Saturday, April 30, 2011

"Aqua Teen" changes name, format

Can a sequel work with an existing cast of a TV show? Adult Swim is gambling it could.

On Wednesday, Adult Swim and the producers of Aqua Teen Hunger Force announced the veteran series is undergoing both a format and a name change. When the series returns to the lineup on May 8, Hunger Force will now be known as Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1 and the three principals on the show - Master Shake, Frylock, and Meatwad - will become detectives (Carl is also expected to come along for the ride - I guess he just loves being annoyed by them.)

With the format and title change, Aqua Teen Hunger Force has ended (though unofficially), and thus becomes a sequel or a continuation of the original series.

The detective plot was actually an original premise of the series and was even pitched to Cartoon Network executives in that manner. But the premise was dropped three episodes into its run, and the eleven-minute series became more Seinfeld-like - a show about "nothing"... or to put it more precise, the characters hang out in a New Jersey rental and stuff "happens".

Aqua Unit
will have a new theme song performed by Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme and a new setting (maybe) - Seattle, home of Fraiser Crane.

Aqua Teen began on Adult Swim on December 30, 2000 and is the network's longest-running show. In 2007, the series made it to the big screen with The Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters - three months before The Simpsons Movie opened worldwide. A promotion for the movie went awry in Boston as officials mistook Lite Brite LED signs featuring one of the show's characters as incendiary devices.

While you can't fault Adult Swim for freshening up a series has been on the air for over a decade, the sequel does carry a significant risk -  the potential of alienating the series' longtime fans if they find the changes too radical.

The last time a sequel in this manner succeeded was in 1979, when All in the Family converted into Archie Bunker's Place. During this time, the basis of the series shifted from the Bunker household to Archie Bunker's bar and the series underwent numerous changes during the duration of the series' run, including the departure of series' regular Jean Stapleton midway through the first season - necessitating in writing out her Edith Bunker character (through the second-season opening episode Archie Alone in 1980.)

Bunker was a surprise success in its Sunday night 7 p.m. (CT) time slot in the fall of 1979 and beat hot ABC sitcom Mork & Mindy, which aired on Thursday nights a season earlier. Bunker ran on CBS for four seasons.

In 1968, Andy Griffith and Ron Howard exited CBS' top-rated The Andy Griffith Show. But much of the cast was retained, and with the addition of Ken Berry, Andy Griffith became Mayberry R.F.D. Regularly placing in the top twenty, the series ran until 1971, when CBS dumped practically all of its rural-themed shows.

On the other hand, other sequels or continuations failed to click with viewers: After M*A*S*H concluded in 1983, CBS decided to air a sequel to the series simply named AfterMASH. While it did finish as a top ten show during the 1983-84 season (airing in the Monday night time slot M*A*S*H held for years), a new night and a time period switch the following season proved disastrous, and the series was canceled in December 1984.

Even less successful was The Sanford Arms, a continuation of the NBC hit series Sanford and Son, which ended its run in 1977. The sitcom was destined to fail without Redd Foxx and Desmond Wilson, and Arms was an early casualty of the 1977-78 season. Foxx did return in yet another sequel, Sanford on the same network in 1980. It lasted longer than Arms did - ten months.

In 1986, syndicator D.L. Taffner Ltd. decided to revamp syndicated first-run sitcom Too Close For Comfort into The Ted Knight Show, but the star died shortly after production of the show's first and only season was completed. 

While this series didn't change its name, the format did: Gimme A Break received a complete cast overhaul at the start of its sixth season (retaining only Nell Carter, Telma Hopkins and Joey Lawrence), with a new New York City locale. After being moved around the schedule a few times, Gimme A Break was canceled by NBC in May 1987.

Will fans of the Aqua Teens follow them to the Emerald City on their new adventure? Only time will tell. But history is not on their side. In other words, Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1 may not be "#1 in the hood, G!"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

CSN Chicago, Philadelphia set records

Despite tougher competition from the broadcast networks Tuesday night, Comcast SportsNet dominated the ratings in prime-time thanks to Game 5 of the Chicago Bulls-Indiana Pacers series and a deciding Game 7 of the Chicago Blackhawks-Vancouver Canucks tilt.

Comcast SportsNet scored a 8.4 household household rating and a 6.8 ratings in the 25-54 demo from 5:30 P.m. to 1:30 a.m., topping all local stations and cable networks in the Chicago area. Overall for the evening - including a Chicago White Sox-New York Yankees airing on CSN+ (CLTV in most areas) and also a CSN spillover channel - delivered a cume household rating of 25.62 - setting another all-time viewership record for the regional sports network (RSN), which was only achieved Thursday night with a 25.30.

- Game 5 of the Bulls-Pacers series averaged a 10.9 household (HH) rating for CSN, down from the 13.7 HH rating Game 3 did last Thrsday night, likely due to the result Game 5 was carried by both CSN and TNT, where as Game 3 was carried by CSN and NBA TV, whose distribution is limited. The game peaked at a 14.2 HH rating at 9:30 p.m.

