New Spotlight: The Boys

This month’s Spotlight is about The Boys, a short-lived CBS sitcom that aired during the summer of 1993. Christopher Meloni starred as a best-selling novelist who moves from New York City to a small town in Washington State with his girlfriend, played by Isabella Hoffman, where he meets and befriends his older, eccentric neighbors. Ned Beatty and Doris Roberts played their next door neighbors, the cantankerous Bert and gossipy Doris. Rounding out the cast were John Harkins and Richard Venture.

Christopher Meloni - The Boys (CBS, 1993)

Christopher Meloni – The Boys (CBS, 1993)

I’ve seen three of the five aired episodes of The Boys and wouldn’t mind seeing the remaining two or the sixth episode that CBS never aired. The reviews I found were mixed, with some several critics harsh and unforgiving but others willing to give the show and characters a chance to grow. The series debuted to 9.3 million viewers on a Friday in August 1993 and ranked 63rd for the week. Today, that would be considered a huge hit. Back in 1993, it was borderline disastrous.

Who knows exactly what CBS expected from The Boys and other summer tryouts like Big Wave Dave’s, Ned Blessing, and The Building. At the very least, the network hoped these shows would keep certain time slots warm and prime viewers to look for new programming as the 1993-1994 season got underway in mid-September. All of networks rolled out a few new or returning shows during August 1993–for some reason, the industry was eager to showcase its commitment to year-round programing.

Not much has changed since The Boys premiered more than 20 years ago. Every so often one of the networks will announce it is no longer sticking to the traditional fall-to-spring schedule but never actually make many substantial changes.

Later this year I’ll be writing a Spotlight about The Building, another CBS summer tryout from 1993 that aired alongside The Boys.

WCBW Schedule, Week of October 19th, 1941

Here’s the schedule for WCBW, the CBS station in New York City, for the week starting Sunday, October 19th, 1941, straight from daily television listings printed in The New York Times. As always, the station was off the air on Sunday.

It was another typical week for the station, with the regular mix of test patterns, news reports, dancing lessons, songs by Joan Edwards, Boys in the Back Room, Metropolitan Museum of Art programs, and more.

The variety show on Monday featured a harpist, a toe dancer, a mimic, Nelson’s Boxing Cats, and a pair of dancers.

No details were provided for Wednesday’s Table Talk with Helen Sioussat or any of Bob Edge’s sports programs, with the exception of his Friday program which involved badminton.

For the third straight week, the daily children’s story was a continuation of the station’s take on Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in 80 Days, published in 1873.

Sunday, October 19th, 1941
No Programs Scheduled

Monday, October 20th, 1941 [1]
2:00PM – Test Pattern
2:30PM – News Reports
2:45PM – Boys in the Back Room
3:15PM – Children’s Story: Around the World in 80 Days
7:30PM – Test Pattern
8:00PM – News
8:15PM – Joan Edwards, Songs
8:30PM – Variety Show: Adele Girard, Harp; April Ames, Toe Dancer; Hildegarde Halliday, Mimic; Nelson’s Boxing Cats; Bhupesh and Susila, Dancers

Tuesday, October 21st, 1941 [2]
2:00PM – Test Pattern
2:30PM – News Reports
2:45PM – Dancing Lesson
3:15PM – Children’s Story: Around the World in 80 Days
7:30PM – Test Pattern
8:00PM – News Reports
8:15PM – Joan Edwards, Songs
8:30PM – Metropolitan Museum of Art
9-9:30PM – Sports–Bob Edge

Wednesday, October 22nd, 1941 [3]
2:00PM – Test Pattern
2:30PM – News Reports
2:45PM – Table Talk with Helen Sioussat
3:15PN – Children’s Story: Around the World in 80 Days
7:30PM – Test Pattern
8:00PM – News Reports
8:15PM – Joan Edwards, Songs
8:30-9:30PM – Country Dance

