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 Chelsea. Harry'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.