Updated Freshman Series Report Card

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Prime-Time Metered Market Wednesday Ratings:
CBS Wins Repeat Filled Night

Ratings Box:
What’s Hot/What’s Not

On the Air Tonight:
Prime-Time Programming Options 

TV Tidbits:
Notes of Interest
TV Trivia Time:

It’s a Wonderful Life


Note: The Programming Insider will be on hiatus next week and will return on Monday, January 4. Happy New Year to all!


Prime-Time Metered Market Wednesday Ratings:
CBS Wins Repeat Filled Night

Wednesday 12/23/09


CBS   5.8/10
ABC 3.1/ 5
Fox    2.5/ 4
NBC 2.4/ 4
CW    0.5/ 1

-Note: The overnight comparisons to one year earlier are not available today.

-Yesterday’s Winners:
Criminal Minds R (CBS), CSI: NY R (CBS)

-Yesterday’s Losers (excluding repeats, and there were a ton of them!)

The Jay Leno Show (NBC)
-Ratings Breakdown:

With only two hours original, annual CBS holiday special Home for the Holidays and The Jay Leno Show on NBC, there was little of note on this repeat-riddled late December Wednesday. With that in mind, CBS finished first in the overnights with an 87 percent advantage over second-place ABC. Third overall was Fox, followed by NBC and, of course, The CW.


Aforementioned The 11th Annual Home for the Holidays finished first at 8 p.m., with a 4.1 rating/7 share in the overnights, which is similar to how it performs every year. Second were ABC repeats How The Grinch Stole Christmas (4.1/ 8) and The Middle (3.0/ 4), followed by encore telecasts of Mercy on NBC (2.4/ 5), Glee on Fox (2.4/ 4), and a Wednesday edition of The CW’s One Tree Hill (0.6/ 1).  


Top-rated overnight honors at 9 p.m. fell in CBS’ corner with Criminal Minds at a 6.8/12. Next were ABC’s Modern Family (3.3/ 6) and another episode of The Middle (2.9/ 5), followed by a second telecast of Fox’s Glee (2.6/ 5), a second telecast of NBC’s Mercy (1.8/ 3), and a Wednesday edition of The CW’s Gossip Girl (0.4/ 1). Don’t forget…these are all repeats. 


CBS remained in the overnight winner’s circle at 10 p.m. care of a repeat of CSI: NY at a still respectable 6.5/12. Next was NBC’s embarrassing The Jay Leno Show (3.2/ 6), followed by two encore telecasts of ABC sitcom Cougar Town at an average 2.6/ 5. For more on The Middle, Mercy, Glee, Modern Family, The Jay Leno Show and Cougar Town, see Freshman Series Report Card in TV Tidbits.


Source: Nielsen Media Research data (R = repeat)

Ratings Box:
What’s Hot/What’s Not
-Record 2009 for A&E:

Cable net A&E will wrap up the year with its best annual performance in total viewers, adults 18-49 and adults 25-54. Based on December to-date, A&E has increased year-to-year by 36 percent in total viewers (1.9 million), 29 percent in adults 18-49 (874,000) and 31 percent in adults 25-54 (926,000). 

-I Forgotten to Mention Maury:

Based on final nationals for the week of Dec. 7, NBC Universal’s Maury extended its winning streak among adults 18-34 (1.1 – tied with Oprah) to three consecutive weeks.


Source: Nielsen Media Research data (R = repeat)


On the Air Tonight:
Prime-Time Programming Options

Thursday 12/24/09
 8:30 p.m. The Middle (R)
 9:00 p.m. Modern Family (R)
 9:30 p.m. Cougar Town (R)
 10:00 p.m. Grey’s Anatomy (R)

 8:00 p.m. CSI: NY (R)

 9:00 p.m. CSI (R)

10:00 p.m. The Mentalist (R)

 8:00 p.m. Movie: It’s a Wonderful Life (R)
 8:00 p.m. Bones (R)

 9:00 p.m. Fringe (R)


 8:00 p.m. The Vampire Diaries (R)

 9:00 p.m. Supernatural (R)


TV Tidbits:

Notes of Interest


-Freshman Series Report Card:

All season I have been grading the prime-time freshman class of 2009-10 in my weekly ratings wrap-up each Wednesday. As 2009 comes to a conclusion, I have provided an update of the 23 entries based on the following benchmarks:

overall ratings

percent change from the lead-in (if not the 8 p.m. anchor)

competitive time period performance

critical acclaim (if any)

buzz factor at the water-cooler (if any)


The listing is set up alphabetically by grade. On that note:


Glee (Fox) – Wednesday 9 p.m. ET

Grade: A

Ratings are respectable, not stellar. But the ongoing critical acclaim (including the recently announced Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations) and CD sales are enormous.


