|Forget the money. Follow the adjectives. |
With their ratings literally nothing to write home about, the new fall shows Happy Hour, Justice, Kidnapped, Smith and Shark each received scant mention Tuesday in network-issued press releases recapping the first official week of 2005-06 season.
The omissions, or near omissions, are ominous in that networks are strong proponents of the golden rule: When they don't have anything nice to say, they don't say anything.
Take Happy Hour, which placed 87th in the latest weekly rankings from Nielsen Media Research, bottoming out with 4.4 million viewers. In a Fox ratings release containing more than 2,000 nouns, verbs, articles and power-adjectives such as "strong," "substantial" and "hit," the Thursday night sitcom warranted just two words.
One, "happy." Two, "hour."
No "up significantly," no "highest-rated program of the night among adults 18-49," no "puts competition on life support"--all phrases applied by Fox to House (21st place, 13.7 million).
The silent treatment that Happy Hour received followed the cold shoulder it got Monday, when it was removed from the schedule effective immediately. As of now, it'll stay in the cooler until at least November, when Fox is done with its annual baseball festivities. Though not canceled, Happy Hour is the first fall show to be bumped.
Judging by their respective networks' lack of effusive praise, some other shows are also on short leashes.
Justice (77th place, 5.6 million)
What Fox could have said: "Least watched drama on the big four networks last week."
What Fox said: Owing to its single-word title, Fox actually said less about the new legal series than it said about Happy Hour. Already Justice has been ordered to take its baseball vacation one week earlier than planned, losing its scheduled Oct. 4 air date to a repeat of House. Like Happy Hour, it's due back in November.
Kidnapped (59th place, 7.6 million)
What NBC could have said: "Up substantially when compared to Dana Delany's prior series, Pasadena."
What NBC said: Kidnapped premiered.
Smith (36th place, 11 million)
What CBS could have said: "Anchored a disappointing night of season premieres for NCIS (22nd place, 13.5 million) and The Unit (28th place, 11.8 million) with an underwhelming third-place debut behind NBC's Law & Order: SVU (19th place, 14.5 million) and ABC's Boston Legal (34th place, 11.3 million)."
What CBS said: "Was second in adults 25-54 and adults 18-49."
Shark (18th place, 14.7 million)
What CBS could have said: "Holy crap, it lost more than one-third of its CSI lead-in (third place, 22.6 million)!" Or, "Holy total crap, it couldn't beat The 2,000-Year-Old Man, sorry, ER (15th place, 15.6 million)!!" Or, "Who's idea was it to move Without a Trace to Sunday?!"
What CBS said: "Was second in households and viewers."
The Class (40th place, 10.5 million)
What CBS could have said: "What do you expect? Nobody watches broadcast network comedies anymore anyway."
What CBS said: In its weekly release? It actually said quite a lot. Chiefly, it praised the sitcom for posting the network's "best premiere week performance Monday at 8 p.m. since 2004 in adults 18-34 and 2003 in adults 25-54." But in a separate Tuesday release recapping the most recent Monday-night ratings, in which The Class was down 2 million viewers, it mentioned the show only in passing, and only to demonstrate how studly How I Met Your Mother is by comparison, as in "How I Met Your Mother Builds on Its The Class Lead-In by Double-Digit Percentages." (The latest Monday numbers will be reflected in next week's Nielsen rankings.)
Other ratings tidbits:
How big was the Grey's Anatomy (first place, 25.4 million) premiere? So big that when Six Degrees (24th place, 12.6 million) lost more than half the doctor show's audience, and ran third in its 10 p.m., Thursday time slot, its network bosses were in no mood to be picky, and instead praised the J.J. Abrams series for "deliver[ing] ABC's best non-sports performance in the hour in over three years."
How non-lousy was the Desperate Housewives (second place, 24.1 million) premiere? So surprisingly back-to-form, numbers-wise, that when Brothers & Sisters (12th place, 15.7 million) lost more than a third of the soap's audience in the 10 p.m., Sunday hour, it still had enough viewers left over to qualify as the week's most watched new show.
How key is Without a Trace (sixth place, 17.6 million)? If it can ultimately destroy Brothers & Sisters, maybe CBS can move it back to Thursday so the network will stop losing there to Marcus Welby, sorry, ER. But if Brothers & Sisters hangs around, then ABC pays no price for having moved Grey's Anatomy to Thursday--and having put a wallop into CSI, if not CBS.
Fox's Til Death (75th place, 5.8 million) was the week's least watched scripted series not named Justice or Happy Hour.
Monday's Deal or No Deal (11th place, 15.8 million) was the week's most watched Deal or No Deal, outpacing the likes of Friday's (29th place, 11.7 million) and Thursday's (43rd place, 10.3 million).
The distinction between Sunday Night Football (14th place, 15.6 million), which really is the old Monday Night Football, and Monday Night Football (13.3 million--tops for cable), which really is the old Sunday Night Football, is blurring.
For all its improvement--and NBC was up 12 percent in viewers when compared to last year's premiere week--the network had one less Top 10 show. Or to put it another way, it had no Top 10 shows.
Among the police-procedural franchisees, only CBS' CSI: NY (10th place, 16.1 million) and NBC's Law & Order: Criminal Intent (32nd place, 11.6 million) were up over last season's premieres.
NBC's Studio 60 (23rd place, 13.4 million) didn't do CSI: Miami (fifth place, 17.62 million) any favors in their first Monday matchup. But the new Aaron Sorkin show thoughtfully eased up on David Caruso's crew in their second Monday matchup, with Studio 60 losing 17 percent of its premiere-week audience (10.8 million). CSI: Miami, conversely, rebounded with 17.8 million viewers.
When next week's rankings come out, NBC's Heroes should have a shot at the Top 25, thanks to Monday's strong, if not super, premiere (14.1 million).
When next week's rankings come out, the CW's Runaway, debuting Monday before an estimated 2.4 million, likely will be the show with fewer viewers than an America's Next Top Model rerun; and, the CW's 7th Heaven (estimated 4.4 million) likely will be the show with 1 million fewer viewers than its year-ago WB season premiere.
With the first week in the books, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox have emerged as the winners in the demise of the WB and UPN. While all big four networks were up from last season's premiere week, the CW amalgam was down 14 percent from the WB's, and 32 percent from UPN's.
Overall, CBS managed a win as the most watched network, averaging 13 million viewers to second-place ABC's 12.3 million. Among coveted 18-to-49 year-olds, ABC was first, and NBC second. CBS was third.
Without American Idol and with Nanny 911 (95th place, 3.6 million), Fox was a distant fourth in both races, averaging 7.5 million viewers.
The CW completed its first week led by America's Next Top Model (79th place, 5.3 million), but otherwise dragged down by repeats and channel-changing complications. It averaged just 1.6 million viewers.
Here's a look at the 10 most watched prime-time shows for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research:
1. Grey's Anatomy (Thursday), ABC, 25.4 million viewers
2. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 24.1 million viewers
3. CSI, CBS, 22.6 million viewers
4. Dancing with the Stars (Tuesday), ABC, 18.2 million viewers
5. CSI: Miami, CBS, 17.62 million viewers
6. Without a Trace, CBS, 17.6 million viewers
7. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (8 p.m., Sunday), ABC, 17.5 million viewers
8. Survivor: Cook Islands, CBS, 17.4 million viewers
9. Cold Case, CBS, 16.3 million viewers
10. CSI: NY, CBS, 16.1 million viewers