the heavily-promoted series received strong reviews and performed well enough to receive a fall 2009 renewal. However, with Jay Leno's new talk show also premiering that fall, and airing weeknights at 10 p.m., NBC moved Southland to Fridays at 9. The network then canceled the show in October 2009, two weeks before its second season premiere. [81235]

ABC

The following shows were successful until they were moved to Friday nights:
1985–86 Diff'rent Strokes Final season (and only season on ABC)
2004–05 8 Simple Rules Third and final season
2003–04 Life with Bonnie Final season
2009 Surviving Suburbia First and only season
2009 The Goode Family First and only season


1990: "TGIF"

In the early 1990s, ABC succeeded on Friday nights by creating a family-friendly block known as TGIF ("Thank Goodness It's Funny") with sitcoms such as:



By the late 1990s the majority of the TGIF shows had been canceled. The TGIF brand was put to rest in 2000 after the cancellation of Boy Meets World, and the departure of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, which moved to The WB. The Hughleys which was part of TGIF would be picked up after cancellation by UPN.

1992: I Love Saturday Night On ABC dumping ground

Originally, ABC's I Love Saturday Night concept was an unsuccessful attempt to capitalize on the popularity of TGIF and heavy promotion of the lineup was done during TGIF and other popular nights on the network.

It started in 1992 with the moving of longtime series to Saturday to make way for newer shows on TGIF:

Midseason replacement Capitol Critters was also moved to Saturday. All shows, including MacGyver were canceled in spring 1992. Perfect Strangers was brought back for six episodes in summer 1993 to resolve all loose ends on the show.

Other shows moved to Saturdays and were quickly canceled included:



2000

In the fall of 2000, ABC attempted an older skewing comedy block featuring Two Guys, A Girl and A Pizza Place and The Norm Show.

Both were relocated from Wednesday night, they were accompanied by the short-lived Madigan Men and The Trouble With Normal. All four shows would soon be cancelled.

2001

In 2001, ABC attempted to fill the slot with the reality show The Mole, but it was pulled after only three weeks. In the early-mid 2000s, ABC attempted to relaunch TGIF with shows such as Life with Bonnie (during the 2003 season), George Lopez (during the 2003 season) Less than Perfect (during the 2004 season), 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter (during the 2004 season) and Hope & Faith, an effort that ended by 2004.

CBS

The following shows were successful until moved to Friday nights:
1969–70 Get Smart Fifth and final season (also the only season to air on CBS)
1986–87 Scarecrow and Mrs. King Fourth and final season
1997–98 Step by Step* Seventh and final season (also the only season to air on CBS)
1997-98 Family Matters* Ninth and final season (also the only season to air on CBS)
2003–05 JAG Seasons 9 and 10, final two seasons
1992-93 Designing Women Seventh and final season
*Both ''Step by Step'' and ''Family Matters'' had previously been successful in ABC's Friday night lineup. ====1990s==== In an effort to revive Friday night television in the 1990s, [[CBS]], first attempted to compete with ABC launching a comedy night in the fall of 1992 with: *''[[The Golden Palace]]'' (a [[Spin-off (media)|spin-off]]/continuation of NBC's ''[[The Golden Girls]]'') * Monday-night Top-10 hits: :* ''[[Major Dad]]'' :* ''[[Designing Women]]'' * A new sitcom from [[Bob Newhart]], ''[[Bob (TV series)|Bob]]'' This initial effort failed, and only ''Bob'' was renewed for the 1993–1994 season, only to end in December 1993.Brooks, Tim and Marsh, Earle. ''The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable Shows 1946-present'', 7th edition. ====1997==== In the fall of 1997, CBS tried to capitalize off the cancellations of Friday night programs on rival [[TGIF (ABC)|ABC]], by attempting to take away their viewers. They created the '''[[CBS Block Party]]''' by giving a second life to such shows as: *''[[Step by Step (TV series)|Step by Step]]'' *''[[Family Matters]]'' In September 1997, they premiered in their original timeslots, along with: *''[[Gregory Hines|The Gregory Hines Show]]'' *''[[Meego]]'' were added to the mix. However, since CBS failed to adequately promote their programs, they were canceled after one season. Some argue that viewers of the shows had grown older and moved on to other viewing options which caused the ratings decrease. CBS did not try to use the concept again, sticking to dramas from that point on. ====Miscellaneous Friday night failures==== Other Friday night failures include: *''[[Robbery Homicide Division]]'' *''[[Close to Home (TV series)|Close to Home]]'' *''[[Moonlight (TV series)|Moonlight]]'' *''[[Dr. Vegas]]'' * *''[[Swingtown]]'' *''[[The Ex List]]'' * *Canceled less than two months into its run.

