Sunday, July 22, 2007

Rant: Tuesdays at 10pm

This is my plea to CBS to stop murdering innocent new shows by putting them in the Tuesday 10pm timeslot. FOX and the CW do not air series at 10pm. ABC has "Boston Legal," which is a solid ratings and critical success. NBC has one of its strongest shows, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." And CBS had "Judging Amy" in the timeslot till its end in spring 2005. Since then, CBS has effectively killed no less than five shows that have aired in the timeslot. Amid rumors that the highly ratings-successful "Shark" would take over the slot this fall, the network has decided to air its new, promising Jimmy Smits-led drama "Cane" in the slot, sure to meet its demise soon. In the hopes of preventing another series murder, below is a brief discussion of and tribute to the shows that have fallen.

During the 2005-2006 season, three series aired at 10pm on Tuesdays on CBS. "Close to Home" was a moderately successful crime drama, quickly transplanted to Fridays at 9pm, snuggled between "Ghost Whisperer" and "Numb3rs." All seemed to be good and well until the series was axed yesterday. "Threshold", which had occupied the Friday 9pm slot before swapping with "Close to Home," was by far the best of the three science fiction offerings last year (the other two were the solid "Invasion" and the dismal "Surface"). I personally thought it was the best new network television show, daringly original with a fantastic cast, including Carla Gugino (appearing this season on "Entourage") and Peter Dinklage (from the film "The Station Agent"). "Close to Home" was evacuated for ratings reasons, and "Threshold" lasted only a week after being effectively sent to die on Tuesday nights (this excellent show is available on DVD in a complete series, 13-episode set). By the spring, CBS was ready to air another short-lived, great show. "Love Monkey", starring Tom Cavanaugh ("Ed"), was a light dramedy about the music business, complete with a real-live up-and-coming young artist, playing a version of himself (the song "For You I Will" was often played). The cast included Jason Priestley ("Beverly Hills 90210") and the always-fabulous Judy Greer (who just got a new show, "Miss/Guided", premiering midseason on ABC). The show lasted a mere three or four episodes before being sent to VHI, where it lived out the final episodes of its brief first season.

This past season, CBS premiered another show in the slot. "Smith", a heist drama starring Ray Liotta, received poor advance buzz. I personally thought the pilot was fantastic, and the remaining episodes were a bit far-fetched but fun. The show lasted a pitiful three episodes, becoming one of the first shows to be axed. After this additional failure, one would think that CBS would get with the program and move one of the successful "CSI" spin-offs or "Without a Trace" to take over the Tuesday 10pm slot. Instead, the poorly-conceived "House"-like Stanley Tucci medical show "3 LBS" premiered in November, becoming the first midseason show premiere. And just like that, after three episodes, the series was pulled from the air and promptly cancelled. Has CBS learned nothing? This "Cane" show could be good, but my bet is that it lasts no more than five episodes.

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