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The 7 - Movies & TV - 10 Years of UPN and WB
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Omar Padilla
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#1 Posted on 19.7.05 2005.40
Reposted on: 19.7.12 2007.57
The WB and UPN both got their start in January 1995 (about 2 days apart from each other, UPN on Jan. 11 and WB on Jan 13.) and have since brought us about 100 hours of good TV and lots of Moesha and The Jamie Foxx Show and there has been hardly any online coverage of both of these networks early willingness to lose millions and millions of dollars every year.

During some early journalism classes we were told that these two networks were started mainly due to the other big four networks keeping the rights to their shows and running them through syndication and screwing over the independent TV sations when they would offer up the scraps at 3 times the price. A perfect example of this was FOX keeping The Simpsons and Married..with Children and just recently selling off a limited number of episodes. All of this happening while it was these guys studios that were producing a lot of the other networks big shows.

When the WB started it provided one night of primetime comedy on Wednesdays and I don't remember one single show but ALWAYS got a full dose of Michigan J. Frog during promos.

Some early UPN shows I remember were 'Platypus Man' with Richard Jeni and another show titled 'Pig Sty' from which I don't recall anything other than the name.

Of course, both networks still continue to struggle, finding a marginally hit show every couple of seasons but it's almost a given that the bottom of the Nielsen ratings will be occupied by some type of UPN or WB programming. Not being seen in a lot of the country might have something to do with it along with having their original programming airing at odd hours but it's been a decade for each network and it looks like they're going to be sticking around no matter what the cost.

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Battlezone
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#2 Posted on 19.7.05 2037.12
Reposted on: 19.7.12 2037.15
UPN, it seems, has struggled a bit more than the WB, partly because of a lack of quality programming early on (The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer? Homeboys in Outer Space?), partially because it's always been seen as the Black Network, and partially because it never had that Buffy or Dawson's Creek to build on, Smackdown! notwithstanding.

And anytime they have a critical hit that doesn't bring in the ratings, it seems to get cancelled (Platinum, Kevin Hill).

(EDIT: Whoops, guess I was wrong about Veronica Mars being cancelled. I *do* remember it and Kevin Hill being on the bubble a while back, so I must have gotten them confused. Well, as much as you can get a show about a black male lawyer confused about a show about a white teenaged girl.)

(edited by Battlezone on 19.7.05 1933)
thecubsfan
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#3 Posted on 19.7.05 2109.21
Reposted on: 19.7.12 2109.46
Uh no.
PeterStork
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#4 Posted on 19.7.05 2143.12
Reposted on: 19.7.12 2143.22
    Originally posted by Omar Padilla
    During some early journalism classes we were told that these two networks were started mainly due to the other big four networks keeping the rights to their shows and running them through syndication and screwing over the independent TV sations when they would offer up the scraps at 3 times the price. A perfect example of this was FOX keeping The Simpsons and Married..with Children and just recently selling off a limited number of episodes. All of this happening while it was these guys studios that were producing a lot of the other networks big shows.


The last line's the winner: WB and Par said "WTF are we doing taking license fees when we can make the big time ad bucks?" Par had been wanting to do this since the late 70's; Star Trek: The Masturbatory Motion Picture was originally supposed to be a series that would anchor UPN. Fifteen years (or so) later they did this with Voyager. Given, you don't deny the big four your shows, since Friends and ER made more money for Dub on NBC than they ever would have on The WB. It's just another outlet for your corporation to make bling.

I've no clue where the idea of the big four networks "keeping the rights to their shows" comes from. The studios own the show and license x number of runs to the networks over a four-year window, then renew. Syndication begins, and the cycle runs until one year after the show leaves first-run network TV. Meanwhile, the off-net runs of big four primetime shows ended up on these locals; ABC and CBS affils were too busy running local news and The Wheel to be worried about Cosby reruns. If nothing else, local indys had MORE power without the netlets, as they were able to run Star Trek: TNG and other syndie first run hits (they had those back then) in primetime as well as a lot of local sports events that got better ratings than Blue Collar TV. It's sort of win-lose for the locals; you gain some prestige and lower your costs, but lose your identity. Witness KPLR-St. Louis.