Successes post-Friday nights

CBS has experienced successes with shows performing better when moved to a different night. During the 1990–91 season when the struggling Burt Reynolds comedy Evening Shade was moved to Mondays, it would go on to run for four seasons. At the start of the 1996–97 season, Everybody Loves Raymond started airing on Friday nights. After its debut, the show received low ratings; however, the network kept the show and moved it from Fridays to Monday nights, midway throughout the season, to boost ratings, and Raymond performed well over 9 seasons. The popular CBS show CSI originally aired on Friday nights before being moved to Thursday nights months after its fall 2000 series premiere. It has remained on Thursday nights ever since.

The CW

The following shows were successful until they moved to Friday nights:
2008-09 Everybody Hates Chris Fourth and final season
2008-09 The Game Third and final season
2009 13: Fear Is Real First and final season
2009 Smallville Lowest ratings ever


Exceptions to the rule

Some shows scheduled on Friday nights have been successful as an exception to the rule.

ABC

1969-74 The Brady Bunch
1970–74 The Partridge Family
1996–2003

pre-WB move
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch


CBS

The phenomenon is now seen in regard to other original programming on CBS as well. Joan of Arcadia, which had a successful freshman year in the 2003–2004 season—and was even renewed unusually early, in January 2004, for the following fall season—was cancelled after its second year.

CBS has also found success in its Friday night lineup with:

1978–82 The Incredible Hulk
1978–91 Dallas
1979–85 The Dukes of Hazzard
1981–90 Falcon Crest
1992–96 Picket Fences
1996–2001 Nash Bridges
2003—2008 The Price Is Right $1,000,000 Spectacular
2005— Numb3rs
2005— Ghost Whisperer
2008— Flashpoint


NBC

1972–77 Sanford and Son
1984–89 Miami Vice
1999–2002 Providence
1999–2003 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
(moved to Tuesday night in Season 5)
2003–08 Las Vegas
(moved to Friday night in the middle of Season 3)


The WB/The CW

2001–07 Reba
2006–08 WWE Friday Night SmackDown Moved to MyNetwork TV
2009-present Smallville Ratings exceptional for CW Friday nights


FOX and Fridays

Perhaps the network which has received the most attention, and has become the most well-known for the "Friday Night Death Slot" has been Fox.

The following are all examples of FOX shows that either started on Friday nights and lasted only a few episodes, or were moved to Friday nights, lost the battle for television ratings, and were eventually canceled.

1987–97 Married... with Children Moved for 11th and final season.
1993–94 The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.
1994–95 M.A.N.T.I.S.
1995–97 Sliders on FOX Canceled and moved to Sci Fi Channel
1995–96 Strange Luck
1995 VR.5
1998–99 Brimstone
1999–2000 Greed
2001 The Lone Gunmen Moved to Friday midway through first and only season
2000–02 Dark Angel Second and final season
2002–03 Firefly
2002–03 John Doe
2003 Fastlane Moved to Friday night in the middle of its first and only season
2003 Wanda at Large Second and final season
2004 Playing It Straight
2004 Wonderfalls
2000–04 Boston Public Fourth and final season
2005 Jonny Zero
2005 Killer Instinct
2000–06 Malcolm in the Middle Seventh and final season (Final few episodes aired in original Sunday time slot.)
2001–06 The Bernie Mac Show Fifth and final season
2005–09 Prison Break Moved to Friday night in the middle of its fourth and final season
2006 Justice Moved to Friday night in the middle of its first and only season
2006 Vanished Moved to Friday night in the middle of its first and only season
2007 The Wedding Bells
2006–07 Standoff Moved to Friday night in the middle of its first and only season
2007 Nashville
2008 Canterbury's Law Moved to Friday night in the middle of its first and only season
2008 The Return of Jezebel James
2008–09 Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Moved to Friday night in the middle of its second and final season
2007–09 Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? Third and final season.
2007–09 Don't Forget the Lyrics! Third and final season.
2009 Mental


