Monday, January 23, 2012

HOUSE OF LIES: When Sex Sells A Bad Product

Today, I'll start out by coining a new TV term, The Showtime Problem.  If you've read some of my previous blog posts about Showtime television shows, you will know that I feel this network tries too hard to make you think things about their shows.  They want you to realize how edgy, cool, shocking, lewd, jaw dropping, etc. their shows are.  This kind of work probably began with American Beauty, a movie that was meant to show us how difficult and dysfunctional an upper-middle class lifestyle can be.  I didn't identify with those problems, because it was foreign to me.  However, those people were really dysfunctional, as was proven by many of the characters' actions.  The writer of American Beauty went on to make the unique, extremely edgy, and often shocking Six Feet Under, for HBO.  Much like what one of my audio projects did for my Audio 2 class, at Emerson College, it went on to set the tone for the future of "edgy" television.  In my case, for one of my class projects, I did not shy away from using cuss words or shocking material, in telling an audio story.  The dropped jaws in the class, in addition to being told I was a "sick" man, by my teacher, were pretty satisfying (along with the A I received for the project).  By the end of the class, cuss words, and shocking material, were pretty much the norm.  Six Feet Under really set the tone for the type of television that can't be made on your typical broadcast TV or cable channels.  However, it can be made on any of the pay TV premium channels (HBO, Showtime, Starz).

Showtime has always been thought of as the red-headed stepchild of cable premium channels.  They used to focus on movies, hence the name "Showtime".  Now, they've pretty much given up on the idea of licensing movies from movie studios.  They've decided they want to specialize in original programming.  The problem is that they were a bit late to the party, so they haven't had the same kind of commercial success and critical acclaim as many of the HBO series (who they are clearly trying to compete with).  In my opinion, Nurse Jackie is the best series I have seen on Showtime.  It is the only show I have seen on Showtime that does not look like it tries too hard.  Don't get me wrong, there are definitely some very solid programs that have aired, and are airing on Showtime.  The problem is that when I watch these shows, I can't help but think they are trying very hard to show you why their shows are cool, edgy, shocking, or whatever.  The Pilot of Shameless was a pretty good example of how egregiously they were trying to pound into your head how cool and good the show is.  The latest entry into Showtime's programming is House of Lies (Sundays at 10pm ET), starring the brilliant Don Cheadle.  I am truly at a loss as to how he became involved in such a crappy TV show, unless it has something to do with a mid-life crisis he is trying to deal with.  This show, in particular, has caused me to officially define The Showtime ProblemThe Showtime Problem is when a show tries way too hard to prove its worth as an edgy, or different type of TV show.  Shameless is the gold standard of The Showtime Problem, because it exhibits many of the traits I have described above (teen smoking, teens receiving oral pleasures while a parent is 15 feet away, teenage boy having sex with a grown man, sex in front of a baby, etc.).  Someone over at Showtime really has sex on the brain, because nearly every recently started show I have seen on there (Shameless, Homeland, and House of Lies) has more gratuitous, unnecessary, and disturbing sex than I have seen anywhere else on TV.

In the case of House of Lies, which is what this post is really about, the sexual aspects of the show have completely taken it over.  I want to believe there's a real story behind this show, but everything just seems like it's a frat house nightmare of the management consultant's world.  This is probably less of a post about the show, than it is an indictment of The Showtime Problem.  This is an experimental post, so bear with it.  If it turns out to be entertaining, maybe it will have been worth the read.

For this post, I am going to describe each basic scene, and whether there are any sexual references, of any kind, in each one.  My guess is that 90 to 95 percent of the scenes, in the first two episodes, have at least one sexual reference or intimation.  Any look that can be construed as a person having interest sexually in another will be noted, even if it is not overtly stated in the scene.  For our purposes, I will be considering all of the following as sexually related in nature, no matter how minor they may play out in a scene.

1. Nudity
2. Talking about sex
3. Lewd language (including F words, anatomy, etc.)
4. Gender bending
5. Sex
6. Anything else I can think of when I see it.

I will do this for the first two episodes, so you can see how frequently sex is selling a bad product.  I thought the show had some potential, after the Pilot, but the second episode was just plain terrible, and I'm only giving it one more shot to suck me in.  Do you see what this show has done to me??? 

