March 30, 2012



The new shows tumble.
FOXTOUCH faced new scripted competition from CBS for the first time, and even though NBC and ABC were still mostly in repeats during the hour, Touch lost half a ratings point to 2.8.  That’s a solid number, and a decent retention of its American Idol lead-in, but the show’s position will be uncertain until it shows what it can do against a fully-stocked hour.  (As for Touch itself, in only its 3d episode its weird narrative line is already showing strain–last night required yet another semi-autistic character, one more communicative than Kiefer Sutherland’s son, to enter the scene and virtually spoon-feed Sutherland the main storyline.)  Idol itself was strong enough with a 4.2 (tying the season low) to give FOX the nightly win, although its first half-hour fell behind Big Bang Theory.

NBCAWAKE almost certainly sealed its fate by falling to a 1.0, with an episode that made it increasingly clear that the show doesn’t have anything interesting to say about grief or identity–its alternating worlds are just gimmicks to provide random clues for solving banal procedural stories.  But in the odd universe that is NBC these days, COMMUNITY‘s 1.7 was something to crow about.  The show (featuring another welcome guest appearance by John Goodman as the sinister head of Greendale’s Air Conditioning Repair wing and a plotline that riffed on George Orwell’s 1984) held even with last week, even with giant new competition from Big Bang Theory, and it outscored 30 Rock (a dim 1.5) at 8:30, all of which should make it a fairly safe bet for renewal if it can hold on to those levels for the next few weeks. THE OFFICE was a repeat, and that pushed UP ALL NIGHT (with special guest star Stevie Nicks?!?) to a series low 1.3.  
ABCMISSING is getting a little more diverting creatively in its basic cable-ish way (last night the expressionless Ashley Judd got to tangle with an even less animated villainess), but its ratings are going in the wrong direction, with a 1.4 that was below even Wipeout‘s season low.  GREY’S ANATOMY and PRIVATE PRACTICE were both low-rated repeats.
CBS:  With a line-up back for the first time after 2 weeks of NCAA Tournament coverage, CBS lost a step in the 8PM hour.  THE BIG BANG THEORY, while beating Idol, was at a season low 4.5 that was down a big 0.6 from its last new episode, and RULES OF ENGAGEMENT‘s 2.8 was below Rob‘s season low.  Things picked up after that:  PERSON OF INTEREST won its hour with a 3.3 that was just 0.1 off its season high, and THE MENTALIST was also a winner with a midrange 2.7.
CW:  A slow night for the network’s one hit, as the network’s haphazard scheduling may have caught up with it.  THE VAMPIRE DIARIES tied its season low with a 1.1, which pulled THE SECRET CIRCLE to its own season low 0.6.  (Both shows are now off the air until April 19.)  Circle shows no potential for being able to thrive without its Diaries lead-in, which is a problem for CW since it would like to use Diaries to launch something new next season.  
Tonight FRINGE will hope to come back from its awful 0.9 rating last week, even though it’ll be facing a new GRIMM on NBC.  KITCHEN NIGHTMARES airs its season finale (The Finder takes over the slot next week), and most programming is new, except for SHARK TANK on ABC.  Also worth noting:  a “special preview” of Starz’s MAGIC CITY will air at 11PM, following the season finale of its SPARTACUS:  VENGEANCE.  

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."