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‘Mysteries’ Still Alive and Thriving

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In reading Rick Du Brow’s story on the demise of “reality shows” (I hate that title) including “Unsolved Mysteries” and its endless copies, I am afraid the obit is a bit premature--at least in our case. I’m referring to Du Brow’s “ ‘Home Improvement’ Gives ABC Top Bloc on the Block,” Calendar, Dec. 19.

If a TV series really works, it engenders something special called audience loyalty. The night and the time the show is on become a part of the viewer’s behavior pattern--they used to reschedule bowling leagues when “The Untouchables” was on.

I am sure you remember our track record at 8 p.m. Wednesday nights. “Unsolved Mysteries” knocked off every top show put on opposite it. “Home Improvement” was the only one to best us--but what the hey, they’re No. 1 and they beat everyone--still we did better than any show has since in that time slot.

Then came the baseball strike and they had to move us all over the dial--from Sunday opposite “60 Minutes” for five weeks, preempted twice, and then slipped into what one affiliate called “death row"--Friday night at 8 p.m.

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Our producers have been getting angry letters wanting to know why our show has been “canceled.” The bottom line is we have truly become an “Unsolved Mystery” to our viewers. However, all is not doom and gloom. NBC tells us that our show has gone 43% ahead of its past Friday night shows in that sought-after 18-49 demographic.

So, far from running out of gas, we have got a full tank. We just need to remember TV’s basic law--don’t confuse your audience--"It’s not on Wednesday"--"Wait, it’s on Sunday"--"Hold it, it’s not on anymore"--"Hey, now it’s on Friday, I think.”

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In “Field of Dreams” Kevin Costner said, “If you build it, they will come.” I am sure that is true but, first, you give them a map on how to get there.

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As a veteran of the TV wars, I am not prone to push a show I am in; I have just been taught when you get yourself a loyal audience for seven years, do your damnedest not to confuse or disappoint them.


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