House of Lies-Episode 1

Scene 1 Sexually Related Content:

Nudity (male/female butts, boobies)/language/gender bending child

Scene 2 Sexually Related Content:

Gender bending child/language

Scene 3 Sexually Related Content:

Language/talking about sex

Scene 4 Sexually Related Content:

Talking about sex

Scene 5 Sexually Related Content:

Nothing of any substance, like the series, but one reference to two guys and them taking their panties off, in reference to not being harsh enough

Scene 6 Sexually Related Content:

Hitting on a receptionist

Scene 7 Sexually Related Content:

Nothing, since it was a business meeting

Scene 8 Sexually Related Content:

Gender bending child problem/language

Scene 9 Sexually Related Content:

Talking about sex

Scene 10 Sexually Related Content:

Nudity (strip club scene)/talking about sex/language/and lap dances

Scene 11 Sexually Related Content:

Euphemistic talking about sex

Scene 12 Sexually Related Content:

Euphemistic talking about sex

Scene 13 Sexually Related Content:

Talking about sex

Scene 14 Sexually Related Content:

Language/talk of gender bending child/talking about sex

Scene 15 Sexually Related Content:

Euphemistic talking about sex/talking about sex

Scene 16 Sexually Related Content:

Talking about sex/female on female sex (mostly inferred and basically clothed)

Scene 17 Sexually Related Content:

Lewd language/euphemistically talking about sex/talking about sex 

Scene 18 Sexually Related Content:

Talking about sex

Scene 19 Sexually Related Content:

Lewd language talking about sex in a professional environment/language/and euphemistic sex references

Scene 20 Sexually Related Content:

Gender bending child problem/clear sexual tension 

Scene 21 Sexually Related Content:

Gender bending child problem/language

Scene 22 Sexually Related Content:

Gender bending child cross dressing performance/nudity (boobies)/sex (mostly clothed)/language

Scene 23 Sexually Related Content:

Nothing

House of Lies-Episode 2 

Scene 1 Sexually Related Content:

Euphemistic talking about sex/language 

Scene 2 Sexually Related Content:

Sex/talking about sex/lewd language/borderline rape/disturbing sex

Scene 3 Sexually Related Content:

Subtle euphemistic language

Scene 4 Sexually Related Content:

Talking about sex/lewd language   

Scene 5 Sexually Related Content:

Gender bending child problem

Scene 6 Sexually Related Content:

Language

Scene 7 Sexually Related Content:

Sexual tension/lewd language/talking about sex

Scene 8 Sexually Related Content:

Subtle what shouldn't be a sexual situation that becomes lewd/lewd language

Scene 9 Sexually Related Content:

Talking about sex/lewd type stuff

Scene 10 Sexually Related Content:

Talking about sex/lewd language

Scene 11 Sexually Related Content:

Talking about sex/lewd language/language

Scene 12 Sexually Related Content:

Subtle sexual talk, but nothing major

Scene 13 Sexually Related Content:

Awkward sexual tension

Scene 14 Sexually Related Content:

Lewd sexual talk/language (whole scene revolves around a character saying how he would get in bed with a woman)

Scene 15 Sexually Related Content:

Nothing

Scene 16 Sexually Related Content:

Language

Scene 17 Sexually Related Content:

Nothing

Scene 18 Sexually Related Content:

Gender bending child/lewd sex talk insult regarding the gender bending child 

As you can see, this series features a lot of sexual content, most of it being in the form of very lewd sexual language.  A lot of what they're saying is pretty shocking language for most movies and TV shows, and is not commonly used anywhere.  They're going for shock value.  If you're into all that kind of language, and the incessant nature of sexuality never being more than a millimeter below the surface, then this show might be for you.  I watched the third episode today, and while it almost showed some potential worth sticking around for, I just can't do it anymore.  If the third episode had been the Pilot, I would have stuck around for maybe two more episodes.  However, since it was the third episode, I just don't want to waste even a second more time on the show.  It definitely had its moments (I did get some good laughs out of it), but those were not enough to keep me interested.  If I hear it has improved significantly, in its run, I may check it out again, but, as of now, I'm checking out.  Thanks for reading. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Word About The 2012 Mid-Season Follow Ups (Wednesday, January 18, And Thursday, January 19, 2012 Episodes)

I skipped yesterday's update, intentionally.  The main reason I did that was because I didn't want to write one, and the other reason was because I knew I would have plenty to write about today.  So, I'm combining the two posts to talk about what happened over the last two nights of television.  As always, all TV ratings numbers are from TV by the Numbers.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 Follow Ups:

Notable for good ratings:

Nothing...lol.  Made you look.

Notable for not so good ratings: 

Whitney (NBC, 8pm ET)

4.15 million Overall Viewers
1.6/5 in the 18-49 Demo

American Idol came back on Wednesday night, and we found out that many of the people who were propping up Whitney watch that.  Unless there is some kind of major uptick in the ratings, I just can't see how NBC can be justified keeping this really crappy sitcom.  NBC is NBC, though, so I suppose anything is possible. 

