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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

PILOT REVIEW: Manhattan Love Story

MANHATTAN LOVE STORY

Starring: Analeigh Tipton, Jake McDorman, Nicolas Wright, Jade Catta-Preta, Chloe Wepper, and Kurt Fuller

Created by Jeff Lowell
Written by Jeff Lowell, Directed by Michael Fresco

THE PREMISE: Manhattan Love Story is a new romantic comedy that gives viewers the inner monologues and thoughts of its two leads. Dana (Analeigh Tipton) is new to the Big Apple, looking for a career and armed with a bucket list. She lives with college friend Amy (Jade Catta-Preta) and Amy's husband, David (Nicolas Wright). In the pilot, she is set up with David's co-worker Peter (Jake McDorman) and sparks may fly despite a rocky first date. Rounding out the main cast is David and Peter's boss (and the requisite father-figure) William (Kurt Fuller).

THE GOOD: Well, this show tries to be a bit of a love letter to NYC and it mostly succeeds in that. The show has a very cute approach but it does make the city look appealing in an idealistic, love-struck kind of way. I guess that's a good thing? I actually think the actors are pretty competent but they're given so little to work with.

THE BAD: We may have found the worst new sitcom of the season (though I haven't seen some other supposed stinkers yet, so we'll see). The problem is that the whole thing that sets this show apart - hearing the inner thoughts of the two leads - is the worst part about the show. It's all sorts of wrong. Not only is it gimmicky, it doesn't allow for subtext at all, diminishing the actors. No one wants to hear inner thoughts throughout the show. I find it annoying when a show uses it for one scene. Aside from the fact that it is cheap, it also isn't funny. It's incredibly awkward as evidenced by the painful dinner scene between Dana and Peter. The show also reduced men and women down to pretty lame stereotypes. I'm not a liberal progressive blogger, yet I found it surprising how simplistic the show chose to make these two characters we're supposed to fall in love with. The final little problem was the overuse of the social media mistakes by Dana. It was tolerable at first and got old fast (just like the voices). Lazy, bad writing.

BOTTOM LINE: Considering how much I disliked Selfie, it's hard to believe that I think even less of this show, but I do. I read how the producers wanted to make each episode like a mini Woody Allen film. Well if we had that, we'd be OK but we don't. A cute little premise and decent actors are destroyed by gimmicky concepts and horrible writing. I have a feeling this Love Story is going to be a pretty short one.

RATINGS RECAP: 9/29/14

Check below this post for a review of Selfie and my new feature, the weekly recap!

ABC
8:00 Dancing with the Stars
Viewers: 12.5 million, 18-49 demo: 1.8
10:00 Castle
Viewers: 10.8 million, 18-49 demo: 2.2

CBS
8:00 The Big Bang Theory
Viewers: 16.4 million, 18-49 demo: 4.8
8:30 The Big Bang Theory (Repeat)
Viewers: 12.3 million, 18-49 demo: 3.1
9:00 Scorpion
Viewers: 13.4 million, 18-49 demo: 3.1
10:00 NCIS: Los Angeles
Viewers: 9.5 million, 18-49 demo: 1.9

NBC
8:00 The Voice

Viewers: 12.9 million, 18-49 demo: 4.0
10:00 The Blacklist
Viewers: 10.5 million, 18-49 demo: 2.8

FOX
8:00 Gotham
Viewers: 7.5 million, 18-49 demo: 2.8
9:00 Sleepy Hollow
Viewers: 5.0 million, 18-49 demo: 1.7


Week two of the new season kicked off with a mix of results. On CBS, The Big Bang Theory started things off down 1.6 million viewers and six tenths in the demo from last week's premiere. It's a pretty big drop but last week was pretty high so it may be leveling out. A repeat at 8:30pm did very well, probably better than Mom would have. The best news for CBS came at 9pm where week two of Scorpion was down a mere four tenths in viewers and a tenth in the demo from last week's premiere where it's lead-in was way higher (a new Big Bang). Without a doubt, this is an incredibly impressive week two hold. Despite a critical drubbing, this show seems to be connecting with viewers. The news was not nearly as good at 10pm where NCIS: Los Angeles' move to Monday led to series lows. It was still up from Hostages a year ago, but finished a distant third in the hour. Especially given how well Scorpion did, this was a disappointing performance.

Over on NBC, The Voice was down just a tenth in viewers and actually up a tenth in the demo for a great second week. If this keeps up, the year to year declines will keep looking better. At 10pm, The Blacklist was down 1.8 million viewers and six tenths in the demo, which is disappointing considering the lead-in was slightly stronger. It feels too early for this show to already be down in the 2s. After a good hold on premiere week, week three of Dancing with the Stars didn't go as well as it dropped three tenths in viewers and four tenths in the demo. The news was better at 10pm, though, where the series premiere of Castle delivered its best demo since November 4 and matched last season's premiere.

Finally on FOX, week two of Gotham was pretty positive. It was down seven tenths in viewers and four tenths in the demo for a pretty good hold, especially given the anticipation for the first night. It was already one of the biggest gainers in delayed DVR viewing and that seems even more likely given the type of audience it's appealing to. At 9pm, Sleepy Hollow sunk another half a million viewers and three tenths in the demo to another series low. It is not looking good for this show this season but it might be just fine thanks to FOX's problems. It seems to be following a very similar run as The Following so I think we'll see mid to low 1s in the demo very soon and that's where it will probably settle.

WINNER OF THE NIGHT: Scorpion (CBS)
LOSER OF THE NIGHT: Dancing with the Stars (ABC)

PILOT REVIEW: Selfie

SELFIE

Starring: Karen Gillan, John Cho, David Harewood, Allyn Rachel, Tim Peper, Da'Vine Joy Randolph

Created by Emily Kapnek
Written by Emily Kapnek, Directed by Julie Anne Robinson

THE PREMISE: Selfie is a new sitcom from the creator of Suburgatory and based loosely on My Fair Lady. Eliza Dooly (Karen Gillan) - get it? - is self-absorbed and obsessed with all things social media at the expense of creating real friendships. When she has a social media disaster on an airplane (she vomits all over herself the plane and herself and it goes viral), she hires Henry Higenbottam (John Cho) - get it again? - to rehab her image. This includes actually connecting with people in a non-digital way. Rounding out the main cast is Henry's boss, Sam Saperstein (Dorian Harewood), Eliza's nerdy neighbor Bryn (Allyn Rachel), and company receptionist Charmonique (Da'Vine Joy Randolph).

THE GOOD: Some of the supporting cast is serviceable. John Cho is likable enough as the modern-day Henry Higgins. It's clear that the show is trying to get Da'Vine Joy Randolph to be the sassy black lady role filled in other shows by people like Retta in Parks and Recreation. She doesn't have it quite down yet but she's arguably the most enjoyable presence in the pilot.

THE BAD: Where to start? Forgive me for using this show to go on a rant, but here we go. A show like this is just so ill-conceived. It is trying so hard to be "hip" and "cool" in 2014 but it already feels a little bit lame and I can't imagine how lame it will look in five years or more. Think back through TV history - how many hit classic shows focused on real topical stuff? Maybe Murphy Brown, but that show doesn't hold up well at all. The best shows in their time and in history are ones that explore universal truths, not trendy truths in 2014 with things like the Vine, Twitter, and Facebook images floating across the screen or a Frozen reference. Aside from that major structural problem, it was such an annoying show. There was the horrible "Selfie" song, unnecessary rhyming, and extended vomit gag within the first three minutes. The rhyming was overused throughout the pilot by different characters in different settings. Then as if it wasn't bad enough, the show completely changed tones about halfway through (that Henry Higenbottam is quite a miracle worker!) Gone was the onslaught of social media images and a sweeter, simpler comedy followed. It was maybe slightly better but it still wasn't good and it was such a shift, it was hard to take seriously. Another sign that this show doesn't know what it wants to be.

BOTTOM LINE: Selfie was the first new show I watched in the 2014-15 season since it was available online in August. It did not get the season off to a good start. This may be the next in a line of unfortunate titles for ABC sitcoms (following Cougar Town and Trophy Wife) but I hope no one thinks the title is the problem with this show. The problems run much deeper and the biggest problem, once again, is how hard it tries to be so "now." That won't even make it relevant in 2015.

WEEKLY RECAP: September 22-28, 2014

A new feature this year! This will recap the week that was. It won't appear until Tuesday nights when the Sunday final ratings come in. Hope you enjoy!!

Please note these will only cover regularly scheduled shows - not sports, not specials, not repeats, and not Saturday shows (too many burn-offs/oddities).

