Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Comedy. Ha-ha.

I wanted to do a blog entry yesterday on ABC's decision to move "Scrubs" to Wednesday and set up a sitcom bloc on Thursdays from 8 to 9, but I needed to nail down one detail first. Some thoughts on the moves, and also what that says about the state of NBC's once-dominant Thursday sitcoms, coming up after the jump...

As the story I linked to above says, "Scrubs" is going to move to Wednesdays at 8 in mid-March, where it'll be paired with "Better Off Ted," a new comedy from Victor Fresco that's very much in the vein of his Fox show "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" (though what I've seen so far isn't as good as "Andy Richter" was). Originally, ABC was going to air new "Scrubs" episodes back-to-back on Tuesdays until they'd run through all 18 from this season, at which point the show was going to give way to the return of "Dancing with the Stars." Instead, tonight's episodes will be the last two originals until the move to Wednesday -- ABC will air "Scrubs" repeats from 9 to 10 until "Dancing" is back -- and obviously only one episode will air per week, along with "Ted." If I've done the math right, there will be 12 episodes of "Scrubs" remaining and only 10 weeks to go in the season when it moves to Wednesdays. But I also don't know how many episodes of "Ted" are being made, and so I suppose "Scrubs" could start doubling up again towards the end.

Now, the other notable development from all this -- and the one that most of the other news stories have emphasized -- is that "Samantha Who?" (which got bumped by these extra-long "Bachelor" episodes) will be moving to Thursdays at 8, followed by "In the Motherhood" (a TV adaptation of a web-com). Ausiello took this as a sign of ABC's displeasure with "Ugly Betty," while James Hibberd was more intrigued with the idea that NBC's 8 p.m. comedies ("My Name Is Earl" and, for now, "Kath & Kim") are vulnerable in a way they haven't been in the past when other networks tried Thursday comedies.

I haven't watched "Ugly Betty" in years and have no opinion on that, but I have to admit that the presence of "Kath & Kim at 8:30 pretty much eliminated any desire I had to watch "Earl" (a show I've always been on the fence about) at 8, the rare instance of a lead-out causing someone to not watch the lead-in, instead of vice versa. When the Amy Poehler/Greg Daniels/Mike Schur comedy -- which was just titled "Public Service" -- debuts in early April, that'll probably change, but "Kath & Kim" is so toxic that I don't even want to put on NBC until 9 p.m. Of course, I was always just as on the fence about "Samantha Who?" (good lead performance in the middle of a show that tries too hard) and haven't seen "In the Motherhood" yet, so I don't know that I'll be watching those, either, or just using the hour for DVR clean-out.

But that's me. How, if at all, are these moves going to affect your own comedy viewing habits?

29 comments:

Chris Littmann said...

That second paragraph made my head hurt -- not your writing, but rather all the movement. So in terms of Scrubs, you're telling me they're just going to give them a one-month hiatus (in terms of new episodes) and move from Tuesday to Wednesday.

I feel like I'm giving a very Lucile Bluth answer here, but I don't understand it, and I don't like it. It's like ABC said "Remember all that advertising we did and how we beat you over the head with Scrubs coming to ABC on Tuesdays with new episodes. JK!"

Anonymous said...

So I guess ABC is giving Scrubs the same treatment as NBC. Not sure how this will tie in with the Lost schedule, hopefully it will help me remember to watch.

dez said...

I'll follow "Scrubs" because without "Pushing Daisies," I have time to watch something else on Wednesdays, but as I like "New Adventures of Old Christine," I'll probably use that to fill the gap between "Scrubs" and "Lost" rather than try the new show. As for Thursday, I still watch "Earl" and use the gap between that and "The Office" to clear the DVR and/or my soaps tape, so I won't be switching to ABC for that, either.

I'm just glad they didn't move "Scrubs" to a slot where I'm already watching a couple of shows and taping another, phew!

Tosy And Cosh said...

It actually makes me happy, because with The Mentalist, Scrubs, and Fringe all on at 9 Tuesdays, I was going to have to sacrifice one. Now, not so much.

Grim said...