Despite going up against a new episode of Glee, the Dancing With The Stars results show, and the much-hyped premiere of NBC's new reality/competition series The Voice, CSN was the top-rated network in the Chicago market in households, and adults 25-54. Nationally, The Voice scored big, drawing a 5.1 rating among adults 18-49 and 11.7 million viewers.

- Game 7 of the Blackhawks-Canucks series averaged a 13.3 household rating from 9 to about 12:15 a.m., with a peak of 18.4 at 9:45 p.m., making this the highest-rated Blackhawks telecast in CSN's history. CSN finished first in households and in every major demo during the telecast, including a 11.7 rating in the adults 25-54 demo. CSN beat every local station at 10 p.m. including the O&O's newscasts with a 15.5 household rating.

In Canada, the Blackhawks-Canucks game drew 3.8 million viewers for CBC - the highest viewer total for any first-round playoff game since Toronto Maple Leafs-Ottawa Senators in 2004.

Both series closed out with dramatically different results - the Bulls beat the Pacers to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinal round; the Blackhawks were eliminated by Vancouver after losing 2-1 in overtime.

Basketball and hockey are done at Comcast SportsNet for the season: The Bulls next series is exclusive to the NBA's national television partners at ESPN/ABC and Turner sports, but CSN will continue to air post-game shows after every playoff game. If the Blackwaks make it past the first round next season, all games there afterward will be handled by the league's national television partners, NBC and Versus. Comcast SportsNet, NBC and Versus are all under the same Comcast corporate umbrella.

Record ratings for CSN Philadelphia as well

Comcast's RSN in Chicago isn't the only one breaking records: its Philadelphia sister station is also racking up impressive numbers with Flyers games.

The decisive Game 7 between the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers was the highest-rated Flyer telecast in the history of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, drawing a 12.6 household rating in the Philadelphia market - despite facing tough prime-time competition on the broadcast networks - and peaking at a 14.7 rating at 9:45 p.m. (ET). The Flyers won and now advance to the semifinals to meet one of their arch nemeses, the Boston Bruins.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

NBC cancels "The Paul Reiser Show"

Welcome to the Shame, Paul

This program needs no waiting to get into this museum.

After two forgettable and ultra-low rated episodes, NBC has canceled The Paul Reiser Show - not to mention an express induction of The T Dog Media Blog TV Hall Of Shame.

The series was a part of NBC's once-formidable Thursday night lineup. When it premiered on April 14, Reiser averaged only 3.3 million viewers and a 1.1 ratings in the 18-49 demo - achieving the lowest performance ever for a premiere of an NBC prime-time series, even lower than turkeys Pink Lady and Jeff and Supertrain. When the series sunk to 2.5 million viewers and an 0.9 rating, it was basically over.

The premise of the universally-panned series was this: former Mad About You star Paul Reiser starred in this blatant rip-off of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm as himself trying to return to television after a years-long hiatus, and enlisting his friends to help him find "the next big thing". Oddly enough, Curb's Larry David appeared in the premiere episode.

Are you laughing yet?

After viewing the premiere episode on Hulu, yours truly didn't think a sitcom would get as worse as Hall of Shame member Secret Girlfriend, Comedy Central's comedy abomination which went six episodes before it got canceled in late 2009 (which yours truly also deemed as the worst sitcom of all time.) While Reiser lacked in plot and dialogue - and made unfunny jokes for the sake of making unfunny jokes - Secret Girlfriend gets a slight nod over Reiser since the "comedy" was quite crass, written poorly, and had an even more pointless plot.

And so, Paul Reiser's series is already a member of The T Dog Media Blog TV Hall Of Shame, following recent inductees in the Contemporary Division, including The Cape and Perfect Couples, the series Reiser replaced.

In fact, the last three inductees have all been new NBC prime-time shows. Despite Comcast's recent takeover of the peacock network, the stench of the Zucker era still hangs over like second hand smoke at a bar.

Here is the official TV Hall of Shame entry:

- The Paul Reiser Show (NBC, 2011) Oh, Paul. Did you really think you were funny, talented, and charming enough to headline your own sitcom, let alone a concert in the parking lot of the local Blain's Farm & Fleet? 

Playoff fever: Catch it!

Bulls' and Blackhawks' victories not just limited to the arena

Forget Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, the top prime time star as far as Chicago is concerned is Derrick Rose.

Comcast SportsNet dominated the ratings with an iron first Thursday night with a Quarterfinal doubleheader featuring both the Chicago Bulls and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, setting records along the way (and both won their games, too!)

From 6 pm to midnight, Comcast SportsNet dominated the Chicago market with an 11.8 household rating and a 7.6 rating in the adult 25-54 demo, topping network prime-time stalwarts such as American Idol, The Office, 30 Rock, Bones, and The Paul Reiser Show (which NBC canceled Friday afternoon after two low-rated ratings.) CBS and ABC were in repeats for the entire evening.

