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Hand Me Downs
Gordon Pepper

This isn't the first time that a show has gone from a major to a minor network, but it's the first time that something of this magnitude has happened. Mark Burnett's INXS baby has made a big poo in it's diapers. As a result, CBS is cleaning up by shipping the Monday episode over to VH1.

With that, CBS is now the last of the Big 4 to move a show over to it's little brother. Each of the big 4 has a little network that they will ship the shows that haven't been performing up to snuff. ABC has sent All-American Girl to ABC Family, NBC moved the Last Comic Standing Finale to Comedy Central and FOX has KO'ed the Next Great Champ over to Fox Sports (and shipped Playing it Straight and My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss to On-line oblivion).

CBS's record, however, had been spotless. With the exception of The Will (which only got 1 episode), every CBS reality show has gone through it's cycle on the network. This is the first time that even a part of it's programming has been outsourced to it's littler affiliate.

This is underlying a greater problem this Summer - the television ratings for reality shows has been extremely underwhelming. The usual suspects think that it's a sign that the reality show era is over. Of course, as usual, they are wrong, as the publie clearly loves shows such as Dancing With the Stars. In my opinion, the audience isn't rejecting reality shows as much as it's rejecting BAD reality shows.

Televisions biggest problem (and a problem that was spoken about before) is that everyone wants to jump on a success. Lost had huge ratings for ABC this season as one of the only sci-fi shows on a big 3 network. What happens this Summer? We have EIGHT new sci-fi shows coming in the Fall, and an exec even admits that the influx is because of the success of Lost.

There's nothing wrong with copying a great idea, as long as you make a spin of it's own and don't make a carbon copy. The Biggest Loser and Big Brother are sterling examples - they are grown from Survivor, but they have enough differences in it's play to make them different (and hits) in their own right. Let's go to some of the new shows this year. The Cut - 2 teams compete against each other in challenges, and Tommy Hilfiger eliminates people from the losing team. I Wanna Be a Hilton - 2 teams compete against each other in challenges, and Kathy Hilton eliminates people from the losing team. The Law Firm - 2 teams compete against each other in challenges, and Roy Black eliminates people from the losing team. Do we see a pattern here? Even Rock Star is an imitation of American Idol - and the audience has clearly decided that they need a break after 22 weeks of voting between pop stars and dancing queens.

It's not to say that there aren't any good Summer game shows. There are many good new summer game shows out there. The problem is that they all happen to be on cable - which, in a strange twist, is where some of the bad Summer game shows are winding up as well. Somehow, I don't think that part of the effects of all of those channels was to view what didn't work on the networks, but in this case it is. The big networks could take a lesson from the little networks - if for no other reason that if they don't, then they will be giving the little networks free programming.

Gordon Pepper recently had to switch to cable. E-mail him at


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