The NBC comedies are vulnerable, but I doubt ABC are going to be able to do anything about it with this line-up. Samantha Who? is a very average show, which has only showed life out of DWTS. They may get ratings that are better than Betty and NBC, but I very much doubt it will hold to next season.

What will be interesting is next year, whether NBC concentrate their comedies into the 8-9 slot, with a drama at 9 (very tough considering the competition) or they keep the two hours as is, very likely without Earl and Kath & Kim.

Crispy said...

I'll keep watching Scrubs. I've never watched even one of the other shows you mentioned in that entire post. I don't have any plans to start, either.

Omagus said...

I'll follow Scrubs because I love it but I wish it were staying on Tuesday. As of right now, it's the only show I watch on Tuesday nights. Now I'll have nothing (unless I find something else, I suppose). I also think using comedies to lead into Lost is a bit strange...

christy said...

I agree that the NBC 8-9 comedies are vulnerable, because I was apparently one of the few people watching Ugly Betty instead. So ABC will lose my eyeballs that hour. But I don't think I'll watch anything else instead...unless YouTube videos and my DVR'd Jeopardy!s count.

Anonymous said...

Bad move--I always liked Scrubs but didn't watch regularly due to all the schedule changes. I am down to only two network shows: Lost and The Office. And I keep forgetting about The Office so I've only watched sporadically.

Instead, I've been catching up with series I originally missed on DVD, on my own time. Right now I'm halfway through Buffy. Sure beats 99% of the stuff on TV now! At least, in my opinion.

T-Boz said...

This confuses the heck out of me. Could someone please explain the logic behind mid-season schedule switches vs. waiting until the end of the season? I understand wanting to pin a less successful show to a more successful one, but this just seems ridiculous. Also, is there actually any hope for Ugly Betty now that the rest of the season is being pushed to June (i.e., No Man's Land)? Another question: was ABC's dissatisfaction with Samantha Who's performance the reason for putting it in front of Grey's Anatomy? It seems like if it's not picking up viewers after Dancing with the Stars, it's not going to get them anywhere. I wonder what this means for next season.

Sorry for the millions of questions, but as a viewer of all of the ABC shows in question (Samantha Who, Scrubs, Ugly Betty), this has me up in arms.

dez said...

I've got about half a season of "Ugly Betty" to catch up on, but what I was watching at the beginning of the season seemed fine. What's happened to the show that's causing ABC to yank it until June?

Alan Sepinwall said...

What's happened to the show that's causing ABC to yank it until June?

Ratings have been very mediocre -- reaching a nadir when "Bones" thoroughly stomped on it last week -- and ABC execs reportedly blame it for erosion of the "Grey's Anatomy" ratings.

Overweight Diet Expert said...

What the hell was the point of bringing Scrubs back for like 4 or 5 episodes and then halting it until March?

I'd rather they just waited to air all of them until March, or just aired all of them now, instead of having a pointless 2 month break thrown in the middle.

Kensington said...

So this pretty much puts the nail in the coffin for Scrubs then, doesn't it? They can't jerk it around this much without killing any possibility of positive ratings momentum, can they?

Rachel said...

ABC execs reportedly blame it for erosion of the "Grey's Anatomy" ratings.

...I'm sorry, I have to bite: Why isn't ABC blaming "Grey's Anatomy" for the erosion of "Grey's Anatomy" ratings?

I mean, "Ugly Betty" has definite issues, and I can see it needing changes in its own right, but -- "Grey's Anatomy" has enough problems that blaming its ratings on "Ugly Betty" seems disingenuous.

amysusanne said...

I don't want to defend ABC, but I don't really see a *huge* issue with the "Scrubs" thing beyond the hilarity of them picking the show up and then doing exactly what NBC did to it all those years. And, hey...what with February sweeps being shifted this year, "Scrubs" will actually get to air during a sweeps period for a change!!! I've always looked at this season as a gift from ABC so that the series could have a proper finale anyway, so as long as my DVR can find it them I'm okay with whatever they do.