The X-Files (1993–2002)

At least one FOX show that premiered on Friday nights The X-Files, although nearly canceled by FOX, eventually became a success in its timeslot at 9 p.m. As TV Guide described it the audiences, especially in the college-aged demographics, would watch the show just prior to heading-out for Friday evening movies or partying, and quickly grew from 6% to 10% household ratings during sweeps. Several other shows were paired with The X-Files, including The Adventures of Brisco County Jr, M.A.N.T.I.S., V.R.5, Strange Luck, and Sliders, all of which were canceled by FOX. The show eventually moved to Sundays in 1996 where it continued to pull 10–11% on average, and another Chris Carter show Millennium filled the empty timeslot at 9 p.m.

UPN/The CW and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)

UPN/The CW's WWE Friday Night SmackDown!, originally named SmackDown!, was first broadcast on UPN on Thursdays to compete with WCW Thunder (eventually forcing Thunder to Wednesdays because of high ratings, before WCW ultimately folded in 2001). UPN moved the show to Friday nights in the United States on September 9, 2005, because of low ratings in its original Thursday-night slot, and the show has retained its Friday night timeslot since moving to The CW. Upon its move to the "death slot," UPN/The CW Friday nights have seen a substantial increase in ratings over UPN's movies and most of The WB's sitcoms. SmackDown! had also initially garnered even better ratings in the death slot than the ratings on its former Thursday-night airings (after the merging of WCW with WWE in 2001). Despite this, The CW chose to cancel SmackDown! which began airing on MyNetworkTV in fall of 2008.

General network practices today

Exceptions above notwithstanding, networks now usually reserve Friday and Saturday nights for either movies or repeats of popular shows originally aired Sunday through Thursday. Newsmagazines, game shows, and candid video shows like NBC's Most Outrageous Moments are also used often to fill these slots.

See also



References

  1. Katherine Phillips. "Witty sitcoms scheduled in Friday night death slot," Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 28, 1986, page 46: "ABC is sending two of this season's brightest new sitcoms to certain death at the hands of J.R. Ewing and his Dallas clan."
  2. John Voorhees. "ABC reshuffles schedule for ratings but deals only two new shows," The Seattle Times, December 13, 1985, page C5: "Also being dropped is Our Family Honor, the ABC series that has had the distinction of being the lowest-rated Nielsen show almost every week since its debut. It is in the 'Friday night death slot of 10 p.m., against Miami Vice and Falcon Crest.'
  3. Knight-Ridder News Service. 'Family Honor' ditched for 'Spenser', Lexington Herald-Leader (KY), October 19, 1985, page C6: "Spenser: For Hire, the above-par detective series starring Robert Urich, is being moved out of the 'Friday-night death slot opposite Miami Vice and Falcon Crest. ... To make room for "Spenser," ABC is taking "Our Family Honor" off the air [Tuesdays], at least for a while and perhaps permanently.
  4. News: Election 2006, The Austin Chronicle
  5. Gail Pennington. "Critic's picks," St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), May 16, 2005, page C6: "Paired with [Dave's World] in a 'Friday night death slot, ' Raymond' struggled but survived, moving in March 1997 to Mondays, where it took up permanent residence."
  6. CBS Casts a Spell Over Friday Night. Zap2It: November 3, 2007
  7. Friday Night 'Numb3rs' Favor CBS. Zap2It: November 10, 2007
  8. The 20 Greatest Shows Cancelled by Fox Before their Time. Topless Robot: August 14, 2009
  9. Emily Nussbaum. "Same Night, Same Channel, Same Giant Bummer" (interview with Tim Minear on the demise of Angel, Firefly, and Wonderfalls, The New York Times, April 18, 2004, page 25, column 1.
  10. Ryan, Maureen. 'Smith' is gone, 'Heroes' gets a full season: TV news you can use. Chicago Tribune: October 6, 2006.
  11. Wedding Bells in Jump The Shark
  12. WWE Puts the 'Smackdown' on MyNetworkTV - Show will make its new network debut in the fall - Zap2it


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