It will be the autumn of “Murphy Brown’s” discontent on KTLA.
The high-profile off-net sitcom, which is heading for the weekends after a less-than-glowing performance in its first season, will be replaced at 7 p.m. weeknights this fall by a second run of “Family Matters.”
In an unusual scheduling move, the Tribune Broadcasting indie will air back-to-back ‘Matters’ episodes from 6:30-7:30 p.m. when the comedy makes its bow in syndication, and move the advertiser-friendly but low-rated “Murphy” to 11 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
The station didn’t rule out the possibility that “Murphy” could return to the weekday lineup later in the season.
Although it may be a peculiar strategy to start double-running the same sitcom at the half-hour mark, KTLA general manager Greg Nathanson is hopeful he can stave off the audience erosion the station experienced a year ago in making the transition from kids sitcoms to the adult-oriented “Murphy.”
Nathanson chose to put the first run of “Matters” at 6:30 because it will give KTLA the only kids sitcom in the time period. KCOP is opting for “The Cosby Show,” KTTV is going with “Cops” and KCAL-TV has local news in the slot.
At 7 p.m., “Matters” will also have the kids comedy audience to itself, with KTTV and KCOP continuing to slug it out for the young adult audience with the strong performers “Married … with Children” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (KCAL will offer syndie newsmags in the hour).
Rounding out the critical 5-8 p.m. block under a KTLA schedule unveiled Monday will be two consecutive half hours of “Saved by the Bell” at 5, last season’s time period winner “Full House” at 6and “Cheers” again at 7:30.
The station has chosen to keep the much-anticipated new MCA TV sitcom “Coach” on the shelf until September 1994, despite its availability this fall. It had sought to air Twentieth TV’s “Doogie Howser, M.D.” next month — a year ahead of schedule — but the syndicator turned down the request.
KTLA, which finished first in the three-hour early fringe/access race last fall, had waited to commit to a firm schedule until the other three Los Angeles independent stations revealed their hands.
The station will keep its latenight block intact, with “Cheers” continuing at 11 p.m. and “Designing Women” at 11:30.
Nathanson is reaching for the stars to battle the talkshows in the suddenly-hot midnight-1 a.m. hour, bringing out twin episodes of the classic cult series “Twilight Zone.”
And on weekends, he is gambling on a strategy that historically hasn’t worked: running off-net sitcoms in primetime.
The station is cutting a weekend movie to make room for “Way Cool Saturday Night,” a localized version of ABC’s successful “Thank God It’s Friday” night of primetime kids sitcoms.
“We think we can do for Saturday night what ABC did for Friday nights,” said Nathanson, noting that basic cabler Nick at Nite is most successful with its old family-oriented sitcoms on Saturday.
KTLA’s 8-10 p.m. lineup on that night will consist of “Full House” as the anchor, followed by an hour of “Family Matters” and then last season’s episodes of “Saved by the Bell.”
Nathanson believes the off-net “Bell” episodes, which involve the teens’ senior year in high school, will nicely complement the new 8 p.m. NBC primetime college version of the show on Tuesdays.
On weekday mornings, the station intends to move Tribune Entertainment’s “The Joan Rivers Show” on Sept. 6 from 9 a.m. to its old slot of noon — when it will face no talkshow competition and has traditionally done its best numbers — to make room for the new locally produced KTLA “Morning Show.”
Fox-owned rival KTTV, meanwhile, is creating a news and talk block in the mornings, but it intends to sit out the 9-10 a.m. hour. That’s when KABC-TV’s high-rated “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee” will vie against the new KTLA talker, which has the top-rated “Morning News” as its lead-in.
Starting Sept. 13, KTTV plans to air Twentieth’s “Bertice Berry Show” from 10 -11 a.m. after an hour of “I Love Lucy” reruns. Two weeks later, the station will put “The Mo Show,” a syndie tryout for comedic actress-turned-talkshow host Mo Gaffney, in the 11 a.m.-noon slot.