Nielsen Bottom 10, March 14th-20th, 1988

Week 26 of the 1987-1988 season started on Monday, March 14th, 1988 and ended on Sunday, March 20th, 1988. The highest-rated program was The Cosby Show on NBC with a 28.2/43 Nielsen rating/share and 36.8 million viewers according to AGB Television Research.

Here are the 10 lowest-rated programs on TV during Week 26 of the 1987-1988 season:

## Program Network Rating Viewers
68 Family Man ABC 9.5/16 14,600,000
69 Place at the Table (special) NBC 9.3/16 16,800,000
70 Probe ABC 9.2/14 10,800,000
71 Disney Sunday Movie [repeat] ABC 8.7/15 13,800,000
  West 57th CBS 8.7/16 11,800,000
73 Ohara (repeat) ABC 8.5/14 11,600,000
74 Hotel ABC 7.4/12 8,400,000
75 My Sister Sam CBS 7.3/11 8,900,000
76 Trial and Error CBS 6.5/10 9,200,000
  Buck James ABC 6.5/11 9,400,000

Copyright A.C. Nielsen Co. and AGB Television Research

Note: USA Today did not begin including FOX programming in its weekly rating charts until December 1988.

The Bottom 10 this week consisted primarily of regular weekly shows. ABC landed six programs in the Bottom 10; CBS had three; NBC just one. ABC’s Buck James was the lowest-rated program on the air.

Several new spring tryouts were introduced this week and a lot of them did not do well. CBS revamped its Tuesday lineup on March 15th to disastrous results. The premiere of new sitcom Trial and Error at 8PM tied for 76th for the week. The return of My Sister Sam at 8:30PM ranked 75th.

Another new sitcom, Coming of Age, did better with its debut at 9PM, ranking 59th. Frank’s Place at 9:30PM tied for 65th. Cagney & Lacey at 10PM tied for 51st. it was the only CBS program not to rank last in its time slot.

ABC premiered a new sitcom called Family Man on Friday, March 18th at 9:30PM. It ranked 68th for the week. ABC’s recently introduced Probe tied for 70th in its third episode.

NBC’s sole entry in the Bottom 10 was a made-for-TV movie called A Place at the Table. It aired from 7-8PM on Sunday, March 20th and ranked 69th. Over on ABC, The Disney Sunday Movie in the same time slot (the first part of Little Spies) did even worse, tying for 71st. Although not marked as such, it was a repeat.

Also of note: Danger Down Under (NBC, Monday, March 14th) ranked 40th for the week; Coming of Age (CBS, Tuesday, March 15th) ranked 59th; a repeat of “Snoopy Gets Married” (CBS, Wednesday, March 16th) tied for 51st; Sonny Spoon (NBC, Friday, March 18th) tied for 45th; a David Copperfield special (CBS, Saturday, March 19th) tied for 47th; and Supercarrier (NBC, Sunday, March 20th) ranked 45th.

“Using this chart.” USA Today. 23 Mar. 1988: 03.d

TV Guide Close-Up: 1964 Winter Olympics

Here’s a TV Guide ad from January 1964 promoting the start of the 1964 Winter Olympics on ABC:

Scanned black and white TV Guide ad for the 1964 Winter Olympics on ABC
TV Guide Ad for the 1964 Winter Olympics – Copyright 1964 Triangle Publications, Inc.

The 1964 Winter Olympics were held in Innsbruck, Austria from January 29th through February 9th, 1964. ABC’s coverage kicked off at 10PM on Wednesday, January 29th with the Opening Ceremony, including the Parade of Nations.

This particular ad is from the Western New England Edition of TV Guide. Channel 6 was WTEV in New Bedford, MA; Channel 8 was WNHC-TV in New Haven, CT; Channel 20 was WATR-TV in Waterbury, CT; and Channel 40 was WHYN-TV in Springfield, MA.

Image Credit:
TV Guide, January 25th, 1964 (Vol. 12, No. 4), Western New England Edition, A-52

Nielsen Bottom 10, March 7th-13th, 1988

Week 25 of the 1987-1988 season started on Monday, March 7th, 1988 and ended on Sunday, March 13th, 1988. The highest-rated program was The Cosby Show on NBC with a 25.6/40 Nielsen rating/share and 39.0 million viewers according to AGB Television Research.

