“He appears every Friday night… like Urkel!”

Monday, February 6, 2006 by

To be honest, I’ve never understood that joke, but I love the way Homer says it.

Anyway, where were you on Friday 18 February 2005? There was a different Pope, two of the three main political parties had different leaders, and there’d still only been eight Doctor Whos. It was also the last time Channel 4 screened a new episode of The Simpsons.

We’ve never had this long a gap between series on UK TV before, and you’d have thought that having spent “football match cash” on prising the series from the Beeb, C4 might actually like to screen some of it. Obviously you expect some gap between series, but I assumed it would resume in the autumn – which it didn’t. Then I assumed it would return afterCelebrity Big Brother, but now there are new series filling the Friday 9pm slot for the foreseeable future. Nobody seems to know when it might be back.

It seems as if C4 might have miscalculated here. The last series performed tolerably well at 9pm, but hardly set the BARB boxes on fire, and the 6pm repeats don’t appear to be enjoying the sort of ratings they got at their peak on BBC2. I guess the obvious reason is that on BBC2, at least the number of repeat airings was still under a hundred or so, so seeing “Bart’s Dog Gets an F” or “Mr Plow” again on C4 was always going to see steady decline over the million repeats.

Add to this C4′s dozy screening of “A Streetcar Named Marge” with its New Orleans song days after Hurricane Katrina – where C4 said they weren’t aware of its contents, something any Simpsons fan would have been able to tell them about – and I’m really not sure it’s working out for C4.

Alright, so the “new” episodes C4 can show are hardly The Simpsons at their peak, but you could never have imagined them taking Friends off for a year when that was running. At a time when BBC2 seem to be attempting to find every way possible to take American Dad off, it’s worth remembering that the channel that was once king of the import can sometimes be even worse at handling them.


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