TOP 10 SHOWS (18-49 DEMO)
1. The Big Bang Theory (CBS, Monday 8:30pm) - 5.5
2. The Big Bang Theory (CBS, Monday 8:30pm) - 5.4
3. Family Guy (FOX, Sunday 9:00pm) - 4.6
4. The Voice (NBC, Monday 8:00pm) - 4.1
    The Voice (NBC, Tuesday 8:00pm) - 4.1
6. The Simpsons (FOX, Sunday 8:00pm) - 4.0
7. Modern Family (ABC, Wednesday 9:00pm) - 3.8
    Scandal (ABC, Thursday 9:00pm) - 3.8
    How to Get Away with Murder (ABC, Thursday 10:00pm) - 3.8
10. Once Upon a Time (ABC, Sunday 8:00pm) - 3.5

TOP 10 SHOWS (TOTAL VIEWERS)
1. The Big Bang Theory (CBS, Monday 8:30pm) - 18.3 million
   NCIS (CBS, Tuesday 8:00pm) - 18.3 million
3. The Big Bang Theory (CBS, Monday 8:00pm) - 18.1 million
4. NCIS: New Orleans (CBS, Tuesday 9:00pm) - 17.4 million
5. How to Get Away with Murder (ABC, Thursday 10:00pm) - 14.1 million
6. Scorpion (CBS, Monday 9:00pm) - 13.9 million
7. The Voice (NBC, Monday 8:00pm) - 13.2 million
    The Voice (NBC, Tuesday 8:00pm) - 13.2 million
9. Madam Secretary (CBS, Sunday 8:00pm) - 12.8 million
10. The Blacklist (NBC, Monday 10:00pm) - 12.6 million

BOTTOM 10 SHOWS (18-49 DEMO)
1. Utopia (FOX, Friday 8:00pm) - 0.7
2. Utopia (FOX, Tuesday 8:00pm) - 0.8
3. The Mindy Project (FOX, Tuesday 9:30pm) - 1.0
4. Red Band Society (FOX, Wednesday 9:00pm) - 1.1
    The Amazing Race (CBS, Friday 8:00pm) - 1.1
    60 Minutes (CBS, Sunday 7:00pm) - 1.1
7. Hawaii Five-0 (CBS, Friday 9:00pm) - 1.2
    Blue Bloods (CBS, Friday 10:00pm) - 1.2
9. New Girl (FOX, Tuesday 9:00pm) - 1.3
    Hell's Kitchen (FOX, Wednesday 8:00pm) - 1.3
    The Biggest Loser (NBC, Thursday 8:00pm) - 1.3
    The Good Wife (CBS, Sunday 9:00pm) - 1.3
    Revenge (ABC, Sunday 10:00pm) - 1.3

BOTTOM 10 SHOWS (TOTAL VIEWERS)
1. Utopia (FOX, Tuesday 8:00pm) - 1.9 million
    Utopia (FOX, Friday 8:00pm) - 1.9 million
3. The Mindy Project (FOX, Tuesday 9:30pm) - 2.1 million
4. New Girl (FOX, Tuesday 9:00pm) - 2.4 million
5. Red Band Society (FOX, Wednesday 9:00pm) - 3.4 million
6. Hell's Kitchen (FOX, Wednesday 8:00pm) - 3.7 million
7. Parenthood (NBC, Thursday 10:00pm) - 4.3 million
8. The Biggest Loser (NBC, Thursday 8:00pm) - 4.5 million
9. Revenge (ABC, Sunday 10:00pm) - 5.1 million
10. The Amazing Race (CBS, Friday 8:00pm) - 5.5 million

WINNERS OF THE NIGHT
Monday - The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Tuesday - Forever (ABC)
Wednesday - Black-ish (ABC)
Thursday - How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)
Friday - Shark Tank (ABC)
Sunday - Family Guy (FOX)

LOSERS OF THE NIGHT
Monday - Sleepy Hollow (FOX)
Tuesday - Utopia (FOX)
Wednesday - Nashville (ABC)
Thursday - The Biggest Loser (NBC)
Friday - The Amazing Race (CBS)
Sunday - CSI (CBS)

MY TOP 5 EPISODES OF THE WEEK
1. Gotham #1 "Pilot"
2. Chicago Fire #47 "Always"
3. The Goldbergs #24 "Love is a Mixtape"
4. Scandal #48 "Randy, Red, Superfreak, & Julia"
5. Blue Bloods #90 "Partners"

RATINGS RECAP: 9/28/14

ABC
7:00 Once Upon a Time: Storybrooke Has Frozen Over

Viewers: 5.5 million, 18-49 demo: 1.6
8:00 Once Upon a Time
Viewers: 10.2 million, 18-49 demo: 3.7
9:00 Resurrection
Viewers: 8.4 million, 18-49 demo: 2.5
10:00 Revenge
Viewers: 5.7 million, 18-49 demo: 1.5

CBS
7:00 60 Minutes

Viewers: 9.7 million, 18-49 demo: 1.1
8:00 Madam Secretary
Viewers: 12.7 million, 18-49 demo: 1.4
9:00 The Good Wife
Viewers: 11.1 million, 18-49 demo: 1.3
10:00 CSI
Viewers: 9.4 million, 18-49 demo: 1.3

NBC
7:00 Football Night in America

Viewers: 3.8 million, 18-49 demo: 1.2
8:00 NFL Pregame
Viewers: 13.0 million, 18-49 demo: 4.6
8:30 Sunday Night Football
Viewers: 22.7 million, 18-49 demo: 8.7

FOX
7:00 NFL Overrun

Viewers: 25.8 million, 18-49 demo: 9.0
8:00 The Simpsons
Viewers: 8.5 million, 18-49 demo: 3.9
8:30 Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Viewers: 5.5 million, 18-49 demo: 2.6
9:00 Family Guy
Viewers: 8.5 million, 18-49 demo: 4.5

Sunday night saw some very impressive results. After a week of doom and gloom since Gotham on Monday, FOX closed premiere week on a very high note. After a strong NFL overrun, The Simpsons premiered a full demo point higher than last year. Who knows if the FXX's "Every Simpsons Ever" marathon helped renew interest, but it couldn't hurt. At 8:30pm, Brooklyn Nine-Nine dipped a lot from its lead-in but did deliver its best numbers since the series premiere so it's so far, so good for the live action comedy experiment. It was also up from Bob's Burgers last year. The best result came at 9pm with Family Guy and its crossover with The Simpsons. The one hour episode delivered Family Guy's best demo since way back on January 9, 2011. FOX really programmed and promoted this night well and the results couldn't have been better for them.

ABC also had a pretty stunning night thanks to the everlasting magic of Frozen. The new storyline on Once Upon a Time bolstered the veteran drama to its best numbers since the second season premiere in September 2012. For a show that has shown continuous decline, this was quite a resurgence. Will it sustain itself through the whole Frozen arc during the first half of the season? We'll see. The halo effect continued to Resurrection, which was up nicely from the last several weeks of the season. It posted its best numbers since the third episode on March 23. While I still think the trajectory will be bad for this show, it was a much more positive start than I expected. The good news did not extend to Revenge. It was only a tenth ahead of its season finale and way behind last fall. The trajectory for this show is much worse than Once and Resurrection and I wouldn't be surprised if ABC ends up announcing this as the final season.

CBS did well in total viewers, but was very old-skewing. Week two of Madam Secretary was down 2.1 million viewers and six tenths in the demo. This looks like a rough drop but it had a football inflated premiere last week that led to its 60 Minutes lead-in dropping over two full demo points. That makes it hard to compare the two weeks. We'll have to see what happens the next time CBS has a late NFL game. At 9pm, The Good Wife didn't deal with the brunt of the difference of a lead-in and held up much better. It was even in viewers and down a tenth in the demo. With both Madam and The Good Wife, it really depends on what kind of viewers are watching these shows. CSI's move to Sunday was not promising as it easily hit a series low in the demo by three tenths (once upon a time, it's demo was in the 11s, now it's the low 1s). If it can't show a little life on Sunday, this could very well be the final season for the long-running drama. Right now, it does look any better than The Mentalist here. NBC's NFL game between the Saints and Cowboys was up nearly a full demo point from last week despite the onslaught of competition.

WINNER OF THE NIGHT: Family Guy (FOX)
LOSER OF THE NIGHT: CSI (CBS)

THE RUNDOWN: Tuesday, September 30

Tuesday night has the first series premieres since Thursday with the premiere of ABC's new comedy block - Selfie and Manhattan Love Story. Expectations are not too high with a tough timeslot, some ridicule for Selfie, and zero buzz for Manhattan. After a week of strong premieres, I expect some weak showings here. The bad 8pm lineup could have a negative impact later in the night although Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does seem to have its own audience. Elsewhere, I think both CBS and NBC will hold up well in week two while FOX will struggle to be on the map at all.

