Friday, February 20, 2009

Is Friday night still the kiss of death?

When I was young, maybe six years old, I got to stay up late on Friday nights. I can't really define what "late" meant back then. I can't really remember what time I was normally supposed to go to bed. I keep thinking that my parents normally sent me to bed at eight, but until recently it just seemed unreasonable that anyone went to bed much before ten.

Now that I'm older and have a different schedule, I find myself drifting off to sleep at nine or sometimes earlier, so maybe they did send me to bed that early, just so that they had a hour or two for themselves before they fell asleep too.

Anyway, when I was very young I got to stay up late on Friday nights and watch stuff on TV. And that was the only night that I was allowed to stay up late, because Saturday morning was the only day that I was allowed to sleep late. When I was six or so, I watched a scary show, which I think was probably Ghost Story/Circle of Fear. (I'm not entirely certain that this was the show, but I've now found some of them on YouTube, so I'll watch some later to be sure.)

So I grew up thinking that Friday night was the best night to watch anything on TV, though after Ghost Story went off the air I don't really recall watching anything in particular most of that time. I think eventually The Powers of Matthew Star came on Friday nights. But in between that and Ghost Story I don't really remember anything. I just remember thinking that was the best time to watch TV, and I remember wondering why there wasn't good stuff to watch on Friday nights.

"Good stuff" being defined by pre-teen me as either horror or sci-fi. I remember seeing a lot of stuff, but I don't remember when most of it was on, and except for Ghost Story and Matthew Star they weren't regular series. Most of what I liked turned out to be pilots of shows that didn't sell, which were turned into Movie of the Week stuff, which may or may not have been shown on Friday nights. I don't remember.

When I got older I learned that the Friday night schedule was the kiss of death for TV shows. This I learned from reading behind the scenes stuff about Star Trek. It seems that for other people Friday Night was date night, not TV night. On the one night of the week that it is okay to stay up late, you're supposed to actually go out and do something with the evening, not stay home and watch TV. So if you're an actor or director or producer, you don't want your TV show to end up on the Friday night schedule, because in theory most of your desired audience is out doing something cool and cannot possibly watch your TV show.

So, even after you found something you liked to watch on Friday nights, this was bad, because the show was probably going to get cancelled.

As for Friday night being date night or anything like that, I didn't get to do much of that until 1985.

A bit before that, we got a VCR. I think that a lot of other people also got VCRs. My family got a BETA, which was a better machine than what most of the other people bought, but that's another story and we won't get into that.

I got married, and then Friday nights stopped being date night. Between our work schedules and not having much money, we didn't go out much, and certainly not on Friday nights.

In the early nineties I joined a Star Trek club, so then I again had something to do on Friday nights. A bit after that there was a show called The X-files. By then most of us had VCRs, so we were able to go to the club meetings and then watch The X-files afterwards. Of course, since it was both a good show and it was on Friday nights, we all expected that it would soon be cancelled.

It wasn't.

Later came the Sci Fi Channel. I didn't have cable at the time, and I still don't. But I was aware of it and sometimes watched it at a friends house or in a motel room when we went out of town. There were a few interviews with actors and directors and producers, some behind the scenes stuff, but mostly lots and lots of reruns. So people could spend time watching stuff that had been made years and decades before, like Lost in Space.

And then the Sci Fi Channel started making new programs. The first one I remember was Farscape. Stargate moved to the Sci Fi Channel from Showtime. Farscape and Stargate were on Friday nights.

I don't know if the Sci Fi Channel assumed that we all had VCRs and it didn't really matter what night they picked, or if they figured that none of us were dating.

Stargate was on for ten years, and it's first spin-off lasted five years. There is supposed to be third series coming soon.

So is Friday night no longer the kiss of death because we all have VCRs?

Now Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Joss Whedon's new Dollhouse are on FOX Friday nights. FOX has had a lot of good sci fi on Friday nights, but except for The X-files they usually cancel the show before it's had a chance. But I think now there's another problem.

Why move all the sci fi to Friday nights, when they must realize that most of the sci fi fans are already watching something on the Sci Fi channel? What was wrong with leaving Terminator on Monday where it was?

Of course, that caused us to miss The Big Bang Theory....


Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts said...

All I know is that Friday night programming really sucks. There is never anythng good on television on Friday nights and it's terrible. I think its in part because the powers to be in hollywood still feel that there isn't must television watching on Fridays nights so why bother. Who knows.

dmarks said...

"Max Headroom" was another great science fiction series that was tossed onto Friday night years ago. However, at this time, there were some hit shows on at the same time. I recall that Miami Vice was one of them. Perhaps Dallas too, I'm not sure.

Like most major network prime time science fiction in the long era between the originbal "Star Trek" and "Lost", I don't think that "Max Headroom" even lasted an entire season.

Ananda girl said...

T.V. in general sucks these days. I have a few things I watch left. Lost, Life, Heroes and Dexter. I know, Dexter is creepy, but so inappropriately funny. We do Battle Star Galactica too.

As an aside...I named my son, Max for Max Headroom, Mad Max and Maxfield Parish, the artist.