Saturday, March 5, 2011

To SURIVIVE the Friday Night Death Slot

Friday Night can be a harsh mistress when it comes to our favorite shows, but what of those who survived?

Battlestar Galactica

Lifespan: 75 Episodes

As tends to be the case with cable, and especially the Sci-Fi channel (not SyFy), plenty of shows actually fare better in Friday nights than other time slots. This particularly proved true with the Battlestar Galactica re-make.

Of course, the absurdly gripping drama, visuals and storytelling might have had something to do with it as well. Plus, what else did Battlestar fans have to do on a Friday night?

Law and Order: SVU

Lifespan: 266 Episodes to date

Truly, it doesn't matter when you air Mariska Hargitay's attitude and Christopher Meloni's rugged looks. Viewers will follow.

Despite never quite eclipsing the popularity of the original Law and Order (and what could), SVU debuted on a Monday before making its way to Friday, and slowly building a bigger audience toward its move to Tuesdays after the fifth season.

Wonder Woman

Lifespan: 59 Episodes

Ever as much the super-strong Amazonian as her namesake, Wonder Woman first found success in the Friday timeslot on ABC before the move to CBS produced similar results.

Let's see you to better, David E. Kelley.


Lifespan: 125 Episodes

Monk began life on ABC before the network passed it off to NBC's USA network, where it maintained consistent viewership through at least season six, ending up on Fridays as as a lead-in for Psych, when the network began angling itself around quirky comedies.
Miami Vice

Lifespan: 111 Episodes

Lasting for five seaons, our favorite sleeves rolled, violence against a pretty backdrop cops of Miami Vice moved to Fridays in its third season, and while struggling against soap opera Dallas in a competing timeslot, still lasted for two more amidst a host of other difficulties.

Stargate: Atlantis

Lifespan: 100 Episodes (does anyone else hear the Sonic "100 Rings" music whenever they read that?)

Successfully spinning off it's predecessor SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis never managed to surpass the initial ratings boom of its first episode, but still enjoyed a successful five seasons as a staple of Sci-Fi's Friday night lineup.

And despite the eventual failure of Stargate: Universe, movies for Atlantis are still in the pipeline.
Nash Bridges

Lifespan: 122 Episodes

Nash Bridges maintained strong ratings in the Friday timeslot, but faced steep competition in its sixth season from Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

Despite the solid audience numbers however, the increasing costs got the better of the network, as Don Johnson had endured enough and the network was satisfied with reaching syndication.

Full House

Lifespan: 192 Episodes

Full House primarily retained its Friday timeslot from its beginning in 1987, though ABC occasionally bounced the show to Tuesdays, or even both days to aid in building audience.

After finding more success in its second season following Perfect Strangers, the show went on to become an early flagship of the TGIF lineup, eventually ending after eight seasons.


Lifespan: 118 Episodes

Because who doesn't love David Krumholtz and Judd Hirsch?

CBS, on the money as usual, kept Numb3rs in a mostly consistent Friday timeslot, where through six seasons the series regularly maintained an average of about ten million viewers

Hangin' Out with Mr. Cooper

Lifespan: 101 Episodes

Created by the mind behind Full House (Michelle and Uncle Jesse even appeared once), Jeff Franklin, Hangin' With Mr. Cooper became yet another series to be given a boost by ABC's Friday night TGIF lineup.

The show lasted for five seasons and made it to syndication, despite the final 13 episodes airing on Summer Saturdays.


Lifespan: 79 Episodes and counting

A smart premise, talented cast, low costs and Monk's lead-in kept Sean and Gus continually aflush with good ratings and critical praise in their initial Friday timeslot, eventually graduating to Wednesdays following Monk's finale.

Keep it up, boys!
Step By Step

Lifespan: 160 Episodes

Ah, TGIF. The safest, warmest haven of all things Friday night family television. Step By Step enjoyed a rather lengthy run during the end-of-the-week lineup, but found itself moved to CBS for the final season, which like others preceded its ultimate cancellation.


Lifespan: 119 to date

Okay, we're risking the wrath of Hell by including this, but nothing a good Colt couldn't beat back. After five successful seasons in a Thursday timeslot, Supernatural joined Smallville on Friday nights, also with Sera Gamble taking over as show-runner.

Ratings, particularly with Smallville as a lead-in have remained mostly solid, but should the worst happen and the Winchester boys not merit a seventh season the journey here has been a devlishly good time.
Sabrina, The Teenage Witch

Lifespan: 163 Episodes

ABC managed to work its TGIF magic for four seasons with Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, and sold the show to The WB for an additional three seasons after putting the TGIF brand to rest following Boy Meets World's cancellation.

Viewers eventually waned, but it's hard to deny the charm of seven seasons of Melissa Joan Hart.
Everybody Loves Raymond

Lifespan: 210 Episodes

It would seem, in fact, that everybody did love Raymond, if not at first.

The show debuted to low ratings in its initial Friday timeslot, but found salvation in Bill Cosby (because who hasn't?) as he requested the show be moved to Mondays as a lead-in for his own, enjoying mammoth success for its nine seasons and resulting syndication.

Lifespan: 53 Episodes and counting

Initially debuting on Tuesday, this quirky comedy about the sheriff of a town goverened by the advances of science and technology has gone on to become one of the Sci-Fi channel's most watched and critically acclaimed shows, moving its time to Fridays in the third season and continuing its brand of humor into a fourth to date.