- Game 3 of the Chicago Bulls-Indiana Pacers Quarterfinal series drew a 13.7 household rating - a highest number ever for a Bulls game - or in fact any game - Bulls, Blackhawks, White Sox, Cubs included - in the seven-year history of the channel. The telecast peaked at 21.5 household rating at 8:15 p.m. and topped all entertainment prime-time programming in the market, including Office and Bones. The Bulls won the game 88-84, which was close throughout.

Also helping the ratings for Comcast SportsNet is the Bulls-Pacers game was not simulcast on national television partners TNT or ESPN, but on NBA TV instead, a channel with limited reach and available only to those who have expanded digital cable packages.

Compared to the first-round playoff series last year against the LeBron-led Cleveland Cavaliers, the Bulls-Pacers series on CSN so far are up a whopping 204% in households and up 261% in the 25-54 demo.

- Game 6 of the Chicago Blackhawks-Vancouver Canucks Quarterfinal series also set a record for the highest-rated Blackhawks game in the history of the channel with a 10.6 household rating from 9-11:30 p.m, and peaked at a 12.3 household rating at 10:30 p.m. At 10:00 p.m., CSN Chicago beat all three network O&O's local newscasts with an 11.6 household rating.

CSN Chicago carried the game locally, and their feed was distributed nationally by Versus (both CSN Chicago and Versus are part of the newly formed NBC Sports Group, which came together when Comcast purchased 51 percent of NBCUniversal from General Electric.) CBC carried the game north of the border in Canada. The Blackhawks won the game 5-0 and stay alive in the series, which they are now down 3-2 to the Canucks.

Despite the Blackhawks struggles in the first three games in their series against the Canucks, the series is up 15% in households and up 21% in the 25-54 demo vs. the Blackhawks' first-round series against the Nashville Predators.

Meanwhile, the White Sox-Tampa Bay Rays game appeared on a CSN spillover channel (usually CLTV on some cable systems) and drew a 1.03 household rating. The White Sox snapped a seven-game losing streak with a victory of the Rays Thursday night.

If you add it all up, Comcast SportsNet's games Thursday night drew a cume audience of 25.3 HH and more than 860,000 households in the Chicago market.

And that's not all. In New York, playoff appearances by the Knicks and Rangers are drawing viewers to Cablevision's MSG Network, with the latter team averaging a 2.9 HH rating for its playoff series against the Washington Capitals, up 7 percent from two years ago - with an impressive 32 percent gain in the 25-54 demo.

In Boston, a Bruins playoff hockey game on NESN recently drew a 10.7 household rating in prime-time.

And you can bet fans in Los Angeles are tuning in to see defending NBA Champion Lakers on Fox Sports West and KCAL-TV as they take on the New Orleans Hornets in the first round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, ratings for the NBA Playoffs on both TNT and ESPN have seen increases from year-ago time periods.

The success of playoff fare on cable have come at a time when audiences for the five major networks' prime-time fare continues to dwindle. In the last few months, the broadcast networks have put up less-than-stellar numbers as cable programming - sports and non-sports - have grown by leaps and bounds. And the major networks airing lousy fare such as Reiser, Chaos, Traffic Light, Breaking In, and Off The Map isn't helping matters much, either.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Grab Bag: Ricki returns (and unfortunately, so does Paul Reiser)

Twentieth's game shows canceled, and other news of note 

For the first time in a long time, it's time for The Grab Bag - items not good enough for individual posts - but good enough to be written here:

- Ricki returns. In a report confirmed by B&C and TVNewscheck, Ricki Lake signed a deal with Twentieth Television to launch a new syndicated talk show for fall 2012. Her new show won't be a rehash of her pioneering original show (which ran in syndication from 1993-2004) targeting young women, but one targeted to an older audience with issues concerning family, health, marriage, and parenting. The series could be a fit for Fox's ten My Network TV stations, who some of them served as a launching base for Lake's original show back in 1993 (including WPWR-TV here.) Lake was in negotiations two months ago with several syndicators to return to daytime.

- 5th Grader flunks out. Meanwhile, Twentieth has decided to part ways with Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader and Don't Forget The Lyrics, with neither game show returning in syndication next season. While getting rid of Lyrics was a no-brainer (avg. 0.7 HH rating this season), 5th Grader's cancellation did come as a bit of a surprise. After topping the now-canceled Deal or No Deal in the ratings last year, the numbers for 5th Grader dropped by half this season. With the dual cancellations, its 0-for-3 in the game show department for Twentieth - freshman game show strip Temptation folded at the conclusion of the 2007-08 season. Other overall syndicated game show failures in recent years include Merv Griffin's Crosswords and Trivial Pursuit.

Unless the major networks schedules a pure game show in prime-time, there could be only five on broadcast television's schedules this fall - Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, Family Feud, The Price Is Right, and Who Wants A Millionaire - the smallest number since at least 1998.

- Games of Thrones renewed after one episode. Usually, you hear about a program whose ratings are so bad, its canceled after one episode. But, a program getting renewed after one epsiode? It must be HBO. After drawing a cume 4.2 million viewers for the premiere of Game of Thrones Sunday night, HBO has quickly picked the show for a second season. earlier if you recall, HBO renewed Terence Winter's Boardwalk Empire for a second season after one episode.