Are You There, Chelsea? (NBC, 8:30pm ET)

4.21 million Overall Viewers
1.7/4 in the 18-49 Demo

Here are the cold, hard facts.  America likes Chelsea better than it likes Whitney...just not by much.  I would normally call this a respectable slip, but, no, this is bad.  Hopefully, terrible ratings like these will keep all of the unfunny comedians/comediennes from polluting our airwaves with their unfunny crap (think Dane Cook, etc.).  I like 2 Broke Girls (CBS, Mondays, 8:30pm ET) now.  Watch that, if you want this kind of comedy, since it's, by far, the best (and most popular) of this type of show.

Harry's Law (NBC, 9pm ET)

6.41 million Overall Viewers
1.1/3 in the 18-49 Demo

If you look up the word "anemic" in the dictionary, it will show you the main title graphic for Harry's Law.  This show cannot move to Sundays fast enough.  At the ratings it's been getting, it was sure to not be picked up for another season.  Unless a miracle happens on Sundays (the day of miracles), this show will be a distant memory by this time next year.  I'm not sure what I'm rooting for, here, since I am on the fence about the quality of the show.  It's one of the better NBC shows, but the extensive re-tooling, and overtly political storylines are problems that are hard to overcome for a sophomore series.

Law & Order: SVU (NBC, 10pm ET)

6.42 million Overall Viewers
1.8/5 in the 18-49 Demo

I still haven't had time to watch the mid-season return of the series.  Was it that bad?  Again, as I've been repeating all season long, SVU, has had a series low in ratings.  It's hard to believe this franchise was once the flagship of NBC.  Now, it's just indicative of all the problems there.  I'm sorry, fans (and I've been one, for sure), but it's time to bury the franchise.  People are losing interest, and fast.  With the threatened re-tooling of "next" season, I just think it's better to let the show die.  Maybe have Stabler come into the precinct and mow everyone down, or something.  It was a good run, but the finish line was over 59 miles ago.

Thursday, January 19, 2012 Follow Ups:

Notable for good ratings:

Rob (CBS, 8:30pm ET)

11.726 million Overall Viewers
3.6/9 in the 18-49 Demo

Against the second night of American Idol, and itself, Rob didn't have a huge drop in ratings.  If these numbers hold, you can pretty much take it to the bank that this series will get a second season.  I think it will go away if it ever hits a 2.8 and anything below 10 million overall viewers.  All in all, against competition, it was a pretty good second week for Rob.

Person of Interest (CBS, 9pm ET)

14.336 million Overall Viewers
3.3/8 in the 18-49 Demo

I'm only putting this in here because it had its highest ratings yet, in the 18-49 demo.  If you're not watching this show, you're the one missing out.  It is super fun TV, at its finest.  Season 2, here we come.

Notable for not so good ratings:

30 Rock (NBC, 8pm ET)

4.084 million Overall Viewers
1.6/4 in the 18-49 Demo

Love up on this show while you can, fans, because it's time to hang it up.  It's got plenty of episodes in the can, and not enough gas in the tank.  I hope you have a fond farewell to a series that is showing us that it really is best to not wear out your welcome.  I don't watch the show, so I can't comment on its quality, but these ratings are just not enough to keep it around, even with its critical acclaim.  The numbers are way down for this season, in relation to last season, and this was a series low.  Community fans should rejoice that this *might* be a good sign for another season, as 30 Rock's numbers aren't any better in the time slot timeshare.

Up All Night (NBC, 9:30pm ET)

4.025 million Overall Viewers
1.9/5 in the 18-49 Demo 

Up All Night continues to creep toward cancellation.  The Thursday time change may have actually hurt the show.  At any rate, it should be pretty obvious to NBC that this show just doesn't have the goods to make it.  Maybe if all the writers stay up all night, they can save the show.  Nah.

The Finder (FOX, 9pm ET)

6.779 million Overall Viewers
2.2/5 in the 18-49 Demo

At face value, those numbers look pretty whatever.  However, when you consider the fact that the show was led in by American Idol, it's a disaster.  This series, in its second episode, lost 3.4 in the 18-49 demo, and nearly 11 million viewers from its lead in.  Those American Idol viewers have spoken, and the words they said were, "Awwww hellllll nawwww."  It would seem that people just couldn't turn the channel fast enough, once that show was over.  I'm actually expecting a downward adjustment for The Finder, so we'll see if that happens.  FOX, you ain't got no stinking time for spinoffs.

The Firm (NBC, 10pm ET)

3.408 million Overall Viewers
0.9/2 in the 18-49 Demo

Yes, NBC, I know the show is practically free.  However, if this show sees another Thursday, whoever is in charge of that decision needs to be sent off to rehab.  This show should immediately be put on Saturdays, or be given a solid see you later...uh, I mean see you never.

