2003-04 Sitcom Scorecard -- New Lows For ABC; Another Year in 1st for NBC as They Only Spare 2 Sitcom

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Written Cuing the Sitcom Violins by Bridger Cunningham

Before delving into the results of this TV season, please note TV Ratings Guide recovers its figures from various sources cited from the internet.  Data may be contradicting as several websites, including Wikipedia.org, cite ratings points or overall viewers vs. the 18-49 demographics valued in 2017.  This site makes an effort to compile contiguous ratings information so readers may follow historic shows from one year to another.  Errors will happen, and this site is not immune to such.

2003-04 was unkind to sitcoms, as a proliferation of reality TV platforms only left 4 spaces for laughers in the top 20.  NBC took the lead in overall ranks as well as sitcoms, yet 2004 marked a bittersweet year as only Will and Grace and Scrubs returned the following season, which NBC was plunged into a 7-year ratings drought.  CBS, still sturdy with Monday sitcoms, came in 2nd.  FOX again took 3rd, while a devastated ABC was inches away in 4th.  Down below, UPN was 5th, and WB 6th.

53 entries of sitcoms traipsed the TV landscape, though this season did not value laughs.  NBC was perched in 1st place, but it ended 6 of its 8 entries, ending a 20-year trend of producing a large stable of top-notch sitcoms.  Friends ended its 10-year run on top, becoming one of the rare sitcoms which stayed in the top 10 for a long duration.  Next to go was Frasier after 11 seasons.  This cancellation ended a 22-year era, as Frasier was a spinoff from Cheers, and Kelsey Grammer was a 20-year staple on both shows.  Only Coupling (an American interpretation of the British hit) stood out among the forgettable block of sitcoms which were dispensed and moved for Donald Trump's The Apprentice.  2004 marked the first time since 1983 which 4 sitcoms did not straddle the Thursday evening schedule.

CBS fostered its Monday comedy which had moderate success with ever-sturdy (and aging) Everybody Loves Raymond, but its biggest victory was launching Charlie Sheen vehicle Two and a Half Men.  The crude laughs era dawned, as this show would enter a rare club of successful sitcoms which enjoyed high-rated runs 10+ seasons.  FOX Sundays continued strong as King of the Hill, The Simpsons and Malcolm in the Middle delivered at a high bar.  That 70's show held well on Wednesdays, but several weakened sitcom blocks perished on the schedule and were filled with (faux)scripted reality TV platforms.  Why craft a low-rated sitcom production when a network could round up a group of forward people displaying poor mating behavior for cheap(er)?

After sliding the last season, ABC made a noble attempt at displaying a mass of sitcoms, as well as reviving the TGIF block.  Problem is, they had no breakout hits.  The network believed Kelly Ripa, while all the rage of the 2000's, could somehow give them their next hit.  Too bad Hope & Faith fell into the forgettable pile.  Speaking of forgotten, notice Drew Carey is nowhere to be found on this colored chart?  That is because after a poorly-rated 8th season, ABC burned Drew Carey off in the summer and ended it unceremoniously.

And WB and UPN?  Can many recall the shows mentioned in this chart?

Source: http://www.angelfire.com/tv/JustTV/tvreview0304finalviewers2.html

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