- The Paul Reiser Show bombs. Surprised? And speaking of "just one episode", here's a show that should've have been nuked after one episode. The premiere of NBC's Thursday night comedy The Paul Reiser Show tanked with a 1.1 adult 18-49 rating, marking the lowest rated premiere for any show in NBC history - even lower than classic NBC gems Pink Lady and Jeff, The Waverly Wonders, and the debut of the XFL (which did a 9.5 HH rating in its February 3, 2001 debut.)

The premise? Paul Reiser plays himself in a Curb Your Enthusiasm clone where  he is a washed-up actor who needs to do something other than hang around the house, driving his wife and kids crazy - just like in real life, I guess. After seeing this abomination on Hulu recently, yours truly never the sitcom genre wouldn't get as low as Secret Girlfriend or Sons of Tucson, but what do I know? But  I know Paul Reiser's show is practically a shoo-in to get into The T Dog Media Blog Hall Of Shame - perhaps as soon as tomorrow.

- Mancow, Q101 settle. It took nearly four long years, but Mancow Mueller and his former employer (Emmis-owned WKQX-FM) finally reached a settlement last week. If you recall, Mueller was dropped from Q101 in 2006 after eight years, and sued the Alternative rocker for $6 million a year later. Terms of the settlement has not been disclosed. Mueller returned to local radio in 2008 as a 9-11 a.m. co-host with Pat Cassidy at WLS-AM, but was dropped after a year-and-a-half run. Mancow's Morning Madhouse is still airing in radio syndication, but without a Chicago outlet.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

NBC Sports Group, NHL agree to blockbuster deal

Courtesy: Vancouver Sun

In what is to believed to be the biggest U.S. television deal in its history, the National Hockey League announced it would continue its relationship with NBC Sports and Versus with a whopping ten-year, $2 billion deal. The pact reflects the increased popularity of the sport, with the Winter Classic and the resurgence of teams like the New York Rangers and last year's Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. This year's Winter Classic featuring the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins on New Year's Day (delayed into primetime due to inclement weather) drew the highest rating for a regular-season NHL game in the U.S. in 36 years.

Both NBC Sports and Versus are part of the newly formed NBC Sports Group, thanks to Comcast's 51 percent purchase in NBCUniversal. Comcast was owner of Versus.

As part of the new deal, Versus will now air 90 regular-season games, as opposed to 50 in the last deal; an annual NBC game on the Friday after Thanksgiving; the airing of the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs, with exclusivitiy kicking in at the start of the second round (Conference Semifinals); and Versus and NBC continue to share the Stanley Cup Final. NBC Sports Group also obtains digital rights across all platforms for the games it televises.

NBC continues its Game of the Week and its Winter Classic telecasts; Versus obtains rights to air Canada's Heritage Classic Outdoor games, whose rights and those of the Winter Classic telecasts are retained by CBC.

The NHL Network (which is a part of most digital sports packages) will get a new studio out of the deal in Stanford, Conn., already home to several NBCUniversal-syndicated talk shows.

NBC acquired the broadcast rights to the NHL in 2004 via a revenue-sharing agreement with the league after the NHL decided against renewing its deal with ESPN and ABC, bringing hockey back to the network for the first time in nearly 30 years (and without Peter Puck, an animated feature who appeared between periods on NBC's mid-1970's telecasts.)

NHL games were absent from broadcast television from 1980 to 1993, when select regional games popped up on ABC. In 1995, Fox swiped up the puck (and made it glow) for its telecasts, before moving back to ABC in 2000, airing ESPN-produced games. NBC has been televising games since 2006 (the 2005 season was canceled due to the lockout.

Versus has been the home of the NHL since the 2005-06 season.

With increased ratings on both NBC and versus, the NHL was seeking an increased rights fee as opposed to NBC's recent revenue-sharing agreement and Versus' $75 million-a-year deal. Fox, Turner Sports, and Disney-owned ESPN were in the running, but Fox dropped out first, followed by Turner. ESPN actually matched the rights fee Comcast had offered, but decided to stick with the current rights holder.

While Comcast is celebrating its victory over Disney in the sports-rights battle, some media buyers and even some fans aren't exactly partying. One buyer thought ESPN's endless (and annoying) hype machine would have brought in more exposure for the league, according to a story in Adweek. Some fans have also been clamoring for hockey to return to the Worldwide Leader in B.S. But at the end of the day, the new Comcast-NBC-Versus partnership would provide more advertising opportunities.

In addition, Versus is expected to be re-branded into a name that would incorporate the NBC Sports brand within ninety days, according to NBC Sports Group Chairman Dick Ebersol. Also, Comcast plans to launch another sports channel (which could be as simple as re-branding Universal Sports) in order to carry the extra hockey games.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

T Dog’s Six Pack: The Pyramid of Fun

Welcome to The Six Pack Pyramid and here's your host... Terence! All right, we have three contestants in the Winner’s Circle this week and let’s see who’s in the Loser’s Circle … Wow! Another waiting line? Why is it that there are always more eligible losers than winners in these six packs? Does the media business always suck this much? Well, at least in the Loser's Circle, I don't have to give away trips or stuff from 7-11... Unfortunately, I can only let three in - otherwise, it wouldn't be a Six Pack...

