TNT putting together a network-killing summer schedule
by Jason Hughes, posted Apr 30th 2009 9:30AM
When the networks go into summer hibernation, it's time for the cable networks to come out and play. While they've been making inroads with fall and spring original programming, most cable networks stick to the summer frame where competition is light and they put up huge numbers that NBC would envy. TNT added a few shows to achieve a three-night schedule of original programming this summer, bringing it closer and closer to full network programming levels. And TNT knows a thing or two about massive ratings hits.
They're coupling smash hit The Closer at 9 PM ET with Raising the Bar at 10 on Mondays starting June 8. Bar launched huge and secured a renewal before everyone realized what a huge steaming pile of crap it was. So now it's got the cushiest timeslot on the network to try and win back all the viewers it pissed away. Let's hope they've improved the product and Felicityed Mark Paul-Gosselaar's hair.
Kicking off Tuesday, June 16, Saving Grace will now be leading into the new Hawthorne, starring Jada Pinkett Smith as a single mom and director of nursing at a hospital. That makes TNT the home for three strong shows featuring women leads. Isn't Lifetime jealous? They probably have something in the works for Tyne Daley and Judith Light as battered women who become a cop and a lawyer, respectively, to take down the men who would victimize women. There's your million dollar idea, Lifetime, free of charge!
I'm most stoked about the return of one of my favorite new shows of the past year on Wednesday, July 16, Leverage. It's being coupled with another new drama, this one an undercover cop series titled Dark Blue. It's set in LA because on television you have the East Coast, and then if you drive an hour or two west, you hit the West Coast. There really isn't anything of any worth between them. If it has half the energy and fun of Leverage, it should make for a very entertaining hour of television.
Considering that The Closer has seen upwards of ten million viewers for it's 2007 finale, and still achieves greater than 7 mil for its latest season, I'd say that TNT is totally ready to take on the big boys. It really makes me wonder about the budgets of cable shows versus network shows when you have a show like this that's getting bigger numbers than a lot of network fare. Does the model change?
If I've got a show to shop around, I might almost rather have it on TNT than NBC at this point. It'll get more attention and love, it'll air more than once a week and it will stand a far higher chance of getting renewed, because cable networks are notoriously more patient than their broadcast brethren *cough*FOX*cough*. There's no reason a show like Reaper or Eli Stone couldn't be done on cable. And there's no reason that there should be so much less money on cable anymore for original programming. Not when they can rival the big boys.