ABC
8:00 Selfie #1 "Pilot" (SERIES PREMIERE)

8:30 Manhattan Love Story #1 "Pilot" (SERIES PREMIERE)
9:00 Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #24 "Heavy is the Head"
10:00 Forever #3 "The Fountain of Youth"
Prediction: Selfie - 6.2 million, 1.6/Manhattan - 5.1 million, 1.4/Marvel - 5.1 million, 1.8/Forever - 5.7 million, 1.6

CBS
8:00 NCIS #260 "Kill the Messenger"

9:00 NCIS: New Orleans #2 "Carrier"
10:00 Person of Interest #70 "Nautilus"
Prediction: NCIS - 17.8 million, 2.7/New Orleans - 15.8 million, 2.3/Person - 10.8 million, 1.7

NBC
8:00 The Voice

10:00 Chicago Fire #48 "Wow Me"
Prediction: Voice - 12.8 million, 3.9/Fire - 8.4 million, 2.4

FOX
8:00 Utopia

9:00 New Girl #75 "Julie Berkman's Older Sister"
Prediction: Utopia - 1.8 million, 0.8/New Girl - 2.2 million, 1.2/Mindy - 2.2 million, 1.1

Monday, September 29, 2014

THE RUNDOWN: Monday, September 29

The second week kicks off with some changes in the 10pm hour with the arrival of the new season of Castle on ABC and the new season of NCIS: Los Angeles (on its new night) on CBS. Competing with The Blacklist, it'll be interesting to see how things shake out but I still like The Blacklist to easily win the hour in the demo. Los Angeles may be able to snag total viewers. Elsewhere, week two of Scorpion and Gotham will be ones to watch. Mom was planned for 8:30pm but CBS will now run an hour of The Big Bang Theory for several weeks before Mom now gets a slot after it when it moves back to Thursdays (The Millers will take the Monday 8:30pm slot starting Oct 20).

ABC
8:00 Dancing with the Stars

10:00 Castle #129 "Driven" (Season Premiere)
Prediction: Dancing - 12.9 million, 2.1/Castle - 9.3 million, 1.9

CBS
8:00 The Big Bang Theory #162 "The First Pitch Insufficiency"
8:30 The Big Bang Theory #141 "The Romance Resonance" (REPEAT)
9:00 Scorpion #2 "Single Point of Failure"

10:00 NCIS: Los Angeles #121 "Deep Trouble" Part 2 (Season Premiere)
Prediction: Big Bang - 17.5 million, 5.1/Scorpion - 11.4 million, 2.5/Los Angeles - 12.3 million, 2.5

NBC
8:00 The Voice
10:00 The Blacklist #24 "Monarch Douglas Bank"
Prediction: Voice - 12.5 million, 3.6/Blacklist - 11.2 million, 3.0

FOX
8:00 Gotham #2 "Selina Kyle"

9:00 Sleepy Hollow #15 "The Kindred"
Prediction: Gotham - 7.2 million, 2.8/Sleepy - 5.1 million, 1.8

Sunday, September 28, 2014

RATINGS RECAP: 9/27/14

ABC
8:00 College Football
Viewers: 3.9 million, 18-49 demo: 1.1

CBS
8:00 Madam Secretary (Repeat)
Viewers: 3.9 million, 18-49 demo: 0.6
9:00 Scorpion (Repeat)
Viewers: 4.6 million, 18-49 demo: 0.7
10:00 48 Hours
Viewers: 5.5 million, 18-49 demo: 1.0

NBC
8:00 The Voice (Repeat)
Viewers: 1.5 million, 18-49 demo: 0.6
9:00 Music for Change: The Global Citizen Festival
Viewers: 1.8 million, 18-49 demo: 0.4
10:00 Saturday Night Live (Repeat)
Viewers: 3.2 million, 18-49 demo: 0.9

FOX
8:00 College Football

Viewers: 1.6 million, 18-49 demo: 0.5

THE RUNDOWN: Sunday, September 28

Premiere week concludes with a very interesting night and a lot to watch. ABC has the season premieres of its dramas including the highly promoted "Frozen" storyline on Once Upon a Time. I think Once will get some interest but there will be little attention paid to Resurrection or Revenge. CBS has week two of Madam Secretary and The Good Wife as well as the season premiere of CSI on its new night. I expect an old-skewing but decent total viewership night. FOX has premieres of The Simpsons, Brooklyn Nine-Nine on its new night, and a one hour Family Guy that is a crossover with The Simpsons. I think this night will see a better premiere night than it did last year. On top of all that, NBC has a strong NFL game between the Saints and Cowboys.

ABC
7:00 Once Upon a Time: Storybrooke Has Frozen Over (SPECIAL)

8:00 Once Upon a Time #67 "A Tale of Two Sisters" (Season Premiere)
9:00 Resurrection #9 "Revelation" (Season Premiere)

10:00 Revenge #67 "Renaissance" (Season Premiere)
Prediction: Once - 8.1 million, 2.6/Resurrection - 7.4 million, 1.9/Revenge - 6.1 million, 1.5

CBS
7:00 60 Minutes

8:00 Madam Secretary #2 "Another Benghazi"
9:00 The Good Wife #114 "Trust Issue"
10:00 CSI #318 "The CSI Effect" (Season Premiere)
Prediction: 60 Mins - 9.8 million, 1.3/Madam - 11.6 million, 1.6/Wife - 9.2 million, 1.3/CSI - 9.7 million, 1.7

NBC
7:00 Football Night in America
8:30 Sunday Night Football: New Orleans at Dallas

FOX
7:00 NFL Overrun

7:30 The OT
8:00 The Simpsons #553 "Clown in the Dumps" (Season Premiere)

8:30 Brooklyn Nine-Nine #23 "Undercover" (Season Premiere)
9:00 Family Guy #232 "The Simpsons Guy" (Season Premiere)
Prediction: Simpsons - 7.8 million, 3.2/Brooklyn - 6.4 million, 2.4/Family - 6.2 million, 3.0

Saturday, September 27, 2014

RATINGS RECAP: 9/26/14

ABC
8:00 Shark Tank
Viewers: 7.5 million, 18-49 demo: 1.9
10:00 20/20
Viewers: 6.6 million, 18-49 demo: 1.6

CBS
8:00 The Amazing Race
Viewers: 5.5 million, 18-49 demo: 1.1
9:00 Hawaii Five-0
Viewers: 9.0 million, 18-49 demo: 1.2
10:00 Blue Bloods
Viewers: 10.9 million, 18-49 demo: 1.2

NBC
8:00 The Mysteries of Laura (Repeat)
Viewers: 4.8 million, 18-49 demo: 0.7
9:00 Dateline NBC
Viewers: 6.9 million, 18-49 demo: 1.4

FOX
8:00 Utopia

Viewers: 1.9 million, 18-49 demo: 0.7
9:00 Gotham (Repeat)
Viewers: 2.5 million, 18-49 demo: 0.7

After a pretty solid four days of premiere week, Friday didn't have as much to be excited about. It was a pretty rock start for CBS as all three of their shows showed big decline. The Amazing Race's move to Friday from Sunday looks to not be nearly as good a move as Undercover Boss. With 5.5 million viewers and a 1.1 demo, it was down nearly a full point from last season's premiere and easily hit a series low. The weak 8pm entry didn't help the dramas that followed as Hawaii Five-0 tied a series low and Blue Bloods came in the demo. Last year, these demos were a pleasant surprise for CBS most weeks but that may not happen again this year. Total viewer count for the dramas was still pretty solid.

Over on ABC, the season premiere of Shark Tank delivered solid numbers. Its average looks a little lower because of the 8pm hour. The 9pm hour (its regular timeslot) was close to series highs. At 10pm, 20/20 was solid, handily beating Blue Bloods in the demo. NBC had a solid number from Dateline NBC as well despite the competition with 20/20 in the 10pm hour. Both Dateline and 20/20 beat every other Friday show except Shark Tank in the demo. On FOX, Utopia was up two tenths in viewers and the demo but it still had a miserable showing.

WINNER OF THE NIGHT: Shark Tank (ABC)
LOSER OF THE NIGHT: The Amazing Race (CBS)

GOOD WEEK/BAD WEEK: September 27, 2014

Check below this post for my review of How to Get Away with Murder!

GOOD WEEK: THE NEWBIES
The first week of the new fall season saw strong performances from nearly all the new shows except for week two of Red Band Society. On ABC, How to Get Away with Murder and Black-ish were the top two new shows in the demo with stellar debuts while Forever surprised everyone by growing on its second night of a two night premiere after a lackluster first night. On CBS, Madam Secretary, Scorpion, and NCIS: New Orleans have all gotten huge total numbers of viewers. On NBC, The Mysteries of Laura held up surprisingly well in week two despite an older skew. And Gotham on FOX was its strongest show in the demo by over a full point. This might look great for the new shows but the networks did bring out their biggest guns this week. The next week sees premieres of second tier shows like Stalker on CBS, ABC's Tuesday comedies, NBC's Thursday comedies, and Gracepoint on FOX. The newbie numbers may not look as universally good next week.

BAD WEEK: FOX
Oh FOX, what a horrible week you had. This situation seems more dire than even NBC was in when it was in the depths of despair following the Jay Leno weeknight show debacle. FOX's demos through Thursday night were the following:

Gotham - 3.2
Sleepy Hollow - 2.0
Bones - 1.6
New Girl - 1.3
Hell's Kitchen - 1.3
Red Band Society - 1.1
The Mindy Project - 1.0
Utopia - 0.8

So, only Gotham was impressive. Sleepy Hollow had a decent showing on paper but its big decline is a cause for concern. The Sunday lineup might be OK when it has a football lead-in, and Gotham might stay solid but other than that, it's pretty dire. And they can thank themselves for putting all their eggs in the X Factor/American Idol basket.