Let’s see… Sorry, Paul Reiser, can’t let you in. Even though you certainly deserve to be here with the pathetic ratings performance of your new NBC show Thursday night, it’s not enough to let you in… Cubs, White Sox, and Red Sox – your pathetic performances aren’t good - er, I mean bad enough either: too early in the baseball season, though the White Sox closers are about as good as Fox’s Traffic Light and Breaking In. Speaking of those two sitcoms – they can’t get in either. So much for this talk of the sitcom coming back. But there’s always next week… and even then, we’ll still have a line waiting to get in the Loser’s Circle.

The Winner’s Circle

Chicago Bulls. Remember when the Bulls were once the joke of the league shortly after the Jordan era? Well, laugh no more. The team led by Chicago native and future MVP Derrick Rose finished with the best record in the NBA (62-20) and ratings for those regular-season games on Comcast SportsNet averaged a 4.5 rating, up 90 percent from last season – and those numbers are sure to soar when the NBA playoffs begin this weekend. For a complete playoff television schedule of their first-round series with the Indiana Pacers, click here.

Judge Judy.
Thanks to a change in the Nielsen ratings on how syndicated shows are tabulated, Judge Judy topped the charts, beating longtime champ Wheel of Fortune.

The New Hawaii Five-O.
Thanks to a rather expensive syndicated deal worth $2 million-per-episode deal with TNT for stripping in 2014, the freshman revival of the classic 1968-80 series unintentionally received a three-year renewal – thanks to a preemptive bid by a unidentified cable network. Remember the days when the buyer chose to bring a show to market and not the seller? Yeah, my cable bill thanks you.

The Loser’s Circle

Chicago Blackhawks. Remember the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run last year, bringing great ratings to Versus, Comcast SportsNet, and NBC? Since the Hawks are now down 2-0 in their opening round playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks, the Blackhawks’ playoff show may be canceled after a four-episode run – even before Paul Reiser's (see how I worked that reference in there?)

Soap Operas. With the cancellation this week of All My Children and One Life To Live, the daytime soap – created by Chicagoan Irna Phillips way back when for WGN Radio – is now officially fighting for its life with just four programs left in the genre. Can the daytime sudsers survive to see another generation? Will anyone still watch? Tune in tomorrow for the answer on As The Soap Opera Turns! (actually, this won’t be resolved tomorrow, so don’t bother tuning in.)

Good Day Chicago. Congrats to Good Day Chicago for achieving something anyone thought was possible – a landmark 0.0 rating in the 9-10 a.m. hour, below such fare as Believer’s Voice of Victory, Paula White Today, and infomercials featuring Genie Bras and food choppers. To anyone else, a hash mark would signal the kiss of death for a program. To Fox-owned WFLD-TV, it’s s cause to give Good Day Chicago a four-year renewal. Yes, management there is that dumb. They hired Carol Fowler as news director, didn’t they?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"All My Children", "One Life To Live" get the ax

Erica Kane is being shown the door.

In a move rumored for weeks, ABC pulled the plug today on two of its longest-running soap operas: All My Children and One Life to Live. Both series have been longtime staples of ABC's daytime lineup, each of them being on the air for over four decades. Children is scheduled to end this September; One Life ends early in January 2012.

ABC has already lined up replacements for the two departing soaps: One is The Chew, a cooking show; the other is The Revolution, which is basically a Biggest Loser/Dr. Oz clone. Both are unscripted (you know, ABC could have come up with something better than this crap.)

One Life began on July 15, 1968; Children began on January 5, 1970. Since 1970, ABC has canceled only six soaps: Dark Shadows, The Edge of Night, Ryan's Hope, Loving, The City, and Port Charles - the latter being the last soap ABC canceled, back in 2003.

Both series join other disposed soaps in the last decade: CBS' Guiding Light (ended September 18, 2009) and As The World Turns (ended September 17, 2010) and NBC's Passions (ended September 7, 2007 but continued on DirectTV until August 2008.)

During the week of April 4-8, Children finished last in total viewers with just 2.3 million, while One Life was third with 2.6 million.

Ratings for both sudsers - and the genre in general - have been declining for years as competition from syndicated talkers, DVRs, the increasing proliferation of channels and the change in the makeup of the daytime audience have taken its toll. Despite the scandalous and salacious storylines, even the soaps were no match for the excitement of Maury Povich's paternity tests and  who-cheated-on-who on Jerry Springer.

While the dual cancellation does save money for the network, its effects on ABC-owned stations and other top market affiliates - could be impacted.

In addition to Children and One Life, many of these same stations are also losing The Oprah Winfrey Show next month as the host hangs up the mic to focus on her new cable network.

For WLS-TV, the change could have not come at a most interesting time. All three shows are ratings winners in Chicago - in fact, All My Children is still the top-rated soap in Chicagoland, despite ratings being a fraction of what they were 20 years ago. With three new shows in WLS' daytime lineup - including new local talker Windy City Live set to debut May 26 (a day after Oprah Winfrey's final episode airs), the station is set for its biggest schedule shakeup in many decades, and could finally be vulnerable after years of being on top.

