April 3, 2012



There’s almost an embarrassment of riches on Sunday night cable, enough good shows to overload a DVR.  Since many of these series are among the most talked-about (and honored) on all of television, we’re going to start paying attention to them.
HBOGAME OF THRONES was perfectly poised to become a Season 2 phenomenon, with exactly the kind of homevideo sales and Emmy/Golden Globe acclaim that can presage a leap in viewer attention.  That’s exactly what happened:  even though only one-third of US households subscribe to HBO, the Game premiere scored a 2.0 in its initial airing, up almost 50% from the finale of its first season, which had been its previous high.  Combined with additional showings later that night, Game hit a 3.3, enough to make it one of the highest rated scripted dramas anywhere.  That’s not quite at the exalted level of the network’s True Blood, which typically reaches the high 2s on its initial telecast alone–but it’s getting there.

SHOWTIME:  A night of well-received season finales.   SHAMELESS hit a very strong 0.7, about the same level as the network’s acclaimed Homeland finale, and not far from the 1.0 of Dexter, Showtime’s biggest hit.  CALIFORNICATION and HOUSE OF LIES were both above a 0.4, solid numbers in the Showtime universe. 
AMC:  As you may have heard, viewers are not happy with THE KILLING.  They proved it with their remotes on Sunday night, giving the season premiere a 0.5 rating that was down sharply from the 0.7 Season 1 finale.  The 0.5 was consistent with the show’s typical episodes last season, but the series is unlikely to sustain that level next week, absent the hype that season premieres usually carry.  For example, Mad Men was down from 1.2 in its season premiere last week to a still very good 1.0.  
LIFETIME:  OK, not so much “talked-about” or “awarded,” but ARMY WIVES has been a consistently strong hit for the network, and next week will serve as the lead-in for Lifetime’s highest-profile new series maybe ever, the Jennifer Love Hewitt-in-that-kind-of-massage-parlor vehicle The Client List.  So it’s worth noting that Army Wives scored a very steady 0.8 on Sunday, which should provide a good platform for Sunday’s premiere.

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."