Sunday, July 8, 2012

Vampires fear garlic, crosses ... and irony

"Somebody should have told the NBC executives who jerked around Dear John, Night Court and Quantum Leap that you never mess around with something that works," Adolfo Flores, Jr wrote in an entertainment column in 1991 for the Del Rio Herald. While his lede could double as a warning for Tim Burton, Flores was actually talking about NBC's habit of losing viewers by shuffling its programming. While the bulk of the piece was devoted to shows like Night Court and Quantum Leap, the Dark Shadows "revival" was also mentioned. Flores was hopeful that the initial mini-series would get picked up for a season, but he couldn't have known the show would later fall victim to scheduling problems ... thanks to the first Gulf War.

NBC learns lesson in scheduling with shows
Del Rio Herald, March 10, 1991

Somebody should have told the NBC executives who jerked around Dear John, Night Court and Quantum Leap that you never mess around with something that works.

After earning week after week victories with its super Wednesday lineup, somebody at NBC had the brilliant idea of splitting up the successful two-hour package and placing each of the shows in completely different

NBC's move was probably made in an effort to help out another night's dying lineup, like Friday night where ABC clearly knocks out NBC with its strong lineup of Full House, Family Matters and Perfect Strangers. By shifting around its Wednesday monster lineup it not only messed up two of their championship primetime hour blocks, but it left the three shows in a position of being cancelled by placing it in an unfamiliar time slot and losing its audience along the way.

Whenever a major network manages to earn a winning schedule like NBC had on Wednesdays, the last  thing you should do is change it. At least the network has been smart enough to leave its strong Thursday
lineup of Cosby, Different World and the most popular show of 1990 Cheers untouched. L.A. Law also benefited from the consistent wins the night would earn for the network.

Although Night Court originated on Thursdays after Cheers, it still did well as a lead-in to Dear John, which  can't be said for Grand, the short-lived sitcom that confused ABC's powerful schedule and has since been replaced by Wings. NBC's other successful night, Saturday, with the strong combination of Amen, Golden Girls and Empty Nest, has been left alone and should keep providing the same results.

Whether NBC will win back the popularity it had on Wednesdays, now that it has rejuggled its schedule with the old lineup back in place, remains to be seen.

Back to Collinswood
It's great to see old Barnabas Collins back in his role as the night stalker of the New England village of Collinswood. His face is different, but he's wearing the same winning fangs that made him a big heartthrob in the 60's afternoon soap opera, I can still remember rushing home from school to catch each day's installment of the 30-rninute saga of the Collins family and their 200-year-old cousin Barnabas, who is doomed to a life of a vampire, sleeping during the day and rising for dinner at nights.

Ben Cross' Barnabas is a fine recreation of the 60's cult figure. He gives the character charm and a sensitivity that should be winning audiences in its Friday 9 p.m. time slot. The cast has been very supportive in making the new Dark Shadows a strong prospect for renewal in the fall. Tune in Friday and see for yourself. You'll get yourself a hickey you won't ever forget.

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