Friday, September 26, 2014

PILOT REVIEW: How to Get Away with Murder

HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER

Starring: Viola Davis, Billy Brown, Alfred Enoch, Jack Falahee, Katie Findlay, Aja Naomi King, Matt McGorry, Karla Souza, Charlie Weber, Liza Weil

Created by Peter Nowalk
Written by Peter Nowalk, Directed by Michael Offer

THE PREMISE: How to Get Away with Murder is a twisty crime/legal thriller centered around tough law professor and laywer Annelise Keating (Viola Davis). She teaches a course she nicknames "How to Get Away with Murder" and chooses five lucky proteges to join her team, also consisting of Frank Delfino and Bonnie Winterbottom (Charlie Weber and Liza Weil). The five proteges are underdog Wes (Alfred Enoch), teacher's pet Michaela (Aja Naomi King), driven and gay Connor (Jack Falahee), mysterious Laurel (Karla Souza), and confident Asher (Matt McGorry). Rounding out the main cast is a detective with a connection to Keating, Nate Lahey (Billy Brown). Oh and by the way, at least four of the five proteges are featured in a flash forward that implies they actually are involved in a murder a few months later.

THE GOOD: This show is all about Viola Davis. Channeling Kerry Washington from Scandal, Davis absolutely commands every scene she's in with a supreme sense of confidence yet a feeling she could unravel at any moment. It's an interesting mix of a character but it's something Washington does as well. When she's working, she's as strong as can be, yet we see glimpses of a less than perfect personal life. The rest of the cast is solid too, particularly Alfred Enoch, who already seems like someone to root for (but also probably someone with some problems). The use of a law school is a very interesting way to present a soapy thriller like this show. It may not quite have the high stakes DC has, but it's still an interesting way to shape a story. I love the flash-forward idea for a show like this. I just hope it's as satisfying as the ones in Damages and not a disappointment like Revenge.

THE BAD: After reading about this show, I must say I was expecting it to be a little bit more crazy and twisty than it was. It wasn't really until the final seconds of the first episode that I thought "OK this could be a fun ride." Before that, it seemed like it was trying to force twisty turns and they weren't landing. Scandal let it happen organically as the show started pretty tame, but this show seemed to be trying to get to Scandal level right away and it just didn't happen. As much as I love the flash-forward concept, it makes me nervous because it has to mean the writers have a very clear sense of where things are going regardless of what critics or fans say. As I alluded to in the good section, Damages did this with excellence year after year while Revenge never seemed to have an endgame in mind and the seemingly stunning flash-forward ended up being a bait and switch.

BOTTOM LINE: I was feeling throughout most of the episode that this show was a disappointment but there are two reasons I'm going to stick with it for awhile. First and foremost is Viola Davis. I thought she was spectacular in the pilot and she seems like a very interesting character. Secondly, the final minute of the pilot made me hopeful that this show can be the twisty, crazy thriller it seems to want to be.

RATINGS RECAP: 9/25/14

ABC
8:00 Grey's Anatomy

Viewers: 10.1 million, 18-49 demo: 3.1
9:00 Scandal
Viewers: 12.2 million, 18-49 demo: 3.9
10:00 How to Get Away with Murder
Viewers: 14.3 million, 18-49 demo: 3.9

CBS
8:00 Thursday Night Kickoff

Viewers: 7.2 million, 18-49 demo: 2.2
8:30 Thursday Night Football
Viewers: 16.3 million, 18-49 demo: 6.0

NBC
8:00 The Biggest Loser
Viewers: 4.5 million, 18-49 demo: 1.3
10:00 Parenthood
Viewers: 4.3 million, 18-49 demo: 1.4

FOX
8:00 Bones

Viewers: 6.3 million, 18-49 demo: 1.6
9:00 Sleepy Hollow (Repeat)
Viewers: 2.3 million, 18-49 demo: 0.6

TGIT indeed... ABC's very hyped Shondaland lineup delivered fantastic results in its first time out from start to finish. It really couldn't have gone better for ABC. At 8pm, Grey's Anatomy in its new timeslot may have finally broken ABC's decades-long Thursday night 8pm curse. The season premiere delivered the best ratings for ABC in the timeslot for a regularly scheduled show since FlashForward way back on October 22, 2009 and that show evaporated quickly thereafter. Grey's should be more stable - even if/when it drops some, it seems like it could still be around last year's 9pm levels. At 9pm, the season premiere of Scandal delivered series highs for the hit show. The 9pm move looks like a smart one right now as the show showed no signs of a slump and the many live tweeters didn't mind doing it an hour earlier. Then at 10pm, the newest Shondaland entry, How to Get Away with Murder delivered dazzling numbers, Not only did it tie Scandal in the demo, it actually built on it in viewers. Scandal and Murder are the top two scripted dramas in premiere week by almost a full demo point and Murder delivered a better demo than any new show last year or this year except for Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ABC is also now the owner of the top demo debut so far for both comedies (Black-ish) and dramas (Murder) this season (of course, no other comedies have premiered yet but I have a feeling it's gonna stay this way).

While ABC had much to celebrate, CBS actually won the night thanks to a strong Thursday night football game. Even in another one-sided game, it pulled in strong numbers perhaps thanks to the two teams coming from the big metro areas of New York and Washington DC. On NBC, The Biggest Loser was down a tenth in viewers and even in the demo. The season premiere of the final season of Parenthood was slightly above what it was getting most of last season. Against a huge series premiere on ABC and football, things could have been worse. FOX had the season premiere of Bones and it delivered very modest numbers. A 1.6 demo doesn't look great, but it makes it the third strongest program on FOX this week after the Monday pair of Gotham and Sleepy Hollow. That's just how bad things are for FOX this early in the season.

WINNER OF THE NIGHT: How to Get Away with Murder (ABC)
LOSER OF THE NIGHT: The Biggest Loser (NBC)

THE RUNDOWN: Friday, September 26 & Saturday, September 27

FRIDAY
There are no series premieres on Friday so the network to watch is probably CBS which is bringing The Amazing Race to the night. I think it'll do OK but won't be anything special. Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods should continue to be solid but old skewing with their series premiere. Elsewhere, ABC's two hour premiere of Shark Tank should be tops in the demo while NBC and FOX are largely sitting out.

ABC
8:00 Shark Tank (Season Premiere)

10:00 20/20
Prediction: Shark - 7.3 million, 2.1/2020 - 5.1 million, 1.5

CBS
8:00 The Amazing Race (25th Edition Premiere)
9:00 Hawaii Five-0 #94 "A'ohe Kahi e Pe'e Ai" (Season Premiere)
10:00 Blue Bloods #90 "Partners" (Season Premiere)
Prediction: Race - 7.1 million, 1.6/Hawaii - 9.4 million, 1.5/Bloods - 11.1 million, 1.6

NBC
8:00 The Mysteries of Laura #2 "The Mysteries of the Dead Date" (REPEAT)
9:00 Dateline NBC

Prediction: Dateline - 6.4 million, 1.5

FOX
8:00 Utopia

9:00 Gotham #1 "Pilot" (REPEAT)
Prediction: Utopia - 1.7 million, 0.7

SATURDAY

ABC
8:00 College Football: Notre Dame vs. Syracuse

CBS
8:00 Madam Secretary #1 "Pilot" (REPEAT)
9:00 Scorpion #1 "Pilot" (REPEAT)
10:00 48 Hours (Season Premiere)


NBC
8:00 The Voice (REPEAT)

9:00 Music for Change: The Global Citizen Festival (SPECIAL)
10:00 Saturday Night Live (REPEAT)

FOX
8:00 College Football: Baylor at Iowa State

Thursday, September 25, 2014

RATINGS RECAP: 9/24/14

ABC
8:00 The Middle

Viewers: 7.6 million, 18-49 demo: 2.2
8:30 The Goldbergs
Viewers: 7.3 million, 18-49 demo: 2.4
9:00 Modern Family
Viewers: 11.4 million, 18-49 demo: 3.9
9:30 Black-ish
Viewers: 11.0 million, 18-49 demo: 3.3
10:00 Nashville
Viewers: 5.8 million, 18-49 demo: 1.5

CBS
8:00 Survivor
Viewers: 9.8 million, 18-49 demo: 2.7
9:30 Big Brother
Viewers: 6.9 million, 18-49 demo: 2.6

NBC
8:00 The Mysteries of Laura

Viewers: 10.0 million, 18-49 demo: 1.5
9:00 Law & Order: SVU
Viewers: 10.1 million, 18-49 demo: 2.2
10:00 Chicago PD
Viewers: 8.5 million, 18-49 demo: 1.9

FOX
8:00 Hell's Kitchen

Viewers: 3.7 million, 18-49 demo: 1.3
9:00 Red Band Society
Viewers: 3.4 million, 18-49 demo: 1.1

On Wednesday night, ABC's new comedy lineup got off to a great start. Leading off at 8pm, The Middle wasn't at its strongest with an OK 2.2 demo. It seems like it should have done better for a season premiere. The Goldbergs first new Wednesday airing was a big success though as it built on The Middle in the demo and delivered its best numbers since the series premiere a year ago. 8:30pm occupants almost never build on The Middle so this was a huge win for the sophomore show. At 9pm, five-time Emmy winner Modern Family premiered to strong numbers just below last year's premiere and above the big wedding season finale. It led into the series premiere of Black-ish and the newest ABC family comedy delivered better retention than many post-Modern Family shows. It was almost exactly on par in total viewers but skewed a little bit older. This was a fantastic start for the new show and it looks like ABC finally having some cohesion to their comedy lineup will pay off. At 10pm, the Nashville season premiere did nothing special. If Black-ish continues to be strong, Nashville is going to look even worse.

