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Tube Talk: New nights, old(en) times

January 19, 2011

By Paula Hendrickson
Contributing Writer

Friday nights are often viewed as the night of the week TV shows go to die. Perhaps the last blockbuster Friday-night hit was The X-Files, which Fox later moved to Sunday nights. When CBS scheduled the family cop show Blue Bloods—starring Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg and Bridget Moynahan, among others—in NUMB3RS’ old timeslot, some folks interpreted that as meaning the network didn’t believe in the show enough to give it a better time.

Something interesting happened. People watched. Better yet, they came back week after week. Perhaps they were stunned to find a show of Blue Bloods’ caliber airing on a Friday night. Or maybe it’s simply that more people are staying in on Fridays—even Saturdays—because of the economy.

Now, after garnering great reviews and drawing a solid Friday-night audience, CBS has moved Blue Bloods to Wednesdays at 9 p.m.

The new night is supposedly a trial run to see if Blue Bloods can hold its own, or better yet, improve its numbers given a kinder timeslot.

If you’re a Friday-night TV viewer, don’t despair. Fox is moving the mythology-fueled sci-fi series Fringe from a tough Thursday-night time period (opposite Grey’s Anatomy, The Office and CSI) to Friday. Fringe has been called an X-Files rip-off, but anyone who watches the show can tell you they’re very different takes on a similar theme. The question remains: did Fox move Fringe to give it a less competitive timeslot, or shuffle it off to die?

Never underestimate a sci-fi series’ ability to jolt back to life. Sci-fi fans are dedicated and often buck mainstream trends. Besides, Fringe is arguably at its creative peak and is worth following to Fridays. A lot of Fringe fans time-shift their viewing, so a new night might not have a dramatic impact on ratings anyway.

Quickly shifting gears, centuries and continents…BBC America is bringing Showtime’s critically praised series The Tudors to basic cable (edited, of course). It airs opposite Blue Bloods, starting tonight at 9 p.m.

The Tudors is addictive. It’s the perfect mixture of intrigue, style and soapy drama tinged with historic detail. (If your mental image of King Henry VIII doesn’t look anything like star Jonathan Rhys Meyers, you’re not alone. But when I toured Windsor Castle, I was stunned to see how tiny some of Henry’s suits of armor actually were—from his early days, anyway.)

The period piece is full of familiar faces, including Sam Neill, Jeremy Northam, Gabrielle Anwar and James Frain. (You might not recognize Frain’s name, but he seems to pop up on TV each week. Recent appearances include The Cape, Leverage, CSI:Miami, True Blood, Flash Forward—he even appeared in an early episode of Fringe.)

Among such disparate series as Blue Bloods, Fringe and The Tudors, TV truly has shows that can appeal to virtually any taste. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding them on the schedule.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Send in your suggestions to tubetalking-paula@yahoo.com.

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