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'Brooklyn Nine-Nine,' 'Last Man Standing' and other shows that switched networks

Andy Samberg stars in  "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."

Andy Samberg stars in  "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." Credit: FOX/John P Fleenor

In reprieves for a pair of beloved series, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” will jump from Fox to NBC next fall, while “Last Man Standing” moves from ABC to Fox. Unusual, yes, but far from unprecedented: While rare in recent years, there have been many instances of shows jumping from one network to another between seasons.

Reasons vary from show to show, network to network. NBC quickly picked up "Brooklyn" because it has a cult following and happens to also be produced in-house. Fox wanted "Last Man" because of what might be called the "Roseanne" effect — the Tim Allen show appeals to conservative viewers.   

Here's a look at some other notable network switches:

“Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” from the WB to UPN, 2001: “Buffy” effectively launched the WB, but after five years there, its owner, 20th Century Fox, decided to go shopping. The result: a 44-episode, $102 million deal with UPN, which was still looking for some mojo, even after nearly a decade on the air. Creator Joss Whedon used the opportunity to pay back a former WB chief, who had dismissed “Buffy's” importance to the WB, telling Variety, "I've been dumped by my fat old ex, and Prince Charming has come and swept me off my feet.” But the prince turned into a frog: “Buffy” lasted only a couple more seasons.

“Diff'rent Strokes,” NBC to ABC, 1985. For its eighth and what would become final season, “Diff'rent Strokes” made the leap from NBC to ABC. Ratings had tumbled at NBC by the seventh, but ABC was desperate. This move was also the beginning of what would come to be known as the “Strokes” curse: Star Todd Bridges — Willis Jackson — was arrested during the season and later charged with making a bomb threat against a car repairman who had taken too long to fix his car. (Other troubles would follow other cast members — most famously, Dana Plato.) The show was canned after 19 episodes.
"Wagon Train,” NBC to ABC, 1962. The reason why the top-rated show on television would jump to the bottom-rated network in 1962 remains one of the enduring mysteries of a mysterious business. But it's fair to assume that the silent hand of MCA chief Lew Wasserman was behind this one. Wasserman, and MCA, controlled the NBC prime-time schedule, as producer and packager of more than a dozen series there. Why did Wasserman take his top performer from NBC to also-ran ABC? Perhaps to establish his influence there, too? "Train" never regained its dominance at ABC.

“Taxi,” ABC to NBC, 1982. “Taxi” — one of the most honored series in TV history to this time — had a couple of bad breaks at ABC. First, the network moved it from Tuesdays to Wednesdays, where the audience largely abandoned it. Then, ABC decided to turn into the Aaron Spelling Network. No room anymore for this smart, brassy, bomb thrower of a sitcom. ABC dumped the series, and HBO immediately made an offer that was promptly topped by NBC, then under the leadership of Grant Tinker, who had earlier produced it at MTM, the production company he ran with Mary Tyler Moore. Tinker paired it with a fledgling “Cheers.” “Taxi” faltered, “Cheers” was another story.

“Father Knows Best,” CBS to NBC, 1955. In one of the worst programming moves in history, CBS — or rather the sponsor, Kent Cigarettes — canceled “Father” after just one season. Fans revolted, a new sponsor (Scott Paper) stepped in and NBC took the show. It instantly became a Wednesday phenom, and on a number of other nights, too. “Father” lasted until 1963.

“My Three Sons,” ABC to CBS, 1965. In arguably the second-worst programming move ever, ABC dropped “Sons” after four seasons because it didn't want to pay the additional cost of producing it in color. CBS happily paid, and “My Three Sons” went on for another eight seasons — in color. Even now, “Sons” — with more than 300 episodes — is one of the most successful comedies in TV history.

“JAG,” NBC to CBS, 1997. Finally, an instance of a network jump that reverberates to this day. Creator Don Bellisario sold this show to NBC, where it lasted but one season. When it was canceled, he claimed he “already” had offers from ABC and CBS. He went with the latter and the rest is . . . well, you know. “JAG” lasted until 2003, by which time it had spun off “NCIS.” What happened with NBC? "[NBC] wanted action, and I wanted a mix of legal [drama] and action," he later told the Chicago Tribune. CBS chief Leslie Moonves made the adjustment and added co-lead Catherine Bell. Bellisario said Moonves “took great delight in the fact that it was part of the building block that started the CBS turnaround.”

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