Next to summer, December is the period with the most rerun programming. This month, some 45% of network schedules are filled with programming already seen. That number jumps to 75% in the summer.
The holiday season brings out the networks' place holders. For example, ABC will offer up the return of "Primetime" with a five-part series subtitled "Basic Instincts," airing at 10 p.m. Wednesdays starting Dec. 6.
But all that may not be enough to whet our TV appetites, as viewers wait to figure out what to do now that a number of drama series are taking breaks. ABC's "Lost" will rest up until starting again early next year. So, too, will Fox's "Prison Break."
So viewers need something to look at, or at least ponder, once the New Year commences. Thanks to NBC, that comes in the form of an announcement of the rejiggering of its prime-time lineup, now that its successful debut of "Sunday Night Football" goes to the sidelines. In its place come "The Apprentice" and "Crossing Jordan" ready to do battle.
Odds are, these shows probably aren't going to improve NBC's lot on Sunday night. "Desperate Housewives" still rules and its lead-out new rookie show, "Brothers & Sisters," seems to have found an audience and is improving.
For its own lot, NBC has a placeholder of its own. It'll put in a willing "Dateline NBC" to do battle with "American Idol" at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays.
Viewers really are biding their time until January's reinforcements arrive onshore--the Super Bowl and, of course, the prime-time entertainment super bowl of Fox's "American Idol" and "24."
Though the season starts in November, the deck gets shuffled big time in January. It's like the TV fall season is an NBA regular season. That means it doesn't matter where you are as a network in January, as long as you are in good position--because that's when the playoffs begin.
Right now, December means we can head out to Christmas parties with no regret. Perhaps when we do watch we will take in some new stuff, such as TBS' "My Boys," or view some true holiday programming--football, holiday cooking shows, and, of course, reruns.