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They Finally Got The TV Schedule Exactly Right

It sure took those network programmers long enough. But better late than never, I suppose.

For years, I was convinced they'd never get the TV schedule right. I mean, talk about a mess! Did those geniuses at NBC think I had nothing better to do with my Thursday 8:30 to 9 p.m. slot than watch some weak ER lead-in like Jesse, just because I already had the network on at 8 for the must-see Frasier?

And don't even talk to me about CBS. For months, they had Now And Again on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Everyone knows that show was made for Fridays at 9! What in the world were they thinking? As long as you're at it, you CBS Einsteins, why don't you take Ladies Man out of its Monday 8:30 slot and move it to Wednesdays at 8:30, opposite ABC's Norm? Yeah, that'd be a great idea!

Things looked truly bleak. But just as I was about to give up once and for all, I opened up my brand-new TV Guide a few days ago and saw that everything had finally fallen into place. The Hughleys on at 9:30 Fridays, Third Watch on at 10 p.m. Mondays... It was all too perfect!

I can barely remember the last time the TV schedule was so right. It must have been around 1985. NBC's legendary Thursday-night lineup–Cosby at 8, Family Ties at 8:30, Cheers at 9, Night Court at 9:30–was the anchor of a sublime, perfectly arranged week. On NBC on Mondays, you had TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes from 8 to 9, then you could switch over to CBS for Kate & Allie, followed by Newhart at 9:30. It was poetic in its simplicity and elegance, a sleek, two-hour jungle cat of prime-time entertainment.

For a brief, shining moment, it was Camelot. But, of course, they had to go and mess it all up. When the 1986 season came around, they'd moved Kate & Allie to 8, forcing me to choose between that and NBC's concurrent offering, the delicious ALF. Then, to add insult to injury, they followed Kate & Allie not with Newhart as in the previous year, but with the subpar Pam Dawber vehicle My Sister Sam. It was awful.

And that's how it was until just this past week. I can't believe that last year at this time, they were making me choose between King Of The Hill and 3rd Rock From The Sun. Why even go through the trouble of making these great shows if you're just gonna run them opposite each other? I mean, I can only watch one at a time, for God's sake! And don't even talk to me about VCRs–it's just not the same.

But, fortunately, all that's in the past. Because after years of waiting, they've discovered the ideal mix. I don't work in TV programming, so I have no idea why it took so long, but there must be a lot of complicated rules that kept them from just putting everything on at the right time. But now that it's perfect, the networks will never have to change the TV schedule again. It's good to see those fat-cat TV executives are finally earning their pay.

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