NBC attempted to save Voyagers! (1982) by changing their scheduled day and time. They aired the ninth episode, “The Travels of Marco Polo … and Friends,” on Friday, December 3, 1982, at 8:00 pm before Knight Rider (1982).
A simple text advert appeared with a TV listing in newspapers across the country – “See “Voyagers” on a Special Night. All New Excitement!!!”
Unfortunately for Voyagers! (1982), ABC’s Dukes of Hazzard (1979) held the audience, and the ratings hardly budged. The show returned to its regular schedule on Sunday evening. NBC also considered moving Voyagers! (1982) to Saturday mornings, but the production was too costly for anything other than prime-time.
James Parriott told the press, “We’ve got a responsibility at 7, and that’s the bottom line. We’re in a very special hour of television, and we feel it strongly. That affects everything we do. If the public wanted to watch good TV, there’d be good TV on. If they’d rather watch Dukes of Hazzard, then that’s what the Network has to give them.”
NBC received at least 22 complaints when Voyagers! (1982) was pre-empted for one week. Those parents thought the show was an excellent program that enriched history. The weak response still unsettled James Parriott. He ultimately felt that viewers would get the television they want no matter how good or bad it is. Parriott told The Meeno Peluce Fanclub, “Believe me, it is really discouraging to see Dukes of Hazzard succeed and Voyagers! Fail.”
When the mighty Neilson Ratings began their February “sweeps” period, Voyagers! (1982) aired with barely any publicity or advertising, and the ratings steadily declined.
The 14th episode, “Sneak Attack,” aired in February 1983. Because it was nearly Valentine’s Day, NBC Ads amped up the romantic moments between Bogg and his love interest for the week, Jackie Knox. Voyagers! (1982) still dismally ranked eighty-second among 84 prime-time television shows that aired in the 1982-83 TV season.
Jon-Erik Hexum stayed optimistic. “Considering the time period, I don’t think we’ve done that badly. I would say we’ve done marginally poorly. Really!”
Jon-Erik continued his defense: “You take any show NBC has got – even “Hill Street Blues” – and put it in that time slot: I guarantee you it will end up in the toilet.”
The lead cast did what they could to promote the show throughout its run. On December 4, 1982, Meeno Peluce and his official Fan Club were guests at the Los Angeles Science-Fiction/Multi-Media Convention.
Jon-Erik Hexum paid to have his own poster designed and sent over five thousand copies to various Junior High and High Schools across the country. TV and radio stations in over twenty-eight cities interviewed Hexum before December 3, 1982. Jon-Erik was the Star of the Day at a Universal Studios Event in 1983. The efforts were mildly successful, extending the show into 1983.
By March 1983, however, Jon-Erik Hexum saw the writing on the wall and wrote to the Meeno Peluce Fan Club administrators. (On the back of a script page!) At that time, they’d just started a new Fan Club and named it, The Voyagers Mission Society.
In 1983, The Young Artists Awards nominated Meeno Peluce in Voyagers! (1982) for Best Young Actor in a New Television Series. He lost to Ricky Schroder from Silver Spoons (1982).
The eighteenth episode, “All Fall Down,” aired on March 27, 1983, and Voyagers! (1982) was officially canceled in April 1983. NBC put the show on a nearly three-month hiatus. “Barriers of Sound” aired on June 12, and Journalist Rick Sherwood wrote that he was sorry more families didn’t catch on to the show. He wrote: “Voyagers! – The best kids’ show to debut in 1982-83 – returns to TV Sunday at 7 pm on NBC; unfortunately, it won’t be around long. It wasn’t the quality of the show that killed this one – it was the quality of the competition. It was – and is again – up against CBS’ 60 Minutes, the year’s most popular program.”
(A fan video I made over a decade ago with a song “The Riddle” from the great Broadway show, “The Scarlet Pimpernel.”)
Voyagers! (1982) disappeared for another month, and the final episode, “Jack’s Back,” aired on July 10, 1983. It ranked 95 out of 97 prime-time television shows.
Despite averaging a seventeen share in viewership, Voyagers! (1982) was replaced. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) required the first network hour on a Sunday to be a children’s program or news and information. NBC believed that a news show would give them prestige and a more desirable audience than Voyagers! (1982).
The TV Newsmagazine Monitor (1983) premiered on April 12, 1983. It was named after a popular radio program that aired from 1955-1975 on NBC Radio Network. Lloyd Dobyns, the host of Monitor (1983), was initially told by NBC Executive Grant Tinker that he couldn’t have the Sunday 7:00 pm time slot, but perhaps by September. The news show was a failed attempt to compete with 60 Minutes (1968) from the start.
Monitor (1983) was predicted to get no more than twelve percent of the viewing audience. It placed last in the ratings as one of the least-watched programs of prime-time. It was renamed First Camera but was canceled on April 1, 1984, with only a nine share.
NBC introduced a new line-up of “gimmick” shows. Mr. Smith (1983), featuring a talking, Orangutan genius, and Jennifer Slept Here (1983), about a Hollywood ghost helping a family that had moved into her former home. Both lasted only 13 episodes. Manimal (1983), a fantasy about a British Criminologist who can transform into animals at will, was pulled after only eight episodes.
Voyagers! (1982) was the most engaging and successful out of all the replacements. It ended without a complete resolution, but then again, it didn’t quite need one. Phineas Bogg and Jeffrey Jones loved their time-travel work, and fans can assume they continued to fufill their historical missions beyond the cosmos as long as they could.