Here are the 10 lowest-rated programs on TV during Week 25 of the 1987-1988 season:

## Program Network Rating Viewers
59 Probe ABC 8.2/13 11,300,000
  Buck James ABC 8.2/14 8,800,000
61 Ohara ABC 8.1/14 10,800,000
62 West 57th CBS 7.9/15 11,700,000
63 Hotel ABC 7.5/12 8,600,000
64 Barry Manilow (special) CBS 7.2/12 8,200,000
  Super Tuesday Update ABC 7.2/12 9,500,000
66 The Thorns ABC 6.6/11 9,800,000
67 Super Tuesday Update CBS 5.7/9 8,800,000
68 Redeye Express (special) CBS 4.4/7 6,600,000

Copyright A.C. Nielsen Co. and AGB Television Research

Note: USA Today did not begin including FOX programming in its weekly rating charts until December 1988.

ABC placed six programs in the Bottom 10 this week with CBS taking up the remaining four spots. NBC just managed to stay out of the Bottom 10; its lowest-rated program ranked 58th for the week.

One of those ABC programs was the second episode of Probe, a sci-fi/mystery series co-created by Isaac Asimov. Although the two-hour pilot fared well on Monday, March 7th–it ranked 28th for the week–things didn’t go so well when it moved to its regular time slot on Thursday, March 10th where it faced NBC’s comedy lineup. That episode tied for 59th for the week.

All three networks aired coverage of the Super Tuesday primary elections on Tuesday, March 8th. NBC’s special report ran from 10-11PM and ranked 58th for the week, just outside the Bottom 10. ABC’s report ran from 9-11PM and tied for 64th. CBS aired its report from 8-10PM and ranked 67th for the week.

CBS had two specials in the Bottom 10. “Barry Manilow: Big Fun on Swnig Street” aired from 10-11PM on Monday, March 7th and tied for 64th for the week. The lowest-rated program was the other CBS special: “Sid and Marty Krofft’s Redeye Express.” It ran from 8-9PM on Wednesday, March 9th.

Also of note: Frank’s Place (CBS, Monday, March 7th) tied for 43rd for the week; A Year in the Life (NBC, Wednesday, March 9th) tied for 54th as well; 48 Hours (CBS, Thursday, March 10th) ranked 34th; Sonny Spoon (NBC, Friday, March 11th) tied for 45th; a David Copperfield special (CBS, Saturday, March 12th) tied for 38th; and Supercarrier (NBC, Sunday, March 13th) tied for 41st.

“Using this chart.” USA Today. 16 Mar. 1988: 03.d

45th Anniversary of The Good Life

NBC’s The Good Life celebrates its 45th anniversary today. The sitcom premiered on September 15th, 1971 and was off the air less than four months later. Larry Hagman and Donna Mills starred as Albert and Jane Miller, a middle-class couple tired of the rat race who dream of the good life. The two get themselves hired as butler and maid by millionaire Charles Dutton (played by David Wayne) in the hopes they can put in the minimum amount of effort yet still enjoy his opulent lifestyle.

You can find my article about The Good Life here.

Donna Mills and Larry Hagman starred as Jane and Albert Miller.

Donna Mills and Larry Hagman starred as Jane and Albert Miller.

Hermione Baddeley played Charles’ sister Grace, who didn’t like the Millers. Danny Goldman played Charles’ son Nick, who did. He was the only one who knew the truth about Albert and Jane’s scheme and agreed to keep his mouth shut.

Most of the episodes revolved around Albert getting himself into some sort of trouble. When tasked with selling a Rolls-Royce, he gets it stolen. When he has to temporarily hire a replacement after breaking his leg, he accidentally hires someone who is actually a competent butler.

Larry Hagman in a promotional spot for The Good Life.

Larry Hagman in a promotional spot for The Good Life.

I’ve only seen one episode of The Good Life, although I’d love to see more and I’m especially interested in the pilot episode that aired in March 1972. I have read two scripts from the series and would like the opportunity to compare them to what actually aired.

If you watched The Good Life back in 1971, what do you remember about the show?

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:

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

The Class (Buzz Worthy)

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

‘Til Death
Happy Hour

The CW
The Game

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:

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

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

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.