CBS continues to win, and NBC continues to fail.  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Word About the 2012 Mid-Season Openings (Monday, January 16, 2012 Premiere)

I'm just here to give a little info about Alcatraz (FOX), and how it did in its initial night.  You can see the full article on TV by the Numbers.

Notable for good ratings:

Alcatraz (FOX, Mondays at 9pm ET, sort of)

9.968 million Overall Viewers
3.3/8 in the 18-49 Demo

In the latest entry into the "let's hope Terra Nova dies" sweepstakes, we have Alcatraz.  I haven't seen the episode, yet (I'm planning to today), but I have relatively high hopes that it will be worth watching.  I've seen some really good promos for it, and I've seen some really bad promos for it.  That could mean that it's just another middle of the road type of series, but I'm really only hoping that it will be better than Terra Nova, or at least be able to kill Terra Nova.  As for the ratings, it has beaten Terra Nova, already.  The difference is that these ratings would be considered good, for this type of show, and the ratings for Terra Nova were considered bad, for that type of show, especially due to all the hype that surrounded it.  If Alcatraz manages to maintain anywhere near these numbers, you can say hello to another season, and goodbye to Terra Nova.  I think this series will probably be allowed to fall to a 2.3, before it would get canceled.  I'm pretty sure the only ways that will happen is if the show isn't any good, or it goes down a really bad path.  I won't know for sure, until I watch, what I think the prospects are for it.

I won't write any major words about it, but 2 Broke Girls came back strong.  It's the breakout hit of the year, and it hasn't lost any real momentum since day one.  It even began to sniff the jockstrap of Two and a Half Men's ratings, this week.  That is impressive.

Tonight's an important night for follow ups, as American Idol returns to dash the renewal dreams of Whitney and Chelsea.  I'll be back tomorrow to see how much of a bloodbath that turns out to be.  Thanks for reading.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Another Show Gets Canceled

Work It (ABC) has been canceled after two episodes.  I had listed this show as canceled, in my canceled TV shows list, before it had ever aired.  It can now peacefully go burn in hell with all of the other concepts that never should have been done.  I Hate My Teenage Daughter should be next.  Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Word About The 2012 Mid-Season Openings (Thursday, January 12, 2012 Premieres)

As expected, last night was a big night for tracking TV ratings.  If you'd like to look at the big picture, go to this page at TV by the Numbers:  TV by the Numbers Ratings Article for Thursday, January 12, 2012

Let's get right to it, because there's a lot to talk about.

Notable for good ratings:

Rob (CBS, 8:30pm ET)

13.48 million Overall Viewers
4.1/11 in the 18-49 Demo

Right after writing this blog post, I'm going to check the show out.  I have pretty low expectations, but I like some of the actors cast in the series (Marin and Riva, in particular).  This had spectacular premiere ratings, so all that remains to be seen now is how far it will fall after the first episode.  I'll be keeping a close eye on this highly performing series, throughout its run.  For now, it's a solid hit, and has crushed everything else that has tried to succeed in this time slot, this season.  Congrats to Rob Schneider for at least getting people to tune in to what might be a very bad show.  It is, after all, his gift.  Rob Schneider, makin' copies, the Robonator 9000, allll riiight.

Person of Interest (CBS, 9pm ET)

14.73 million Overall Viewers
3.2/8 in the 18-49 Demo

I hesitate to say this, but is it possible that Rob has brought more viewers to Person of Interest, creating the bump we saw this week?  If so, I effing love you Rob Schneider!  Keep up the good work, if this is true.  We will all look back on the first season of this show, one day, and wonder how anyone could have ever considered it to be on the bubble.  This is this season's NCIS.  Syndication, here we come!

Notable for not so good ratings:

The Firm (NBC, 10pm ET, not for long)

4.24 million Overall Viewers
1.0/3 in the 18-49 Demo

It's a good thing that NBC took this show for practically free, because, if they hadn't, you would see the fastest drama cancellation probably in TV history.  If you even flirt with a 1.0 at the network level, you're done (this series has done it in its second episode...lol).  NBC has already ordered all 22 episodes of this series, and you will see them.  The question is when and where?  Is Chuck's time slot opening up in a couple of weeks?  That's the most logical place for this show to go, and maybe it will stick around if it does so.  I would prefer to see Grimm move to 8pm, and The Firm to 9pm, if that happens.  Otherwise, you're looking at this show being on Saturday nights, with 0.6 ratings.  This is the biggest flop, BY FAR, this season (hard to do with so many bad NBC shows out there), and should be putting an end to truly serialized television on NBC.  Their failures in that genre have been far more noticeable than any other network out there.  All serialized shows, on NBC, should follow the strategy of Grimm, if they want any chance at success.  You're welcome.  You should be hiring, and I'm available.

