The Amazing Disappearing, Reappearing Nature of Shows

I feel as though our society moves too quickly. This is, I’m sure, a common lament, but frankly it is hindering my ability to watch television. Last week, at the last moment, Sci Fi decided not to air Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace as scheduled. This week, at the last moment, they decided to flip when Eureka and Who Wants to be a Superhero. At least, these both appear to be last minute changes because both my TiVo and TV Guide believed the shows to air when they didn’t. I imagine, and this is pure speculation, that numbers came in and people thought they could get a quick boost by switching around the schedule. Whatever happened to giving a show a chance to develop?

One of the truly funny things about this is that the same corporate parent, NBC Universal, famously stuck with two relatively low-rated shows that turned into monster hits: Cheers and Seinfeld. As has oft been remarked elsewhere: that would never happen today. Those shows would have been cancelled in a heartbeat, and, in my opinion, the world would be worse off.

I’ll grant you that these are just time period switches, but ABC recently cancelled both The One: Making a Music Star and One Ocean View after just a few airings. The odd thing in my mind is that these were merely limited run summer series, why not give them a chance to finish out their time? Are the numbers for repeating episodes of Supernanny that much better? Will it result in a sizable boost to their fall audience?

Networks tinker with their schedules obsessively, tweaking here and there without strong proof of a return for their efforts. Surely as many people are frustrated at not being able to find the show that was supposed to be as there are people who are now magically free to watch the show that they didn’t know was on.

How about this for a strategy: create a compelling program, schedule it for a single time period, and sit on that itchy trigger finger for 6 months.

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