NBC had a surprisingly strong night. The biggest surprise came at 8pm with The Mysteries of Laura premiering in its regular timeslot. It skewed very old but was down just two tenths in total viewers from its premiere behind America's Got Talent. It also grew during the half hour. Despite the old skew, this is a very promising start for the new 8pm occupant. At 9pm, Law & Order: SVU premiered to good numbers in its 16th season. It was below last year's huge two hour, 2.6 shock, but it still did very well. At 10pm, Chicago PD also did well with good retention from SVU and the second strongest total viewer count, trailing only the series premiere. This is one of those lineups like CBS Sunday that could survive on good total viewers and older skews, as long as the demos don't get too bad.

For the past several years, CBS has premiered Survivor and finished Big Brother on the Wednesday before the season began. This year, they waited until premiere week and were actually up from last season despite more competition. These two veteran reality franchises which started in the same summer (2000) are still doing quite well nearly 15 years later. FOX's disastrous week (aside from Gotham) continued in full force on Wednesday. Hell's Kitchen was down three tenths in viewers and a tenth in the demo for series lows. Even a reliable franchise like this can't get out of FOX's steep descent. Week two of Red Band Society was down seven tenths in viewers and two tenths in the demo. These numbers might seem like an instant cancellation, but it's going to be fine for now because FOX really does not have anything better to put in. This network is in such disarray, it's like it's the 1980s all over again and they're just starting out.

WINNER OF THE NIGHT: Black-ish (ABC)
LOSER OF THE NIGHT: Nashville (ABC)

THE RUNDOWN: Thursday, September 25

Check below this post for a review of Black-ish! I won't be able to get a review up of tonight's How to Get Away with Murder until tomorrow so check back then, but I'll still have the Weds ratings up later!

The network to watch on Thursday night is ABC with its new Shondaland lineup including Grey's Anatomy and Scandal at their new times and the anticipated premiere of How to Get Away with Murder. I don't think it'll be too much of a shared audience with football so I see a big premiere for the night. CBS has a Giants/Redskins game. Since it will likely be closer and bigger markets, it should do much better than last week. NBC and FOX are likely to be quiet even with premieres of Bones on FOX and the final season of Parenthood on NBC.

ABC
8:00 Grey's Anatomy #221 "I Must Have Lost it on the Wind" (Season Premiere)
9:00 Scandal #48 "Randy, Red, Superfreak, and Julia" (Season Premiere)
10:00 How to Get Away with Murder #1 "Pilot" (SERIES PREMIERE)
Prediction: Grey's - 8.4 million, 2.4/Scandal - 10.8 million, 3.5/Murder - 9.5 million, 3.1

CBS
8:00 Thursday Night Football Kickoff
8:30 Thursday Night Football: NY Giants at Washington

NBC
8:00 The Biggest Loser
10:00 Parenthood #91 "Vegas" (Season Premiere)
Prediction: Loser - 4.1 million, 1.3/Parenthood - 4.2 million, 1.3

FOX
8:00 Bones #191 "The Conspiracy in the Corpse" (Season Premiere)
9:00 Sleepy Hollow #14 "This is War" (REPEAT)
Prediction: Bones - 6.3 million, 1.5

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

PILOT REVIEW: Black-ish

BLACK-ISH










Starring: Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown, Marsai Martin

Created by Kenya Barris
Written by Kenya Barris, Directed by James Griffiths

THE PREMISE: Black-ish is a new family sitcom that's a bit like a 2014 version of The Cosby Show in that it centers on a middle to upper class family. Andre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) is a successful senior VP at an advertising firm. His wife, Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross) is a nurse and they have four kids: Zoey, Andre Jr., Jack, and Diane (Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown, & Marsai Martin). The problem is that Andre worries that the lifestyle of a successful black family means their losing their black roots.

THE GOOD: Like so many are saying, I think this is a great show for TV for the same reasons The Cosby Show was 30 years ago. Back then, Cosby presented a black family as it had never been done before on TV (wealthy and successful) and they often acted like a white family. There was nothing wrong with that for the time and it changed people's views, consciously or not. 30 years later, Black-ish is hitting the black/white issue more head-on through a different lens using its comedy and stories. That's refreshing because it's a comedy that has something to say, yet is never preachy. The cast is strong and I can see a lot of potential with them. I really enjoy Anthony Anderson and he plays the bumbling but caring father role well. I actually thought the tour bus fantasy sequence at the very beginning of the episode was daring and funny. Other little glimpses in the pilot made me excited about the show this can become (Rainbow sees Andre in his African garb, the brief OJ Simpson fight, etc). Aside from using it as plot exposition at times (a pet peeve of mine), the voiceover was enjoyable in the same way Patricia Heaton's is in The Middle.

THE BAD: There were a few little things I didn't like about the pilot but nothing that makes me nervous about this show in the long run. I already mentioned the exposition through narration: it doesn't need to be done if the writing is slick enough. It's just a cheap shortcut in my opinion. While I liked the tour bus fantasy scene, the feasting at the board meeting fantasy scene didn't work for me, nor did the "us" and "them" labels. It seemed too gimmicky for a show that seems to want to ground itself in reality.

BOTTOM LINE: It's been far too long since we had a quality comedy about a black family on network TV. Black-ish could very well be that show. I think about a show like The Goldbergs, which showed a lot of promise in the pilot but still had some kinks to work out. Now it's one of my favorite shows and Black-ish has that same potential. Modern Family has never received much controversy because of the relaxed, non-soapbox way it portrayed a gay couple. Black-ish can do the same thing to a country that still experiences lots of racial issues.

RENEWAL ALERT: Big Brother

Ahead of tonight's season finale, CBS announced that it has renewed Big Brother for two more seasons in the summers of 2015 and 2016. The show has been on since the summer of 2000 and has been a solid performer year after year. Along with TVGN's Big Brother After Dark, the show has become an annual summer institution and will now continue for at least two more years.

RATINGS RECAP: 9/23/14

ABC
8:00 Dancing with the Stars

Viewers: 10.0 million, 18-49 demo: 1.7
9:00 Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Viewers: 6.0 million, 18-49 demo: 2.1
10:00 Forever
Viewers: 6.9 million, 18-49 demo: 1.8

CBS
8:00 NCIS

Viewers: 18.2 million, 18-49 demo: 2.9
9:00 NCIS: New Orleans
Viewers: 17.2 million, 18-49 demo: 2.5
10:00 Person of Interest
Viewers: 10.6 million, 18-49 demo: 1.7

NBC
8:00 The Voice
Viewers: 13.2 million, 18-49 demo: 4.1
10:00 Chicago Fire
Viewers: 9.1 million, 18-49 demo: 2.6

FOX
8:00 Utopia

Viewers: 1.9 million, 18-49 demo: 0.8
9:00 New Girl
Viewers: 2.4 million, 18-49 demo: 1.3
9:30 The Mindy Project
Viewers: 2.1 million, 18-49 demo: 1.0

Tuesday night had just one series premiere and it was a solid one for CBS. First up for them though, the season premiere of NCIS delivered solid numbers, but it was well behind last year's 3.6 premiere. It was even with what it was getting early last season and well above what it was getting at the end of the season, though. The NCIS: New Orleans premiere followed and fit like a glove out of NCIS, as expected. It was really strong in total viewers, just a million off from NCIS but it skewed older than NCIS: Los Angeles used to. Then again, Scott Bakula is an older draw than Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J. For now it looks like CBS was successful with this spinoff. The news was not as good at 10pm though where Person of Interest tied a series low in the demo and fell to third in the hour. This show was trending down in the spring and it looks like it has continued to lose momentum. This may become a problem slot real soon especially if NCIS: New Orleans remains strong at 9pm.

NBC had a good night as The Voice was up two tenths in viewers and the demo from its Monday premiere. Though still down from last season, it was not nearly as dramatic a year to year drop as Monday. The competition was much more favorable on Tuesday and The Voice responded. The good news kept rolling at 10pm where Chicago Fire came very close to series highs with its premiere. The total viewer count was second only to an episode last December while the demo was second only to last year's season premiere. This was a strong return for a show that's become a cornerstone of the NBC lineup. It doesn't do what The Blacklist does, but it's a real solid show and it has never appeared to be too lead-in dependent so it should be OK in a couple weeks when comedies become the lead-in.

