‘EZ’ does it: CBS juggles three nights

CBS is revamping its Monday, Wednesday and Friday night lineups during March and April in an effort to try out new midseason replacements, as well as current shows in new slots.

Starting Monday, March 3, CBS will give a rest to its veteran 9 p.m. anchor sitcom “Murphy Brown” and move “Cybill” into that slot from the 9:30 p.m. slot. “Ink,” the Ted Danson-Mary Steenburgen DreamWorks Television freshman, will move to the 9:30 slot, and “Everybody Loves Raymond,” a critics favorite that has struggled in the Friday 8:30 slot, will get a shot on Mondays at 8:30 following “Cosby.”

Wednesdays will start looking different on March 5, when the 8:30-9 p.m. Warner Bros. Television freshman “Pearl” moves to the sidelines until the end of April, to be replaced by the midseason comedy “Temporarily Yours” from 20th Century Fox Television. The 9-10 p.m. newsmagazine “Coast to Coast” is also going off the schedule and will be replaced by the Universal Television drama “Feds.”

Also returning to the schedule in the 10-11 p.m. slot is the critically praised “EZ Streets,” which was pulled last fall after two airings failed to generate any positive ratings. To refamiliarize viewers with the show, CBS will broadcast a recap of the two-hour pilot and the initial one-hour episode on Monday, March 3, in the 10-11 p.m. “Chicago Hope” slot, then start with new episodes on March 5.

“Orleans,” which had been airing in the 10-11 p.m. Wednesday slot and averaging a 9.1 rating and 15 share, according to Nielsen, will move to Friday night in the 9-10 p.m. slot effective March 28. The network will have aired four of the seven episodes it ordered from Paramount Network Television after this week. During the March sweeps, CBS has movies and award shows slotted in the 9-11 p.m. slot.

In relation to that move, “JAG,” the hourlong military drama which made its Friday 9-10 p.m. debut earlier this month, will move into the 8-9 p.m. hour, replacing “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Dave’s World,” the latter of which is on a break until May sweeps.

Critics’ darling

CBS is hoping that the move of “Everybody Loves Raymond” to the more visible Monday timeslot will give the show a much-needed spark. It has averaged a 6.4 rating and 12 share on Friday night without a strong lead-in. If the show, which is produced by David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants and HBO Independent Prods., performs well in its new slot, the network may have to find a new home for the show down the road. It is very doubtful that any of the Monday comedies would leave to make room.

Carsey-Werner’s “Cybill” has averaged a 11.2/17 in the 9:30 slot, and with it unclear whether the still-strong Warner Bros. Television vet “Murphy Brown” will return for a 10th season, the network may be thinking about the future of that slot with its test of “Cybill.”

Old reliable

“Murphy Brown” will be back for the May sweeps. The network said that by the end of February, it will have aired 20 of 24 episodes it ordered and wants to rest the show, which will return April 21. “Ink” will return to its 8:30 slot at the end of April as well.

Universal Television’s “EZ Streets,” which was the darling of TV critics last fall, will get another shot against what the network hopes will be weaker competition. NBC’s “Law & Order,” which currently airs in the Wednesday 10-11 p.m. timeslot, is moving to Thursdays in the 10-11 p.m. slot effective March 13, while “ER” takes a break. The Warner Bros. midseason police drama “Prince Street” moves into the Wednesday 10-11 p.m. slot effective March 12. During its brief fall run, “EZ Streets” averaged a 5.1 rating and 8 share.

As for “Coast to Coast,” which has been averaging an 8.4/13 in the Wednesday 9-10 p.m. slot, the network has ordered additional episodes for a summer run.

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