Was The Colbys a flop?

Discussion in 'The Colbys' started by AndyLaird, Aug 10, 2017.

  1. AndyLaird

    AndyLaird Soap Chat Active Member

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    It was obviously a disappointment ratings-wise but it still ran for 49 episodes - longer than most attempts at a primetime soap in the 1980s did, other than the Big Four.

    Did its link to Dynasty enabled it to avoid cancellation longer than would otherwise have been the case with its ratings? Or did it run for two full seasons on merit?

    Any show that makes it to 100 episodes is usually considered a success, that being the magic number for syndication. The Colbys clearly fell well short of that. But still, surviving for two full seasons is better than many shows achieve, then or now.

    So is its reputation as a flop unfair?
     
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  2. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Winner

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    I think it's reputation as a flop is unfair. I actually much prefer it's two seasons to the two concurrent seasons of Dynasty. I think with a few tweaks a third season could have made it a hit. I don't know what exactly the ratings figures for The Colbys were but I would be interested to see where it fit in with the other shows.
     
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  3. Matthew Blaisdel

    Matthew Blaisdel Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    The Colbys were the best thing on the air at the time for me, so I could never call it a flop. But that's just me saying. ;)
     
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  4. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    As John James concedes, "it wasn't a hit."

    ABC was in meltdown in 1985, after having done quite well in the late-'70s and early-'80s. I think they only had one or two shows in the Top 20 in 1985, and DYNASTY had been Number One (but slipping fast as Season 6 began dishing junky and dull stories).

    But despite the network wanting an expensive, high-budget spin-off from its biggest series DYNASTY, they then scheduled it on the worst night possible: 9 pm on Thursday night against NBC impenetrable two-hour line up of comedies (COSBY, FAMILY TIES, CHEERS and NIGHT COURT). It never made any sense, the placement, since ABC had numerous holes in its feeble weekly schedule.

    Yes, KNOTS LANDING had done well on Thursdays, but that was at 10pm against NBC's drama series (like HILL STREET BLUES and, soon, L.A. LAW)... although I think CBS temporarily moved KNOTS up to 9pm in the fall of 1986 as counterprogramming to THE COLBYS and to get KNOTS away from highly-hyped-for-a-year-prior-to-premiering L.A. LAW.

    THE COLBYS didn't have a chance in that time slot. Nor did dying DYNASTY when they placed it in exactly the same spot in 1988 (despite the scripting improving markedly).

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    This photo...

    [​IMG]

    ...h-h-h-holy crap, is that the most demonic-looking child you've ever seen? And Fallon's expression... *shudders*
     
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  6. Matthew Blaisdel

    Matthew Blaisdel Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I think these pictures in the TV guide at the time were drawn, not actual photos, weren't they?
    And if that ad came on before episode 4, i'd say it is way too spoilery.:re: I would have been angry.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
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  7. Ked

    Ked Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I wouldn't know. Chances are they were. They still look freaky, though. :lol:

    Agreed. ^^
     
  8. AndyLaird

    AndyLaird Soap Chat Active Member

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    Thanks all. It would be interesting to know the average number of episodes in a broadcast network show's run, if anyone has any idea?

    Personally, as shows are usually only contracted and planned for one season at a time, I'd only call a show a "flop" if it fails to make it to the end of its first season.
     
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  9. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    It varies so much from decade to decade about how many episodes constitute a "season."

    In the 1950s, they made 39 episodes per year. By the mid-'60s it was about thirty. By the time the '70s began it was 22 to 24 episodes per year, and that number was maintained for quite a while. In the '80s, because they soon learned the nighttime soaps re-ran to lousy number during the summer, they began upping the number of episodes to 27 or even 31, although "normal" shows stayed at 22 or 24.

    Now it's all different. Hit shows may do only 13 episodes a year. While many programs, like reality or competition shows, do two seasons a year, etc...
     
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  10. AndyLaird

    AndyLaird Soap Chat Active Member

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    Hi, yes I know that, what I mean is any statistics for average number of *total* episodes - Dynasty had 220, Dallas had 357, but those are obviously way above average. Is the Colbys' 49 about average, or below?

    I'd guess that the average successful show runs for 5 to 7 seasons so about 100 to 150 episodes. But many shows are not successful, and a lot fail to make it even to the end of their first season, so the average must be much lower.
     
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  11. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Well, yeah, I'd assume shorter lasting show had racked up smaller episode totals.

