When a show swaps networks, the results can be Something So Right — or so wrong
It used to be a relative rarity when a series switched networks in midstream. In 1982, NBC picked up ABC’s Emmy-winning Taxi for its Thursday-night lineup, then canceled it after a single season due to low ratings (remember, this was in the B.C. era — Before Cosby).
Now shows jump networks almost as quickly as viewers flip channels. The latest refugee: Something So Right. How will the former NBC sitcom fare in its new home? To find out, let’s look at some recent network-transplant test cases:
The Jeff Foxworthy Show & The Naked Truth Started on: ABC Switched to: NBC Rationale: After snatching up 3rd Rock From the Sun from ABC (which had passed on the pilot), the Peacock hoped to add insult to injury by plucking more treasures out of the Alphabet’s trash. Outcome: Not a lotta laughs. Urban-oriented NBC proved unable to attract Foxworthy’s down-home demographic, and his show was axed after one season. Meanwhile, Tea Leoni’s tabloid shenanigans became even less amusing after Princess Di’s death. Fighting fruitlessly for attention amid the network’s 78 other single-gal-in-the-city sitcoms, Truth may soon be sacrificed.
JAG Started on: NBC Switched to: CBS Rationale: The military adventure looked like it’d be a better fit on the red-white-and-blue ”Welcome Home” team than it ever was on NBC, which specializes in gritty inner-city dramas like ER, Law & Order, and Homicide: Life on the Street. Outcome: Not a direct hit, but not a total bomb, either. The series is holding the line, ranking an okay 46th this season.
Sister, Sister & In the House Started on: ABC and NBC Switched to: The WB and UPN Rationale: Marginally successful on the major networks, these African-American teencoms dovetailed perfectly with the netlets’ strategy of targeting the urban-youth niche. Outcome: A win-win situation. The WB and UPN got programs with instant name recognition, and Sister and House got longer leases on life than they ever would’ve enjoyed on their original networks. Sadly, the same can’t be said for Joey Lawrence’s Brotherly Love, which was quickly canned by both NBC and The WB.
Family Matters & Step By Step Started on: ABC Switched to: CBS Rationale: Senior citizen magnet CBS wanted to draw a few whippersnappers with these two long-in-the-tooth kidcoms, which had been solid performers on ABC’s ”TGIF” slate. Outcome: Uglier than Urkel in drag. The shows’ ratings collapsed, and CBS’ Friday-night ”Block Party” was quickly broken up. Don’t expect to see either series back for next season (good thing Step’s Suzanne Somers still has her ThighMaster commercials to fall back on).
Something So Right Started on: NBC Switched to: ABC Rationale: Advertised as NBC’s first ”Must See family comedy,” Mel Harris’ and Jere Burns’ dysfunctional farce wasn’t hip enough for the Seinfeld/Friends/Frasier crowd, but it could fill a gap in ABC’s limp Tuesday lineup. Outlook: With Grace Under Fire’s burnout and Home Improvement’s deterioration, the net could use a fresh, family-friendly sitcom. Too bad Something is so stale. It’s a one-joke show, and that joke’s not very funny: Harris’ and Burns’ various ex-spouses keep reappearing, creating confusion and conflict among the couple’s three kids. The Brady Bunch proved a blended family can make a fine premise for a sitcom, but at least Mike and Carol Brady had the good sense to be widowed.