Critical Kemp

Boob Tubin’ with Critical Kemp – Family Guy

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Beyond Critical Kemp “Side B Recommendations” for movies, we can’t deny comedic or action brilliance simply because it’s on the small screen.  Welcome Rollin crew to the best tv has to offer, and we welcome you to submit your favorite episodes or segments, or comments on our features.

“Family Guy” – TV Revived from the Cancellation Graveyard.”

Great clips featured.  (On Fox & Syndication, DVDs of previous seasons)

First, let me say thank you to anyone who joined me in purchasing seasons 1, 2 and 3 (’99, ’00 and ’01) of “Family Guy” on Amazon, because we – power to the people –  are the reason that the show returned to air back in the early 2000s.  Fox, who is notorious for giving shows only about 3 or 4 episodes to prove themselves, is also guilty of clipping shows from rotation for even the slightest dips in viewership.  The problem is, that Fox creates its own ratings headaches as it moves shows from time slot to time slot and to different nights of the week, and expects us all to keep up.  Many times viewers have every intention of watching an otherwise healthy show, but can’t find it. But whether it was a scheduling problem or because “Family Guy” went up against a higher rated show, or even if it was a true dip in ratings – in 2001 Fox took it off the air.  But then, and god bless you guys for doing so, tv fans rallied.  Sales on Amazon skyrocketed for the canceled show.  The executives at Fox noticed that if the sales on Amazon were any indication of how many people wanted to watch the show, they had managed to torpedo one of their most successful vehicles, and took a huge hit off the air.  Nice goin’ eh?  Then, after crunching some numbers, they returned “Family Guy” to air a couple years later, and as we all know now, the show is still on the air today and remains a success for Fox, as well as making them a boatload in syndication.  It warrants being mentioned that this is a very special circumstance because once a show is canceled, the talent is released (as are the executives and producers, etc.) and if they are any good, they usually find other gigs.  A second chance at production of any show is a real long shot, which is why it is truly a rare blessing we have “Family Guy” back on air.

In fact it is so rare that the only thing that ever came close to this, arguably saved a network and gave us “Must See TV”.  Back in the late 70s, the best written show on air was “Taxi” with Danny Devito, Judd Hirsch, our favorite drug addict Jeff Conaway and others.  After 4 years on ABC it was canceled due to bad ratings.  But, NBC at the time was securely in 3rd place among the three networks.  It was happy to bid on the show (a dog on ABC wasn’t necessarily a dog on NBC), and gave it a second life as the same show, but on the different network.  Unfortunately, that move didn’t save “Taxi” for more than a year, and it was cancelled for good after a total of 5 seasons.  But as it turned out, there was a side effect to this business maneuver, a silver lining that ended up being more important to the network than the reason they got into the deal in the first place.  In working with the new production company, a relationship was created between NBC and Charles Burrows Charles Productions.  After “Taxi” was done, this production company/creator pitched its next idea to NBC instead of ABC, and the show “Cheers” was approved by executives.  As the 80s progressed, NBC’s ratings improved, led by their flagship comedy “Cheers” placed securely in the Thursday night 9PM time slot.  Later, executives sought out sitcoms to fill out the Thursday comedy evening for the network, as it was known viewers would already be tuned into NBC and they figured if they could find quality comedies they would be poised for success, and in fact “own” Thursday nights.  Shows like “Seinfeld” and “Friends” were picked up, and the prolific relationship between NBC and Charles Burrows Charles generated two move sitcoms; “Will and Grace” and “Frasier”, and we all know how those shows on Thursday nights worked out for NBC.

Now, while I’m sure that I don’t need to argue why “Family Guy” is a great show, I do think its rare survival story and how it relates to similar stories in tv history are pretty cool, even interesting, and I submit are maybe just another couple small reasons to appreciate one of tv’s funniest (and now longer-running) hit shows.  “Family Guy” is of course Rollin Approved.

– Critical Kemp

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