Once the premier night for advertisers to shill their high-profile products and the weekend's movies, fewer and fewer people are turning on their TVs on Thursday nights. During the first four weeks of the fall television season, only 48.5 million people have tuned in on Thursdays -- 2.2 million people and 4.3 percent fewer than last year, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Among the coveted 18- to 49-year-old demographic, Thursday is the fifth-most-watched night of television every week -- a far cry from the 1990s "Must-See TV" heyday.
It seems that the network has gotten a little bored of having the occasional 40 minute episode of their Thursday night lineup (My Name Is Earl, The Office, Scrubs, and 30 Rock). It's been going on for 10 years now (it started with Friends), but NBC President of Program Planning Vince Manze says that it's not novel anymore and "I don't think anyone here thinks, at this point, super-sizing often is good for the shows. We're going to do our best to not have to do it next year."
The network is, however, going forward with plans to air several hour-long eps of The Office this fall. If that's successful, maybe they'll try it with other shows?
The first one was when we saw The Office's Kevin going nuts over the Staples MailMate shredder. "This shreds eveything," he says with a sense of childlike wonder. "It shreds CDs. It shreds credit cards..." The look on his face after he realized he shredded his own credit card is priceless, as was the salad he made with the shredder right before the credits. Oh, and by the way, Staples had an ad for the MailMate during the "supersized" episode.
When NBC announced their new Thursday night schedule, a lot of people (including NBC) started to say that this was "Must-See TV" all over again. And not only does Newsday's Verne Gay agree, he thinks that the new schedule is better than the old one.
What do you think? There were many different "Must-See" Thursday night schedules on NBC over the years, so we could pick and choose. Some had Frasier, some had Wings, some had Mad About You. But let's make it an even 10 years ago. The 1996 "Must-See" Thursday night schedule was Friends at 8, The Single Guy at 8:30, Seinfeld at 9, Suddenly Susan at 9:30, and ER at 10. The schedule now is My Name Is Earl at 8, The Office at 8:30, Scrubs at 9, 30 Rock at 9:30, and ER at 10.
This may get confusing, so stick with me here.
November 8 is the last time you'll see Twenty Good Years on NBC for a while. Maybe even forever. As part of their major restructuring plan, where 30 Rock and Scrubs will join My Name Is Earl and The Office on Thursday night for a new "Must-See" comedy night, Twenty Good Years is being taken off the schedule. After the super-sized episodes on November 16, NBC will show a special two-hour Deal Or No Deal on Thanksgiving night. Then, when the shows come back on November 30, the new Thursday lineup will be in place. On November 22, NBC will start airing specials in the old Twenty Good Years/30 Rock hour.
Got that? Good.
As for Twenty Good Years coming back, there's no word on that yet. It could come back, but it won't be til mid-season at the earliest, and even then I predict that if it does come back it will be just to burn off any remaining episodes. The show is toast.
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