October 12, 2011

THE SKED: UPDATED – CW Declares All-Out Victory; NBC Rewards the Undead

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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The definition of “success” on network television becomes ever more flexible…
CW has decided to make lemonade with its awfully lemony-looking new shows, and it’s given back-orders to HART OF DIXIE, THE SECRET CIRCLE and RINGER.  None of them are doing better than an 0.8 (Dixie only managed a 0.6 on Monday), but the network is calling it all a win.  Contributing factors here probably include the fact that the veteran lead-ins for the new shows are suffering themselves (90210, GOSSIP GIRL and VAMPIRE DIARIES are all down at least 10% from last season), and launching new shows for midseason would require considerable extra marketing costs for results that might very well be no better.  in the ratings took advantage of last night’s uptick in RINGER‘s rating (all the way to 0.8!) to call it a win and give the show a back order today.  In truth, the show is doing at least as well as any of the network’s other new series, so the only surprise in any of this is that SECRET CIRCLE wasn’t the one to get the network’s first pick-up, but apparently management needed a little more time to ponder their witches. 

Meanwhile, over at NBC:  both PRIME SUSPECT (1.5 rating last week) and HARRY’S LAW (1.2) have been declared successful enough to merit orders of 6 backup scripts.  Now, a backup script order is a long way from one for additional episodes–the difference in financial commitment is in the neighborhood of $500K vs. $5M–but it suggests that the network is (somehow) not displeased with the way the shows are going, and wants to be able to keep the series in continuing production without costly hiatuses if ratings continue as they are and the decision is made to pull the trigger on extra episodes.  In the real world, it’s hard to see how either show could be doing worse, but at NBC these days, the philosophy increasingly seems to be that if you say something crazy in a strong enough voice, it’ll start to sound sane. 

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."