Fall TV's hits and misses

Contra Costa TimesOctober 26, 2012 

Elementary

Elementary, the highest-rated new drama of the season, stars Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson. CBS has ordered a full season of the series.

JOJO WHILDEN — CBS

Show of hands: How many of you had Made in Jersey at the top of your TV death pool? If you did, give yourself a hearty round of applause.

A couple of weeks ago, the legal drama starring Janet Montgomery became the first new-show casualty of the fall TV season. CBS pulled the plug after only two dismally rated episodes. At least Made in Jersey has some company in the TV graveyard. NBC recently put the sitcom Animal Practice out of its misery, giving the folks at PETA something to celebrate. Meanwhile, several other shows teeter on the brink of extinction. With that in mind, we figured it was a good time to look over the fall crop and provide a status report:

ABC

ABC came into the fall with the best overall collection of new shows. Unfortunately, the network isn't being fully rewarded for its creative ambition.

Last Resort, the turbocharged submarine drama, is struggling to stay afloat. In addition, the spooky 666 Park Avenue has failed to scare up enough viewers, and after a solid opening, country-music drama Nashville saw its ratings go south.

Nashville was the season's best-reviewed series, and it drew a very respectable 9 million viewers to its debut audience. But by its second episode, it took a precipitous drop to 6.8 million. Not a good sign.

The good news for Last Resort is that, after a few weeks of ratings declines, it experienced a slight bump. It also has generated solid DVR numbers — a statistic that is gaining more significance as more of us refuse to be slaves to prime-time schedules.

On the comedy front, the alien invasion show The Neighbors is drawing only a little more than 6 million viewers a week, but it's doing OK in its time slot. Meanwhile, Reba McEntire's sitcom Malibu Country doesn't debut until Nov. 2.

CBS

OK, so Made in Jersey wasn't made to last, but CBS can take heart in the fact that Elementary, its Sherlock Holmes update, is the highest-rated new drama of the season, with an average of more than 14 million viewers. Once again, CBS finds yet another twist on a crime procedural, and it pays off.

The network also hit the jackpot with Vegas, sort of. The retro drama debuted with a robust audience of 14.7 million. Unfortunately, it's a very "old" audience, something that advertisers don't exactly crave. Still, Vegas and Elementary were rewarded with full-season orders last week.

The news isn't so bright for Partners. CBS' lone sitcom is the victim of a double whammy: bad reviews and bad ratings. It looks like a sure goner.

FOX

It's the usual fall story for Fox: A thorough scouting report on the network is tough to ascertain because postseason baseball tends to play havoc with the schedule — just ask fans of The X Factor.

What we do know is that The Mob Doctor does not appear to have a healthy future. The dreadful drama was thrashed by critics and is drawing mediocre ratings — less than 4 million viewers a week. Our diagnosis? The Doctor is out.

Meanwhile, The Mindy Project and Ben & Kate, both well-reviewed sitcoms, have been given full-season orders by Fox. They were rewarded, despite less-than-stellar ratings — both shows are drawing less than 4 million viewers per episode. Mindy, in fact, received a larger-than-normal order of 24 episodes. Fox obviously thinks it has something to build on here.

NBC

NBC isn't dead yet. Coming into the season, the beleaguered network was sorely in need of a hit, and it struck gold with its lights-out drama, Revolution. We have to admit that this one caught us by surprise: Not only was the Revolution pilot lame, we were convinced that viewers were fed up with fantastical, mythology-laden serials.

But the show has improved and is luring more than 10 million viewers a week (before supplemental DVR numbers). It's a true success story.

NBC has given full-season orders to Revolution, along with a couple of sitcoms, The New Normal and Go On. Other series aren't doing quite as well: As previously noted, Animal Practice has been put down, and Guys With Kids looks like a dead show walking.

Meanwhile, the Dick Wolf drama Chicago Fire is still early in its run, but the outlook isn't encouraging. Fire opened with 6.6 million viewers, then slipped to 5.9 million the next week.

THE CW

Here's how weird TV is: The aforementioned Made in Jersey draws 5.8 million viewers on CBS (in its second week) and is considered a pathetic failure. But the superhero drama Arrow pulls in 4 million on The CW and is hailed as a breakout hit.

That's right, Arrow, with hunky star Stephen Amell, drew the biggest debut audience in three years for The CW, where the Nielsen bar isn't so high. Last week, Arrow was rewarded with a full-season order.

The CW's other new dramas, Beauty and the Beast and Emily Owens M.D., aren't quite as lucky. They've both generated only so-so ratings, and though the network ordered new scripts last week, we can see the vultures circling.

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