Modern Family (ABC) – Wednesday 9 p.m. ET

Grade: A

Ratings are also not extraordinary. But move over 30 Rock. Modern Family (which is also strongly present on the Golden Globe and SAG Award ballots) is expected to take home a truckload of Emmys next fall. Who said the sitcom is dead?


NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS) – Tuesday 9 p.m. ET

Grade: A

A flawless fit out of parent NCIS that will never, unfortunately, get the respect it deserves.


The Vampire Diaries (CW) – Thursday 8 p.m.

Grade: A-

A definite step in the right direction for The CW, and proof that originality is a far better option than an unnecessary remake like Melrose Place. 


The Cleveland Show (Fox) – Sunday 8:30 p.m.

Grade: B+

Solid fit out of The Simpsons and into Family Guy makes The Cleveland Show Fox’s next long-running animated franchise. 


The Good Wife (CBS) – Tuesday 10 p.m.

Grade: B+

Yes, this skews older. But people with some “snow on the roof” also deserve a competitive option. The Good Wife is a solid fit out of NCIS: Los Angeles. 


V (ABC) – Tuesday 8 p.m.

Grade: B

Consider currently on hiatus V a respectable player after the first four episodes. But ABC has apparently forget how many viewers bailed after it broke up the season of similar appeal Lost a few years ago.


Accidentally on Purpose (CBS) – Monday 8:30 p.m.

Grade: C+

The ratings overall are decent. But not enough retention out of lead-in How I Met Your Mother makes renewal for a second season of Accidentally on Purpose a question mark. 


Cougar Town (ABC) – Wednesday 9:30 p.m.

Grade: C+

What started out strong has been losing steam, particularly among the coveted adult 18-49 demo. Second in line for renewal on ABC Wednesday could be The Middle instead of Cougar Town.


Flashfoward(ABC) – Thursday 8 p.m.

Grade: C+

Ratings have deteriorated significantly since the early episodes and the current three month absence will certainly not help. Worth repeating: ABC has failed to remember how many viewers bailed after it broke up the season of similar appeal Lost a few years ago.


The Forgotten (ABC) – Tuesday 10 p.m.

Grade: C

Yes, this regularly beats NBC’s The Jay Leno Show (what doesn’t, actually?). But not even the high-profile name of Jerry Bruckheimer may be enough to save on-the-fence crime drama The Forgotten. 


Mercy (NBC) – Wednesday 8 p.m.

Grade: C

A modest performer in a very soft time period, but since NBC is in such bad shape Mercy could actually survive. 


The Middle (ABC) – Wednesday 8:30 p.m.

Grade: C

Yes, ratings are in the “middle.” But consistent growth out of the 8 p.m. half-hour (Hank, initially) is a positive step in the right direction.


Community(NBC) – Thursday 8 p.m.

Grade: D+

Positive critical acclaim and the shortage of hit shows on NBC (including lead-out Parks and Recreation) could be beneficial to Community. But if the grade was based on ratings alone, it would have been a D-.


Find My Family (ABC) – Monday 9 p.m.

Grade: D

The good intentions are mired by the forced and unrealistic hysterics. Do we really want to see a show host cry in every segment?


Trauma (NBC) – Monday 9 p.m.

Grade: D

Why NBC reversed its decision and ordered three additional episodes after medical drama Trauma was canceled is a mystery. Since viewers may have heard it was already gone, why would they bother even watch now?


Brothers (Fox) – Sunday 7 p.m.

Grade: F

Tick, tock…the cancellation clock is ticking.


The Jay Leno Show (NBC) – Monday-Friday 10 p.m.

Grade: F

A typical third place time period finish every night, limited lead-in support to the late local news, and minimal gains opposite repeats in recent weeks makes The Jay Leno Show the biggest new flop of the season.

Melrose Place (Fox) – Tuesday 9 p.m.

Grade: F

Not even Heather Locklear can save this unnecessary remake.


Cancelled and All Graded F

The Beautiful Life (CW), Eastwick (ABC), Hank (ABC), Three Rivers (CBS)


-The Best and Worst of 2009:

For this final edition of The Programming Insider in 2009, I thought it would be appropriate to include my recent Mr. Television column, which highlighted the best and the worst on the small screen of the year. On that note:


The Good, The Bad
By Marc Berman

It’s more fun, of course, to pick apart the bad stuff on TV. There is always plenty to choose from, after all. But since one of my resolutions for 2010, and beyond, is to accentuate the positive, let me optimistically begin this final column of 2009 by highlighting the good news on the small screen this past year. Fortunately, there was a lot to highlight.

