Sunday, August 26, 2012

2011-2012 TV Season Wrap Up (CBS): Better Than Before

Finally, I have made it to the end of my 2011-2012 TV Season Wrap Ups.  I'll be relieved when this is done, because these aren't much fun for me to write (hence why you've seen such huge delays).  I'm not usually a big fan of CBS, as a lot of their shows skew outside of my tastes.  However, with the writing of this blog, I have broadened my horizons, and watched more than I ever would have watched in the past.  I'll be checking out even more of their shows this season, and I'll talk about that later.

Shows I watched, in the 2011-2012 TV season, on CBS:

2 Broke Girls
Criminal Minds
Hawaii Five-O
Person of Interest
How To Be a Gentleman

2 Broke Girls (Renewed):

I watched every episode of this show, didn't laugh much, and didn't think it was anything special.  This might have been the best of the "dirty" sitcoms, had it not been for the late entry of Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 (ABC).  I'm not sure what kept me around, but I did enjoy it somewhat, and will be back for next season.  I especially liked the addition of Jennifer Coolidge, but her addition kind of went down the toilet with the one trick nature of the writing of her character.  Making her recurring probably also stole an EMMY nomination out of her pocket.  She stole nearly every scene she was in during her first two episodes, and proved how little presence the leads have on the show.  Too bad they didn't give more depth to her character, or make her character be around for a very short amount of time.  This was the highest rated new show of the TV season on the big 4 networks, and it's probably going to be around for a long long time.

Criminal Minds (Renewed):

This time last year, I told you how my wife and I had marathoned the first six seasons of this show on A&E over the summer.  Last season ended up not being that memorable, but it was still solid, and a series I looked forward to every week.  We've supposedly lost the Prentiss character, and that makes me kind of upset, because they should have just not had her come back to begin with.  There's a really strange dynamic going on with the casting of this show, and it seems really unnecessary, considering how solid this show has been throughout its entire run.  I see no signs of this show going anywhere, any time soon, so that should be a relief to the fans of the show.

Hawaii Five-O (Renewed):

This show has a lot of problems, but it's an enjoyable watch, for the most part.  I also love Hawaii, even though this show makes it seem like the scariest place on earth.  It had another odd cliffhanger (mommy style), and we'll see where it goes next season.  It's just a mostly solid procedural, with a lot of gimmick casting that doesn't work at all.  If it would take itself a little bit more seriously, I think it would be a much better show.

Person of Interest (Renewed):

No matter how much you hate CBS, this show redeems everything.  This is easily my favorite network TV show, and I don't think I've been this excited about a network TV show in a number of years.  There are numerous aspects you need to suspend your disbelief about, but once you do that, you will be on the one of the funnest rides you can have on network TV.  I love this show, and hope it is around for many years to come.  Eventually, I think the Academy will be really embarrassed they took so long to get on board how good this show really is.  It has a really nice story, and it's extremely well told.  If you're not watching this show, you should be.  This show gets my highest recommendation, for network TV.  If you somehow don't like this show, you need to re-calibrate your brain, as I just can't understand why anyone could dislike it if they have even the remotest interest in the genre.

How To Be a Gentleman (Canceled):

I am certainly in the minority here, but I thought this was the overall funniest new sitcom of the TV season.  I laughed more during this show than any other sitcom.  It was by no means an amazingly awesome show, but it was worth your time.  I think people under 30 wouldn't really enjoy it, but if you are around my age (fast approaching 41), I can't imagine there isn't something here you wouldn't like.  The show was DOA, and eventually got burned off, after being yanked after, I think, the third episode.  I missed the last two episodes, and it was gone in 60 seconds from their website.  Maybe one day I'll get to catch the rest.

Unforgettable (Canceled AND Renewed):

It seems like there is always one of these storylines during each TV season.  A show with mediocre ratings gets canceled, and then the network has regrets over canceling it.  Unforgettable was this season's example.  At the time it was canceled, I thought it was the most bland and pleasant police procedural I had ever seen.  I didn't hate it and I certainly didn't love it.  The format was nearly identical to Prime Suspect, but told in a much less obnoxious way.  It also had a significantly better overall cast.  When I went back and watched the episodes I was behind on, I realized this show was getting significantly better toward the end of its run.  I even thought it had almost enough potential to make it a small mistake that it was canceled.  Evidently, CBS agreed, and has decided to make this a summer show on the 2013 schedule.  I'll watch it, and see if it continues to improve.

