Nothing lasts forever. Not even a show about nothing.
So say good night to Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer at a reasonable hour on WNYO-TV.
After close to two decades of reruns on prime real estate on Sinclair Broadcasting’s WUTV and sister station WNYO, “Seinfeld” reruns are tentatively moving next fall to 2 a.m. on WNYO. It’s the equivalent of telling “Seinfeld” fans “No soup for you.”
“There’s not much left anymore; it has run its course,” said WUTV and WNYO General Manager Nick Magnini, a big fan of the series.
As Elaine would say, “get out.”
Run its course?
To turn around a famous “Seinfeld” phrase, there’s something wrong with that idea.
If we’re talking about the primary thing in the television business – making money – Magnini is right.
But if you’re looking for some serenity now, consider that the DVR was invented post-“Seinfeld” and fans can just record episodes at 2 a.m. and watch it the next day at the time they are used to watching it.
The show’s ratings aren’t what they used to be, which means it no longer is big with advertisers. In its heyday during the late 1990s, “Seinfeld” reruns got ratings in the 6.0 to 6.8 range. As recently as May 2012, it almost averaged a 3 rating. But during the 2014 May sweeps, “Seinfeld” averaged just four-tenths of a rating point on WNYO.
The WNYO announcement comes just a few days after the 25th anniversary of the first “Seinfeld” episode, and it came from a huge fan.
“It is my favorite show of all time,” said Magnini. “They will always be my favorite shows.”
He said his favorite “Seinfeld” episodes were the “Marble Rye” episode and “The Contest.”
“Seinfeld” fans will know what he is talking about, though I can’t print what “The Contest” was about. The characters didn’t say the word, either.
“ ‘The Contest’ was so funny because they never used any words that crossed the line,” said Magnini. “That was the absolute gem of ‘Seinfeld.’ ”
“Seinfeld” has been running this year at 10 and 10:30 p.m. on WNYO. It had much better time slots on Fox affiliate WUTV when its reruns first started in 1995 before episodes also appeared on cable networks.
“I don’t think there has been a fresh episode in 16 or 17 years,” said Magnini.
He is right. The controversial “Seinfeld” finale aired May 14, 1998, more than 16 years ago.
The program premiered July 5, 1989, with the first of four episodes financed by NBC’s late-night department because prime-time network executives didn’t believe it would click with audiences.
It also didn’t get much promotion. I remember being one of a handful of critics sitting around a table in Los Angeles interviewing Jerry Seinfeld about the show.
NBC’s prime-time executives turned out to be as silly as Kramer. It eventually became television’s No. 1 show and is widely considered to be one of the top comedies in history, if not the top comedy.
I was asked recently to list my top five episodes of all time. It was an impossible contest. I couldn’t do it. Every time I tried, I changed my mind. I simply can’t recall an episode that I didn’t enjoy.
The series simply became the master of its domain – television.
And there will never be another one to last more almost two decades in prime syndication real estate.
Magnini isn’t saying that “Seinfeld” will continue forever at a time most of us are sleeping.
“I own it for the next four or five years,” said Magnini. “I could easily bring it back. There could be a whole new generation of viewers. I can’t think of any series that has that kind of legs.”
Consider what is tentatively scheduled to air in a couple of time slots where “Seinfeld” used to run. At 10:30 p.m. weekdays after Channel 2’s news, WUTV plans to carry reruns of a TV Land series, “Hot in Cleveland.”
At 10 p.m. weekdays, WNYO will be carrying reruns of NBC’s little-watched “Community,” which has been saved for a sixth original season by Yahoo!” At 10:30 p.m., WNYO will carry reruns of ABC’s “The Middle.”
And consider the fate of “Modern Family,” which just received its fifth straight Emmy nomination as best comedy. Next fall, rerun episodes are being moved to 11 and 11:30 p.m. on WNYO after disappointing in early evening time slots this year.
“It does OK, but not as good as we thought it would,” said Magnini.
In other words, it is no “Seinfeld.” Nothing ever will be.
Amazingly, “Seinfeld” won only one Emmy for best comedy – in 1993 – and it won only 10 Emmys overall. That should give some serenity now to series and actors who were snubbed in Thursday’s Emmy nominations.
As I blogged Thursday on Talkin’ TV, the biggest snub was in the outstanding drama category as CBS’ “The Good Wife” failed to be nominated in a very deep category.
I haven’t been as shocked since the episode in which Will Gardner (Josh Charles) was killed. “The Good Wife” had a terrific season, certainly stronger than the seasons that PBS’s “Downton Abbey” or AMC’s “Mad Men” had.
Julianna Margulies, Buffalo native Christine Baranski and Charles received acting nominations for their “Good Wife” roles. That says something since there seems to be a prejudice in favor of cable and streaming shows and actors over those in popular broadcast series.
In almost every prominent category, the newer platforms dominated. The actor in a freshman broadcast program believed to be in position to get a big nomination – James Spader of NBC’s popular “The Blacklist” – was ignored in a very strong category. Andre Braugher (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) and Allison Janney (“Mom”) were the only actors in a new broadcast series to be nominated and that was for supporting roles.
The usual broadcast network suspects were nominated – Jim Parsons of “The Big Bang Theory,” Amy Poehler of “Parks and Recreation,” Melissa McCarthy of “Mike & Molly” and Kerry Washington of “Scandal.“
I suspect television critics gathered in Los Angeles right now to preview the new fall season offerings are hearing a familiar refrain from network executives – those cable and streaming guys play by different content rules and that leads to more nominations and awards.
But when a show as good as “The Good Wife” that was created to compete with cable can’t get a best drama nomination, broadcast networks have to wonder if they are even in a fair fight.