Over on ABC, another results edition of Dancing with the Stars was down 2.7 million viewers and half a demo point from last week for a series low in total viewers. The results show won't be around anymore though as Selfie and Manhattan Love Story begin at 8pm next Tuesday. At 9pm, the second season premiere of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a disappointment as it debuted to modest numbers. It was slightly higher than most spring numbers but not noticeably. If it declines like last season, it could be two seasons and done for this show. The best news for ABC came at 10pm where Forever surprised in a big way. It was 1.7 million viewers from its premiere but actually up a tenth in the demo, which is very surprising. After the modest Monday numbers, this result surprised me more than anything else. It actually snuck by Person of Interest for second in the demo in the hour.

FOX was not on the map with a truly terrible showing. At 8pm, Utopia was down half a million viewers and two tenths in the demo. Yep, it's the first week of the season and FOX has a show getting 1.9 million viewers. New Girl lost any momentum from its small rally for the season premiere last week as it fell six tenths in viewers and a rough four tenths in the demo while The Mindy Project fell six tenths in viewers and three tenths in the demo, tying a series low in the latter category. The sad thing for FOX is that this will be pretty normal for them all week as their lineup is in shambles on most nights. So what can they even do here? Not much.

WINNER OF THE NIGHT: Forever (ABC)
LOSER OF THE NIGHT: Utopia (FOX)

THE RUNDOWN: Wednesday, September 24

Check below this post for my review of NCIS: New Orleans and check back later tonight for my review of Black-ish!

Premiere week rolls on with a busy Wednesday but, again, only one series premiere: ABC's comedy Black-ish. It follows a lineup with the season premieres of The Middle, the new Wednesday addition The Goldbergs, and Modern Family. I think the comedy lineup will see a good debut and Black-ish will hold a lot of Family's audience. Nashville at 10pm may be another story. CBS is pairing its Survivor premiere with a 90 minute Big Brother finale and could see the best average demo as their likely to be strong the entire night. I'm not quite sure how NBC will do and the big show to watch will be The Mysteries of Laura in its regular 8pm timeslot after a strong sampling at 10pm last week. It is followed by the season premieres of crime dramas Law & Order: SVU and Chicago PD. I see modest numbers: not awesome but not terrible. FOX could have a rough night with Hell's Kitchen and week two of Red Band Society, though I would love to see Red Band have a strong second week showing.

ABC
8:00 The Middle #121 "Unbraceable You" (Season Premiere)
8:30 The Goldbergs #24 "Love is a Mixtape" (Season Premiere)
9:00 Modern Family #121 "The Long Honeymoon" (Season Premiere)
9:30 Black-ish #1 "Pilot" (SERIES PREMIERE)
10:00 Nashville #44 "That's Me Without You" (Season Premiere)
Prediction: Middle - 8.5 million, 2.4/Goldbergs - 7.9 million, 2.2/Modern - 10.6 million, 3.8/Black-ish - 9.5 million, 3.5/Nashville - 6.2 million, 2.0

CBS
8:00 Survivor: Blood vs. Water (29th Edition Premiere)

9:30 Big Brother (Season Finale)
Prediction: Survivor - 9.8 million, 2.5/Brother - 8.8 million, 2.5

NBC
8:00 The Mysteries of Laura #2 "The Mystery of the Dead Date"
9:00 Law & Order: SVU #344 "Girls Disappeared" (Season Premiere)
10:00 Chicago PD #16 "Call It Macaroni" (Season Premiere)
Prediction: Laura - 7.2 million, 1.6/SVU - 8.1 million, 2.1/PD - 7.3 million, 1.9

FOX
8:00 Hell's Kitchen

9:00 Red Band Society #2 "Sole Searching"
Prediction: Hell's - 3.8 million, 1.3/Red Band - 3.3 million, 1.1

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

PILOT REVIEW: NCIS: New Orleans

NCIS: NEW ORLEANS










Starring: Scott Bakula, Lucas Black, Zoe McLellan, Rob Kerkovich, and CCH Pounder

Created by Gary Glasberg
Written by Jeffrey Lieber, Directed by Michael Zinberg

THE PREMISE: Well, the title pretty much says it all. The show follows an NCIS team operating out of the Big Easy. The Special Agent in Charge for this one is Dwayne Cassius Pride (Scott Bakula). His team consists of Senior Special Agent Christopher LaSalle (Lucas Black), Medical Examiner Dr. Loretta Wade (CCH Pounder), newcomer Special Agent Merri Brody (Zoe McLellan), and, of course, the lab assistant. This one is Sebastian Lund (Rob Kerkovich)

THE GOOD: This seems like it would be catnip to NCIS fans: a leading man appealing to the generation of NCIS fans in Scott Bakula, a decent story that has some suspense but isn't overly violent or shocking, little banter between the agents, and a decent backdrop. The decision to set an NCIS in New Orleans was a good idea as the city has such a unique feel. It feels southern and cultured and the dixieland music doesn't hurt either. All in all, it's very safe and that might be a pro to many people. I liked Bakula in this but he wasn't asked to do much.

THE BAD: The problem for me is I'm not an NCIS fan. I tried to watch it once years ago and found the same problem I found with this show. It is the definition of a generic procedural to me without the thrills and suspense of a show like Person of Interest or the creepiness of a show like Criminal Minds or the great characters of a show like Blue Bloods. I don't actually get what makes these NCIS series so popular except that they go down easy. I know there was a backdoor pilot for this show (which I didn't watch), but it just felt like another episode. The cold open was boring and extremely quick and didn't hook me into the crime. It was all so generic down to the "team hanging out at a bar after the case is solved" ending that ends so many procedurals like this. Do all the NCIS shows have freezes before and after commercial breaks?

BOTTOM LINE: This show was betting on people knowing and liking the NCIS format and that's not a bad bet. But it's also not going to be a show for me because I just can't get into it. I was so bored during this episode that I kept realizing I wasn't really paying attention. I'll be curious to see what NCIS fans think of this show in the weeks and months to come.

RATINGS RECAP: 9/22/14

At the bottom of each ratings recap post, I will post a winner and loser of the night. Not necessarily by raw numbers but by expectation/situation (it's a judgment call but I thought it would be an enjoyable addition this season)

ABC
8:00 Dancing with the Stars
Viewers: 12.8 million, 18-49 demo: 2.2
10:00 Forever
Viewers: 8.6 million, 18-49 demo: 1.7

CBS
8:00 The Big Bang Theory
Viewers: 18.0 million, 18-49 demo: 5.4
8:30 The Big Bang Theory
Viewers: 18.2 million, 18-49 demo: 5.4
9:00 Scorpion
Viewers: 13.8 million, 18-49 demo: 3.2
10:00 Under the Dome
Viewers: 7.5 million, 18-49 demo: 1.8

NBC
8:00 The Voice
Viewers: 13.0 million, 18-49 demo: 3.9
10:00 The Blacklist
Viewers: 12.3 million, 18-49 demo: 3.4

FOX
8:00 Gotham

Viewers: 8.2 million, 18-49 demo: 3.2
9:00 Sleepy Hollow
Viewers: 5.5 million, 18-49 demo: 2.0

The 2014-15 season kicked off with a lot of big guns and each network had at least one thing to be happy about. CBS was the big winner of the night as The Big Bang Theory showed no signs of slippage in its move to Monday. It premiered to a huge demo and audience, as usual. While not quite to the height of last year's premiere, it was above numbers it got through most of the spring and it did it against tons of competition. The strong lead-in led to a great sampling for new drama Scorpion. It's 3.2 demo was the best for a CBS drama premiere since Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior back in February 2011. This is a great sampling but it most follow Mom instead of The Big Bang Theory next week. At 10pm, the season finale of summer drama Under the Dome was up half a million viewers and two tenths in the demo for its best performance since July 14.

NBC had the beginning of the new edition of The Voice with new judges Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams. While it had the night's second best demo with a 3.9, it was way behind last year's 5.1 demo premiere. This is still one of TV's strongest shows but it's quite possible that it's best days are behind it. The better news for NBC came at 10pm where The Blacklist came back with a roar. It delivered an incredibly strong number even though it lost a lot of Voice viewers as the hour went on. Both the total viewership and demo numbers were the show's best since the series premiere a year ago. So far, last year's top new show is showing no signs of a sophomore slump.

FOX had good news and bad news. The good news came from Gotham, which premiered to a strong 3.2 demo (or the same as Scorpion without an 18 million viewer lead-in). While slightly below last year's Sleepy Hollow premiere, there was more competition and it had to be more of a self-starter. The show skewed very young so this was an all around strong performance for the Batman origin series. The news was not nearly as good at 9pm where Sleepy Hollow fell to a series low in its second season premiere. Despite a big lead-in, the show couldn't excite audiences after its strong first season which ended way back in January. What a disappointment for one of the few FOX series that really could have an impact. It'll probably continue to fall like The Following did in the spring.

