Shonda Rhimes can do cliffhangers like nobody’s business. She proves it again and again on Grey’s Anatomy, which has some of the highest-rated season finales and premieres for a drama series. (And who can forger the blockbuster two-parter in 2006, which started after the Super Bowl and carried over huge ratings to the series’ Thursday episode). Rhimes proved it again with the three-part winter finale of her newest series, Scandal, which involves the shooting of the show’s fictional president. Last week, Part 1 (2.2/6) popped 10% for a a season high. (In adults 18-34, it hit a series high). Then last night, Part 2 written by Rhimes (2.5/7) jumped another 14% to a series high. The episode posted all-time highs for the sophomore series across the board — total viewers (7.4 million, up 12%) and all key demos, including adults 18-34 and 25-54.
Usually Sheldon can be found in a Flash costume. But revealed on Conan was the real setup for the Stephen Hawking episode:
The Big Bang Theory is really sending one of its fans on a suborbital flight, much like one of its lead characters at the end of last season. A fan named Mercedes, who asked the assembled cast and crew a question earlier in today’s Comic-Con panel, won a contest offered by the show that puts her on a space flight from private company COR Aerospace. She will fly with Astronaut Richard Searfoss on the Lynx Experience, a two-seat launch vehicle that goes up and down like a regular plane. The gift — which came after Simon Helberg, whose Howard Wolowitz character went into space last season on the show, pretended to turn down the offer from Searfoss — was really the only surprise of the panel. But five seasons in, Big Bang Theory still has such a massive audience on TV and the CBS comedy drew a massive crowd to the cavernous Hall H. Entering to cheers, cast members Kunal Nayyar, Kaley Cuoco, Helberg, Melissa Rauch, Mayim Bialik were joined by producers Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady. Johnny Galecki couldn’t make it as his flight was delayed. Jim Parsons joined via satellite from NYC where he is performing on Broadway.
Chuck Lorre has experienced the lows and highs of network TV situation comedies, from the challenging situation with Grace Under Fire (1993-98) and Cybill (1995-98) to his current status as co-creator and driving force behind a trio of CBS comedies: Two And A Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and Mike & Molly. It doesn’t sound like it’s gone according to any kind of plan, and in fact that’s the case, as the sometimes fiery, always funny, veteran showrunner makes clear. If he deserves at least a humanitarian Emmy for surviving the ordeal of Two And A Half Men star Charlie Sheen’s three-and-a-half men meltdown the previous season, he’s been in the game long enough not to expect much.
AWARDSLINE: Let’s start with Two And A Half Men. Why was it important to you to keep it on the air even after part of that eighth season got scratched?
CHUCK LORRE: It wasn’t simply my decision. There were a lot of people involved and so forth. Including, you know, you’ve got Warner Bros. who had a great deal with it, economically, at stake. But by and large there was a family of people that had worked together for eight years and a lot of people were counting on the show continuing for a number of reasons. One was it was a livelihood for a lot of people and we had a great time on it and had a lot of fun doing the show all the time.
With the Easter/Passover holiday approaching, adult 18-49 usage dropped 5% last night, with most series posting even bigger week-to-week drops. CBS’ The Big Bang Theory (4.2/14 in adults 18-49) was down 7% from last week’s fast …
Glimpse At CBS’ Fall Schedule? Network Tries Out ‘Mentalist’ On Friday & 8-10 PM Thursday Comedy Block
Every year at this time, CBS‘ scheduling guru Kelly Kahl experiments with moves that, if successful, lead to permanent changes on the network’s fall schedule the following season. When years ago The Big Bang Theory, then a Monday 8:30 PM show, did great when tested behind Two And A Half Men, it was moved there the following year, starting the comedy’s rapid ascent to blockbuster hit status. In January 2010, CBS tried comedy repeats, including Big Bang, in the Thursday 8-9 PM hour — then still occupied by Survivor. While they didn’t pop, the network pushed through with a move of Big Bang to Thursday 8 PM anyway, and it was successful. Most recently last season, CBS tried out Friday’s breakout Blue Bloods in the Wednesday 10 PM slot and the Thursday 10 PM player The Mentalist in the 9 PM Thursday slot. Neither did particularly well in their new berths, and CBS ultimately kept them in their old slots for this season’s schedule.
Now CBS is at it again during the slow time when many shows are in repeats. A new episode of The Mentalist airs tonight at 9 PM. As an older-skewing series (mature women love Simon Baker!), the procedural should be able to fit into CBS’ Friday lineup, paired with Blue Bloods. The experiment doesn’t bode well for the current occupant of the Friday 9 PM slot, CSI: NY, which already had its order cut this season and has been benched for a period of time. Will it be the first of the CSI series to go off the air?
The other CBS scheduling tryout is one that I have been advocating since 2 Broke Girls launched big in the fall and went on to top Two And A Half Men in the demo a couple of times — a two-hour comedy block on Thursday, something the network will pilot April 12. With NBC’s comedy lineup a shadow of its former self from the glory Must See TV days, CBS can expand its comedy invasion on the night, and it has the weapons to do it.