The 1985-1986 Season, Week by Week

Here’s a chart listing the top programs for each week of the 1985-1986 season, including the summer repeat months. The season officially began on Monday, September 23rd, 1985 and ended 30 weeks later on Sunday, April 14th, 1986. NBC was easily the top network in the Nielsen ratings with a 17.5 rating. CBS was second with a 16.7 rating and ABC brought up the rear with a 14.9 rating. It was the first time NBC won a television season, having previously tied for first with CBS during the 1969-70 and 1970-71 seasons.

The highest-rating program was NBC’s The Cosby Show, which ranked first for an astounding 27 weeks during the official season and 46 times during the 1985-1986 season as a whole. Furthermore, during four of those six weeks NBC was still had the top program. ABC was able to top the weekly rankings just twice, once for the seventh game of the World Series and again for the Thursday edition of “Liberty Weekend.”

NBC had five of the Top Ten shows for the season, while CBS had three and ABC two. Here they are:

1. The Cosby Show (NBC)
2. Family Ties (NBC)
3. Murder, She Wrote (CBS)
4. 60 Minutes (CBS)
5. Cheers (NBC)
6. Dallas (CBS)
7. Dynasty (ABC)
8. The Golden Girls (NBC)
9. Miami Vice (NBC)
10. Who’s the Boss? (ABC)

The source for the chart is the Associated Press, which released a list of the previous week’s Top Twenty shows every Tuesday.

Week ## Date Top Program Network
Week 01 Sep 23rd, 1985 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 02 Sep 30th, 1985 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 03 Oct 07th, 1985 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 04 Oct 14th, 1985 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 05 Oct 21st, 1985 SPORTS: World Series, Game 7 ABC
Week 06 Oct 28th, 1985 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 07 Nov 04th, 1985 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 08 Nov 11th, 1985 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 09 Nov 18th, 1985 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 10 Nov 25th, 1985 TELEFILM: Perry Mason Returns NBC
Week 11 Dec 02nd, 1985 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 12 Dec 09th, 1985 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 13 Dec 16th, 1985 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 14 Dec 23rd, 1985 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 15 Dec 30th, 1985 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 16 Jan 06th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 17 Jan 13th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 18 Jan 20th, 1986 SPORTS: Superbowl XXX NBC
Week 19 Jan 27th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 20 Feb 3rd, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 21 Feb 10th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 22 Feb 17th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 23 Feb 24th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 24 Mar 03rd, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 25 Mar 10th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 26 Mar 17th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 27 Mar 24th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 28 Mar 31st, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 29 Apr 07th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 30 Apr 14th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
 
*Regular Season Ends*
 
Week 31 Apr 21st, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 32 Apr 28th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 33 May 05th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 34 May 12th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 35 May 19th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 36 May 26th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 37 Jun 02nd, 1986 Family Ties NBC
Week 38 Jun 09th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 39 Jun 16th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 40 Jun 23rd, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 41 Jun 30th, 1986 Liberty Weekend (Thurs.) ABC
Week 42 Jul 07th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 43 Jul 14th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 44 Jul 21st, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 45 Jul 28th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 46 Aug 04th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 47 Aug 11th, 1986 Family Ties NBC
Week 48 Aug 18th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 49 Aug 25th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 50 Sep 01st, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 51 Sep 08th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC
Week 52 Sep 15th, 1986 The Cosby Show NBC

8 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Yes, NBC virtually “built” their Thursday night schedule around Cosby in 1985-’86 (and that’s why they won the season):

    8:00 THE COSBY SHOW [naturally]
    8:30 FAMILY TIES [often the #2 program]
    9:00 CHEERS
    9:30 NIGHT COURT
    10:00 HILL STREET BLUES

    ABC and CBS were virtually “shell-shocked” in planning their schedules as a result.

    Even CBS’ “answer” to the Cosby format, “CHARLIE AND COMPANY” (starring Flip Wilson), came and went on Wednesdays at 9pm(et), opposite ABC’s #1 series in that time period, “DYNASTY”, which was beginning to “lose its edge”. But the network DID have a few “evergreens” to fall back on: “60 MINUTES” and “MURDER SHE WROTE” on Sundays, “SCARECROW & MRS. KING”, “KATE & ALLIE”, “NEWHART”, and “CAGNEY & LACEY” on Mondays, ‘MAGNUM P.I.”, “SIMON & SIMON” and “KNOTS LANDING” on Thursdays, and “DALLAS” and “FALCON CREST” on Fridays.