Thursday, October 23rd, 1941 [4]
2:00PM – Test Pattern
2:30PM – News Reports
2:45PM – Metropolitan Museum of Art
3:15PM – Children’s Story: Around the World in 80 Days
7:30PM – Test Pattern
8:00PM – News
8:15PM – Sports-Bob Edge
8:30-9:30PM – Visual Quiz

Friday, October 24th, 1941 [5]
2:00PM – Test Pattern
2:30PM – News Reports
2:45PM – Film
3:15PM – Children’s Story: Around the World in 80 Days
7:30PM – Test Pattern
8:00PM – News Reports
8:15PM – National Defense Program
9-10PM – Sports–Bob Edge: Badminton

Saturday, October 25th, 1941 [6]
2:00PM – Test Pattern
2:30-4:30PM – Films

Note: Television listings published in newspapers were based on information provided by stations and were subject to change at the last minute. They may not be an accurate representation of what actually aired.

Works Cited:

1 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 20 Oct. 1941: 32.
2 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 21 Oct. 1941: 46.
3 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 22 Oct. 1941: 44.
4 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 23 Oct. 1941: 44.
5 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 24 Oct. 1941: 42.
6 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 25 Oct. 1941: C32.

Nielsen Bottom 10, October 12th-18th, 1987

Week 4 of the 1987-1988 season started on Monday, October 12th, 1987 and ended on Sunday, October 18th, 1987. The highest-rated program was NBC’s The Cosby Show with a 30.0/49 Nielsen rating/share and 40.8 million viewers according to AGB Television Research.

Here are the 10 lowest-rated programs on TV during Week 4 of the 1987-1988 season:

## Program Network Rating Viewers
61 Private Eye CBS 9.8/18 15,100,000
62 The Survivors (movie) ABC 8.6/14 10,300,000
63 The Charmings (repeat) ABC 8.1/13 12,900,000
64 Sledge Hammer! ABC 7.7/12 11,500,000
65 My Sister Sam CBS 7.0/13 10,500,000
66 Max Headroom ABC 6.2/11 8,800,000
67 Funny, You Don’t Look 200 ABC 6.1/10 8,600,000
68 Everything’s Relative CBS 5.6/10 8,700,000
  Leg Work CBS 5.6/10 8,200,000
70 West 57th CBS 5.2/10 7,800,000

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.

Week 4 was the weakest week of the new 1987-1988 season for the networks. Every single show in the Bottom 10 fell below a 10.0 Nielsen rating. The five least-watched shows all drew fewer than nine million viewers.

ABC had five shows in the Bottom 10 but could claim one small victory. Week 4 was the first week the network didn’t have the lowest-rated show on television. That honor went to CBS news magazine West 57th. In fact, once again CBS saw its entire Saturday line-up in the Bottom 10, with three of them ranking as the lowest-rated programs. ABC was no doubt thrilled to air Game 1 of the World Series on Saturday, October 17th in place of its low-rated lineup.

ABC pre-empted MacGyver from 8-9PM on Monday, October 12th in favor of “Funny, You Don’t Look 200,” a special celebrating the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. Hosted by Richard Dreyfuss, the special featured Michael J. Fox, Wilford Brimley, Emilio Estevez, Richard Belzer, Lisa Bonet, and others. It also ranked 67th for the week, a big drop from MacGyver the previous week, which tied for 43rd.

NBC’s sole entry in the Bottom 10 was Private Eye, its new Friday crime drama starring Michael Woods and Josh Brolin. Its fifth episode on Friday, October 16th was the first time it fell into the Bottom 10. It didn’t fare worse than it usually did and if not for ABC airing two World Series games–which meant several of its low-rated shows didn’t air–Private Eye wouldn’t have been in the Bottom 10.

Source:
“Using this chart.” USA Today. 14 Oct. 1987: 03.d

25th Anniversary of My Life and Times

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the premiere of ABC’s short-lived drama series My Life and Times. It’s one of my favorite obscurities from the 1990s. Back in 2013, I wrote an article about the series, which you can find here.

