Sunday, October 21, 2012

The new television season report card

If any of the networks expected to win the ratings World Series this year – they were probably disappointed.

There have been no true breakout hits that have created both buzz and ratings.

CBS is probably doing the best with ‘Vegas’ and ‘Elementary’ – both debuting to solid ratings. Of course, CBS also had the first cancellation of the season in ‘Made in Jersey,’ too.

After launching the surprise hit ‘Revenge’ and the breakout show of the season – ‘Once Upon a Time’ – last year, ABC probably thought they would easily be able to build on that momentum.

Not so fast.

Not only have ‘666 Park Avenue’ debuted to muted buzz and lukewarm (at best) ratings, but what was supposed to be a slam dunk – the music show ‘Nashville’ – took a severe tumble in its second week on the air.

The truth is, cable is winning the ratings war and the networks are just floundering for footing at this point.

So, how are the networks doing?

Let’s take a look.

ABC: The network has ordered two additional scripts for both ‘The Last Resort’ and ‘666 Park Avenue.’ Both shows are struggling. ‘The Last Resort’ was always going to be a hard sell. It’s high concept and convoluted – that’s a tough mix. On the flip side, though, ‘666 Park Avenue’ was supposed to be a slam dunk. It boasted Vanessa Williams and Terry O’Quinn – and it was also tailor-made for the hungry horror audiences that have been fueling cable lately. The good news is, most shows debuted to lower than expected ratings this season – so it looks like all the networks are readjusting their expectations. The bad news? I don’t expect either of these shows to last long-term. On the flip side, I think ‘Nashville’ has a chance to thrive. Not only is this the best reviewed new show of the year, but it’s also actually one of the most fun to watch (and I’m not even a fan of country music – unless Christian Kane is singing it). ‘Nashville’ has a solid cast. I’m hoping the ratings drop of the second week was just a fluke – especially since it’s competing with the World Series and the debut of ‘American Horror Story.’ If I had to guess, ABC will move ‘Nashville’ to the less busy Sunday slot that ‘666 Park Avenue’ currently resides in. I think the network executives at ABC will try to pair ‘Nashville’ with ‘Revenge.’ They should appeal to the same audience. Grade: C-.

CBS: When DVR numbers are factored in – as they always should be – CBS scored a win with the premiere of ‘Elementary.’ The updated Sherlock Holmes story is proving to be a winner with fans. It’s actually one of the few winners of the new season – so far. Still, this past week, ‘Elementary’ saw an 8 percent drop from the previous week. It is really hard to gauge this early in a season – especially when you have Thursday night football to contend with and new baseball still airing. Still, ‘Elementary’ can be called one of the few hits of the new season. Genre show ‘Vegas’ continues to climb, jumping 16 percent his week. The show is getting good word of mouth and is the other bright spot of the new season. CBS was the first network to pull a show from their schedule as well – dropping ‘Made in Jersey’ after two airings. Not everything is good news for CBS either. On Mondays, ‘Hawaii Five-0’ is now getting regularly beat by NBC’s ‘Revolution’ (although it did jump significantly in viewership this week) – and new comedy ‘Partners’ is failing to ignite the Monday comedy block. The long-in-the-tooth ‘How I Met Your Mother’ continues to stagnate, too. Grade: B+.

NBC: The Peacock Network really had nowhere to go but up. Still, NBC has scored one of the few bright spots this season with ‘Revolution.’ After a fairly boring debut, the show has gotten better with each subsequent episode – and it’s actually starting to get buzz online (which is shocking for NBC). The problem NBC has it that very few of its shows actually garner any interest. ‘Parenthood’ has a small but loyal following. The long-past-its-prime ‘Law and Order: Special Victims Unit’ had a solid start to the season – but it really is a casualty of scheduling. Wednesdays are jammed up as far as quality programming is concerned. ‘Law and Order: SVU’ was the first thing to get cut from my DVR so I could record other programs that I’d rather watch. Still, this is a step in the right direction for NBC. Also, ‘Grimm’ continues to perform – even though it has one of the most lifeless leads in television. NBC has something to grow on. Let’s hope they follow through. Grade: B.

FOX: The network is down 20 percent from the same time last year – currently ranking third in the network race. FOX should see gains when ‘American Idol’ returns – mostly because fans want to see a smackdown between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. None of FOX’s other shows are showing much ratings buoyancy. ‘Fringe’ returned to dismal ratings in its final season. 'Bones' is starting to show its age. 'Glee' peaked a couple of seasons ago. I’ll be curious to see how FOX does with the revamped ‘American Idol.’ After the initial fireworks, do fans really care anymore? Grade: D.

The CW: I think The CW has just given up. Super-hero show ‘Arrow’ has drawn in a decent number of fans, but ‘Nikita’ has practically fallen off the face of the Earth. Even with only eight episodes left, ‘Gossip Girl’ is struggling. The doctor duo of ‘Emily Owens, M.D.’ and ‘Hart of Dixie’ is inspiring no one. The ‘Beauty and the Beast’ remake is struggling under the weight of two vapid leads – and disinterested viewers. The only bright spots on the CW roster are ‘Supernatural’ and ‘Arrow.’ Even ‘America’s Next Top Model’ has lost their base – and been shuffled to Friday nights. Here’s a tip Tyra, fans want to see less of you, more of the two Jays, and the abolition of this ridiculous social media score. Grade: F.

What do you think? Which network has the most quality shows right now?


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