After all, it was Oprah, Children, and One Life that set the stage for WLS' ratings dominance with the most stabilized schedule in the Chicago market. But despite these moves, WLS is expected to stay on top thanks to its solid news operation, though other stations in town (notably CBS-owned WBBM-TV, Tribune's WGN-TV and Weigel's WCIU) are expected to make some inroads as many daytime viewers are now up for grabs.

With the departure of both All My Children and One Life To Live, the networks' daytime schedules will be left with four - count 'em on ONE hand - four soaps: CBS' The Bold and the Beautiful and The Young and the Restless; NBC's Days of Our Lives; and ABC's General Hospital, which would be the only soap left on the alphabet network. All are safe - for now. But it doesn't hide the fact  that the daytime serial - which started on radio and had been a fixture since the early days of television - and as recently as 20 years ago could boast twelve programs across the networks' schedules -  is on the verge of extinction.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

T Dog's Six Pack: Opposites Attract

This week in The Six Pack: Chicago media takes two steps forward and a few steps back - as usual. No, it's not Paula Abdul dancing with an animated cat (or dead celebrities dancing with vacuum cleaners) but there is some animation, classic TV, and even a classic radio show in this week's roundup:


Bob's Burgers. In a surprise move, Fox renewed the surprisingly funny Bob's Burgers for a second season of thirteen episodes. 

WLS-FM. Kudos to station management for the decision to go live and local on weekends and adding Casey Kasem's American Top 40 countdowns from the 1970's to Sunday mornings.

MeTV. The national rollout of the Weigel's classic TV channel got a boost this week with the Chicago-based network now cleared in 45 percent of the country. Additions include heavyweights like WSB in Atlanta and WPXI in Pittsburgh.


Chicago news media. You have to laugh at all the over-analyzing Chicago's news media made in the last few days over a few thousand people deciding not to attend the Chicago Cubs' first home stand of the year. You'd wish they would give this kind of treatment to some real issues.

WWE. So World Wrestling Entertainment is now just known as the corporate initials (WWE). Funny... with that idiot Vince McMahon still at the helm, I thought it was World Worthless Entertainment. What? And now, the company wants to expand into other genres. I guess their first order of business is giving pathetic Smackdown announcer-turned-pathetic wrestler Michael Cole a pathetic talk show and base it in Chicago. Sorry, that job has already been taken by the pathetic Rosie O'Donnell.

Fox, NBC, and ABC. Dear Fox, NBC, and ABC: Please stop developing these unfunny, live-action, monotonous, cookie-cutter, bland single-camera sitcoms and putting them on your schedules. On second thought, don't stop. Yours truly will always need material for the T Dog Media Blog TV Hall Of Shame.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

"Bob's Burgers" back for a second season

"Futurama" syndie clearances reach 90%

Serving up burgers in a restaurant is just as hard as serving up laughs - but Bob's Burgers may have made it work.

In a surprise move, Fox has picked up thirteen more episodes of Burgers for its second season, which is likely to commence early next year.

While ratings for the series does lag behind those of its lead-in (The Simpsons), Burgers recently hit a series-high 2.2 adult demo rating, not counting the January 9 premiere.

This marks the first time ever a non-Seth MacFarlane or non-Matt Greoning animated has been renewed at the network since King of the Hill. In fact, several principals who were behind King (Loren Bouchard and Jim Dautrieve) also work on Bob's Burgers.

The premise of the series is about a father who tries to keep his burger joint afloat while dealing with his three underachieving kids (and those kids are a hoot.)  In yours truly's opinion, Bob's Burgers stands above the other series on Fox's Sunday night lineup and injected fresh life into what was becoming a very monotonous and bland Animation Domination block (and its far better than Scooby-Doo, Mystery Incorporated.)

Earlier, Fox picked up a renewal for another live-by or die-by-the-season series, American Dad, which is coming back for its eighth.

- In other news on the adult animation beat, the recently-renewed-by-Comedy Central Futurama has now cleared 90 percent of the country for a weekend block in broadcast syndication this fall by Twentieth Television. Clearances include WCIU in Chicago, and Tribune's WPIX in New York and KTLA in Los Angeles.  Recently, Comedy Central renewed Futurama for two 13-episode seasons, which takes the series through 2013. The next installment of new episodes begin in late June.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Casey Kasem's "American Top 40" returns to Chicago radio

Casey is counting them down again - only this time in rerun form.

As reported by Robert Feder on his blog at Time Out Chicago Wednesday, WLS-FM will begin running Casey Kasem's American Top 40: The '70's on Sunday mornings from 7 to 10 a.m. from Premiere Radio Networks, effective this weekend. The countdowns are primarily from 1970 (when the show began) to 1978. 

