Santa Cruz Sentinel from Santa Cruz, California on May 2, 1986 · Page 90
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Santa Cruz Sentinel from Santa Cruz, California · Page 90

Santa Cruz, California
Issue Date:
Friday, May 2, 1986
Page 90
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Spotlight Santa Cruz Sentinel Friday, May 2, 198623 The wacky By TOM LONG SeDtinel Staff Writer LAST week, the A.C. Nielsen Company released its year-end ratings totals for prime-time network television series, a traditionally strange event since the season is in no way over. Sam and Diane still have a three-part story to play out to conclude the season on "Cheers." Dr. Mark Craig still has to become a patient himself on "St. Elsewhere." And Alexis has even more blood to draw on "Dynasty." But for some reason the powers that be always declare the end of the regular season just before the sweeps month of May begins. Go figure. Still, the ranking of shows for the year does lend itself to some fun interpretations, and the list probably also says something about the American public (almost all of whom own and consistently operate television sets). I won't guess at what that something is, but I will risk some easy observations on trends and shifts in the world of prime-time tubing. Let's start off by facing some facts. Anything that ends up in the top 25 is a verifiable hit and is making lots of money. But just because a show is out of that range doesn't necessarily mean it's in trouble. These days a show can end up in the mid-50s but still be pulling the correct demographic audience that advertisers crave and thus end up charging more for commercial time than a show in the top 20 (NBC's "St. Elsewhere" being the best example it rarely ranks above 50 but is one of the most successful shows on TV because it appeals to yuppie-types who have lots of money to spend). At the same time, a newsmagazine show like CBS' "60 Minutes" which ended up at No. 4 this year is worth far more than an hour-long dramatic or comedy series with comparable ratings simply because it takes so little money to produce. It must also be mentioned that this year's ratings race was a complete stomping: NBC won for the first time in a decade with a 17.5 to CBS' 16.7 and ABC's pathetic 14.9. Now with those and other distractions in mind, let's look at the year's results: It was a so-so year for the soaps. The four ongoing overdramas "Dallas" (No. 6), "Dynasty" (7), "Knots Landing" (17) and "Falcon Crest" (25) are still successful, although "Falcon Crest's" production costs will probably have to go down unless its ratings go up. But all have done much better in previous years. This year's new entry, "The Col-bys" (35), will have to improve to survive. But then it's actually done very well considering it's on against heavy competition. But it's indicative of the surplus of such slurp that there are only five soaps left after the bombardment of two years ago. And that the most world of prime-time successful network, NBC, bothering with them at all. isn't Football bounced back to popularity this year, the ABC "Monday Night Football" series coming in at No. 15. As a consequence the network booted color commentators O.J. Simpson and Joe Namath off the show and demoted perennial play-byplay man Frank Gifford to a part-time color commentator position. This is the kind of logic that has made ABC the powerhouse of quality it is today. The final ratings THE final prime-time television ratings for the 1985-86 season as compiled by the A.C. Nielsen Co. The 30-week season ended Sunday. The listings include each series' season ranking, based on its rating. A rating measures the percentage of the nation's 85.9 million homes with television. Average household audience also is provided for the Top 20 series. Series with fewer than six episodes are not included. 1. "The Cosby Show," NBC, 33.7 rating, 28.9 million homes. 2. "Family Ties," NBC, 30.0, 25.1 million homes. 3. "Murder, She Wrote," CBS, 25.3, 21.7 million homes. 4. "60 Minutes," CBS, 23.9, 20 5 million homes. 5. "Cheers," NBC, 23.7, 20.4 million homes. 6. "Dallas," CBS, 21.9, 18.8 million homes. 7. "Dynasty," ABC, 21.1, 18.7 million homes. 8. "The Golden Girls," NBC, 21.8, 18.7 million homes. 9. "Miami Vice," NBC, 21.3, 18.3 million homes. 10. "Who's the Boss?", ABC, 21.1, 18.1 million homes. 11. "Night Court," NBC, 20.9, 18.0 million homes. 12. "CBS Sunday Night Movie," 20.5, 17.6 million homes. 13. "Highway to Heaven," NBC, 20.1, 17.3 million homes. 14. "Kate & Allie," CBS, 20.0, 17.2 million homes. 15. "NFL Monday Night Football," ABC, 19.8, 17.0 million homes. 16. "Newhart," CBS, 19.6, 16.1 million homes. 17. "Knots Landing," CBS, 19.5, 16.7 million homes. 18. "Growing Pains, ABC, 19.5, 16.7 million homes. 19. "You Again?" NBC, 19.2, 16.5 million homes. 20. "227," NBC, IB. 8, 16.1 million homes. 21. "NBC Sunday Night Movie," 18.5. 22. "Hotel," ABC, 18.3. 23. "NBC Monday Night Movie," 18.3. 24. "Moonlighting," ABC, 18.1. 