Rob (Canceled):

This is the only show last season I had predicted renewal for that got canceled.  I don't know the reasons behind the cancellation, but this was a very decent show, with a lot of potential.  With the loss of the great comedic actor Lupe Ontiveros, the show would have had a hard time staying at the level it was at, as she really brought something special to the show.  I'm wondering how possible it was that her illness contributed to the cancellation of the show.  This show had a mostly killer cast, and was a pretty good ensemble.  As with all Rob Schneider vehicles, most of the best comedy was visual.  He played an obtuse idiot, who gradually stops being a completely obtuse idiot.  It was worth a watch, but there may have been larger factors in play for why it didn't get renewed, when it actually had solid ratings, that were certainly good enough for renewal on CBS.

In addition to everything you see here, I will be watching several other shows on CBS, this season.  I'm most excited about Elementary, and will mostly just be checking out at least one episode of the rest to see if any of them can grab me.  That was the strategy I have used for CBS shows for the last two seasons.  Going into last season, I was most excited about the poorly promoted Person of Interest, and Elementary looks like it will be equally as appealing as Person of Interest, to me, even though the promos weren't particularly well done.  I'm optimistic about CBS's schedule, and look forward to seeing if any of their new shows can get to the level of execution that Person of Interest resides at now.  Stay tuned.  Thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

2011-2012 TV Season Wrap Up (NBC): Notoriously Bad Comcast

Just like last year, I will be writing about the dismal current state of NBC.  This wrap up is long overdue, and I could easily write a long rant about how disappointed I was with NBC's coverage of the London Olympics.  But...that's reality TV (according to the style of some of NBC's coverage), so I won't write about it.  NBC, I would pay for the ability to watch anything of the Olympics I want in Hi-Def, on my cable system.  How much I would be willing to pay is up to debate, but, seriously, think about it...

Getting back to the wrap up, it was another really bad year for NBC, filled with disasters, hangers on, and low rated renewals.  Based on what we see on their shortly upcoming 2012-2013 schedule, it doesn't look like much will change.  NBC had the Olympics to promote the you know what out of any show they wanted.  Promoted well, they might have begun to right the sinking ship.  Promoted poorly, and, well, you get what's likely to happen.  They decided to spend much of their promotion budget in the Olympics pumping up Go On, Animal Practice, Revolution, The New Normal, and Grimm.  In nearly all situations, the shows were promoted poorly.  I can only speak to the quality of Go On, and Grimm, but the promos for those shows really didn't do them any favors.  The promos for Grimm were especially disturbing, as they gave us nearly no story to suck new viewers in, and that certainly hurt its post Olympics ratings.  The promos for Animal Practice, Revolution, and The New Normal will do practically nothing to get viewers excited about the shows.  Will they be good?  Maybe.  However, I really don't have much hope for NBC, and the numbers for the Grimm season 2 premiere, and second episode, proved that the promos didn't have much an impact on the amount of viewers picking up the show for the first time.  I ultimately think Grimm will do fine when it moves back to Fridays, but I would have liked to have seen higher numbers coming out of the Olympics.  I'll get to what I think of this season's upcoming slate at the end of this, but let's just say I'm less than enthused.

Shows I watched, in the 2011-2012 TV season, on NBC:

Law & Order:  Special Victims Unit
The Office
Parks and Recreation
Up All Night 
Free Agents
Prime Suspect
Are You There, Chelsea?
Bests Friends Forever
Harry's Law

Grimm (Renewed):

This was literally NBC's shining light of the 2011-2012 TV season.  It was expected to fail, but succeeded...on Friday nights.  It was the first renewal they announced, and it was renewed early.  When I saw the trailer for it, before it aired, I was actually pretty excited about it, and couldn't really understand why they were holding it, and putting it in a bad slot.  If you've read this blog with any regularity, you know that I both advocated its moving from Fridays, and keeping it there.  It's a well thought out and planned TV show, and if you have any interest in the fantasy/horror genre, but are not watching it, you are truly missing out.  This is easily one of my top 5 favorite network TV shows (season 2 is also off to a great start, already), and might be in my top 10 shows.  I won't know for sure until I compile a list at the end of 2012.  It doesn't have great ratings, but it's doing absolutely well enough to get renewed for a third season.  That is, of course, as long as it holds the ratings it's been getting on Mondays the last few weeks, once it moves back to Fridays.  Again, if you like this genre, you should be watching this show.  It has great characters, great set pieces, great cinematography, excellent stories, and manages to balance the violent aspects really well with excellent humor.  The story has been advancing at an excellent pace, and I truly look forward to watching it every week.