The move is a reunion of sorts between the show and the WLS brand - WLS-AM carried the original version of American Top 40 from April 1982 to June 1987, and moved to sister station WYTZ-FM where it ran from June 1987 to October 1991, when WYTZ gave up its Top 40 format to go all-talk. In August 1988, Casey Kasem left AT40 to start a rival countdown show with Westwood One while AT 40 replaced him with Los Angeles radio personality and Hollywood Squares announcer Shadoe Stevens. AT 40 closed in January 1995, but returned in 1998 with Kasem back at the mic. In 2004, Kasem stepped down from AT 40 to focus more on the Adult Contemporary versions of the series. Both ended in July 2009 with Kasem's retirement.

In 2001, WZZN-FM carried American Top 40 Flashback, which were basically reruns of 1980's countdowns.

Premiere stopped syndicating Flashback at the end of 2002, but returned syndicating the original American Top 40 countdowns though XM Radio (now Sirius/XM) beginning in 2006 with both the seventies and eighties version. Currently, only the seventies version is on Sirius/XM while both versions are syndicated to radio stations nationwide.

While the eighties version still won't be heard on Chicago terrestrial radio, you can listen to AT 40: The '80's online at Baltimore's JACK FM (WQSR) at Sunday nights at 8 pm ET, or Fargo-Moorhead's KEGK-FM at also on Sunday nights at 8 pm CT.

As for WLS-FM,  the addition of American Top 40: The '70's is part of a schedule realignment, which includes more live and local jocks in weekend dayparts (always a good thing.)

The announcement has no effect on the current version of American Top 40, hosted by Ryan Seacrest on WKSC-FM and is also syndicated by Premiere. In July 2010, the countdown celebrated its 40th anniversary on the air.

Fact: In case you're wondering, WLS-FM, WZZN and WYTZ were all on the same frequency - 94.7, which went under a lot of call letter and format changes from 1978 to 2005. ABC, which at one time syndicated American Top 40, owned the station until 2006 when the frequency and WLS-AM were bought by Citadel, which is being acquired by Cumulus.

Monday, April 04, 2011

MeTV's national clearance hits 45 percent

Charlotte's WCCB added MeTV last month.

Now nearly half of the country will hear the word "Berwyn". 

Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting Co. and MGM announced today its MeTV digital subchannel network has now cleared 45 percent of U.S. households after three and a half months on the air. 

Station groups who have cleared MeTV on their digital subchannels include Bahakel Communications, Bonan Media Group, Capitol Broadcasting, Cox, Gray Television, Hearst Television, London Broadcasting, Media General, Newport Television, Quincy Newspapers, Raycom Media, and more.

Bahakel's Charlotte station (WCCB) already carries MeTV, and just today, Cox's Pittsburgh station (WPXI) announced it was replacing rival RTV with MeTV on its 11.2 subchannel. WPXI's main channel is an NBC affiliate.

MeTV airs mainly classic programming from the 1950's through the 1980's with licensing deals from CBS Television Distribution and Twentieth Television libraries, plus other independent producers and studios. Programming includes The Big Valley, Cannon, Cheers, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Gunsmoke, The Honeymooners, M*A*S*H*, Marshal Dillion (syndication title for half-hour Gunsmoke episodes), The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Perry Mason, The Untouchables (1959-63 series) and The Twilight Zone (1959-64 series).

The announcement comes as MeTV last weekend launched Svengoolie on a national basis with the horror-movie host (played by Rich Koz) serving up horror flicks (and yes, that also describes movies that are just plain bad) Saturday nights at 9 p.m. CT. Svengoolie was a weekend staple on WFLD-TV in the 1970's and 1980's, with Jerry G. Bishop originating in the role, with Koz taking over in 1979 (as "Son of Svengoolie".) A running gag on the show is the frequent use of the word "Berwyn", which is a western suburb of Chicago boarded by Cicero, Oak Park, Forest Park, and Stickney (Berwyn was also home to the now-demolished "car spindle", seen in the movie Wayne's World.)

MeTV, which launched on the old WFBT-CA locally in 2005, was launched in Milwaukee in 2008 and later in South Bend. MeTV officially went national on December 15, 2010.

MGM (now fresh out of bankruptcy) partnered with Weigel to launch This TV in November 2008.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

T Dog's Six Pack: Opening Day

Play ball! In honor of Major League Baseball's Opening Weekend, it's a baseball-themed edition of The Six Pack:

Home Run!

Mobbed. Someone in a certain publication tagged this as a "loser" on Friday. But here at The T Dog Media Blog, I'm declaring Howie Mandel's reality special after American Idol a "winner" because a 3.8 adult 18-49 demo rating and 10 million viewers is too big to ignore - it's a San Francisco Giants, World Series-like winning performance! (Okay, I'm stretching this a bit.) And because of this, Mobbed was picked up for eight episodes by Fox.

Survivor: Redemption Island. After last fall's disastrous edition with annoying characters galore (especially delusional Dodger fan NaOnka), this current edition has been a joy to watch - especially the rivalry between Boston Rob and Crazy Phillip. Can Rob perform like his beloved Red Sox and win it all like they did in 2004 and 2007?

