God is proving to be a ratings god this week. After a religion-themed Glee dominated Tuesday with a 4.6/13 demo rating, an episode of Modern Family tackling the same subject ruled the demo roost last night with a 4.5/12. It was mostly an uplifting night with all networks able to brag about something except for NBC whose entire lineup was down.
New NBC drama Undercovers continues to fade at 8 PM. It managed a 1.5/4 in 18-49 last night, down a notch from last week. On the same night last year, the now-defunct medical drama Mercy drew a 1.9 in the hour, and NBC averaged a 1.7 in the time slot last season. At 9 PM, Law & Order: SVU (2.5/7) was down 11%. Even worse, new spinoff Law & Order: Los Angeles (2.4/7) was down a steep 25% from its premiere last week. On the positive side, it still won what is shaping up to be a very weak Wednesday 10 PM hour this season and held 96% onto of its SVU lead-in.
CBS delivered another solid performance with Survivor: Nicaragua (3.6/11, up 3%) and Criminal Minds (3.5/9, down 3%). But the network’s new dramedy The Defenders (2.1/6) at 10 PM was down 16% from last week to log CBS’ lowest-rated original telecast in the hour in 7 years. It finished No.2 in the hour to NBC’s LOLA while winning in total viewers.
This is the CBS scheduling move I have had a problem with. While the others have largely paid off so far, The Defenders, a light legal drama starring Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell, never quite fit behind the gruesome “serial killer of the week” Criminal Minds the way the darker CSI: NY did. CBS is right to put the focus on growing new hit series but CSI: NY was the youngest in the CSI franchise and, just like James Cameron felt like he “probably left a couple of hundred million (box-office) dollars on the table” when his Avatar was pushed out of 3D theaters by Alice in Wonderland, I feel CBS might have left ratings on the table by moving the show to Fridays a bit prematurely.
ABC’s comedy lineup was also pretty solid. The Middle (2.4/8) was down 4%, new comedy Better with You (2.3/7) showed a promising uptick of 5% despite its slightly weaker lead-in. Modern Family (4.5/12) was virtually flat (down 2%), while Cougar Town (3.1/8) perked up nicely after 2 weeks of mostly disappointing ratings, up 11%. Also up double digits was new 10 PM legal drama The Whole Truth (1.4/4, up 17%). That’s a promising sign for the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced series, which looked pretty much DOA in its first 2 airings. Too early to pop the champagne as the series still finished dead last in the hour but reversing a down trend is good news.
Hell’s Kitchen (3.2/7) has been Fox’s unsung hero this fall. The utility player has been quietly chugging along on Wednesdays, keeping the network in contention with 2 second-place finishes. Last night, the two-hour show grew from last week by 7% and led Fox to a No.1 finish for the night in 18-49, tied with CBS. (CBS won outright in total viewers.)
We don’t have numbers for the cable network’s coverage of the first night of the Major League Baseball playoffs but they should be significant and may have impacted the broadcast nets. The Philadelphia Phillies-Cincinnati Reds game featured a no-hit bid by Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay, only the second time in playoff baseball history that a no-no was tossed.
TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.