Law & Order:  Special Victims Unit (Renewed):

I've taken to renaming this show Law & Order: Series Low.  For the imagined cost of this series, its ratings just aren't cutting the mustard.  This is the end of the mostly outstanding Law & Order franchise, and I wish it would have gone away after last season.  Last season's storylines took the opportunity to blame the victim in the vast majority of the cases.  With the exit of the Stabler character, and the attempt at a re-boot, it's just a shell of what it once was.  If this season goes like the last, both in ratings and quality, it will be gone.  Take it to the bank.  Dick Wolf only had the "Midas Touch" once in his career, he just was able to extend it over 20+ years.  Chicago Fire does not look to be in the same league as the Law & Order franchise, either.

The Office (Renewed):

I worked on the DVD box sets for several seasons of the show (including the first two seasons), but never could get into it, as I just thought it was too offensive for my tastes.  Of all the stuff I worked on, I think I first began to have some interest in season 5, as they had really softened the edge (which evidently was the appeal to most of the fans of the previous seasons).  The episode that made me look at the series differently was the one where Dwight was torturing Andy by threatening to go to Cornell.  I then decided to start watching again the season where Michael Scott left.  I thought it was relatively entertaining, and at least good enough to continue watching.  I even continued watching all of last season, which I thought was really uneven and weird.  It's still the highest rated sitcom on NBC, but it's not pulling in anywhere near the ratings it had in its heyday.  I predict Go On will take over as the highest rated NBC sitcom this season from The Office.  If NBC has ratings similar to last season for all of its programming, you can easily expect them to radically alter the following season's schedule.  Brace yourself, if you aren't ready for this news.  This could be the last year of the mockumentary styled sitcom on NBC.  As a final bit of information, this season will be The Office's last, according to news I recently read.

Parks and Recreation (Renewed):

No longer is Parks and Recreation my favorite network TV show.  That honor goes to CBS's Person of Interest.  However, Parks and Recreation is still my second favorite network TV show.  Overall, it was a really good season, but it's definitely starting to lose its legs, mostly because it's focusing too much on relationships, and not enough on the overall ensemble.  Keep in mind what I said above, about the end of the mockumentary sitcom, as Parks and Recreation will cross the magic 88 episode syndication barrier, this season.  It also continues to have pretty lackluster ratings, with no hope for improvement.

Up All Night (Renewed):

I tried really hard to like this show, despite its many flaws.  I think Christina Applegate is generally fabulous, and that Will Arnett is a really good straight man.  Maya Rudolph...oy.  It was pretty clear, in the early stages of the show, that Applegate and Arnett were competing for laughs, and it had a pretty big chemistry problem.  When Arnett settled into his straight man role, the show got much better.  Rudolph was wildly overacting and caricatured early in the show.  She got better toward the middle, and then went right back to the caricature toward the end.  I fell behind on the show, at some point during the season, started catching up, and about 3 episodes into the catch up, I just couldn't do it anymore.  The breaking point was episode 18, for me, "New Boss".  The show is weak, the ratings were terrible, and yet it was renewed!  I get there are probably political reasons behind the renewal, but the renewal of the show is literally an indictment of the deeply systemic issues NBC faces as a network.  This show is just not worth the time and energy they have spent to try to make it succeed, outside of an outlandish miracle.  It never will, and it basically has no hope of getting a third season.  For years to come, NBC will likely have to ask whether it was worth it to keep this show for a second season.  I won't be watching season 2.

