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October 13, 2015

Things I Hate About TV: On Saturdays, there's nothing on

by Joel Keller, posted Nov 4th 2005 11:31PM
Love Boat used to be on on Saturday!During the early Seventies, CBS had a Murderer's Row of comedies that were on back-to-back during a particular night of the week.  It started with All in the Family, then segued into M*A*S*H, followed by the unstoppable combo of Mary Tyler Moore and The Bob Newhart Show.  Finally, the night wrapped up with The Carol Burnett Show. Sounds like it was a pretty funny night, right?  One that you wouldn't want to miss (remember, we're talking about the era before VCRs, much les TiVOs)? Take a quick guess what day of the week it was. Thursday, right? Thursday's usually a big TV night. Maybe it was Tuesday or Sunday.

 Wrong on all counts.  That knockout schedule, my friends, was on CBS each and every Saturday night during the 1973-74 season.  There was a time when Saturdays were the biggest night of the week, TV-wise. People were having kids at a younger age. More families stayed home. HBO was barely a year old, and not many people had cable. The networks took advantage of that and programmed their best shows on Saturdays. If it wasn't the CBS combo in the early Seventies, then it was the ABC combo of The Love Boat and Fantasy Island in the late Seventies, or NBC's Golden Girls in the Eighties. But Saturday was the big day.

Now? You're lucky if you see a rerun of CSI. Or a bad TV movie. At some point over the last couple of years, the networks completely gave up on providing original programming on Saturday nights. Maybe it's because people go out more now than they did then (people between the ages 18-34 have a lot more money these days), or it could be because even those who don't go out rent DVDs or play video games. But the audience isn't completely to blame. The original shows that the networks have put on Saturdays have been lame at best. So did the audience leave because the shows were bad, or did the shows go bad because the audience left? Hard to say.

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Who needs to worry about it? Isn't that what the PVR revolution is for? Saturday is a great time to catch up on the shows you never had a chance to watch during the week or some of those movies you Tivo'ed during the week. Watching live TV is for suckers.

November 07 2005 at 10:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brian Haugen

Saturday night was great in 1973-74 by accident, not design. Saturday nights have almost always had the lowest ad revenues, the lowest number in the audience, and the oldest, poorest, and most rural audience. Often the shows that succeeded on Saturday night were the riskiest shows, or shows that appealed to these audiences. On the Media, an NPR show and podcast, did a segment called "The Darkest Night" on this phenomenon on their October 21st show of this year. http://www.onthemedia.org/otm102105.html

November 06 2005 at 12:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Whoa - Twilight Zone music - I woke up this morning thinking about Saturday nights in college when I opened my apartment door, as did the people across from me, and we jointly fixed dinner while we watched great television. Sure, we didn't have dates, but who cared? We laughed out loud. Dates never made us laugh like Howard did when he rushed into Bob & Emily's apartment to help them hold up the wall. (If you get the reference, you're as old as I am.) Besides, Mary didn't have a date, either.

November 05 2005 at 12:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is not just Saturday night. where are all the Saturday morning cartoons? No matter what you like when I was younger, one of the networks was showing it. Supergeroes, Smurfs, Transformers for a while, Scooby Doo--whatever. It was from 7 AM until noon. now there isn't much of anything. Have networks just written off Saturday altogether?

November 05 2005 at 12:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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