March 16, 2012



Greendale Community College 4-Ever!
NBC:  The network seized the opportunity opened by CBS’s sure-to-be-low-rated NCAA coverage, and COMMUNITY‘s 2.2 was by far its highest rating of the season.  In fact, it was only 0.1 below THE OFFICE, NBC’s signature scripted sitcom.  That will probably never happen again, so allow a Community fan to savor the moment:  Community’s rating was only 0.1 below The Office’s last night.  (And The Office had the benefit of low CBS competition too.)  30 Rock, with a good lead-in, leaped to a season high as well, although down a bit from Community.  After that, things went downhill:  The Office (which seems to be keeping Catherine Tate around and demoting Ed Helms, both decent ideas) matched its all-time series low, and UP ALL NIGHT (which is well on its way to becoming a genuinely distasteful show) held at a low 1.7.  AWAKE managed to hold steady to its Week 2  rating of 1.6 (still putting it in a probable 3d place for the hour), this time facing original programming on ABC.  Creatively, though, the show is starting to become quite annoying, as it refuses to set narrative rules and follow them:  this week’s episode, apart from completely ignoring last week’s revelation, suddenly introduced the idea of crimes in both realities essentially being identical, rather than just referring to one another.  The show is also hampered by the hackneyed crime stories it’s using:  anyone who didn’t know who the killer was going to be by last night’s first commercial break wasn’t trying. 

ABC:  NCAA coverage was also supposed to provide a launching pad for MISSING, but that didn’t turn out so well.  Missing‘s 2.0, while better than recent Wipeout ratings, was 3d place in its hour (and below Community’s triumphant return… sorry, I’ll stop now). However, it’s worth noting that the show did extremely well with viewers 50+, the 2d highest rated show of the night with that audience, beating both GREY’S ANATOMY and PRIVATE PRACTICE.  (If ABC cancels the show, CBS might want to give it a shot.)   Grey’s itself set an all-time series low with 3.0–it’s not a good sign for Thursday night viewing in general that on a night when CBS was unusually low-rated, both NBC and ABC had series lows at 9PM–then Practice was 0.1 above its season low.
FOXAMERICAN IDOL won the night for FOX, even though it tied a season low for Thursday episodes.  A 2.2 for the repeat of TOUCH‘s pilot was a decent set-up for the new episodes starting next week.
CBS:  Airing the round-of-64 games of the NCAA TOURNAMENT is the price CBS pays for the higher-rated rounds to come (and also probably gives the network some young male eyeballs), and its preliminary 1.7 was lower than any of the network’s usual shows on the night.
CW:  A return to new episodes for the first time in several weeks gave VAMPIRE DIARIES a slightly lower 1.2 rating–still far above anything else on that network–and SECRET CIRCLE an steady 0.7.
Against the NCAA tonight, NBC airs a repeat GRIMM and FOX is in repeats, so the only original scripted programming on network television is on CW.  However, USA will use the night to bring back the somewhat revamped FAIRLY LEGAL and the final season of IN PLAIN SIGHT, and may be able to get some mileage from the lack of scripted competition.

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."