TBS scored big with Men at Work on Thursday evening. After plenty of promotion during NBA games and a solid lead-in from network all-star The Big Bang Theory, the freshman comedy series debuted to a hearty 2.6 million total viewers, with 1.6 million in the 18-49 year-old demographic beloved of advertisers. The show demonstrated impressive retention from episode to episode, as well—the second back-to-back ep logged 2.3 million viewers, with 1.4 million in the demo.
Men at Work, if it sustains ratings like these, will help TBS move in the direction Turner has taken TNT—namely away from off-net series like Big Bang and toward a full slate of original programs. The network also has J.K. Simmons starrer Sullivan & Son premiering in July and Wedding Band coming in December.
TNT and TBS's evp of programming Michael Wright told NPR this morning that he was hoping to use Big Bang the same way TNT had used Law & Order, which led into the network's biggest series, The Closer. Given that TBS pays a reported $1 million per episode for the show, the ratings are more useful as lead-ins to series TBS owns wholly (it's using reruns of Fox's Family Guy in a similar way on Adult Swim).
Men at Work is exec produced by Breckin Meyer, one of Turner's favorite sons, who, with Mark-Paul Gosselear, stars in the legal dramedy Franklin & Bash. That show is headed into its second season.
Men at Work follows Danny Masterson, James Lesure, Adam Busch and Michael Cassidy as four magazine staffers living fabulous lives and helping one another out of various romantic jams. All four men are uniquely attractive—in nearly perfect imitation of the high-stakes world of real-life journalism.