TV NotesTV comedies that lingered far longer than expected
By Jayme Deerwester, USA Today
Staff - Feb. 4, 2013Rules of Engagement
may be the Energizer bunny of sitcoms; the middling CBS
comedy starring David Spade and Patrick Warburton flat-out refuses to die. After canceling it last spring, the network changed its mind, went back to the TV scrapyard and slotted it as a midseason replacement. As it returns for its seventh season (Mondays, 8:30 ET/PT)
, USA TODAY's Jayme Deerwester looks at a few other series that may have seen their days, but outlasted their expected shelf lives and stuck around to plug holes in network lineups. They're all shows that made us stop and ask, "Wait, that's still on?"ABC's 'According to Jim'
Throughout its run, ABC shuffled Jim around the 8 p.m.-9 p.m. blocks on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, as well as running it during the regular season, midseason and summer.The situation:
Suburban schlub of a dad (Jim Belushi); his hot, smart wife, Cheryl (Courtney Thorne-Smith); and their three cute kids.Ratings peak:
The show saw its highest ratings (10.3 million) during the 2002-03 broadcast year, when it aired Tuesday at 8:30 for the full season.Ratings low:
The show dropped to 3.8 million for its final two seasons, when it ran from April to June.Historical footnote:
Jim was considered canceled in late 2008 and the sets were struck, yet ABC broke up the episodes, airing the last dozen the following spring.* * * *CBS' 'Dave's World'
Dave's aired Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, in various time slots.The situation:
Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Barry's humorous columns brought to life, with Night Court vet Harry Anderson in the starring role.Ratings peak:
The show ranked fairly high its first two years (No. 21).Ratings low:
It dropped to No. 70 and then, finally, No. 94.Historical footnote:
Dave's World marked the first series regular role for future Rules of Engagement star Patrick Warburton.* * * *ABC's 'Coach'
During those nine years, it jumped around the ABC schedule 16 times, in four different time slots on four different nights.The situation:
The trials and tribulations of Minnesota State football coach Hayden Fox (Craig T. Nelson), who is not-so-ably aided by dippy assistant Luther (Jerry Van Dyke).Ratings peak:
Coach scored 15.7 million viewers during the 1989-90 season.Ratings low:
Its final season only saw 8.1 million viewers, low in those days.Historical footnote:
The Aug. 6, 1997, series finale played on Luther's dimwittedness, with actor Van Dyke denying Coach was finally over. "I'm still coming to work on Monday," he announced.* * * *NBC's 'Wings'
Its peak years were spent in the Thursday 9:30 time slot. However, it jumped around the NBC lineup with great frequency, with stints ranging from one to six months.The situation:
Pilot brothers Joe and Brian Hackett (Timothy Daly and Steven Weber) try to keep their small airline aloft on the resort island of Nantucket, and interact with the other denizens of their private airport.Ratings peak:
The show spent four seasons in the top 30 and saw its highest numbers during the 1991-92 season, with 14.6 million tuning in.Ratings low:
Wings didn't make the top 30 in either its first or last two seasons.Historical footnote:
Wings lifted the careers of two future Oscar nominees: Thomas Haden Church (Sideways) and John Hawkes (Winter's Bone). And it gave the first big TV role to Tony Shalhoub, who would go on to become Monk.* * * *ABC/CBS' 'Family Matters'
A Friday/Saturday night family staple, it originated as part of ABC's storied TGIF lineup; it was sold to CBS for its final year.The situation:
Carl Winslow (Reginald VelJohnson), an African-American Chicago cop, tries to keep his family in line and limit the damage incurred during the visits of nerd-next-door Urkel (Jaleel White).Ratings peak:
The show's second season ranked No. 15 among broadcast series for 1990-91.Ratings low:
The show petered out at No. 99 for its ninth and final season (1997-98).Historical footnote:
Family Matters was a spinoff of Perfect Strangers, where Winslow family matriarch Harriette (Jo Marie Payton) labored as the elevator operator at the Chicago newspaper where Cousin Larry (Mark-Linn Baker) worked.* * * *NBC's 'The Facts of Life'
The show premiered on Fridays, spent its peak years on the Wednesday lineup, then finished out its run on Saturdays.The situation:
After leaving her post as the housekeeper on Diff'rent Strokes, Mrs. Edna Garrett (Charlotte Rae) went on to serve as the housemother at Eastland Academy, a girl's boarding school outside New York City. When she left that job to run a gourmet food shop, her former students came along.Ratings peak:
Its fourth and fifth seasons (1983-85) averaged 14.4 million viewers, good enough for No. 24. Overall, it was a solid ratings performer, averaging between 14 million and 15.5 million viewers for all but the first and last seasons.Ratings low:
Viewership for the ninth and final season (1987-88) never rose above 12.7 million, low by network standards in those days.Historical footnote:
Facts was only the second regular series role for George Clooney, a cast member from 1985-87. In 2012, Facts alumna Lisa Whelchel (who played Blair Warner) competed on Survivor: Philippines, where she tied for runner-up and won the fan vote for Player of the Season.* * * *Fox's 'King of the Hill'
Like some other shows on this list, Hill aired in spurts. However, most of Hill's spurts occurred on Sundays, which theoretically made this animated comedy easier to find; theoretically, because it was frequently pre-empted by NFL games in overtime. The show was canceled in 2008, but Fox relented, putting it back on the air until May 2010.The situation:
When not selling propane and accessories, Texas family man Hank Hill (voiced by creator Mike Judge) knocks back beers with his three best friends. Those sessions (and many six-packs of Alamo beer) help him cope with a narrow urethra, sassy substitute-teacher wife Peggy, non-jock son Bobby, snooty Laotian neighbor Kahn, and bitter, legless WWII veteran dad Cotton.Ratings peak:
The show crested the ratings hill in Season 2 (1997-98), which drew 16.3 million viewers.Ratings low:
Hill's final season was not its lowest-rated; in Season 9, it managed only 4.8 million.Historical footnote
: Hank's niece, Luanne, was voiced by actress Brittany Murphy, who died about three months after the series wrapped.* * * *NBC's 'Just Shoot Me'
It premiered in the Tuesday 9:30 slot, but saw action on Wednesday and Thursday nights before being shifted to Saturdays to finish out its run.The situation:
Serious journalist Maya Gallo (Laura San Giacomo) is fired from her highbrow gig and is forced to slum it at Blush magazine, her dad's (George Segal) Cosmopolitan-like women's rag.Ratings peak:
Though its highest ratings (15.6 million) came in Season 5, when it followed Will & Grace in the Thursday 9:30 slot, it was more valuable on Tuesdays, where it was often the top-rated show of the night.Ratings low:
Season 7, which saw the show flip-flopping between Tuesdays and Saturdays, drew only 6.4 million viewers.Historical footnote:
Just Shoot Me was the post-Saturday Night Live landing spot for David Spade, who would go on to star in Rules of Engagement.http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2013/02/04/rules-of-engagement-according-to-jim/1891249/