My Life and Times was a unique TV show, both in concept and in length. Tom Irwin starred as 85-year-old Ben Miller who, in the year 2035, looks back on his life and shared his experiences with friends and family. It was a half-hour drama, once fairly common on network television in the 1950s and 1960s but definitely unusual in the 1990s.

Image from the opening credits of My Life and Times featuring Tom Irwin in old man makeup as Ben Miller.

My Life and Times – Tom Irwin in old man makeup

Episodes were framed with sequences set in 2035 with the bulk of the action flashing back to the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s. Helen Hunt and Megan Mullally co-starred. ABC pulled My Life and Times off the air after just two low-rated episodes had aired; four additional episodes were burned off over the course of two weeks, leaving one episode unaired.

Here’s the opening narration from the first episode:

I wouldn’t say I’ve seen it all, but I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen the world change. I’ve seen myself change. I’ve watched footsteps on the Moon and seen myself stumble. I’ve made a fortune, I’ve lost a fortune. I survived the 90s and braved the Millennium. I’ve known fear and did my damnedest not to be afraid. I’ve loved and lost and lived to love again. The one thing I know is life is an adventure. You’ve got to hold on and let it carry you away. It’s carried me all the way to the year 2035 and I’m here to tell the tale. I’m Ben Miller and this is my life and times.

I remain hopeful that one day I’ll have the chance to see the unaired seventh episode. Hit the comments if you remember watching My Life and Times 25 years ago. Were you upset when it was yanked off the air?

CBS to Air Colorized I Love Lucy Special on May 22nd

CBS has announced its latest colorized I Love Lucy special, to air Sunday, May 22nd from 8-9PM. The “New I Love Lucy Superstar Special” will feature two colorized episodes: “Lucy Visits Grauman’s” (originally broadcast October 3rd, 1955) and “Lucy and John Wayne” (originally broadcast October 10th, 1955). As was the case with several of the network’s earlier specials, the special will feature only one set of opening and closing credits.

Here’s an overview of the colorized I Love Lucy specials CBS has aired over the past few years:

December 2013
“The I Love Lucy Christmas Special”
“Lucy’s Italian Movie”

December 2014
“The I Love Lucy Christmas Special”
“Job Switching”

May 2015
“L.A. At Last!”
“Lucy and Superman”

December 2015
“The I Love Lucy Christmas Special”
“Lucy Does a TV Commercial”

May 2016
“Lucy Visits Grauman’s”
“Lucy and John Wayne”

At this rate, it will be decades before CBS colorizes and airs all 180 episodes of I Love Lucy.

Although colorization remains somewhat controversial, perhaps CBS should be commended for continuing to broadcast 60-year-old episodes of I Love Lucy. Last December, the network also aired a pair of colorized episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. Are there any other sitcoms you’d like to see CBS colorize and air in prime time? Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing My Living Doll in living color–especially if CBS can dig up some of the missing episodes.

getTV Launching New Weekday TV Lineup May 2nd

Earlier this week, digital specialty network getTV announced plans to launch a new weekday lineup featuring TV shows like Nanny and the Professor, The Jimmy Stewart Show, Laredo, S.W.A.T., and In the Heat of the Night. The new 13-hour lineup will debut on Monday, May 2nd. It will run from 7AM ET to 8PM ET.

“getTV’s viewers have made it clear that, in addition to the classic films we’re known for, they also want to dig even deeper into their favorite long-lost TV programs of yesteryear,” said Jeff Meier, Senior Vice President, Programming, getTV. “This new lineup allows us to give our audience the best of both worlds, as we present great series during the day, and memorable movies at night.”

A color image featuring the cast of The Jimmy Stewart Show.

Cast of The Jimmy Stewart Show (Courtesy of getTV)

The new lineup will feature 14 TV shows broken into three blocks: comedies, westerns, and action/crime. Many of these shows will be new to getTV. It’s unclear exactly how this new lineup will impact the network’s current prime time TV blocks. If the Monday variety block and Wednesday “Get Lost in TV” blocks remain in place, that only leaves five nights for movies.

