NEW YORK — As networks start looking ahead to next season, the ratings of borderline programs, especially ones the webs had high hopes for, raise an interesting dilemma: Is it the show or the timeslot?For instance, NBC was extremely high on “The Mommies” as part of its cure for Saturday night woes. But the show struggled all year long, managing only a 7.3 rating and 13 share average — 97th place overall, and was usually third in its time period. So on March 17, NBC gave a rerun of “Mommies” a shot in its ultra-successful Thursday lineup (a repeat made sense since most viewers had not seen it before). The show’s numbers rose accordingly with the high-profile assignment. While the 12.8/21 rating may not be awe-inspiring, it did build on its lead-in, finish 27 th for the week and win the time period. But on Saturday, March 19, the picture became muddied once again, when the show returned to its regular timeslot and mustered only an 8.6/16 (though once more, it did build on its lead-in). So, the question of whether to return this show to the lineup next fall remains unanswered. Similarly, “The John Larroquette Show” was highly touted and critically acclaimed but stuck in an impossible timeslot, where it has floundered. Its 8.8/ 13 average is actually higher than what NBC had averaged on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. — against “Roseanne”– but it still is a distant third in the ratings and 83rd overall. The verdict is still out on the Wednesday night 10 p.m. battle between ABC’s “Turning Point” and CBS’ “48 Hours,” but the competition did get closer as “Point” slipped in the ratings. “Hours” scored an 11.1/19 on March 23, its highest number since “Point” came on the air, while “Point’s” third week was a 14.1/24 — strong enough to win comfortably, but 18% below the previous week’s rating. Meanwhile, despite warning cries that award shows are losing appeal, the Oscarcast earned a 31.1/49, virtually equalling last year’s 31.2/51 — despite the fact that there was little suspense in the major categories. (That lack of suspense was highlighted by the fact that the best half-hour was 10:00-10:30, 32 .9/49, well before the major awards were announced.) Additionally, ABC’s “Barbara Walters Special,” which has slumped in recent years, earned a 19.1/30, nearly equaling 1993′s 19.2/31.
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