The Finder (FOX, 9pm ET)

5.45 million Overall Viewers
1.7/4 in the 18-49 Demo

I've never watched Bones, but this show has something that one doesn't, Michael Clarke Duncan (my former next door neighbor).  I was planning on watching it, until I realized the conflicts we had in our DVR.  Sorry, Michael, I'll maybe check you out on the worst On Demand channel, FOX, but no guarantees.  This show is in a horrible time slot, and it's going to die if it stays here.  What makes it worse is that Bones led it in, and it lost a ton of viewers (0.7 in the 18-49, and 3.18 million viewers lost).  FOX doesn't really like numbers like these, so while I am hesitant to call this series DOA, it's like Blair Underwood in a coma, on life support, in The Event.

30 Rock (NBC, 8pm ET)

4.57 million Overall Viewers
1.8/5 in the 18-49 Demo

Community viewers rejoice?  As you can see from these numbers, there wasn't a huge bump for 30 Rock vs. what Community had been doing.  People are just watching other stuff, and it really isn't a reflection on any of the NBC comedies in the 8 o'clock hour.  With The Firm being such a disaster, I would absolutely not be surprised to see NBC turn Thursday nights into a complete comedy block.  They could take some new random comedy, and put it at 8pm, move Up All Night to 8:30pm, have The Office at 9pm, Community at 9:30pm, Parks and Recreation at 10pm, and 30 Rock at 10:30pm.  Just like Parks and Recreation, which also had mediocre ratings last night, I don't think either are in any kind of imminent danger of being canceled, although 30 Rock is way over the 88 line for syndication (which means they don't have to keep it if they don't want to, and I'm sure Alec Baldwin's decision will dramatically affect what happens with the show).  The show's ratings are weak, but probably not weak enough to get the show canceled...on NBC.  The one big problem with the numbers is that they're way down from last season's premiere.  I still think it *can* be back, at this point, but I'll keep an eye on the ratings.

Up All Night (NBC, 9:30pm ET)

4.28 million Overall Viewers
2.0/5 in the 18-49 Demo

I'm sorry folks, but these ratings are a disaster.  Clearly, NBC had high hopes for a time slot move helping Up All Night.  It didn't, and is still getting lower ratings than Whitney.  It's just not a very good sitcom, and it's taking way too long to round into form.  It's literally right on the numbers that are the lowest I thought it could possibly go, without being canceled.  Keep in mind, this show does not look cheap, based on how much apparent location shooting they do.  If it goes much lower, it will be see you later alligator.  1.8 is the key number here, in my opinion.

That's the end of the discussion about the most interesting numbers on television, so far, this mid-season.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Word About The 2012 Mid-Season Openings (Wednesday, January 11, 2012 Premieres)

I've put it off as long as I can, but it's now time to write this out.  Last night was notable for a few reasons, and pretty much all of them were related to NBC.  We had the premiere of the sitcom with the dumbest name in the history of television (Are you there, Chelsea?, watch the show to find out why I say this), and the return of one what I think is one of the worst sitcoms in the history of television, on a new night, Whitney.  My speculation is that NBC is trying to bury these shows, but sometimes things don't go quite as planned.  In 2005, I thought that Warner Bros. was trying to bury either Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Batman Begins during a Harry Potter year.  It turns out both those movies were hits, when they were probably expecting Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to not do very well.  I was reminded of that now, while writing about what happened with Whitney and ChelseaHarry's Law also finally returned, only to be pushed off to Sunday next week, making its numbers completely irrelevant for last night's episode.  As always, ratings numbers are taken from TV by the Numbers.

Notable for so-so ratings:

Whitney (NBC, 8pm ET)

5.79 million Overall Viewers
2.0/6 in the 18-49 Demo

Whitney returned, much to my chagrin, last night.  I don't watch this show anymore, but had the outstanding fortune of having a leak over into last night's premiere of Are You There, Chelsea?  Just when I thought I had gotten them out of my life, there they were again, doing a tie-in to the new show.  Yep, I wasn't feeling that.

These numbers are not good, but they are probably a little better than NBC expected.  If it levels off here, and stays at 2.0 or above, it's probably a good sign for its renewal prospects.  With no lead in, it's a tall order for Whitney to stay on top (oh wait, I probably should have saved that pun for Chelsea).  American Idol comes back next week, so you can count on there being a potential bloodbath in the ratings for these two shows next week.  For now, I'm not really sure what the numbers mean, because they're not good, but they're not as bad as I expected.  Next week, they will probably be bad.  If it hits a 1.6, at any point in the mid-season run, I think it's done.