Here’s a look at the full schedule:

Comedy Block

  7:00AM – The Thin Man
  7:35AM – The Jimmy Stewart Show
  8:15AM – Nanny and the Professor
  8:50AM – The Ghost & Mrs. Muir

Westerns Block

  9:30AM – A Man Called Shenandoah
10:05AM – The Restless Gun (Monday-Thursday)
10:45AM – Laredo (Monday-Thursday)

Action/Crime Block

12:00PM – Tour of Duty (Monday-Thursday)
  1:00PM – S.W.A.T.
  2:00PM – Airwolf
  3:00PM – Riptide
  4:00PM – Hardcastle and McCormick
  5:00PM – The Equalizer
  6:00PM – In the Heat of the Night
  7:00PM – In the Heat of the Night

(On Fridays from 10AM-1PM ET, getTV airs children’s programming to fulfill the FCC’s educational and informational requirement.)

Despite the use of phrases like “hard-to-find” and “rarely seen” in the getTV press release announcing the new lineup, I’m not sure any of these TV shows qualify as rare. Several originally aired in the 1980s and many are available on DVD. The press release does state that additional TV shows will be added at a later date. Perhaps some of them will truly be rare.

The new weekday lineup is only the latest push by getTV into the classic TV business. When the network launched in February 2014, it focused exclusively on movies but expanded its focus to include television in September 2015 with the addition of several Western TV shows on Saturdays. It later added a variety block on Mondays in October 2015. Earlier this year, getTV debuted a revolving Wednesday “Get Lost in TV” block featuring episodes of TV shows like The Thin Man, The Lieutenant, and The Jimmy Stewart Show.

WCBW Schedule, Week of October 12th, 1941

Here’s the schedule for WCBW, the CBS station in New York City, for the week starting Sunday, October 12th, 1941, straight from daily television listings printed in The New York Times. As always, the station was off the air on Sunday.

It was a very typical week for WCBW. The Monday variety show featured jugglers, ballroom dancers, a tap dancer, and a comic cellist named Fred Werner.

The listings didn’t include any details for Table Talk with Helen Sioussat or either of Bob Edge’s sports programs.

The daily children’s story this week continued the station’s adaptation of the 1873 Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in Eighty Days.

Sunday, October 12th, 1941
No Programs Scheduled

Monday, October 13th, 1941 [1]
2:00PM – Test Pattern
2:30PM – News Reports
2:45PM – Boys in the Back Room
3:15PM – Children’s Story: Around the World in 80 Days
7:30PM – Test Pattern
8:00PM – News
8:15PM – Joan Edwards, Songs
8:30PM – Variety Show: Two Deweys, Jugglers; The Barrys, Ballroom Dancers; Bo Jenkins, Tap Dancer; Fred Werner, Comic Cellist

Tuesday, October 14th, 1941 [2]
2:00PM – Test Pattern
2:30PM – News
2:45PM – Dancing Lesson
3:15PM – Children’s Story: Around the World in 80 Days
7:30PM – Test Pattern
8:00PM – News
8:15PM – Joan Edwards, Songs
8:30PM – Metropolitan Museum of Art
9-9:30PM – Sports–Bob Edge

Wednesday, October 15th, 1941 [3]
2:00PM – Test Pattern
2:30PM – News Reports
2:45PM – Table Talk with Helen Sioussat
3:15PN – Children’s Story: Around the World in 80 Days
7:30PM – Test Pattern
8:00PM – News Reports
8:15PM – Joan Edwards, Songs
8:30-9:30PM – Country Dance

Thursday, October 16th, 1941 [4]
2:00PM – Test Pattern
2:30PM – News Reports
2:45PM – Metropolitan Museum of Art
3:15PM – Children’s Story: Around the World in 80 Days
7:30PM – Test Pattern
8:00PM – News
8:15PM – Sports-Bob Edge
8:30-9:30PM – Visual Quiz

