THE SAYING that one can't play God doesn't hold true for television networks. They are playing God every week, at least they sound like it when you read about the fight for television ratings. In the B.S. (before Silverman) says, the network used to move shows around if they weren't working. But as the competition got tougher and the stakes higher, they began to move around nights.
Now tha twe're into mid-season, all the networks are starting to move their nights around to see if they can come up with better Nielsen numbers.
This is what is going on. There is a large bedroom. At one end are charts of all the shows on each network schedule, and the nights they appear on the air. They're hung on hooks so they can be moved around.
Zellerbach, the network's Vice President-in-Charge-of Darkness, says, "All right, let's face it. Monday didn't work. Let's move Monday night to Thursday."
Trembling, the Program Director says, "Wait. Thursday is starting to look strong. If we put Monday night in there we could lose our momentum."
Piltdown, the Vice President for Sales, says, "Where could YOU put Monday night?"
"Friday," Trembling says. "I wanted to put Monday night on Friday from the start, but you guys fought me and said Monday night should be slotted on Monday."
"That was at the beginning of the season," Zellerbach says. "We had to give it a try on the night we had it originally scheduled for."
Ringading, the network's affiliate man, says, "Suppose the stations go along with you putting Monday night on Friday, where do you intend to put Friday?"
"On Monday," Trembling says.
"It won't work," Zellerbach says. "We're not doing any better on Friday than we are on Monday. If we're going to move Monday further down the week we have to move up something stronger in its place."
What's wrong with Wednesday?" Piltdown wants to know.
"Not Wednesday!" Trembling shouts. "Wednesday is our strongest night. If we put it on Monday we could not only lose Wednesday but Tuesday as well."
Ringading says, "I'm not so sure. If we could start off the week with Wednesday, we could pick up points for Tuesday as well as Monday, if it was slotted in Wednesday's plce."
Zellerbach says, " We can give it a try. If it doesn't work, we can always put Wednesday back, beginning the first of the year."
"Does anyone want to talk about Saturday?"
"Do we have to?" Piltdown says.
"Well, we can't leave it where it is," Trembling says. "I think Saturday should be on Thursday."
Zellerbach says, "Do you think our Thursday-night audience can wait until Saturday to see it?"
"Yes," says Trembling, "because if we move Saturday to Thursday the other two networks will be forced to counter-program us with their Saturday shows. Once they panic, we'll move Thursday back to its original place and sweep the evening."
"Okay. That should take care of the week."
Trembling says, "You forgot Sunday night."
"I must be getting groggy. What are we going to do about Sunday?" Zellerbach says.
Piltdown replies. "Why can't we leave Sunday where it is?"
Trembling says, "He's right. Maybe we could sneak Sunday in on Tuesday, except for the football games."
Piltdown says, "Why can't we move the football games too?"
Zellerbach says, "Who do you think we are? God?"