Are You There, Chelsea? (NBC, 8:30pm ET)

6.18 million Overall Viewers
2.3/6 in the 18-49 Demo

About the only funny thing about this show is that it beat its lead in Whitney.  What's amazing to me is that sitcom direction is at such a high level these days that it's really hard to tell when one sucks, unless it really sucks.  This show kind of sucks, but there is some potential.  I laughed at precisely one gag, and just like 2 Broke Girls, it was a visual gag, not a words gag.  In case you're wondering what it was, it had to do with a cat scratch.  One of the big problems I see with the show (oops bad pun maybe) is that the lead is really really tall.  Everyone else appears to be really really short (at least in relation to the lead).  It's a very strange dynamic, and one that can't be fixed, since they're this far in.  The height disparity looks really weird, and I don't really understand how anyone could have made such an egregious "error", unless it was meant for unintentional comedy.  Another problem is that everyone can't stop laughing at each other on screen.  Don't do this in a Pilot, it makes you look bad.

I'm in for at least 4 episodes on this one, so we'll see how it goes.  Believe it or not, it actually has a really nicely sized cast (outside of height), for this type of show.  I kept thinking of Cheers, or it wanting to be a Cheers ripoff.  Now, if they would just move the effing camera back, and use longer/wider? lenses, they might be on to something.  It doesn't make laugh, so maybe I've just lost my sense of humor.  Then again, Chelsea Handler's sadistic humor doesn't make me laugh, either.  I laughed at several scenes in House of Lies, so I must have some sense of humor left.  However, if I have to watch many more sitcoms like these, I may lose my sense of humor completely.  I'll go ahead and tell you the problem with the name of the show.  In the opening scene, Chelsea is in jail, for DUI, and is very scared.  She proceeds to "pray", saying "Are you there, Vodka?  It's me, Chelsea?  If you get me out of here...blah, blah, blah."  Read that sentence again, and ask me how in the world anyone thought Are You There, Chelsea? was a good name for this show.  Good thing the bar is low at NBC, or we could send Whitney and Chelsea back to E!.  Stay tuned for next week's follow ups.

Notable for not so good ratings:

Harry's Law (NBC, 9pm ET, moving to Sundays at 9pm ET this Sunday)

8.39 million Overall Viewers
1.2/3 in the 18-49 Demo

Oh no, there goes Harry's Law, again, getting huge overall numbers, while picking up no one in the 18-49 demo.  It had 2 million more overall viewers than Chelsea, and I think that's hilarious.  Chances are, there are more laughs in this episode, than both Whitney and Chelsea combined.  It should be very interesting to see the numbers on Monday, for the time slot change, when it moves to Sunday.

We'll check in on Whitney and Chelsea next week, to see if there is any hope for either of those shows.  They needed to be higher, and things aren't going to get easier for them from here.  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Word About The 2012 Mid-Season Follow Ups (Tuesday, January 10, 2012 Episodes)

I said I would come back with a follow up about Work It, the new disaster currently airing on ABC (for a few more weeks).  Well, here it is.  I have to make this really short, because I'm definitely not trying to pump this show up.  All ratings are supplied by TV by the Numbers.

Notable for not so good ratings:

Work It (ABC, not for long)

5.10 million Overall Viewers
1.6/4 in the 18-49 Demo

It lost 1/5th of its viewers in the 18-49 demo (also a little over 1 million overall viewers).  Man Up! had better ratings.  Man Up! didn't even get to air all of the finished episodes.  I have an over/under on 4 episodes of Work It airing before they can't take it anymore.  Either way, it doesn't look like this show will make it past the Super Bowl, as I predicted.

Body of Proof (ABC, 10pm ET)

6.92 million Overall Viewers
1.6/4 in the 18-49 Demo

The River lead in cannot get here fast enough, for this show, even though it had a slight increase in ratings from the previous week.  Stick a fork in it, it's done.  What a waste.

Parenthood (NBC, 10pm ET)

4.84 million Overall Viewers
1.8/5 in the 18-49 Demo

I said at the beginning of the season that this show needed to have a strong season to get a fourth.  It will only be at 51 episodes at the end of this season, which is a far cry from the 88 needed to get to syndication (over a full season and a half of episodes are needed to make it to 88).  I think the show's only real hope for continuation is based on the failure of most of the other series on NBC (a true possibility).  These numbers are really anemic, for Network TV, but people think it's really good, which is probably somewhat of a saving grace for it.