Friday, October 17th, 1941 [5]
2:00PM – Test Pattern
2:30PM – News Reports
2:45PM – Film
3:15PM – Children’s Story: Around the World in 80 Days
7:30PM – Test Pattern
8:00PM – News Reports
8:15PM – National Defense Program
9-10PM – Sports–Bob Edge

Saturday, October 18th, 1941 [6]
2:00PM – Test Pattern
2:30-4:30PM – Films

Note: Television listings published in newspapers were based on information provided by stations and were subject to change at the last minute. They may not be an accurate representation of what actually aired.

Works Cited:

1 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 13 Oct. 1941: 34.
2 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 14 Oct. 1941: 42.
3 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 15 Oct. 1941: 42.
4 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 16 Oct. 1941: 42.
5 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 17 Oct. 1941: 44.
6 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 18 Oct. 1941: C32.

Nielsen Bottom 10, October 5th-11th, 1987

Week 3 of the 1987-1988 season started on Monday, October 5th, 1987 and ended on Sunday, October 11th, 1987. The highest-rated program was NBC’s The Cosby Show with a 28.2/45 Nielsen rating/share and 41.6 million viewers according to AGB Television Research.

Here are the 10 lowest-rated programs on TV during Week 3 of the 1987-1988 season:

## Program Network Rating Viewers
57 Ohara ABC 10.5/19 13,700,000
58 Baseball Pre-Show (Friday) NBC 10.1/20 12,600,000
  My Sister Sam CBS 10.1/19 17,400,000
60 Everything’s Relative CBS 10.0/18 16,800,000
61 Baseball Pre-Show (Saturday) NBC 9.6/19 14,300,000
62 Sledge Hammer! ABC 9.3/15 14,200,000
63 Leg Work CBS 8.6/16 14,800,000
64 Carol Burnett Special (repeat) ABC 7.8/14 10,500,000
65 West 57th CBS 7.6/15 10,800,000
66 Max Headroom ABC 7.1/12 11,000,000

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.

NBC only had two shows in the Bottom 10, both of which were baseball pre-game specials. The network aired seven playoff games during the week (three from the American League and four from the National League), most of which were preceded by relatively low-rated 15-minute pre-game specials. The highest-rated pre-game special ranked 42nd for the week; it aired prior to the first American League game on Wednesday, September 7th.

ABC and CBS split the remaining eight slots in the Bottom 10 with four each. Having cancelled its new sci-fi/comedy series Once a Hero after just three episodes, ABC replaced it on Saturday, October 10th with a repeat of its February 1987 special “Carol, Carl, Whoopi and Robin.” The repeat averaged a 7.8 Nielsen rating, up considerably from the 4.6 rating for the previous week’s Once a Hero but still a poor showing for the network.

ABC’s Max Headroom replaced Once a Hero as the lowest-rated program for the week. It actually improved slightly week-to-week, averaging a 7.1/12 Nielsen rating/share on Friday, October 9th. That was up from a 6.4/11 the week before. NBC’s baseball game likely pushed viewers hoping to watch Miami Vice at 9PM to ABC instead.

Likewise, ABC’s struggling Thursday line-up saw some improvement opposite baseball on NBC. Without A Different World airing from 8:30-9PM, The Charmings ranked 39th for the week, a huge jump from 66th place the previous week. Sledge Hammer, still had to face The Cosby Show from 8-8:30PM, which is why it ranked 62nd for the week.

With the exception of NBC’s baseball game and ABC’s Hotel, every single program aired on Saturday, October 10th landed at the bottom of the Nielsen chart for the week. That means for the second time in a row, the entire CBS line-up was in the Bottom 10. However, thanks to baseball pre-empting NBC’s regular line-up, all four CBS programs improved from the previous week.

Source:
“Using this chart.” USA Today. 14 Oct. 1987: 03.d