As for their struggles, the biggest hurdle is respect. Fox got it with Married... and to a greater extent The Simpsons, and with the NFL in '94 grabbed the brass ring and improved their affiliate lineup. WB and UPN got scraps, and haven't kept a solid network identity or enough quality programs to attract attention. I hate to harp, but look at Gilmore Girls: critics hail it year after year, but it's gotten ONE Emmy nom in five years (costume design.) Why? It airs on The WB. It's all about respect and public perception.
Kei Posiskunk
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#5 Posted on 20.7.05 1457.08
Reposted on: 20.7.12 1457.14
One of UPN's best early shows didn't last long at all. My mother in Frederick, MD had UPN long before I had it here in Central PA, and by the time we got it here, the one show I liked from the network's debut, "Live Shot", was already cancelled.

As far as the WB's early shows, the only ones I can remember are the Married...with Children ripoff "Unhappily Ever After", and the so-bad-it's-funny soap opera spoof "Muscle", which revolved around the heirs to some obscenely affluent gym...
Juggalo101
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#6 Posted on 20.7.05 1644.08
Reposted on: 20.7.12 1644.37

    UPN, it seems, has struggled a bit more than the WB, partly because of a lack of quality programming early on (The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer? Homeboys in Outer Space?), partially because it's always been seen as the Black Network, and partially because it never had that Buffy or Dawson's Creek to build on, Smackdown! notwithstanding.

    And anytime they have a critical hit that doesn't bring in the ratings, it seems to get cancelled (Platinum, Kevin Hill).

    (EDIT: Whoops, guess I was wrong about Veronica Mars being cancelled. I *do* remember it and Kevin Hill being on the bubble a while back, so I must have gotten them confused. Well, as much as you can get a show about a black male lawyer confused about a show about a white teenaged girl.)


Let's not forget "The Mullets."

(edited by Juggalo101 on 20.7.05 1446)
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#7 Posted on 20.7.05 1650.12
Reposted on: 20.7.12 1650.51
Didn't The WB air "The Oblongs"?
Tenken347
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#8 Posted on 20.7.05 1752.54
Reposted on: 20.7.12 1753.16
I'd forgotten about Muscle. That show was pretty funny.
J. Kyle
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#9 Posted on 20.7.05 1808.12
Reposted on: 20.7.12 1808.31
They shouldn't have cancelled Haunted.
PsychoticMidget
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#10 Posted on 20.7.05 2045.55
Reposted on: 20.7.12 2046.07
God. 10 years of some of the most laughable television on the planet.....Voyager, Enterprise, every single original comedy on UPN, every single original family drama on WB....if it wasn't for Smackdown, I'd never have watched either of these channels.

Now when Adult Swim/Cartoon Network has their anniversaries, that is cause for celebration.
XPacArmy
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#11 Posted on 21.7.05 0440.38
Reposted on: 21.7.12 0440.38
    Originally posted by AngryJohnny
    They shouldn't have cancelled Haunted.


I agree but Matthew Fox got LOST out of it so I can let that one go. On UPN I loved Nowhere Man and even Sir Mix alot's show The Watcher.
ekedolphin
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#12 Posted on 21.7.05 0605.26
Reposted on: 21.7.12 0606.20
The only reason I ever watched the WB (in Indianapolis, anyway) was for the Pacers games, and the only reason I ever watched UPN was for Voyager (but not for very long) and of course SmackDown. So, yeah, ten years of more or less completely forgettable, disposable television.
J. Kyle
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#13 Posted on 21.7.05 0719.20
Reposted on: 21.7.12 0719.40
    Originally posted by XPacArmy
      Originally posted by AngryJohnny
      They shouldn't have cancelled Haunted.


    I agree but Matthew Fox got LOST out of it so I can let that one go. On UPN I loved Nowhere Man and even Sir Mix alot's show The Watcher.
They could've run two seasons (thirty something episodes) and wrapped up the subplot before canning it and sending Matthew to Lost!

At the very least it's nice to know I'm not alone in wanting the rest of that show on DVD.
    Originally posted by PsychoticMidget
    God. 10 years of some of the most laughable television on the planet.....Voyager, Enterprise, every single original comedy on UPN, every single original family drama on WB....if it wasn't for Smackdown, I'd never have watched either of these channels.
I understand knocking UPN's comedies but WB's dramas? For every piece of crap like One Tree Hill there's something like Gilmore Girls. It's almost like they have a sense of Feng Shui for show quality.