It really is hilarious that ABC would blame Betty for GA's decline in the ratings, though. They're blaming pretty much everything but Shonda and the writers for the show's decline, which just amazes me. Katherine Heigl and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, throughout the entire stupid Izzy/Denny/GhostSex story have been fine. It's not their fault, even if the militant Katie Heigl haters want to blame them. It wasn't Brooke Smith's fault that her character (which was working, as far as I could tell) wasn't "a good fit". I don't care for Melissa George or her character, but it's what's coming out of the writers room, not the fault of the actress. But, hey...let's blame Betty!! Don't place any blame on what the GA writers are putting in the scripts or what ABC is signing off on because the reason people are tuning out is clearly because of the weak lead in show.

Pamela Jaye said...

i had just come here to ask about
this

and what's up with Ugly Betty moving (not that I watch it)

I meant to put it in the open thread, but since this is related... (I got the alert cause Scrubs is mentioned)

Shall be back to read - SAG seems to have fired a big cheese and hit the reset button on contract negotiations and I can't even get bak to the book on Access that I probably don't need to read.

ardenswv said...

And the networks wonder why folks "time shift" viewing via DVRs and fret about the lack of eyes on commercials...
As long as Scrubs episodes are available on-line, I couldn't care less about where they move it. Network dweebs!

Anonymous said...

ugly betty. another show where the hype and marketing doesn't equal the actual show.

Pamela Jaye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pamela Jaye said...

last post trashed as it may have, in fact, been an actual spoiler. (and someone in my group put it in the subject header??)

the rest of the post is below

Blogger Pamela Jaye said...

okay, you answered before I asked.
Wonder where I put the DWTS question.

thanks for the Scrubs calculations.
It's easier to watch, as long as I - or the DVR - remember it's on. There just aren't as many shows I'm watching this year, and almost all of them are on Mondays at 8 (or Thhursdays from 9 to 11)

Watched Scrubs by myself tonight. Everyone is sick but me and I actually like watching it 3 times - and besides, there really wasn't anything I got that excited over that I can't hold it till someone else has the time to watch it.

Bobman said...

Since I doubt you'll put up a separate Scrubs discussion post, I just want to say that Denise / "Jo" doing the muppet dance will probably have me laughing all week. God damn that was awesome.

Alan Sepinwall said...

No, I'll be doing a separate episode review post -- once I finish watching them both. So please, no talking until then.

Matthew L said...

Pamela -

Wonder where I put the DWTS question.

Is that the one you posted in the open thread?

Nicole said...

I don't understand why Ugly Betty is to be blamed in the decline in GA's ratings when it's GA that has had the stupid storylines. Ugly Betty has been camp from day one and hasn't changed. It's not perfect, buy I was still watching it, as opposed to GA, which I quit almost two years ago.

I guess I can see ABC trying to win the 8pm slot because NBC is so weak with its comedies right now, but isn't Ugly Betty pretty much a comedy anyway?

I also wonder about the whole Nielsen family ratings system. Isn't there technology to get a broader sample base?

Brian J said...

It is very amusing, as others have said, that ABC would chide NBC for what it did to "Scrubs" and then turn around do the same the thing. Then again, I haven't been watching this season, so what do I care?

As for ABC trying to compete with ABC, perhaps it's a good idea, if they see an opening. There's no clear winner in the hour, and even if "Ugly Betty" isn't to blame for hurting "GA," by pumping up 8:00 and 8:30, it will probably help 9:00. Three birds, one stone, sort of.

NBC is vulnerable in the hour, but that's been the case for a while. "Earl" seems to have flamed out a few years ago, and while I have never seen "Kath and Kim," it doesn't seem like the sort of show that will be around for a long time. If NBC scores with "Public Service" and sees ratings increases with "The Office" after its Superbowl episode, then it should definitely stick with comedies from 8:00-10:00 on Thursday. If it can develop one solid hit in the next two years on Thursday, it could then expand to other nights.

Anonymous said...

not sure if you have watched Kath & Kim lately, but in my opinion it's been the highlight of the NBC comedy block the last couple of weeks. Might want to give it another try.

Anonymous said...

When I hear "In the Motherhood," I immediately go to Notes From the Underbelly, Emily's Reasons Why Not, Men in Trees, Big Day, Samantha Who and every other painfully quirky "female" show that ABC has tried to launch in recent years.

Chris the TV Sage said...

Anon @1:46 - Why do you hate Alan?