The Brady Bunch

Lifespan: 117 Episodes

Believe it or not, The Brady Bunch never found much critical or commercial success in its five-year run, yet still survived in the Friday slot long enough to make a huge cultural impression.

More impressive still, The Bradys went on to grow in re-runs and syndications into the palpable, if campy franchise we remember today.

Family Matters

Lifespan: 215 Episodes

Despite how increasingly ridiculous plotlines became as Steve Urkel grew to dominate the series, the show found incredible success as a member of ABC's Friday TGIF lineup.

CBS eventually bought the show for its final season as a plan to revive ratings with their "Friday Night Block Party," but to little avail.


Lifespan: 210 Episodes (217 by the finale)

Smallville's impressive lifespan rivals that of Superman himself, as floundering ratings toward the seventh and eighth seasons saw the shift to Friday nights.

Since the move, however, the series began to pick up steam with the addition of notable DC characters and guest stars, eventually granted enough life to sustain a ninth, and tenth season, given a graceful exit and transition into the Superman mythos.
Doctor Who

Lifespan: From 1963, and still going!

Despite its cult status and extensive history, Doctor Who didn't really get going stateside until the Sci-Fi channel picked up the revival featuring the grittier 9th doctor in 2006.

Since then, the good Doctor has continued to find successful ratings (as do many of Sci-Fi's friday lineup) and a much stronger American following continued through the 10th, and 11th Doctors.

The Six Million-Dollar Man

Lifespan: 99 Episodes, with 6 TV movies

Adapted from the original Martin Caidin covel Cyborg, The Six Million Dollar Man debuted with three TV movies before finally finding re-animation in his own Friday-debuting series, which went on to incredible success over five seasons, while Hollywood continues to salivate with remake intentions to the day.

Las Vegas

Lifespan: 106 Episodes

Initially airing on Mondays, NBC successfully maneuvered Las Vegas into a Friday slot midway through its third season. The show made it to a fifth based mostly on its strong fanbase, extensive celebrity guest stars, and the network's previous tendency to re-air episodes on Friday anyway.

Boy Meets World

Lifespan: 158 Episodes

The lynchpin of ABC's TGIF (Thank Goodness It's Friday) lineup from 1993-2000, the show proved one of the rare subversions to the wasteland of Friday television and brought forth the network's unprecedented popularity at a time of struggle.

So too when the show ended in 2000, did ABC retire the TGIF block. We'll miss you, Mr. Feeny.

Stargate: SG-1

Lifespan: 214 Episodes

Boy, the shows that can quietly coast by on the Sci-Fi channel without you ever realizing it.

Few might remember that Stargate SG-1 ran for its first five seasons on Showtime with a Sunday timeslot, before the network realized they couldn't bring new viewers with the show in syndication and Sci-Fi picked up the rights. Initially positioned before Farscape, the series went on to universal success with the network's Friday lineup (aided by previous reruns on Monday), and continued almost to the point of an eleventh season.

Even then, reunions and additional films continue to languish in possibility.
WWE Friday Night Smackdown

Lifespan: 601 Episodes and Counting!

Smackdown initially debuted on Thursdays against WCW Thunder, but found a much larger following after the move to Friday nights and the CW, from UPN, moreso than most of the sitcoms aired!

2008 saw a fall from The CW to MyNetwork TV, eventually landing on SyFy. Still, SyFy exists under NBC, and thus Smackdown finds itself advertised and available on USA as well!

The Incredible Hulk

Lifespan: 82 Episodes

Beginning a long trend of CBS's success with Friday night programming, The Incredible Hulk found strong ratings as a lead in for both The Dukes of Hazzard and Dallas, and continued beyond its fifth season with several TV movies.


Friday Night Lights

Lifespan: 76 Episodes

Clearly, we must put Friday Night Lights on Friday nights! It writes itself, death slot or no!

Friday Night Lights never sustained the highest of ratings during its run despite critical acclaim, though the move to Friday made for a gimmicky sort of sense that kept viewer interest up long enough to run through five seasons.

Interestingly, one could chalk up low Friday ratings to its audience actually being out supporting their school's Friday football.

The Dukes of Hazzard

Lifespan: 145 Episodes

Running (driving?) from 1979 to 1985, the good old boys had themselves a huge hit with CBS' friday night lineup, taking the timeslot just before Dallas.

We continue to remember the Dukes today, whether through servicable remakes, reunion specials, or just a good old fashioned pair of short shorts.


Lifespan: 357 Episodes

Dallas initially began its run on Saturdays before eventually making its way into a Sunday timeslot, and finally settling on Fridays, if alternating between 9 and 10.

Still, with the notorious popularity and length of soap operas, CBS had little trouble keeping Dallas in dirty business on Fridays, and lord knows the upcoming re-make will fare if given the same slot.

The X-Files

Lifespan: 202 Episodes

Please, can you think of any better to break the stigma associated with Friday nights? The X-Files provided a shining beacon of hope for Friday night (particularly with Fox), as TV Guide described that members of the younger demographic would often watch the show prior to heading out (though this had the downturn of killing most shows paired with it.)

Eventually The X-Files moved to Sunday, and...well...we all know what happened after that.
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