The next time someone suggests the half-hour sitcom is “dead,” tell them to check out ABC on Wednesday for a glimpse of Modern Family, which I think will give NBC’s overrated 30 Rock a run at the Emmys. Family love and dysfunction have never been this perfectly portrayed, including the comic high point of the series, gay couple Cameron and Mitchell.

As long as you’re watching Modern Family, make it a point to get to ABC at 8:30 p.m. for lead-in The Middle, which is happily reminiscent of recent classic Malcolm in the Middle. Although Patricia Heaton as frustrated mom Frankie is less cantankerous than Jane Kaczmarek as equally frazzled Mom Lois, 11-year-old Atticus Shaffer is the new Dewey. The resemblance is eerie.

CBS, as always, has the most consistently solid lineup, including Monday’s relocated The Big Bang Theory, Tuesday blockbuster NCIS, bona fit leadout (and spinoff) NCIS: Los Angeles and legal drama The Good Wife. Although greedy CBS is likely to eventually extend the NCIS franchise to a third scripted hour (a la CSI), right now Tuesday is flawless. One night earlier, the cast of The Big Bang Theory makes up the most satisfying sitcom ensemble since Seinfeld and Friends. And Fox’s Glee on Wednesday proves there is room for something unique in the scripted department.

It is never easy for an actor to deviate from a role for which he or she is known. But what I personally liked about Edie Falco on Showtime’s Nurse Betty and Bryan Cranston on AMC’s Breaking Bad was how quickly you forgot they were even on The Sopranos or aforementioned Malcolm in the Middle. Kelsey “Frasier” Grammer on ABC’s short-lived Hank had no such luck.

In the personality department, young Taylor Swift was amazingly poised in that now-classic Kanye West moment at The Video Music Awards, Celebrity Apprentice contestants Joan Rivers and Annie Duke gave us the best catfight since Krystle and Alexis on Dynasty, and Ellen DeGeneres shocked the masses (myself included) by announcing she would inherit the empty American Idol judging seat from Paula Abdul.

Daytime syndication, meanwhile, has the biggest new talk show hit in seven years in Dr. Oz from Sony Pictures Television.

Bitter Kanye West, of course, is the “loser” of the year considering his childish (and insane) behavior at the aforementioned VMAs. West’s appearance on NBC’s The Jay Leno Show resulted in tremendous sampling for the stripped talker. But with barely 5 million viewers per evening at present, Leno is the biggest flop of the current season.

CW clinker The Beautiful Life was, of course, the first official cancellation. But spring variety show The Osbournes Reloaded was so bad, Fox aired only one episode. Fortunately for daughter Kelly, a third-place finish on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars proved the party girl can actually do something well. Heading into the summer, we were bombarded with nonscripted nonsense like ABC’s Dating in the Dark, which should have never had its lights turned on in the first place, and The CW’s Hitched or Ditched, which was ditched by the audience from the get-go.

As I say every year, it never pays for a network to remake a classic, and not even still-spicy Heather Locklear can save Fox’s doomed Melrose Place. And last, but certainly not least, are failed freshman medical dramas Mercy and Trauma, (NBC), and Three Rivers (CBS). After 15 long years of NBC’s ER, which ended last April, we needed a break, not this mediocrity.

Mediaweek will be on hiatus for one more week. So, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday season and a wonderful New Year. See you back in 2010.

TV Trivia Time:

It’s a Wonderful Life


Which former Our Gang kid appeared in 1946 theatrical It’s a Wonderful Life?


a)      Tommy “Butch” Bond

b)      Darla Hood

c)      Eugene “Porky” Lee

d)      George “Spanky” McFarland

e)      Carol “Alfalfa” Switzer


The answer to yesterday’s question…


What town in Long Island did the Barones live in on sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond?


a)      Bellmore

b)      Huntington

c)      Lynbrook

d)      Massapequa

e)      Port Washington


Is: c) Lynbrook. The gang from one of my all-time favorite comedies (third, in fact, behind I Love Lucy and The Mary Tyler Moore Show) lived in Lynbrook.

-Current kudos goes to:
Steve Albright, Barbara Berman, Gerry Bixenspan, Lisa Blatt, Barbara Bloomfield, Sid Cohen, Audrey Davis (2x), Ric Dittman, John Ferlazzo, Leon Gittens, Maureen Goldman, Kerry Hughes, Bob Ingersoll, Tony Intelisano, Synda Kollman, Mark Krause, Steve Kurtzer, Howard Lieboff, Michael McAleer, Tricia McGee, Mark Misiano, Michael Murphy, Bruce Robinson, Colleen Roth, Maxine Schulman, Carol Teichman, Meredith Wayne, Jeanne Yonkers, Ted Zawislak