Whitney (Renewed):

This was one of the worst sitcoms I have ever seen, featuring one of the most unappealing casts I have ever seen.  Having their constant sexual situations jammed into my face every week ultimately caused me to tune out, probably after the 4th episode, though I can't remember for sure which one sent me screaming for the hills.  It had terrible ratings all season, but this was NBC, so it got "renewed".  By "renewed", I mean it got moved to Fridays with Community, which would need a miracle for this not to be its last season.  This is basically a cancellation, without being canceled.  If it keeps the same ratings as it did last season, on Wednesdays, I would say it has a reasonable chance at a third season.  If it falls much below that, this show will probably see its demise around the Winter hiatus.  I believe it was picked up for 13 episodes, which is basically the commitment that would match my prediction.

Free Agents (Canceled):

I thought this was a decent show.  It was certainly better than the terrible Whitney, and extremely mediocre Up All Night.  The problem was that it skewed old, and had terrible ratings.  It only lasted a few episodes, before it was mercy killed.  The great Hank Azaria could not save this show, though it certainly had some potential.

Prime Suspect (Canceled):

Many will disagree, but I thought this was one of the worst police procedurals I have ever seen.  I was somewhat excited about it, going in, and was completely disappointed in literally every respect.  I thought it was a piece of crap, and actively rooted for it to go.  I tuned out a few episodes before it was put out of its misery.  The fact that the makers of the show couldn't figure out why it didn't make it is a real indictment of how flawed their thinking was.  This show was a disaster, but it probably would have done great on FX.  This was NOT a network level TV show, sorry.

Are You There, Chelsea? (Canceled)

This show was doomed the minute the title was changed from Are You There, Vodka?  It's Me, Chelsea.  In context, it makes complete sense, especially when coupled with the scene that gave us the original title.  Instead, the title was some random pattern of words that made no sense.  That's totally par for the NBC course.  I thought the show was just a step below decent, and I watched every episode.  This show also had the distinction of having an actor appear in it that had two series canceled, on NBC, in the same season (Natasha Leggero).

Bent (Canceled):

I watched the first two episodes of this show, and hated it.  It had terrible ratings, and was an utter disaster.   The Creator of this show is going to try another show with the same lead.  Surely that will work, right?  LOL.

Best Friends Forever (Canceled):

I watched the first four episodes of the show, and thought it had a really nice production value, even though it was just barely scratching up to the surface of decent.  It was horribly cringe worthy in many moments.  Its ratings were just as terrible as Bent's, and it didn't even make it through its first six episodes, before being canceled and removed (it was eventually burned off, and I missed it).

Awake (Canceled):

This was a show with great potential, that never lived up to it.  It was extremely disappointing to me, even though many people liked it.  I was extremely angry over the ending of the show, and even angrier when I found out the Creator of the show never had any interest or thought about which "reality" was real.  With that knowledge, I'm 100 percent glad it was canceled.  Toward the end, I thought this show was a complete mess, though we'll never know how much the network interfered with the true direction of the show.  If it hadn't been for the massive flops of both Prime Suspect and The Firm, this show might never have seen the light of day (if the plan had been to hold it until this season, that might have been the best idea).  If you were a fan of the show, you should be really appreciative of how NBC treated the show.  Its ratings did not warrant the whole season being shown, but there was nothing left to follow it.  For that, you should be glad.  The biggest problem with this show is that you had to expend brain cells while watching it, and that is an absolutely terrible thing to have to do right before bedtime.  That surely hurt the show.  I'm sure Kyle Killen will get one more shot to make a show work, maybe on Showtime, but he will likely have a very hard time getting another shot at the network level, any time soon.  He's obviously a talented guy, but his work has a very difficult time connecting with the mass audiences necessary at the network level.

Harry's Law (Canceled):

The show went through a massive re-tooling, and became MUCH worse than season 1.  They tried to bring in a younger audience, and failed miserably.  They got too political too early in the show's run.  The whole second season felt like the "We're going to Sacramento!" episodes in the later seasons of Quincy, M.E.  I fell behind on the show, late in the season, and I never had the heart to catch up.  Harry's Law had the highest overall viewers of any NBC scripted show.  Of course, it also had near the bottom in the 18-49 demo.  This show was a walking paradox, ratings wise, and it had the opportunity to set a tremendous ratings precedent.  If it had, that precedent would have been named "Harry's Law".  However, cooler heads prevailed, and its obvious cancellation to anyone who follows ratings closely eventually happened.