ABC had very solid news as Dancing with the Stars held up very well despite a major onslaught of competition. It was down just eight tenths in viewers and two tenths in the demo from last week's premiere. This was an excellent and surprising hold. After all, it had to face shows that are competing networks' highest priorities (The Voice, The Big Bang Theory, Gotham/Sleepy Hollow). It was also just a tenth behind last year's airing this week while week one was seven tenths behind. The news wasn't quite as good at 10pm where the series premiere of Forever in a special timeslot was largely ignored. The preliminary numbers were a 1.5 demo, which would be nearly DOA. A 1.7 demo isn't much better, but it's not DOA. I'd still be surprised to see this last longer than half a season.

WINNER OF THE NIGHT: The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
LOSER OF THE NIGHT: Sleepy Hollow (FOX)

RATINGS RECAP: 9/21/14

ABC
7:00 America's Funniest Home Videos (Repeat)
Viewers: 4.9 million, 18-49 demo: 0.9
8:00 Once Upon a Time (Repeat)
Viewers: 3.2 million, 18-49 demo: 0.8
9:00 Resurrection (Repeat)
Viewers: 3.1 million, 18-49 demo: 0.7
10:00 Revenge (Repeat)
Viewers: 2.6 million, 18-49 demo: 0.6

CBS
7:00 NFL Overrun
Viewers: 27.0 million, 18-49 demo: 9.0
8:04 60 Minutes
Viewers: 17.9 million, 18-49 demo: 3.5
9:04 Madam Secretary
Viewers: 14.8 million, 18-49 demo: 2.0
10:04 The Good Wife
Viewers: 11.1 million, 18-49 demo: 1.4

NBC
7:00 Football Night in America
Viewers: 2.4 million, 18-49 demo: 0.8
8:00 NFL Pregame
Viewers: 10.0 million, 18-49 demo: 3.7
8:30 Sunday Night Football
Viewers: 19.7 million, 18-49 demo: 7.8

FOX
7:00 Bob's Burgers (Repeat)
Viewers: 1.9 million, 18-49 demo: 0.8
7:30 The Simpsons (Repeat)
Viewers: 2.2 million, 18-49 demo: 0.9
8:00 The Simpsons (Repeat)
Viewers: 3.0 million, 18-49 demo: 1.3
8:30 Family Guy (Repeat)
Viewers: 2.8 million, 18-49 demo: 1.3
9:00 Family Guy (Repeat)
Viewers: 3,1 million, 18-49 demo: 1.4
9:30 American Dad!
Viewers: 3.0 million, 18-49 demo: 1.5

The final night of the 2013-14 season was primarily about premieres for the 2014-15 season. CBS had planned to air Madam Secretary both before and after The Good Wife but it settled for once after an overtime NFL game delayed things by an hour. A strong NFL finish propelled 60 Minutes to strong numbers. Then Secretary premiered to a strong 14.8 million viewers but a very old skewing 2.0 demo. However, the demo wouldn't concern me yet because the 18-49 demo is not the target demographic for this show, which is appealing to upscale, older viewers. If the total viewer count stays high enough, the demo won't matter much. The season premiere of The Good Wife followed to disappointing numbers as it got a mere 1.4 demo. After continuing critical buzz from last season, a strong lead-in, and very limited competition, it should have opened better. Elsewhere, a lackluster Sunday night game between Carolina and Pittsburgh was well below the first couple weeks.

THE RUNDOWN: Tuesday, September 23

Check below this post for reviews of Gotham, Scorpion, and Forever. And check back tonight for a review of NCIS: New Orleans!

Tuesday night isn't quite as explosive as Monday night in terms of big shows, plus there is just one series premiere: the NCIS spinoff NCIS: New Orleans. CBS should have a good night as I think there will be curiosity in New Orleans that will help it come close to the parent show in the ratings. NBC will likely be tops in the demo with another two hour edition of The Voice. They are giving Chicago Fire a Voice lead-in for three weeks to help that show's third season get off to a good start, and I think they'll be successful. An interesting one to watch will be Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to see if it can recover some momentum. I feel like I haven't heard a lot of buzz about season two so I'm skeptical it'll get great numbers. Maybe Monday's premiere ratings will change things but I don't see Forever being able to get much traction at 10pm. FOX should get completely lost in the mix and I expect a big drop for New Girl from last week's low season premiere.

ABC
8:00 Dancing with the Stars Results
9:00 Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #23 "Shadows" (Season Premiere)
10:00 Forever #2 "Look Before You Leap"
Prediction: Dancing - 9.8 million, 1.9/Marvel - 7.9 million, 2.5/Forever - 6.4 million, 1.4

CBS
8:00 NCIS #259 "Twenty Klicks" (Season Premiere)
9:00 NCIS: New Orleans #1 "Musician Heal Thyself" (SERIES PREMIERE)
10:00 Person of Interest #69 "Panopticon" (Season Premiere)
Prediction: NCIS - 18.7 million, 3.1/New Orleans - 16.3 million, 3.0/Person - 12.8 million, 2.4

NBC
8:00 The Voice
10:00 Chicago Fire #47 "Always" (Season Premiere)
Prediction: Voice - 13.1 million, 4.1/Fire - 8.1 million, 2.5

FOX
8:00 Utopia

9:00 New Girl #74 "Dice"
9:30 The Mindy Project #48 "Annette Castellano is My Nemesis"
Prediction: Utopia - 1.9 million, 0.7/New Girl - 2.4 million, 1.3/Mindy - 2.0 million, 1.2

Monday, September 22, 2014

PILOT REVIEW: Forever

FOREVER












Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Alana de la Garza, Joel David Moore, Donnie Keshawarz, Barbara Eve Harris, and Judd Hirsch

Created by Matt Miller
Written by Matt Miller, Directed by Brad Anderson

THE PREMISE: Forever is a new drama from ABC that centers on a man who is seemingly immortal. Dr. Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd) is a star medical examiner in New York City who studies the dead and has reason to because he's been killed many times and lived again going back over 200 years. Each time he wakes from the dead naked and in a river. The only person who knows his secret is confidante Abe (Judd Hirsch). Rounding out the main cast is Morgan's new partner, Detective Jo Martinez (Alana de la Garza), Morgan's assistant Lucas (Joel David Moore), and Detective Hanson (Donnie Keshawarz).

THE GOOD: I think this is an interesting premise which unfortunately doesn't pan out (see more on that below). The integration of humor into this show is an interesting element to a show that could be very grim. It seems to be have more humor than your average show like this, it has that whimsical ABC drama feeling mixed with a dark CBS procedural. Other than that, the only good thing I can say about this show is it's good to see Judd Hirsch back on TV.

THE BAD: This show is one that throws too many balls up in the air and catches very few on the way back down. It is a mix of crime drama, medical drama, sci-fi drama, historical drama, and psychological drama and has quite a bit of humor as well. That blending of genres is probably one or two too many. At first it felt like a sci-fi drama then quickly seemed like a "case of the week" medical procedural, then flashed back to a previous era, then dealt with psychological issues of dying. This show has absolutely no idea what it wants to be and that's a problem. There was so much exposition and exploration in these different types of issues that the plot holes were gaping yet it kept going in circles around the premise. It might be possible that this schizophrenic genre show would at least be mildly interesting but it was a complete bore too.

BOTTOM LINE: This is a mess of a show that will do nothing to cure ABC's Tuesday 10pm woes. I don't think there's anything here to really attract viewers. The premise doesn't work out and the performances are forgettable. ABC may fix Thursdays at 8pm by putting Grey's Anatomy there this year but this slot will continue to be a major problem for the alphabet network.

PILOT REVIEW: Scorpion

SCORPION












Starring: Elyes Gabel, Katharine McPhee, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jadyn Wong, Ari Stidham, and Robert Patrick

Developed by Nick Santora
Teleplay by Nick Santora, Directed by Justin Lin

THE PREMISE: Scorpion is a new procedural based on the true story of genius and computer expert Walter O'Brien. O'Brien (Elyes Gabel) is working with a group of ragtag geniuses: Toby Curtis (Eddie Kaye Thomas), Happy Quinn (Jadyn Wong), and Sylvester Dodd (Ari Stidham). When a man from his past, Agent Cabe Gallo (Robert Patrick) confronts them with a national crisis, they turn from doing small jobs to major national and international concerns. During a crisis involving planes coming to LAX, they set up shop at a local diner where waitress Paige Dineen (Katharine McPhee) gets involved. She also has a son who appears to be "challenged" but is actually a genius.

THE GOOD: Well, I don't know. There were hints of humor in this dramedy that were somewhat funny. The one part I found particularly funny was when they spotted a "tech guy" among the interns at their airport and his/their subsequent reactions. The show needed more moments like that where it was making fun of itself (more on that below). I guess the cast is competent and it's a somewhat unique spin on your average procedural.