    ABC wasn’t so lucky. By depending too much on Aaron Spelling to supply most of their prime-time programming in the 1984-’85 season, they “lost” the season to CBS (with NBC a close second, due to the first season of “THE COSBY SHOW”), and tore up Spelling’s exclusive contract with the network. However, what remained of his series- “DYNASTY”, “HOTEL”, and “THE LOVE BOAT”- continued in the 1985-’86 season (with one new series, “HOLLYWOOD BEAT”, gone within a few weeks, and another, the “DYNASTY” spin-off, “DYNASTY II: THE COLBYS”, hanging on)…but “LOVE BOAT” ended that season. However, there were some bright spots- “MacGYVER” on Sundays, “GROWING PAINS”, “MOONLIGHTING” and “SPENSER: FOR HIRE” on Tuesdays, “MR. BELVEDERE” on Fridays, and in mid-season, “PERFECT STRANGERS”, “HEAD OF THE CLASS”, and the return of the Disney anthology series (as “THE DISNEY SUNDAY MOVIE”). But several of their more recent series, “HARDCASTLE & McCORMICK”, “THE FALL GUY”, and “RIPLEY’S BELIEVE IT OR NOT!”, vanished at the end of the season.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    …and of course, the first of the “updated” “PERRY MASON” TV movies {I personally refer to it as “The Case Of Della Street’s Dilemma’} was SO successful on “NBC SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES”, it “jump-started” Raymond Burr’s career and led to a series of 26 two-hour movies, until Burr’s death in 1993.

  • Michael Spadoni says:

    Barry is absolutely right in noting NBC’s Thursday night juggernaut was the engine that drove the network to its first outright seasonal win since the early 1950′s.
    But it wasn’t the only reason for NBC’s dominance during the 1985-86 season. On Saturday night, a new comedy featuring four women over 50 did quite nicely, thank you. “THE GOLDEN GIRLS” tied for seventh place with “DYNASTY” that season, helping another new sitcom that followed it, “227″ (20th place). And old favorite “THE FACTS OF LIFE” still had some steam left in it (27th place), while second-season crime drama “HUNTER” was building an audience.
    And of course, we can’t forget a couple of sophomore NBC hits that season–”MIAMI VICE” on Fridays (9th place); and Michael Landon’s Wednesday night drama “HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN” (11th place). Not to mention NBC’s movie nights on Sunday (21st place) and Monday (22nd place tie with “HOTEL”). Add the mid-season success of new sitcoms “YOU AGAIN” with Jack Klugman and John Stamos (19th place) and “VALERIE” with Valerie Harper (24th place tie with “MOONLIGHTING” and “FALCON CREST”), and it added up to a stellar comeback season for NBC.

  • Cee Jay says:

    Looks like everything old is new again at the peacock network they are trying a new version of the Thursday comedy line up with The Office, Community, Parks and Recreation and Saturday Night Live Weekend Edition Thursday and Jay Leno not in this order and to tell you the truth I don’t see lightning strinking twice

  • pBOB says:

    The sitcoms haven’t been the same since they got rid of the studio audiences and show opennings.

    I was recently on the Retrojunk site and didn’t realize how long and how many different show openings Three’s company had for seasons one & two.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    You’re right, Michael! I almost completely forgot about “THE GOLDEN GIRLS”, which allowed the network to build a Saturday night “beachhead” as well. But “YOU AGAIN?” [an American version of a British sitcom, "HOME TO ROOST"] didn’t last too long, and “VALERIE” was almost scuttled by Valerie Harper abruptly leaving the show. Fortunately, with Sandy Duncan “replacing” her, “THE HOGAN FAMILY” (as it finally became known) found a comfortable nest on Mondays until 1991.

  • Michael Spadoni says:

    Agreed, Barry: “YOU AGAIN” didn’t last long; it got a boost from a premiere after “THE COSBY SHOW” before moving to Monday nights. But it didn’t last; the show was canceled in the spring of 1987. One funny note about “YOU AGAIN”: British actress Elizabeth Bennett played the role of housekeeper Enid Tompkins on both “YOU AGAIN” and the British “HOME TO ROOST,” requiring her to commute between London and Los Angeles during the run of both shows. According to TV historians Tim Brooks and Earl Marsh, it was a video first.

  • “The Equalizer” also started on CBS this year, along with “The New Twilight Zone”, which were two more bright spots for the network IMO.

Leave a Reply