September 26, 2012



No real winners.

FOX:  People forget just how much NEW GIRL had slipped since the heady days of its premiere–although it sounds awful to compare last night’s pair of 2.7s to that 4.8 start a year ago, the evening’s numbers were completely consistent with what the series was doing last spring.  The good news for FOX last night was that THE MINDY PROJECT, as expected, was very compatible with its lead-in, falling just 10% and in second place only to the NCIS behemoth.  The prospects are less bright for BEN & KATE, which fell 25% from a far better lead-in than the one it will have routinely.  However, the 9PM sitcom war won’t be clear until mid-October, when ABC debuts its pair after the 2d Presidential Debate.

CBS:  VEGAS won its hour against the weak, female-splitting competition on NBC and ABC (and because of its older audience, it mopped the floor with the pair on a total audience basis, more than doubling the two of them combined).  But in the demo, its 2.5 fell a heavy 26% from its lead-in, and it was significantly lower than the 2.9 start for the canceled (and then uncanceled but banished to summer) Unforgettable last season.  It’s not looking like a breakout hit.  However, NCIS and its LA progeny each won its respective hour–and again, owned the night in total audience.

NBC:  Before getting to the numbers:  last night, the increasingly satisfying GO ON and the increasingly horrible THE NEW NORMAL offered an object lesson in good and bad sitcom writing.  The Julie White character on Go On is gay, and the episode had her and Matthew Perry’s character attending a lesbian wedding together as friends.  There was no sloganeering, just some witty gags (one crushing wedding guest was sure the glasses-wearing Perry was Rachel Maddow) and a deepening of the relationship between the characters.  New Normal, on the other hand, hammered its racial and gay talking points with bumper sticker dialogue and, in the person of Ellen Barkin’s character, genuine cruelty played for supposed laughs.   The results are showing in the ratings, as Go On tied New Girl for the non-NCIS lead in the hour with 2.7, while New Normal slumped 26% from its lead-in to a 2.0.  (However, it’s worth noting that the mutually assured sitcom destruction strategy of the hour is already doing damage, as Go On, facing New Girl for the first time, was down a sharp 0.7 from last week.)  Elsewhere on the night, THE VOICE did its expected 4, neck-and-neck with NCIS, while PARENTHOOD was at 1.8, holding steady from its season premiere.

ABC:  There may not have been any clear winners last night, but there was one loser.  DANCING WITH THE STARS, with 2.0, was down almost a full rating point from last season’s Tuesday premiere, not the result ABC was looking for when it went the “all-star” route this year.  PRIVATE PRACTICE, at 1.9, was significantly below its numbers last spring after its move to Tuesdays.  (The comparison to last May’s season finale that ABC is pushing this morning is a red herring, as that aired against the hugely-rated season finale of The Voice.)

CW:  Not yet in the game, with 0.2 reruns.

CBS and FOX air their regular Wednesday schedules tonight, while NBC and ABC each do some stunting:  ABC has a 1-hour season premiere of THE MIDDLE at 8PM, then follows the season premiere of MODERN FAMILY with a special out-of-time-slot launch of THE NEIGHBORS, followed by a 1-hour recap of last season’s REVENGE before its premiere on Sunday.  NBC airs a 2-hour SVU premiere after its 8PM sitcoms, as both it and ABC postpone the starts of their new 10PM dramas until after next week’s Wednesday Presidential Debate.

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."