Moving Bones to Thursday nights was not a good idea
Here's why: it now languishes on my DVR for days afterward. When it aired on Wednesday nights I would either watch it live or immediately after I put the kids to bed. It was appointment television for both my wife and me; something that we could get together for after a day of work and children and basic mayhem.
Now that FOX switched the show to Thursdays it doesn't have the same importance as it once did. Instead it gets superseded by the other "Must See" shows of the evening. Because there's so much to see that night the DVR gets loaded up with those shows as well, pushing Bones lower in the queue. Then Friday comes around and we watch the other shows, plus that night's entries. With Saturday and Sunday being so busy with life in general I don't get enough time to clear out the DVR queue. By the time the next new episode of Bones airs my wife and I haven't even watched the previous week's episode.
This does not bode well for Bones in the current television environment, especially since I'm probably not the only one who is doing this. It's not that the show has changed significantly this season. It's more like a psychological shift has taken place in my mind that realigns its importance to me down a few notches. it's the same thing with ABC's Life on Mars. When it was on Thursday nights it interested me more, despite the fact it was on the same time as ER. Now that it has been moved to its current Wednesday night slot I just can't seem to get involved. Because of that it also holds a number of slots in the DVR queue.
This is all due to the archaic 22-episode season that the legacy networks still utilize. Rather than breaking shows like Bones and Life on Mars into two shorter, separate seasons spaced further apart, network executives push and pull them around the schedule to make room for rating and fan behemoths like Lost and American Idol. By doing this the networks are actually diluting these properties rather than pumping them up.
Breaking up shows like Bones into smaller parcels is a benefit not only for the network that airs it but for the fans as well. Say Bones aired from September to December on Wednesday, then took the entire first half of the new year off so American Idol could fill the network's revenue pools. This would leave an entire summer for another, shorter season of the show. In addition, other scripted fare could be added to the schedule without irking fans.
Oh, you say that the viewers aren't there for summer programming? Tell that to creators of shows like Psych, Monk and The Closer, who thrive during the later summer months then come back in the winter for a new batch of episodes. This type of formula has worked swimmingly for a number of cable networks and kept them competitive during the summer season when the other networks air nothing but reality fare. Question is, why are the cable networks so good at doing this when the legacy networks aren't motivated to do this?
With new season Upfronts right around the corner FOX should really consider how it wants to air its successful scripted shows once American Idol rears its ugly head in 2010. Should it continue with the half-hearted, schedule changing practice it has used over the last few seasons, or should it really go for a bold approach, shorten the show's seasons, and really give viewers a year-round opportunity to watch original programming? I'd be interested in your input.