10th Anniversary of Fall 2006 & The CW

Fall 2006 was notable for a variety of reasons. It was the first TV season for two new networks: The CW and MyNetworkTV. It was also the first TV season to feature a fall preview issue from the larger TV Guide magazine. And it was the first TV season during which networks made cancelled shows available online.

The 2006-2007 season officially kicked off on Monday, September 18th, 2006. MyNetworkTV launched much earlier, on Tuesday, September 5th. The CW technically didn’t debut until Wednesday, September 20th to give affiliates a few extra days to promote the new network.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus - CBS Fall Preview

Julia Louis-Dreyfus hosted the “CBS Fall Preview” special on on September 2nd, 2009.
(Copyright © 2006 CBS)

The six broadcast networks unveiled 25 new shows during Fall 2006. How many do you remember?

Lots of Failures, Few Hits

Look over the list of new shows introduced in September 2006 and you’ll see a lot of flops, a handful of one season wonders, some moderate successes, but no huge hits.

In its Fall Preview Issue, TV Guide picked a Best Drama and a Best Comedy for Fall 2006. Four other new shows were considered Buzz Worthy. Here’s a complete list of all the new shows:

ABC
Brothers & Sisters
Help Me Help You
The Nine (Best Drama)
Ugly Betty (Buzz Worthy)
Six Degrees
Men in Trees

CBS
The Class (Buzz Worthy)
Smith
Jericho
Shark

NBC
Heroes
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (Buzz Worthy)
Friday Night Lights (Buzz Worthy)
Kidnapped
30 Rock (Best Comedy)
Twenty Good Years

FOX
Vanished
Standoff
Justice
‘Til Death
Happy Hour

The CW
The Game
Runaway

MyNetworkTV
Desire
Fashion House

(TV Guide included ABC sitcom Knights of Prosperity in its Fall Preview issue. The network originally planned to premiere the show on October 17th, 2006 but ultimately held it until mid-season.)

Excluding MyNetworkTV’s telenovelas, only 10 of the new fall shows received full season pickups: Brothers & Sisters, The Game, Ugly Betty, Jericho, Shark, ‘Til Death, Heroes, 30 Rock, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and Friday Night Lights.

Of these, all but Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Jericho returned for the 2007-2008 season. Jericho was cancelled but a “save our show” campaign led CBS to revive it for a brief second season. That makes Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip the only true one season wonder of the 2006-2007 season.

The Class came close to a full season with 19 episodes; Standoff was right behind with 18. The remaining shows all aired fewer than 13 episodes:

Justice (FOX, 12 Episodes)
The Nine (ABC, 11 Episodes)
Vanished (FOX, 9 Episodes)
Help Me Help You (ABC, 9 Episodes)
Six Degrees (ABC, 8 Episodes)
Kidnapped (NBC, 5 Episodes)
Twenty Good Years (NBC, 4 Episodes)
Happy Hour (FOX, 4 Episodes)
Runaway (The CW, 3 Episodes)
Smith (CBS, 3 Episodes)

Heroes was the highest-rated new show of the season. 30 Rock was the longest-running, remaining on the air for seven seasons before ending in 2006. The Game was cancelled by The CW after three seasons and then picked up by BET for another six seasons, ending in 2015.

The New Networks

I wrote about MyNetworkTV’s inaugural fall season a few weeks ago. The network’s grand telenovela experiment –airing two hour-long soap operas each weeknight with a recap special on Saturdays–was a total failure. The first two telenovelas were Desire and Fashion House.

Tracee Ellis Ross and Jared Padalecki hosted "The CW Premiere Special," which did not air nationally on The CW.(Copyright © 2006 The CW Network)

Tracee Ellis Ross and Jared Padalecki hosted “The CW Premiere Special,” which did not air nationally on The CW.
(Copyright © 2006 The CW Network)

When it first started, The CW broadcast 13 hours of programming each week: two hours from 8-10PM ET on weeknights and four hours from 7-10PM ET on Sunday. The network, like its predecessors, offered no programming on Saturdays. Repeats and specials aired on Monday, September 18th and Tuesday, September 19th.

The CW debuted just two new shows: The Game and Runaway. While The Game was a modest success, The Runaway was a huge flop and became the new network’s first cancellation after just three episodes. The rest of The CW’s schedule consisted of 13 shows carried over from either The WB or UPN:

UPN
All of Us
American’s Next Top Model
Everybody Hates Chris
Girlfriends
Veronica Mars
Friday Night SmackDown!

The WB
7th Heaven
Beauty and the Geek
Gilmore Girls
One Tree Hill
Reba
Smallville
Supernatural

Of these 13 shows, Supernatural is the only one still on the air. It begins its 12th season next month.

Unaired Episodes Online

I may be wrong about this but I’m pretty sure Fall 2006 was the first time the networks made unaired episodes of cancelled shows available online for fans to watch. I distinctly remember watching unaired episodes of Vanished, Kidnapped, and The Nine. Where did I watch them? I’m not sure because I didn’t have access to On Demand via cable at the time and Hulu didn’t exist. I probably had to watch the episodes through a network’s official website.

Wikipedia says unaired episodes of Smith and Six Degrees were likewise put online. Were there earlier examples of unaired episodes put online?

My Favorite Fall 2006 Shows

Friday Night Lights was without a doubt my favorite new show of Fall 2006. I can vividly remember watching the premiere and then being shocked the next day when the ratings were so low. I couldn’t believe such an incredible show wasn’t being watched by more people.

When CBS cancelled The Class, I was pretty disappointed. It was a hilarious show. I really enjoyed Heroes as well (it went downhill quickly after that first season). Kidnapped and Vanished were two other favorites. Believe it or not, I think I preferred Twenty Good Years to 30 Rock. I didn’t watch either of The CW’s new shows or MyNetworkTV’s telenovelas.


Hit the comments with your memories of Fall 2006 and your favorite new TV shows from a decade ago.


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