And my major knock on both networks (But UPN especially) is prematurely pulling the plug on its better shows like the new Twilight Zone, the aforementioned Haunted, and even less remembered stuff like Nowhere Man and Game Over.
Dahak
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#14 Posted on 21.7.05 0738.32
Reposted on: 21.7.12 0739.32
WB has a lot of crap shows. However at least WB seems to have a theme. Good looking alleged teens doing things. Sure you get total crap like One Tree Hill but at least the shows seem to sort of fit together.
UPN's theme if it has one is crappy black comedy shows. But then the shows that are actually successful are not black comedy shows. Smackdown, Voyager, and Enterprise were as much as anything on UPN successful. If UPN would fix it's lazy mistakes like only having 3 bumpers for it's show and not changing them for years that might be a big help.
What is sad is that IMO at least is that a lot of cable channels are run far better than UPN and WB. Those cable channels that seem to be doing fairly well have a theme like MTV, SciFi, Nickelodean, and History Channel. Channels that seem to have no clue what they are doing like Spike and UPN.
StingArmy
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#15 Posted on 21.7.05 2112.06
Reposted on: 21.7.12 2112.25
    Originally posted by Battlezone
    (The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer? Homeboys in Outer Space?)

Hey, Homeboys wasn't all that bad! Hehe.

As for UPN and ratings issues, perhaps they continue to air various unpopular black comedy shows because they want something for the black community to enjoy and/or relate to. Or at the very least, if you don't buy that philanthropic angle, perhaps they want to make sure that they can always have somewhat of a stranglehold on at least ONE demographic, even if it isn't very large.

- StingArmy
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#16 Posted on 21.7.05 2327.47
Reposted on: 21.7.12 2328.04
I'm still wondering why, after all these years, FOX canned IN LIVING COLOUR after two seasons.

-S
Wolfram J. Paulovich
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#17 Posted on 22.7.05 0011.19
Reposted on: 22.7.12 0012.21
I think everyone in this thread is overlooking a brilliant piece of television called Shasta McNasty. For shame.




Seriously, though, the "brought us 100 hours of quality TV" comment is a pretty low estimate. I don't disagree that the ratio of good TV to bad TV on those networks is appallingly small. But critical and fan favorites like Gilmore Girls, Buffy and Angel on their own probably triple the 100-hour figure. Like I said, I'll still admit that even that tripling added to the other arguably good shows is statistically insignificant when compared to the hours upon hours of other shows that have been justifiably forgotten.
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#18 Posted on 22.7.05 0024.08
Reposted on: 22.7.12 0026.10
    Originally posted by SOK
    I'm still wondering why, after all these years, FOX canned IN LIVING COLOUR after two seasons.

    -S
Well, it was five, and all the Wayanses kinda left.

MY LIST: UPN: Voyager, 7 Days, Dilbert (always the lowest rated yet it stuck around for a couple seasons' worth of episodes), Home Movies (okay - only like four episodes), I'm pretty sure that Top Model show is doing pretty well, Gary & Mike,

WB: Sorry, can't help ya. (Although I DID watch most of the first season of Felicity as Kim was doing some hilarious recaps for a now long-gone site and I wanted to get the jokes - and Kim now reminds me that I was forced to sit through a few episodes of "Dawson's Creek" before I met her) - seriously, the best thing about our WB affiliate was they were the ones who aired WXO those three times, and they were one of the two stations that aired WOW. Oh! I watched "The PJs" after FOX booted them. (I did NOT watch any of the [adult swim] stuff when it originally aired...although I *do* have some "Mission Hill" tchochkes that were left at my local CD Warehouse one time.) Wow, this is longer than the network I *did* watch. Oh well. Now, when it comes to the soon-to-disappear-on-the-weekdays KIDS' WB...

(edited by CRZ on 22.7.05 0025)
arnoldrimmer
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#19 Posted on 22.7.05 1355.05
Reposted on: 22.7.12 1358.40
Someone else mentioned Oblongs, but, I'm happy somebody mentioned GaryAndMike, HomeMovies, Dilbert and MissionHill.

Did anybody mention BabyBlues ?

These would be the only shows on UPN/WB (other than Smackdown or occassionaly Enterprise) that I ever watched.

And, those shows are great..just great.
Tribal Prophet
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#20 Posted on 24.7.05 1705.47
Reposted on: 24.7.12 1707.33
Buffy, Angel, and What I Like About You are about it for me. Smackdown's carried on The Score in Canada an hour earlier and in MUCH better quality than the "mayonnaise on the screen" look I get from the UPN station that's carried here.


Tribal Prophet
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