Cory Monteith Tribute Lifts Glee, NBC Comedies Sink

No relief in sight for Peacock’s Thursday night lineup

A heartfelt tribute to the late Cory Monteith (Finn) helped rally legions of Gleeks, giving the Fox musical drama its highest rating in over a year.

“The Quarterback,” an elegy co-written by Glee creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, delivered 7.39 million viewers and a 2.9 in the adults 18-49 demo, nearly doubling last week’s rating (1.6). The last time Glee put up bigger numbers was on Sept. 13, 2012, when the Season 4 premiere delivered 7.41 million viewers and a 3.1 in the demo.

Thursday night’s episode is the last before Glee heads off on its annual month-long baseball hiatus. Episode 4 is slated to air on Nov. 7.

If the emotional hour left fans scrambling for the Kleenex, the tears really started falling this morning when the overnights came in at NBC. After bowing to inauspicious ratings, newcomers Welcome to the Family, Sean Saves the World and The Michael J. Fox Show suffered staggering losses.

Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Welcome to the Family dropped 27 percent to a 0.8 in the dollar demo, while Sean fell 29 percent to a 1.0. While both shows are in danger of cancellation, the Sony-produced Family will probably be the first to go. (Sean is produced in-house by Universal Television.)

At 9:30 p.m., The Michael J. Fox Show fell another 29 percent to a 1.2 rating—a full 43 percent below its Sept. 26 time slot premiere. All told, the two-hour comedy block averaged a 1.1 in the demo, off the year-ago pace by one half of a ratings point, or 31 percent.

Whether it fills the 8:30 or 9 p.m. gap, look for Dan Harmon’s Community to rejoin the Thursday night fold before the leaves turn.

ABC this morning was also the recipient of bad news, as its freshman genre exercise Once Upon a Time in Wonderland failed to drum up much interest at 8 p.m. The inaugural episode of the Once Upon a Time spinoff averaged 5.82 million viewers and a 1.7 rating, down 23 percent from last year’s Last Resort premiere.

While ABC was hoping that lightning would strike twice, Wonderland isn’t the big hit its predecessor was when it premiered in 2011. After bowing to 12.9 million viewers and a 4.0 in the demo, the Sunday night fairytale Once Upon a Time went on to establish itself as one of the season’s biggest hits.

ABC’s Thursday 8 p.m. time slot has been a black hole since the 2008-09 broadcast season came to a close, playing host to a conga line of doomed series that includes The Deep End, FlashForward, My Generation, Charlie’s Angels, Missing, Last Resort and Zero Hour. And while the DVR deliveries will flesh out the Wonderland story, the preliminary data is of a piece with many of the other new series debuts. Including Wonderland, five of the eight freshman dramas have premiered to a sub-2.0 rating: NBC’s Ironside (1.3); ABC’s now-cancelled Lucky 7 (1.3) and its Sunday night melodrama Betrayal (1.5); and CBS’ Hostages (1.8).

Leading out of Wonderland at 9 p.m., Grey’s Anatomy dropped another 10 percent to a 2.8 rating, while red hot Scandal cooled slightly, falling 14 percent to a 3.1.

Matters were much more stable at CBS, which won the night with an average 11.5 million viewers and a 2.9 rating. CBS also beat all comers in its target demo, notching a 3.9 with adults 25-54.

The Big Bang Theory got the night rolling with a 5.1 in the 18-49 demo, off a tenth from a week ago. At 8:30 p.m., new comedy The Millers enjoyed the strongest retention of the season, averaging 11.7 million viewers and a 3.0 rating—which translates to a 91 percent return rate from its premiere 3.3.

The Robin Williams vehicle The Crazy Ones did show some erosion at 9 p.m., falling 17 percent to a 2.4 rating. While that marks a 39 percent drop from the premiere rating (3.9), it’s also a full ratings point higher than head-to-head challenger Sean Saves the World.

When Two and a Half Men’s 2.3 rating is factored in, CBS’ comedy block averaged a robust 3.2 in the demo, nearly three times what NBC delivered with its own sitcom road block.

Over at the CW, The Vampire Diaries retained 84 percent of its series premiere deliveries, averaging 2.14 million viewers and a 1.0 in the 18-49 demo. The younger set behaved in a similar fashion, as TVD drew a 1.1 rating in the 18-34 demo, down two-tenths of a point versus last week.