Svengoolie. Can you believe this? The shtick created by Jerry G. Bishop at WFLD-TV back in the 1970's is going national as of this weekend as the character now played by Rich Koz debuts on Weigel's Me-TV network, inserting the horror-movie host in a Saturday night 9 p.m. CT timeslot, with WCIU airing a repeat at noon the following Saturday. For the first few weeks, we're treated to horror flicks from the Universal library (now controlled by Comcast-NBCUniversal.) 

Swing and a miss.

Grey's Anatomy. Musical episode + Grey's = Jump the Shark. Oh wait, didn't this show do that already? Like the Cubs, the explanation for this show's continued popularity is a mystery to me.

Michael Cole and the WWE.What's this? Lead play-by-play Raw announcer Michael Cole a WRESTLER? LOL. And he's wrestling Jerry Lawler at Wrestlemania? Sounds like some lame April Fools' joke, right? Wrong. My God, is the WWE THAT desperate for talent? Maybe it should look into purging the Cubs roster and personnel instead. Can't wait for Len Kasper to make his wrestling debut - at least he has more talent than Cole. (Sidenote: In a real-life twist, Cole was recently reprimanded by WWE for tweeting a homophobic slur against fellow WWE announcer Josh Mathews "in character". Once again, the WWE has trouble distinguishing its storylines from real-life events involving its personnel.)

NewsFix. Former Tribune "Chief Innovation Officer" Lee Abrams wanted to re-invent the newscast for the 21st century and this is what he came up with - a cross between TMZ and... something else, and it debuted on CW affiliate KIAH-TV in Houston on March 25. (Click here for a sneak peek and to see more of this debauchery, visit Talk about striking out with the bases loaded... Finally, a news product that makes WFLD's look like Emmy-winning material by comparison. If people in Houston want to see something really bad, they can watch an Astros game.

Friday, April 01, 2011

The latest Shame inductees: A Band of "Brothers"

With the induction of Fox's "Brothers", it marks the first time two series with the exact same name are in The T Dog Media Blog Hall Of Shame. Both programs are unrelated to each other, except for the fact both are sitcoms and they both suck. Above, from top: Showtime's version of "Brothers", from 1984, a good reason not to get pay-cable at the time.

Yeah, it’s been a while since yours truly has inducted anything into The T Dog Media Blog TV Hall Of Shame, and this despite a whole wealth of new bad TV out there. I mean, why sit around and watch a has-been cable TV network honor TV’s best (if you actually consider Welcome Back, Kotter and The Facts of Life good television.) What’s so great about watching to see how much Gabe Kaplan and Charlotte Rae have aged? They weren’t that good-looking when they were in prime-time!

The T Dog Media Blog TV Hall Of Shame has its own induction ceremony - and you're reading it now. The Shame celebrates really, really bad TV – though Kotter and Facts of Life aren’t really bad enough to make it into the Shame (in fact, Kotter was actually downright enjoyable – that is until John Travolta left the series and Gabe Kaplan’s ego got as big as his Afro.) TV Land should be in this Hall of Shame for evolving what was once a cool home for classic TV (now residing with Chicago's MeTV and MeToo) into the Sell Out network, which includes squeezing closing credits to promote the latest episode of future Shame inductee Retired at 35.

We have two firsts: A local Chicago show makes the list for the first time (member Johnny B. On The Loose does not count, since the 1991 turkey was syndicated nationally), and Fox's laugh-free sitcom Brothers enters the Shame, residing with the lousy 1984-89 Showtime sitcom of the same name. The lesson here? When creating a sitcom, don't name it Brothers (or it'll wind up here - even before it goes on the air.)

So without further ado, here are the latest inductees into the T Dog Media Blog TV Hall of Shame:

Contemporary Division:

Brothers (Fox, 2009) This sitcom with Carl Weathers and Michael Strahan is unrelated to the 1984 Showtime series of the same name - except for the fact that they both suck.

The Cape. (NBC, 2011) Dopey tripe about a guy who adapts the identity of his son's favorite superhero, The Cape.

Perfect Couples
(NBC, 2011). The rom-com comes to TV. Can we send this back to the theater?

Monsters and Money in the Morning
(WBBM-TV, 2010). A failure you can see a mile away, former radio stars and Comcast SportsNet morning show rejects Mike North and Dan Jiggetts come to CBS 2 with the same show - but adding Terry Savage and Mike Hedegus, making for really bad morning TV. The first local Chicago show to ever make the Shame.

All four shows are gone and certainly forgotten.

Classic Division:

The Morton Downey Jr. Show (Syndicated, 1987-89) Mort shouted, screamed, and yelled into viewers' living rooms only to usher himself out when he fabricated a story about being attacked by skinheads in a restroom at a San Francisco airport.

Everyday With Joan Lunden
(Syndicated, 1989-90) Joan Lunden was perky on Good Morning America, but audiences couldn't take no more than two hours of such nausea a day. Of note is this monstrosity was produced and even syndicated by Lunden's talentless ex-husband, Michael Krauss.

To see the full list of inductees in The T Dog Media Blog TV Hall Of Shame, click here.