    GUNSMOKE ran 20 years and made 636 episodes.
    BONANZA ran 14 years and made 432 episodes.
    KNOTS LANDING ran 14 years and made 344 episodes.

    If THE COLBYS made 49 episodes, that's consistent with ~24 episodes annually, obviously.

    What are you asking exactly? I don't think I'm getting it...
     
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  12. AndyLaird

    AndyLaird Soap Chat Active Member

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    I'll put it in terms of number of seasons rather than number of episodes if that makes it clearer.

    Knots ran for 14 seasons
    Dallas ran for 13 seasons (depending on how you count them)
    Dynasty and Falcon Crest ran for 9
    Buffy ran for 7
    Revenge ran for 4
    The Colbys, only 2
    Blood and Oil, only 0.5...

    So, a huge diversity. My question is if anyone ever works out what is the average number of seasons (or episodes) a US show will run for, and has it changed over time?

    I.e. If the only shows made in the 1980s were the four supersoaps and the Colbys, you'd say the average length was 9.4 seasons or about 240 episodes. But clearly there were many other shows made, and I haven't seen anybody collate these sort of statistics to enable us to judge whether, relative to the average, a show was relatively long-running or relatively short-lived.
     
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  13. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Winner

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    My head hurts...
     
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  14. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Long story short, it was not a flop in the traditional sense of the word. It didn't end because people hated it out of existence.
    There were no people marching through the streets carrying "Go Away Stupid Colbys" banners.
     
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  15. Alexis

    Alexis Soap Chat Winner

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    Maybe just Joan?
     
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  16. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    For two years. Day after day after day.
     
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  17. Carrie Fairchild

    Carrie Fairchild Soap Chat Fan

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    In terms of ratings, from what I've read, I don't think The Colbys ever won it's timeslot. In it's first season, it finished 35th out of 69 shows overall (the closest "veteran" soap to this was Falcon Crest at 27). However there were weeks when it was rating as low as 54th out of 69 for the week. By season two, it finished 64th overall so that was it's death knell.

    The fact that it got a second season isn't hugely unusual. There have been plenty of times that a network has renewed a show for a second season despite middling ratings. Recent examples like Agent Carter or Galavant didn't exactly set the ratings alright but the network obviously had some sort of investment in them to give them another chance. The Colbys connection to Dynasty obviously helped but it was also obvious that it was a good show on it's merits. It's a shame that the network didn't have the cop on to air it in a slightly less competitive slot.

    In terms of it being "a flop", The Colbys is the one short-lived primetime soap from the 80's that has lived on the longest. This is probably due in part to it's Dynasty connection and big name cast, but look at Flamingo Road, another two season wonder with around 40 episodes. It rarely (if ever) gets a repeat run or a mention these days. Ditto Emerald Point NAS which ran for a full season. The Colbys made a lasting impression, so while it may not have spun the right numbers at the time, in the long run it has carved itself a niche nook in TV history.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
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  18. AndyLaird

    AndyLaird Soap Chat Active Member

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    Narrative-wise its short run arguably helped the overall franchise, because it enabled the reintegration of Jeff and Fallon into the main show and for Sable to be waiting in the wings ready to cross over when needed. Had it run longer it would have become more and more distant, as Knots did from Dallas.

    It would have been nice if it could have had a third season and then have both shows come back together for a final joint season but of course they don't plan things like that.
     
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  19. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson drilling for soap

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    Yes, it could have been light years away from Dynasty I.
     
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  20. Michael Torrance

    Michael Torrance Soap Chat Well-Known Member

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    THE COLBYS was a colossal bad investment on the part of network and producers. At a time when they were letting DYNASTY slip quality-wise, they gambled it all on two nights of a team that had already thrown in the towel. I think because DYNASTY was able to bring itself around in 6B, Shapiro and Spelling were able to Dr. Mabuse their way into ABC giving it a second year.

    In terms of it being a flop, as @Carrie Fairchild mentioned, it never won its timeslot for two years. Maybe with a smaller budget it could have survived and found its footing, but then again without the DYNASTY pedigree (and big budget because of it) it could have easily died a quicker death. Ironically though, the better second season got the worst ratings--not unlike DYNASTY season 5 getting the best ratings among the first 5 years despite being the worst of them.

    But in terms of it becoming KNOTS, KNOTS LANDING wrote the rule book on how to do a spin off right, establishing its own personality and stories and tone/style, so that the Ewing connection was tangential to only one of its many families and eventually severing ties was no big loss.
     
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