''Getting Personal'' and ''The Brian Benben Show'' fell flat this fall

By Joe Flint
Updated October 23, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

A Personal Loss Pity Jon Cryer. Twice now efforts to revive the Famous Teddy Z star’s sitcom career have fallen victim to faulty Fox scheduling experiments. First there was 1995-96’s Partners, which some brain trust decided to air on Mondays after Melrose Place (comedies never play well after dramas — an industry rule of thumb). Now Cryer’s Getting Personal has just died on the Friday-night vine.

Fox was figuring that with ABC and CBS going after kids and families on Fridays, there was an opening for more sophisticated comedies. One look at CBS’ failed attempts at the same strategy (with The Gregory Hines Show last year and Everybody Loves Raymond the year before) could have cured it of that misguided notion. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

”It’s clear our Friday-night time slot sucked,” says Personal executive producer Jeff Strauss (who also exec-produced Partners). ”I’m saddened. This was a terrific show that deserved a chance.” On the other hand, he adds, ”maybe it got all the chance a show can get these days.”

Personal hasn’t been the only victim of inept scheduling: Fox’s boldest move of the season — switching King of the Hill from Sunday at 8:30 p.m. to Tuesday at 8 p.m. — has backfired badly; the show has lost almost half of last year’s audience, and its lead-out, Costello, has already been yanked. But while he isn’t mad at Fox (”They were very supportive of us creatively”), Strauss will concede that a stronger promotional campaign wouldn’t have hurt. The net tried one slogan, ”For Adults Only” (intended for both Personal and its now-on-hiatus lead-in, Living in Captivity), which was quickly scrapped because — believe it or not — Fox’s sales department considered it too controversial to sell to advertisers. But as Strauss points out, ”Controversy at least gets noticed.”

Death of ”Brian”? By the time you read this The Brian Benben Show will be history. The CBS sitcom has been losing almost a third of its Raymond audience and hurting its lead-out, L.A. Doctors. The heir apparent? Eventually, Ted Danson’s mid-season comedy Becker.

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