September 23, 2011

THE SKED: UPDATED – Thursday Ratings – Network Scorecard – 9/22/11


On what has traditionally been the flagship night for network television, a mostly subdued start.
NBC:  Amidst the carnage of its premiere week, finally there was a tenuous hour of good news for the Peacock.  THE OFFICE held very well at a 3.9, almost even with its average last season, and that was followed by a solid 3.2 for the debut of WHITNEY.  Now, last night was a big event episode for The Office, because Steve Carell’s successor as office manager was finally revealed (see our reboot review), so we’ll see how those numbers hold up next week.  (Also, when quarter-hour numbers become available later today, we’ll see how many people who tried Whitney out stayed to the end of the show.  UPDATEthe quarter-hours indicate about a 20% decline from the first half-hour to the second, suggesting some viewer dissatisfaction.)  For now, though, NBC Marketing can breathe a sigh of relief that they’ve successfully launched a show.  Not too much of a sigh, however:  after Whitney, PRIME SUSPECT was a total bust with a sad 1.8 (UPDATE:  and a 25% decline from the beginning of the hour to the end makes the story even worse).  The 8PM hour also wasn’t anything to brag about, with the terrific PARKS & RECREATION only managing a 2, and the equally marvelous COMMUNITY (come on, that 2001 sequence was sheer brilliance) just a 1.7, in both cases below last season’s average.

CBS:  Good news!  THE BIG BANG THEORY had the single highest rating of the night, a robust 4.9.  Bad news!  The massively hyped PERSON OF INTEREST, even with a full-hour Big Bang lead-in, was thoroughly unimpressive with a 3.1 (UPDATE:  although it at least held steady with only about a 10% drop during the hour)–that makes 2 procedurals, with Unforgettable, that CBS Marketing couldn’t get going this year.  The Mentalist, too, didn’t show much, with a 2.8 season premiere below last year’s average.  (Although in its defense, it faced atypical competition from ABC.)
ABC:  Nobody was longing for a reboot of CHARLIE’S ANGELS, and it managed only a dismal 2.1 debut  (UPDATE:  it grew slightly during the hour, but that’s probably a function of viewership rising between 8-9PM).  (Hey–after the failed retreads of Conan the Barbarian, Fright Night, The Bionic Woman, Knight Rider, Killer Elite, Straw Dogs, Prime Suspect and now Charlie’s Angels, could we maybe call a halt to remakes from the 1970s-90s for a while?  Huh?  I know Battlestar Galactica was brilliant, but that was about 1 in 100.  And yes, I’m aware a new Footloose is on the way.  Shoot me now.  End of rant.)  And the 2-hour GREY’S ANATOMY premiere with its 4.1 didn’t even hit last year’s average.  
FOX:  So, like, who won the night?  That would be FOX, with Night 2 of X-FACTOR.  No, it’s not Idol or Voice, but it looks like it’s going to be a sturdy performer for the network, and 2-4 hours of a reliable 4+ rating in your pocket every week is enough to make any network head happy.
CWVAMPIRE DIARIES, possibly because of the increased competition on the night, slipped to a 1.2, and more worrisome, SECRET DIARIES fell below a 1 rating.  Nothing to panic about in the CW world of ratings just yet, but not happy news either.
Tonight, the only major debut is CBS’s A GIFTED MAN, but for some of us there is a huge event this evening:  FRINGE is back!  And maybe we’ll find out if Peter still exists in a parallel universe where Community is a hit…

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."