It was a disappointing year for NBC, yet again, and NBC still shows no signs of returning to the level the once great network occupied.  My biggest hopes are for Revolution and Go On, and I'll check out at least one episode of most of the new shows they air, in addition to my holdovers from last season.  NBC squandered its Olympics opportunity, and now we have to wait and see whether they've squandered yet another TV season.  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

TV PREMIERE RATINGS NOTES FOR AUGUST 8-13, 2012: Go On, Animal Practice, Grimm

I normally try to post these things as they happen, but that wasn't hap'nin' last week.  NBC decided to air two "special previews", out of their new sitcom lineup, following their insanely high rated Olympics coverage.  Their first foray into that was the new Matthew Perry series Go On, which aired Wednesday, August 8, 2012.  After the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics, NBC also did a "special preview" of Animal Practice.  While those ratings are certainly worth looking at, they aren't realistic, and don't count in anything NBC is doing in regard to ratings.  I'll give you each show's ratings numbers, and also post the preliminary numbers for last night's season 2 premiere of Grimm, which is also on NBC.

Go On (NBC, Special Preview, August 8, 2012)

16.1 million Overall Viewers
5.6 in the 18-49 Demo

These are huge ratings, but they're not realistic.  I can easily see this show settling in the mid to upper 2s for ratings, but I doubt it will do much better than that.  That means I'm pretty sure this show is going to make it.  It wasn't groundbreaking in any real way, but it has Matthew Perry being pretty much who people like to watch, and it has a bit of heart.  I'm even willing to predict this show will be a hit by NBC standards.  I will be very surprised if this show doesn't end up being NBC's highest rated sitcom at the end of the season.  Yes, I do mean higher than The Office.  That's my first bold, and possibly stupid, prediction of the 2012-2013 TV season.

Animal Practice (NBC, Special Preview, August 12, 2012)

12.8 million Overall Viewers
4.1 in the 18-49 Demo

I was in bed by the time this aired, and I'm not sure I would have checked it out if I had been awake.  I'm going to give the show a shot, when it airs in its normal slot, but this show looks incredibly stupid.  Maybe it's not, but the marketing has been atrocious.  The fact that it got far fewer viewers than Go On, despite having a stronger lead in, should tell you pretty much what's going to probably happen to this show.  If this show is still in the high 2s for its regular premiere, it would be a miracle.  I expect it to be in the 2.0 area for its regular premiere, and expect it to be somewhere in the 1s, not long after that.  Which part of the 1s will be the determining factor in its prospects.  I'm not that bold of a predictor, but the premise looks lame.  We'll see how the real premiere goes, and take it from there.  NBC obviously likes it a lot, or they wouldn't have devoted one of the precious post-Olympics time slots to gaining awareness for it.

Grimm (NBC, Mondays 10pm ET, moving to Fridays September 21, 2012, at 9pm ET)

5.681 million Overall Viewers
2.0 in the 18-49 Demo

I eagerly anticipated the premiere ratings for Grimm, after the amount of promotion (though most of it was bad) during the Olympics.  However, when I saw the headline at TV by the Numbers, I knew it wasn't going to live up to my hopes.  They reported that it had the second highest ratings in the show's history.  This show has never had particularly high ratings, so I knew that wouldn't be so great.  The fact that it doesn't have great numbers says a lot more about NBC's terrible image spots, with stupid rock music, that tell you nothing about the show, or even tone of the show, than it does about Grimm's prospects.  We won't know anything until it moves to Fridays, but I think we're going to be looking at ratings very similar to last season's.   We won't know what the bar is for this show, until all of NBC's relatively lackluster new slate gets to airing in September and October.  I sincerely hope it retains this audience on Fridays, but I am a realist, and know that's unlikely to happen.  It has a few more episodes in a beneficial time slot coming up, so maybe it will grow a little bit more of an audience before it heads back to Friday nights.  I'd be happy with anything in the 1.8 area on Friday nights, so we'll see what happens.

It's sad that I have now posted about 2012-2013 premiere ratings without having finished my 2011-2012 TV season wrap ups.  Post a like below if you still want me to finish those (I still have NBC and CBS left to do).  If not, we'll just move on, since no likes means no one cares, and it's not like I'm getting paid to do this.  If a few likes determine that I will write them, it will hopefully be later this week.  Thanks for reading.
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