25. "Falcon Crest," CBS, 18.1. Cute kids are out. Finally. ABC's repulsive "Webster" ranked highest in this category, but still could only muster a 41. "Diff'rent Strokes" (69), "Silver Spoons" (70) and the abyssmal "Punky Brewster" (76) were all near rock bottom. As a consequence, all but "Webster" have been canceled. This in the midst of a baby boom. But then, young parents aren't going to swallow these sugar-coated kids; the reality of parenting is too present and too challenging to be tossed off as some series of sticky-sweet anecdotes. Good riddance, cu testers. The laugh, as has been mentioned ad infinitum in recent months, is on TV these days. And the big joke is on NBC. Out of the top 20 shows, 11 were half-hour sitcoms. Four of these were NBC's Thursday night lineup of "The Cosby Show," "Family Ties," "Cheers" and "Night Court," with "Cosby" scoring highest for the year (and for all time, actually, reaching an average 28.9 million homes every 26. "Valerie," NBC, 18.1. 27. "Facts of Life," NBC, 17.7. 28. "Scarecrow & Mrs. King," CBS, 17.4. 29. "Simon 8, Simon," CBS, 17.2. 30. "The A-Team," NBC, 16.9. 31. "Cagney & Lacey," CBS, 16.7. 32. "CBS Tuesday Night Movie," 16.3. 33. "Hill Street Blues," NBC, 16.1. 34. "Gimme A Break," NBC, 16.0. 35. "The Colbys," ABC, 16.0. 36. "ABC Sunday Night Movie," 16.0. 37. "20-20," ABC, 15.5. 38. "Blacke's Magic," NBC, 15.5. 39. "TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes," NBC, 15.4. 40. "Amaiing Stories," NBC 15.3. 41. "Webster," ABC, 15.3. 42. "Hunter," NBC, 15.3. 43. "ABC Monday Night Movie," 15.2. 44. "Craiy Like a Fox," CBS, 15.0. 45. "Mr. Belvedere," ABC, 14.8. 46. "Magnum, P.I.," CBS, 14.6. 47. "MacGyver," ABC, 14.6. 48. "Remington Steele," NBC, 14.4. 49. "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," NBC, 14.4. 50. "Disney Sunday Movie," ABC. 14.1. 51. "Hell Town," NBC, 14.1. 52. "Hardcastle 1 McCormlck," ABC, 13.9. 53. "St. Elsewhere," NBC, 13.8. 54. "Knight Rider," NBC, 13.8. 55. "Twilight Zone," CBS, 13.6. 56. "Riptide," NBC, 13.6. 57. "Mary," CBS, 13.5. 58. "CBS Wednesday Night Movie," 13.4. 59. "Trapper John, M.D.," CBS, 13.2. 60. "The Insiders," ABC, 12.8. 61. "Misfits of Science," NBC, 12.8. 62. "The Love Boat," ABC, 12.7. 63. "The Equalizer," CBS, 12.6. 64. "Spenser: For Hire," ABC, 12.6. 65. "Alrwolf," CBS, 12.5. 66. "CBS Saturday Night Movie," 12.4. 67. "Foley Square," CBS, 11.9 61. "Charlie 1 Company," CBS, 11.6. 69. "Ditf'rent Strokes," ABC, 11.5. 70. "Silver Spoons," NBC, 11.2. 71. "George Burns Comedy Week," CBS, 10.9. 72. "Lady Blue," ABC, 10.7. 73. "The Redd Foxx Show," ABC, 10.3. 74. "Stir Craiy," CBS, 10.0. 75. "Benson," ABC, 10.0. 76. "Punky Brewster," NBC, 9.7. 77. "He's the Mayor," ABC, 9.7. 78. "Hollywood Beat," ABC, 9.4. 79. "Ripley's Believe It or Not," ABC, 9.0. 80. "The Fall Guy," ABC, 7.8. 81. "Our Family Honor," ABC, 7.8. 82. "Shadow Chasers," ABC, 5.8. show; no series numbers have ever averaged that high). NBC had three other sitcoms in the top 20, including this year's most successful new show, "Golden Girls," which finished the season at No. 8. You can imagine the belly laughs this is causing in the halls of ABC and CBS. The art of detecting crime is nowhere near as popular as it used to be. Of the top 25 shows only three ABC's '.'Moonlighting" (24), NBC's A U y - - ' 1 . J fs I jza w .. . ..rrr?i WYMAN AND FERRER IN "FALCON CREST" Production costs keep going up, up, up "Miami Vice" and CBS' "Murder, She Wrote" (3) involve detectives, and only "Miami Vice" has actual cops doing the detecting. And they're as much a fashion show as a cop show. Dumb action shows are really out. Witness "The Fall Guy" (80), "Hollywood Beat" (78), "Airwolf" (65), "Riptide" (56) and "Knight Rider" (54). Even the once-potent "A-Team" has fallen to No. 30 and would seem destined to fall even further. All of which is hardly tragic news. In fact, if the ratings bear any news overall, it is unquestionably good. "Murder, She Wrote," "Cheers," "Night Court," "Golden Girls," "60 Minutes," "Kate & Allie," "New-hart" and "Moonlighting" are all among the best shows on television; they are all also in the top 25. And many of the others at the top are at least high quality productions, well-acted and written if too cliched and comfortable. The vast wasteland is still both vast and filled with waste, but a good deal of the cream is actually floating to the top these days. Which, of course, makes the medium a garbage barge with cream on top, but we'll go into that some other day. ON TV "THE DELIBERATE STRANGER," Sunday, Monday, 9 p.m. NBC-TV Mark Harmon stars as serial killer Ted Bundy in this fact-based, two-part TV movie. In the past few years NBC has proven itself the best at presenting these types of grizzly stories, keeping them fast, powerful and relying on strong performances to make the characters as human as they are twisted (Tommy Lee Jones as Gary Gilmore in "The Executioner's Song" being a fine example). Harmon is the type of actor who could spend an entire career trying to overcome his own good looks and be recognized, but he proved he has fine chops on "St. Elsewhere" his last minutes as Bobby Caldwell on that show were possibly the best on television this past season and at least he isn't just giving up and playing handsome heroes. Should be a chiller.

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