I'll have another one of these tomorrow, because there are some interesting things popping up on the schedule tonight.  Stay tuned.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Word About The 2012 Mid-Season Openings (Sunday, January 8, 2012 Premieres)

Last night, we had something kind of interesting happen.  There are two series I'm going to talk about, in this post, and each is headed in a completely different direction.  Last week, I wrote about the problem with truly serialized programming at the Network level.  Last night, the biggest serialized hit of the season, Once Upon a Time, returned.  We also had another truly serialized (I'm basing this on the promos, as I haven't seen the show yet) show, The Firm.  This will be mercifully brief, and hopefully eye opening.

You can see a full article about last night's ratings, here:

TV by the Numbers Ratings Article about Sunday, January 8, 2012 TV Shows

Notable for good ratings:

Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8pm ET)

10.33 million Overall Viewers
3.7/8 in the 18-49 Demo

Previous original episode ratings:

8.92 million Overall Viewers
2.9/7 in the 18-49 Demo

It's not hard to see that the series had an exceptionally strong return.  I guess people spent Once Upon a Time's hiatus catching up on the show.  These are huge gains, and are much more consistent with what we were seeing earlier this season.  If it doesn't start dropping again, next week, I think there's about a 100 percent chance of the show being renewed.

Notable for not so good ratings:

The Firm (NBC, moving to Thursdays at 10pm ET this week)

6.2 million Overall Viewers (2 hours averaged)
1.4/3 in the 18-49 Demo

It's just a little bit early to predict that this series will be a complete ratings disaster, as Thursday is where this show will end up, but last night's premiere was a ratings disaster for a premiere of this size and scope.  I'm already going to say the show is DOA, even though we still have until Friday morning to see how the second episode does.  A much larger problem for the series is that it lost nearly 1 million viewers from the first hour to the second hour.  I'll be watching this shortly, so I will report back as to whether it deserves to gain traction, or whether it needs to be buried as quickly as possible.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, you can't premiere shows like this low, and that's exactly what happened here.  If it ever hits a 2.0 in the 18-49 demo, it will be full of more miracles than Tim Tebow.

To give a little perspective, look at the series premiere numbers, for a series I slammed all season, and tell me how you think The Firm is looking:

Prime Suspect (NBC, canceled)

Series Premiere Ratings:

6.05 million Overall Viewers
1.8/5 in the 18-49 Demo

There you see two shows heading in completely opposite directions, even though it was just the first "real" night of the mid-season schedule.  I'll be paying close attention to the ratings for The Firm on Thursday, but I wouldn't expect it to get above a 1.8 in the 18-49 demo, in its best case scenario.  Once Upon a Time, the least convoluted serialized program on network TV, this season, has bucked the trend of falling ratings, and has returned in magical fashion.  We'll see if it can continue this trend over the coming weeks.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Problem With Serialized Scripted TV Shows On Network TV

Forgive me, while I do a rant.  I've been saying, for awhile, that serialized television programming is a mistake at the network level.  You can have very successful serialization on cable TV networks (TNT, USA, etc.), and on premium channels (HBO, Showtime), but it just doesn't really tend to work, or at least not as well as it should, on the four major networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX).  I have frequently wondered why this is the case, and last night's episode, of the serialized Revenge (ABC), finally gave me an answer I'm satisfied with.

On the cable networks, even though there aren't a tremendous amount of completely serialized shows (off the top of my head, the only one I can think of is FX's American Horror Story), they work for one simple reason.  They all get to air their entire season runs in one fell swoop.  This is especially true for the premium channels, because there is no reason for them to go on hiatus.  Generally, cable TV seasons are 13 episodes, and premium seasons tend to be between 10 and 12 episodes.  There are always exceptions to this (shows that come on two or three times a year, like on USA and TNT), but that's generally how it works.

For network TV shows, there are generally a tremendous amount of hiatuses during the full TV season, as only 22 episodes are done for most TV series, per season.  They're trying to space five and a half months worth of programming across approximately eight months.  When you're doing a serialized show, that often means two week hiatuses here, and four week hiatuses there.  All of that type of series depend on the audience's memory, or willingness to invest an extreme amount of time remembering what has gone on.  If the serialized show is really convoluted, the audience can end up forgetting a significant amount of what has happened, while the show was away, which can sometimes cause the audience to tune out altogether.  The audience tune out has been ongoing with the ABC show Once Upon a Time, but Revenge has held a steady audience for at least the last seven episodes of the series, with neither large increases, nor large losses, while still having pretty middle of the road ratings overall (I do think it will be back for a second season, at this point).