TV Guide Close-Up: This Is Early Bird

Here’s a TV Guide Close-Up from May 1965 promoting “This Is Early Bird” on ABC, CBS, and NBC:

Scanned black and white TV Guide Close-Up for This Is Early Bird
TV Guide Close-Up for This Is Early Bird – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

“This Is Early Bird” was the inaugural program transmitted via the Early Bird (officially Intelsat I) communications satellite. Early Bird made trans-Atlantic television transmission possible. The live, hour-long special aired on all three networks from 1-2PM EDT on Saturday, May 2nd, 1965. Each network covered the special with their own news anchor: Bob Young for ABC, Mike Wallace for CBS, and Frank McGee for NBC.

Hopefully at least one of the networks has a copy of “This Is Early Bird.” If not, perhaps the BBC does. It also aired in other parts of Europe as well as Canada and Mexico. Archival Television Audio, Inc. has in its collection audio from the CBS broadcast.

This particular Close-Up is from the Eastern New England Edition of TV Guide. No channel listings were included because the special aired on all three networks.

Image Credit:
TV Guide, May 1st, 1965 (Vol. 13, No. 18), Eastern New England Edition, A-19

Thoughts on TV Guide’s 2016 Fall Preview Issue

TV Guide‘s 2016 Fall Preview issue has arrived. Don’t be fooled by the circle on the front cover declaring it “Your 96 Page Complete Guide” because the Fall Preview section isn’t even 30 pages long. This year’s look at new TV shows is considerably shorter than last year’s when the dedicated Fall Preview section ran for more than 50 pages.

I had a hard time finding a place to buy the 2016 Fall Preview issue. Last week I scouted three pharmacies and a supermarket–none of them had TV Guide. Today I hit another supermarket before heading to Barnes & Noble. There were just two copies in the magazine section. Did I feel a little guilty about taking both of them? Yes, I did. But I always buy two copies. While waiting in line to pay, I spotted six or seven additional copies.

I had to go to six stores before I found one that still sells TV Guide.(Copyright © 2016 TV Guide Magazine, LLC)

I had to go to six stores before I found one that still sells TV Guide.
(Copyright © 2016 TV Guide Magazine, LLC)

Because I only buy TV Guide once a year, I forget how expensive it is. At $4.99 per issue, this is definitely not a magazine you want to be buying every week (if you can even find it). Subscriptions cost just $16.50 a year. I’ve never had a subscription but I’m pretty sure I have family members who still do.

A Brief Very Look At Fall TV

You won’t find individual reviews in this issue. Or much of anything, really. Matt Roush offers a two-page critical overview of the fall crop rather than a brief “Matt’s Take” for every show. He praises Designated Survivor, This Is Us, Pitch, Speechless, and No Tomorrow. Kevin Can Wait, Man with a Plan, Conviction, and Notorious are among the duds.

There are also no “Editors’ Picks” this year. How will anyone know what to watch if the editors of TV Guide won’t share their favorites new shows? The prime time grid is back, though.

A total of 25 shows are included in the Fall Preview section. They’re ordered by day of the week. Five are cable shows: Good Behavior (TNT), Incorporated (Syfy), Dick Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (BBC America), Westworld (HBO), and Divorce (HBO). Why those five cable shows are worthy of the TV Guide Fall Preview issue is a mystery. Six additional cable shows are lumped together on a single page after Sunday’s new shows. Last year’s Fall Preview issue also lumped cable in with broadcast, which I find annoying. Unlike last year, however, there are no separate sections for streaming or PBS.

I'm surprised The CW's Frequency got a full page.(Copyright © 2016 TV Guide Magazine, LLC)

I’m surprised The CW’s Frequency got a full page.
(Copyright © 2016 TV Guide Magazine, LLC)

Not every show gets a full write-up. No Tomorrow and Lethal Weapon barely get a full paragraph. Designated Survivor, on the other hand, is given two full pages (four if you count the two-page spread featuring Kiefer Sutherland that opens the Fall Preview section). Timeless, This Is Us, Speechless, The Good Place, MacGyver, and HBO’s Westworld also get two pages.

Final Thoughts

I don’t buy TV Guide‘s Fall Preview issue every year because I’m looking for information about new TV shows. Buying it is a tradition every year and I collect Fall Preview issues. As long as they’re being published–and as long as I can find them without too much hassle–I’ll keep buying them.

Most people have no need for TV Guide anymore. There’s really nothing the magazine can offer that can’t be found online earlier and for free. That’s just the way it is. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it stops publishing in the next few years.

