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Thread: TAR Talk from the USA TODAY TV Critic

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    TAR Talk from the USA TODAY TV Critic

    An excerpt from Robert Bianco's weekly online chat...for what it's worth...

    Dallas, TX: Robert, I'm a little surprised after "The Amazing Race" has caught on this summer in its Tuesday time period that CBS hasn't considered running the next edition in that same time slot and holding off "Judging Amy" for a few weeks instead of dumping "Race" off on Saturdays. I would think the momentum it has gained would hold on through the fall on Tuesdays even though a die hard like myself would watch it if it were on at 3 in the morning on a Sunday. Last night was sooo good. I know you've been writing off the addition of the "yield" this year as an unnecessary potential for conflicts and I agree with you but watching arrogant Colin and Christie be the yieldees at time in the race when the move actual made much strategical sense was absolutely satisfying.

    Robert Bianco: I apologize, because this will mean nothing to non-'Race' fans, but 'My ox is broken?' Really, how fabulous was that last night?
    As for your question, though - yes, 'Race' did surprisingly well in this slot over the summer. But in a few weeks, it would be running against new episodes of 'L&O:SVU' and the well-promoted return of 'NYPD Blue' in its last season. Yes, fewer people will watch on Saturday, but that also means CBS's ratings expectations will be considerably, and perhaps more safely, lower.

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    I watch SVU but I would watch TAR over it. They shouldn't assume just because a show has proven popular before (ie SVU) that people would stick with it over TAR.
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    I'd watch TAR over SVU also... then just catch SVU on a recording like I do so many other shows.
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    I must agree with Rob Bianco, because he uses the same argument that I have used to defend CBS's move.

    While "Race" is poised to finish its most successful season ever next week, competing against reruns on NBC and short-run documentary series on ABC doesn't necessarily mean that "Race" would still draw in the same viewers once first-run competition begins.

    For starters, "Law & Order: SVU" has improved NBC's performance since moving to replace "Dateline NBC" two years ago. While "SVU" has been on the air for a while now, much like its parent show, it doesn't show any signs of any dramatic ratings collapse.

    ABC is pulling out all the stops for the final season of "NYPD Blue", including airing no reruns and allowing all 20 episodes to run un-interrupted until Spring 2005. Final seasons of long running series often bring back long-absent fans who may have strayed elsewhere but want to see how the show wraps up.

    While I've been a "Race" fan since day 1 back in September 2001, but I'm also a realist. No matter how much I like or enjoy "Race", I have confidence that "SVU" and "Blue" would damage "Race", possibly damaging any momentum this past summer provided.

    Lastly, the conspiracy theorist in me believes that CBS has something up its sleeve by pushing the sixth season back from 9/25 to 10/2 and finally to sometime in "late October" (the network's words, not mine). I believe that CBS may be waiting to see if any of its new series, like the baseball drama "Clubhouse" (which airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m.) will be successful or collapse. In that event, CBS can easily plug "Race" back into Tuesdays, and either shuffle "Clubhouse" off to Saturdays or bring back "Race" encores like they did earlier in the summer.

    The competition at 9 p.m. wouldn't be as rough as it is at 10 p.m. The biggest competition would be the mediocre sitcom "According to Jim" (on ABC) and the CGI-comedy "Father of the Pride" (on NBC). In that environment, "Race" would be a breath of fresh air.

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