For most people, how good the show is will determine how much time he or she is willing to invest.  It just becomes hard for most people to follow a large story, with tons of details, when it is seemingly constantly in reruns throughout the first half of the season.  Most serialized shows depend on momentum, and once it's lost, it never gets picked up again.  The solution, to me, is hybrid serialization (I think I'll coin this term now), which is a style that has really been picking up steam on network and cable TV.  The most practical example of this is Burn Notice (USA), which was originally a very heavily serialized show, but realized early on that it needed to be more than that to have longevity.  The perfect way for hybrid serialization to be done is to have a one off story for each episode's main plot (that can relate to the larger plot when necessary), and then a book ending or sprinkling of the larger serialized plot throughout each episode.  Even House is a hybrid serialization, if you look at the series solely from a character development standpoint. 

Hybrid serialization is the way things should be done, in the future, in my opinion, because it allows you to have a long story arc, for what could generally be wrapped up in one season.  Audiences also tend to love this type of show, as it has been routinely successful across many different genres.  People seem to want something just a little bit more than a case by case TV show.  Everyone wants to feel like there is always a larger story or purpose behind every show they watch. 

Again, to me, the reason so few serialized shows are successful on network TV is because of hiatuses.  Hiatuses kill the momentum serialized television shows have, and most audiences just do not have the attention span to put up with those hiatuses.  There are lots of quality choices out there, and it's just easier to move on to something else, rather than invest in something that you'll probably forget a lot about during the hiatuses.  I think true serialization should be left up to the cable and premium channels, because they don't really have the hiatus problem, and that nearly all attempts at network serialization should be done in the hybrid serialization form. 

For now, the only network that seems to be in love with true serialization is ABC, even though FOX is also taking a few leaps with shows such as the doomed Terra Nova, and the still to be aired Alcatraz.  This year, they're bringing us Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Pan Am (I don't watch the show, but I don't think I'm incorrect in saying that it's serialized, correct me if I'm wrong), The River, and MissingPan Am is canceled, Revenge only has middle of the road ratings, Once Upon a Time's ratings have been falling like a rock for the last four episodes of its run, and we're still waiting on The River (probably will do okay), and Missing (toss up).  I'd be pretty surprised if more than three of those make it back next year, and if more than 3 fail, you're likely to be looking at the end of truly serialized network TV as we have known it.  That will be a certainty if The River fails.  You may not have gotten anything out of this, but it's something I felt was worth mentioning.  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Word About The 2012 Mid-Season Openings (Tuesday, January 3, 2012 Premieres)

All of my information on this is taken from TV by the Numbers, which gives a very nice amount of information about ratings.  If you ever want to look deeper into that kind of stuff, I highly recommend visiting their site.

I'm writing this little post to give a few thoughts about the premiere of one joke of a series (sorry, not taking one for the team to watch that), in addition to the returns of a few others.  In that regard, I'll probably be posting a few of these, as new series ramp in, and old series return in different slots, or with different lead ins.  Again, this is only about scripted television shows, but a reality show can often affect the numbers a scripted TV show gets (see Body of Proof).  For this post, I'm going to talk a little about Tuesday's shows, and give you a few of my thoughts.

Notable for not so good ratings:

Work It (ABC, 8:30pm ET, but not for long)

6.144 Million Overall Viewers
2.0/5 in the 18-49 Demo

It should come as no surprise, to anyone who follows television, that the series didn't get off to a good start.  I can easily predict this show to be DOA.  When you start out at a 2.0, unless you're on NBC, you have no chance at succeeding.  If this show lasts past the Super Bowl, I will be impressed.  I placed this series on my canceled shows list, before it even aired, because the writing was on the wall after seeing the trailer for the show, last Spring.

Body of Proof (ABC, 10pm ET)

6.974 Million Overall Viewers
1.5/4 in the 18-49 Demo

Body of Proof is a disaster, and it matched its series low, from the last original episode in December, last night.  It's not like I haven't been saying this all along, but having no lead in proves the point that this show needs to go away.  Hilariously, it's going to be led in by The River, beginning in February, which could lead to another artificial ratings bump (if people decide to tune in to The River).  This show is mediocre, and not improving.  It needs to go away, which it very likely will after this season.  Now, it's time to make a joke at the expense of this show.  Parenthood (NBC) had better ratings than Body of Proof...lol.

Notable for kind of good ratings: 

Unforgettable (CBS, 10pm ET)

11.624 million Overall Viewers
2.5/6 in the 18-49 Demo

Did Poppy Montgomery get naked in this episode, or something?  The last original episode showed the signs of a pretty extensive re-tooling beginning.  Maybe people enjoyed that it is at least making a real attempt at humor (that comes off very strange), on what is otherwise a very bland (but pleasant) procedural.  These ratings were much higher than I expected, for this episode, and I am now beginning to think there could be hope for it yet (as long as Person Of Interest sticks around).  All of CBS's Tuesday shows were up in ratings, last night, so maybe more 80 year olds fell asleep in front of the television, after the CBS Evening News.  I guess we'll find out next week.

Thanks for reading.
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