That's the skinny on the 1994-95 prime-time schedules unveiled this month to the media buying world by the Big 3 broadcast networks. This fall, the networks will introduce 10 hours of dramas that are light on violence and 51/2 hours of sitcoms per week, most of them of the family-oriented genre.
On the whole, said Bob Silberberg, senior VP-director of national broadcast at Backer Spielvogel Bates, New York, "There are no outstanding embarrassments. There are no `moans and groans' shows."
Of ABC's six new programs, five center on families of different shapes and sizes, from a Korean-American nuclear set ("An American Family") to a single mother raising a '90s version of the Jackson 5 ("On Our Own").
"It's like ABC took a computer and figured out all the possible family permutations," said Steve Sternberg, senior VP-broadcast research at BJK&E Media.
ABC will give its Monday night lineup some added testosterone, moving the Tuesday night hit "Coach" to 8 p.m. (ET), to be followed by a new male-skewing half-hour comedy, "Blue Skies." At 9 p.m. comes "NFL Monday Night Football."
CBS had the shortest upfront presentation. In just 2 hours, the network crammed in the expected announcements, plus a goodbye from departing president of CBS Entertainment Jeff Sagansky, and the pilot episode of the highly touted new hospital 1-hour drama, "Chicago Hope."
Despite a sappy ending, "Chicago Hope" proved gripping, though the audience squirmed during scenes showing the removal of a brain tumor and the slicing apart of conjoined twins.
Mr. Sagansky's successor, Peter Tortorici, touted the half-hour "The Boys Are Back" as the Holy Grail of family sitcoms that CBS has sought for so long. However, the hour drama "Touched by an Angel," which Mr. Tortorici described as "the kind of feel-good, emotionally fulfilling show .*.*. we have to try," was met with mocking guffaws.
And CBS' new theme line, "We are everyday people," a variation on the Sly & the Family Stone hit, earned negative reviews. "Why'd they go ruin a perfectly good song?" wondered one media buyer.
Advertising Age's appraisal of NBC's new lineup was hampered by this reporter's inadvertent seating in the backstage green room with many of the stars of the network's new shows. Yet despite the inconvenience of watching the presentation on closed-circuit TV and the distraction of Melissa Gilbert, Martin Short and Gene Wilder, it was clear that NBC was announcing some major moves.
Among them: shifting "Frasier," NBC's Thursday night megahit sitcom, to Tuesday at 9 p.m., right up against ABC blockbuster "Roseanne."
"*`Roseanne' is going into its seventh season, and it's slipping," Mr. Sternberg said.
"The Martin Short Show" on Tuesdays looked like a hit sitcom, but Mr. Silberberg had reservations, calling it a "very funny collection of Martin Short clips. I'll have to see the whole pilot."