According to the Alliance for Audited Media, TV Guide had a circulation of 1,571,537 during the first six months of 2016. When the magazine was sold last year its circulation was around 1.8 million–but it was profitable. I suppose as long as it remains profitable, it will keep being published.

The prime time schedule grid makes its triumphant return.(Copyright © 2016 TV Guide Magazine, LLC)

The prime time schedule grid makes its triumphant return.
(Copyright © 2016 TV Guide Magazine, LLC)

Still, I know I got a thrill out of flipping through this year’s Fall Preview issue, even if it’s overpriced for the content. Seeing the full-page advertisements for new TV shows brings me back to a simpler time (and I’ve only been really invested in Fall Preview issues since the late 1990s/early 2000s). I’m sure I’m not the only one.

(Bonus: You can watch commercials for the 1962 and 1979 fall preview issues here.)

Are you still a subscriber? Are you having trouble finding it in stores? Hit the comments with your thoughts on TV Guide‘s 2016 Fall Preview issue.

50th Anniversary of The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.

The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. celebrates its 50th anniversary today. A spin-off of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., the spy series ran 29 episodes on NBC during the 1966-1967 season. You can find my article about the series here.

Stefanie Powers starred as April Dancer, the titular girl from U.N.C.L.E. Noel Harrison played Mark Slate, her British partner. Leo G. Carroll pulled double duty appearing as U.N.C.L.E. chief Alexander Waverly on both The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. and The Man from U.N.C.L.E..

The debut episode aired on Tuesday, September 13th, 1966 and involved April and Mark tracking down the antidote to a nasty new THRUSH drug that causes people to move in slow motion. The only problem? The antidote has been hidden on fleas living on a dog. From the start, viewers knew they were in for silly rather than serious.

Screenshot from the opening credits to The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.

In the opening credits, April appears to be carrying a purse
(Copyright © 1966, 1967 Turner Entertainment Co.)

Despite having owned the entire series on DVD for several years, I’ve only watched about half the episodes. It’s not a bad show. I don’t dislike it. I’m actually a big fan–although perhaps more of the concept than the actual series. The episodes seem fairly repetitive. I suppose I can only watch April impersonate someone or get captured and need rescuing so many times. I’m not familiar enough with The Man from U.N.C.L.E. to know whether it too was very formulaic. I imagine it was but without all the damsel in distress stereotype, unless Ilya regularly needed Napoleon Solo to rescue him.

Fashion But No Action

I wasn’t around in 1966, so I can only view The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. through a more modern perspective in which it features the same sort of general sexism seen in most network TV during the 1960s. It’s been years since I’ve watched any episodes but I don’t recall April using her gun much (if at all). Was she ever allowed to punch anyone? She probably kick a few THRUSH goons the same way Batgirl was able to kick villains on Batman.

Was the show a failure because viewers felt it was sexist? Too campy? Not campy enough? I’ve read how fans of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. despise it because it coincided with the “campy” season of that show. I’m not sure whether The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. is truly to blame if The Man from U.N.C.L.E. producers and/or NBC wanted to go after the Batman audience.

Screenshot from the closing credits to The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.

I’ve always wondered what exactly April is supposed to be doing in this shot.
(Copyright © 1966, 1967 Turner Entertainment Co.)

The pilot episode to the series aired in February 1966 as an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. It featured a different cast. Mary Ann Mobley played April Dancer. Norman Fell’s Mark Slate was much older and less British. I’ve never seen it but supposedly it featured a slightly more serious and self-sufficient April Dancer.

Collectibles, Collectibles, Collectibles

For a show that only lasted one season, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. produced a surprising amount of memorabilia and collectibles. There were novels, comic books, toys, a soundtrack album, and a short-lived digest magazine.

Only two of the tie-in novels were published in the United States. I reviewed the first (The Birds of a Feather Affair) back in October 2009. I also reviewed the first issue of the digest magazine in August 2013. I’ve yet to purchase any of the tie-in comics but still hope to one day.

If you’ve read any of the comics, are they more like the novels, which featured serious plots, or as silly as the TV show? Also, if you watched The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. during its original NBC run, please share your reactions and any thoughts you have about why the show failed. I’m particularly interested in hearing how girls and women responded to the show. Were girls eager to dress up as April Dancer? Were women disgusted at how she was portrayed?

Hit the comments with your memories of The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.