1991-92 Sitcom Scorecard -- Mid-80's Sitcoms Meet Their Ends, Thursdays and Saturdays Weakened

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Written Working on Home Improvement by Bridger Cunningham

The Mid-80's era was coming to an end, as NBC and ABC cleared out five longstanding shows which frequented the top 10 range.  If a show debuted between the 1984 and 1985, it either ended In the wake of the political climate being controversial, CBS' Murphy Brown pushed its way toward the top with the entire Monday lineup ranking 15th or higher.  FOX also experienced renewed interest in The Simpsons and Married... With Children experienced surges due to Cosby's decline and another controversy putting Married... With Children in the headlines.

Politics are messy, and CBS' incorporation of the George HW Bush and Bill Clinton election helped it reclaim 1st place for the first time since the 1984-85 season.  Poetically the same season The Cosby Show led to the Tiffany Network being dethroned.  The same finale season which Cosby fell out of the top 10, Murphy Brown became the name everyone knew, as Vice President made a speech denouncing the series as the principle became pregnant out of wedlock this season.  Writers utilized the ill-advised statement and watched the series drive into 3rd Place.  Also, Designing Women went through much-publicized cast changes, trading out Delta Burke and Jean Smart in favor of Newhart alum Julia Duffy and SNL genius Jan Hooks.

ABC Tuesdays again were red-hot as a renewed interest in Roseanne, mainly due to plot developments mirroring the country's recession.  The network stood in 2nd place, again, yet had plenty of Nielsen power with its sitcom arena.  Outside of political undertones, Full House left the TGIF block for Tuesdays at 8pm, reaching its zenith in 8th Place.  It led into powered-up freshman sitcom Home Improvement, which landed in 6th Place.  And Coach enjoyed Roseanne as its lead-in, reaching its record high in 5th Place.

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Wednesdays delivered weaker results as Doogie Howser and Wonder Years aged.  TGIF sensation Dinosaurs rated soft, and the remaining timeslot housed by poorly scheduled Anything But Love led to its cancellation as it only amassed 56 episodes in 4 seasons.  Friday fortunes remained mixed, as Family Matters now led the TGIF block.  It's follow-up was the successful Step by Step, featuring Dallas' Patrick Duffy and Three's Company's Suzanne Somers as newlyweds blending two hostile families together.  Perfect Strangers began to age, so ABC mixed its scheduling between Fridays and Saturdays, damaging its Nielsen performance.  And Baby Talk, a poorly-reviewed sitcom based on Look Who's Talking, met its end in spite of several hyped cast changes.

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During this season, ABC devised a TGIF knockoff called "I Luv Saturday Nights."  This evening, however, provided a dumping ground for aging shows such as Who's the Boss, Growing Pains and Perfect Strangers.  The first two met their ends at the conclusion of the season, falling out of the top 25 for the first time ever.  Only Perfect Strangers received a summer sendoff in 1993.

NBC's fortunes dropped them back to 3rd place for the first time since early 1984, as Must See TV's fares weakened.  Cosby ended its 8-year run, and spinoff A Different World began to experience erosion.  Cheers concluded its 10th season in 4th place, as Ted Danson declared the next season would be his last.  And Wings rode the current and finished in 18th Place.  Saturday prominence became a passing trend, as Golden Girls finished its last season failing to crack the top 20, along with its spinoff, Empty Nest.  Freshman series The Torkelsons and Nurses provided modest or struggling ratings, and the evening declined.

Elsewhere, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Blossom succeeded on Mondays.  Night Court, relegated to Wednesdays, was cancelled after 9 seasons.  Incidentally, its then-unknown neighbor, Seinfeld, earned a stay of cancellation and ranked 41st.  NBC's golden era bronzed, but FOX experienced more attention.  Not because of a foul-mouthed child on The Simpsons.  But rather, another controversy circled Married... With Children.  No, Al Bundy didn't get caught in another adult boutique, but rather had an accident, resulting in a pregnant Peggy.  Outside the set, Katey Sagal became pregnant, and the writers wrote the twist into the show, making her pregnant right along side Marcy (Amanda Bearse).  Tragically, Sagal miscarried in real-life, leaving writers to scramble and undo the twist out of sensitivity to the actress.  The entire twist was rewritten as a dream, and the press heavily covered the development.

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The tragedy pushed MWC into the top-30, as well as bolster surrounding Freshman Sitcoms Herman's Head and Roc.  Simpsons held up well, yet its follow-up, Drexel's Class, was expelled after failing to capitalize on plum placement between The Simpsons and Beverly Hills, 90210.  Indeed, the mid-80's era had come and gone, and folks were seeking shows with grit and reality.

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