THE BAD: This was just all so silly but it took itself way too seriously. Unlike The Mysteries of Laura, which purposely went back and forth between humor and drama, this one tried to be nearly all drama but too much of it came across in a "laughing at it" way. The fact that each of the geniuses has a special skill and routinely refers to said skill (example: "now we're down to a 17% chance" says the numbers guy) seems to be character development typically reserved for children's shows. The show was so chock full of "smart talk," it basically took the worst and most boring parts of procedurals like Person of Interest and Criminal Minds and created an entire show about it. I'm no idiot and I didn't understand much of what they were saying, nor did I care. The whole involvement of Katharine McPhee's character and her genius son felt awfully contrived (not to mention there's no way she'd be allowed to do all the things she was starting with staying in the diner).

BOTTOM LINE: This show's a stinker. For being a show about geniuses, it is pretty stupid. It takes itself entirely too seriously with its nerd talk. This is not The Big Bang Theory of dramas, it's a show that's been poorly put together and probably won't be around too long. I don't really see what the appeal was here for CBS to end over 60 years of comedies at 9pm Mondays.

PILOT REVIEW: Gotham

GOTHAM












Starring: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Zebryna Guevara, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Erin Richards, Camren Bicondova, Cory Michael Smith, and Jada Pinkett Smith

Based on the Characters by DC Comics
Developed by Bruno Heller
Written by Bruno Heller, Directed by Danny Cannon

THE PREMISE: Gotham is a Batman origin story set in one of the most famous fictional cities of all time. The show chronicles the rise of Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and his connection to young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), whose parents are killed. With his partner, Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), Gordon learns firsthand about the extensive corruption in the city. The series also chronicles the rise of Batman villains: Osward Cobblepot/Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), Edward Nygma/Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), and Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Camren Bicondova). Rounding out the main cast is Wayne's caretaker, Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee), Gordon's boss Sarah Essen (Zebryna Guevara), and Wayne's girlfriend Barbara Kean (Erin Richards). A brand new character not used in the comic books is crime boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith).

THE GOOD: I loved almost everything about the Gotham pilot. It so perfectly captured the dark corruption and feel to the dreary city. The stylized "look" to the show was essential here and it was incredibly important to evoke that from the beginning, which they did. There were some beautiful exterior shots of the city. Ben McKenzie is understated but strong as James Gordon and Donal Logue is also quite a force as Harvey Bullock. The real stars here though are the villains (both current and future ones). Robin Lord Taylor nearly stole the pilot with his perfect depiction of a young Penguin while the brief glimpses of the people who would become Catwoman and the Riddler were a good enough tease to be interesting. Jada Pinkett Smith was excellent as Fish Mooney and it's cool to have a character who is completely new to the show. Despite knowing what's going to happen to most of these characters, it was still interesting and exciting. If anything, it makes the origin story more interesting because it allows us to look for hints of things to come. The pilot threw a lot at us, but I thought it was very coherent and well put together.

THE BAD: I'm struggling to come up with much of anything for this section. They did throw a lot of balls up in the air so I hope the storytelling is as tight as it was in the pilot in episodes to come. I think they have to be a little bit careful with the Catwoman character. More than any other Batman villain, people seem to have a strong opinion of how she should be played perhaps thanks to people like Julie Newmar and Michelle Pfeiffer. They have to be careful to not just have her leaping around buildings and being mysterious all the time. Either tease her ever so slightly or evolve her into more of a character.

BOTTOM LINE: Gotham was my most anticipated fall show and it did not disappoint. With so many fascinating stories to tell, strong performances, and the most visually appealing look on any new show in a while, I can't wait for Mondays this fall. I'm not even a comic book fan but I am a Batman fan and this is satisfying to Batman fans while giving it a new twist. I'll be back next week at the same Bat time and same Bat channel.

THE RUNDOWN: Monday, September 22

The fall season is officially here! Check back often for rundowns, ratings recaps, and pilot reviews! Look below this post for my review of Madam Secretary and check back tonight for reviews of Gotham, Scorpion, and Forever!

The first night of the new season has a ton of big time premieres so we'll have to see if something will get lost in the shuffle. My best bet for the network to suffer from that is ABC with week two of Dancing with the Stars after an underwhelming premiere and a sneak preview of Forever, which doesn't seem like it will generate a ton of interest. CBS has an hour of The Big Bang Theory and they have made sure fans know its back on Mondays for now so I don't think it'll suffer much in the move. It should provide a big lead-in for Scorpion, which may bleed as the hour goes on but still get a good sampling. The improved 8-10pm lineup should help the season finale of Under the Dome rise from anything it's done most of the summer.

NBC has The Voice, which will compete with The Big Bang Theory for top demo draw. I could see Big Bang winning 8pm but The Voice winning the night thanks to 9pm. The highly anticipated season premiere of The Blacklist follows at 10pm and I think it'll post big numbers after relentless promotion from NBC this summer. Finally, FOX has the big premiere of Gotham. While I think it'll have a strong premiere, it won't come close to what Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did last year in its premiere thanks to more competition and FOX's general state. Still, Monday is their best bet and I think both Gotham and season two of Sleepy Hollow will start strong.

ABC
8:00 Dancing with the Stars 
10:00 Forever #1 "Pilot" (SERIES PREMIERE)
Prediction: Dancing - 11.5 million, 2.0/Forever - 7.3 million, 1.7

CBS
8:00 The Big Bang Theory #160 "The Locomotion Interruption" (Season Premiere)
8:30 The Big Bang Theory #161 "The Junior Professor Solution"
9:00 Scorpion #1 "Pilot" (SERIES PREMIERE)
10:00 Under the Dome #26 "Go Now" (Season Finale)
Prediction: Big Bang 8:00 - 15.2 million, 4.2/Big Bang 8:30 - 15.9 million, 4.4/Scorpion - 11.6 million, 2.7/Dome - 8.1 million, 1.9

NBC
8:00 The Voice (7th Edition Premiere)

10:00 The Blacklist #23 "Lord Baltimore" (Season Premiere)
Prediction: Voice - 14.1 million, 4.5/Blacklist - 11.6 million, 3.1

FOX
8:00 Gotham #1 "Pilot" (SERIES PREMIERE)

9:00 Sleepy Hollow #14 "This is War" (Season Premiere)
Prediction: Gotham - 9.7 million, 3.1/Sleepy - 8.9 million, 2.9

Sunday, September 21, 2014

PILOT REVIEW: Madam Secretary

MADAM SECRETARY









Starring: Tea Leoni, Tim Daly, Patina Miller, Geoffrey Arend, Erich Bergen, Katherine Herzer, Evan Roe, with Zeljko Ivanek, and Bebe Neuwirth

Created by Barbara Hall
Written by Barbara Hall, Directed by David Semel

THE PREMISE: Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni) is a former CIA agent now enjoying a quiet life as a college professor with her husband Henry (Tim Daly) and two kids (Katherine Herzer and Evan Roe). When the US Secretary of State is in a plane crash, the President (her old boss at the CIA) asks her to become the new Secretary of State. We then flash forward two months and meet key players in her administration: chief of staff Nadine Tolliver (Bebe Neuwirth), speechwriter Matt Mahoney (Geoffrey Arend), and press coordinator Diasy Finch (Patina Miller). Rounding out the main cast is the White House Chief of Staff and adversary to McCord, Russell Jackson (Zeljko Ivanek).

THE GOOD: This is an absolutely stellar cast: it is full of people who have tons of TV, film, and theater experience and it shows. It all starts with Tea Leoni, who is very strong in the title role. When a show is built around a certain character, it better be a strong character. I'm not sure that Elizabeth McCord is strongly written but I do know Leoni is playing her with a sense of intelligence, confidence, and humor, and it completely works. There was no one in the cast I didn't like. Tim Daly is strong as Elizabeth's husband and Zeljko Ivanek is good in pretty much anything he's in with his cold steeliness. I am always happy to see dramas set in the world of DC. It's a lot closer to to The West Wing than Scandal in the sense that the people working in the nation's highest offices seem to be decent people and not cheating murderers (I love Scandal but I get the feeling this is going for a classier approach to DC). I was glad the show decided to skip the two months in-between the President offering Elizabeth the position and her getting settled into the job. We didn't have to watch a "debate" with her family, getting adjusted process, etc. Finally, there was a walk and talk just for us West Wing fans!

THE BAD: While it's quite obvious the show is trying to elicit memories of The West Wing or its Sunday night counterpart The Good Wife, it isn't there yet. I think the biggest reason is the writing isn't quite there yet because I really doubt the cast is the problem. I found the first episode to drag in places and the story about returning the two American boys wasn't all that interesting. In a show about the Secretary of State, I feel like there could be better stories to tell. There doesn't need to be any sort of major scandal or conspiracy (though they are hinting at that with the end of the pilot) but there does need to be quality stories that provoke thought or emotion and the pilot plot didn't do that.

BOTTOM LINE: Despite my concerns with the pilot, I'm still very excited for this show because of the cast. Now entering my fifth year doing the blog, I think this cast may be the best I've seen yet. I think the state department is a fascinating topic and the possibilities are endless. The show doesn't need to get bogged down in anything boring or silly. It can be the next great quality broadcast drama if it figures it all out.