Thursday, September 23, 2010

Premiere Ratings: Undercovers, The Defenders, Better with You, The Whole Truth

If you were underwhelmed by the premiere ratings for the likes of Hawaii Five-0, The Event, and Raising Hope, you hadn't seen nothin' yet. Two more pretty ugly numbers and two more barely passable ones on premiere Wednesday.

  • NBC's Undercovers kicked off with a very Chuck-like 2.0 in the demo, which was actually down from the net's two weak drama premieres of last year (Mercy's 2.3 and Trauma's 2.2). It was also way below my 3.0 expectation. Considering this was a JJ Abrams show that seemed to have at least some buzz, this is a pretty disappointing start, and by next week the show could easily be noticeably weaker than Chuck. The Abrams name is not necessarily premiere ratings gold; Fringe's pricey two-hour pilot managed only a fairly disappointing 3.2 demo a couple years ago. But 2.0 is a long way down from 3.2, and the good news in Fringe's case was that it had a huge House lead-in showing up the next week. Undercovers has no such support slated, and probably the show's absolute best-case scenario is that it gets shifted to Monday after a still-strong The Event. Maybe it could end up in the Thursday at 10:00 hour also. But it's tough to see growth from this start if it stays here. If you're a peetooplus person, it did have a lot of total viewers, over 8.5 million in fact. But that doesn't help.
  • CBS premiered legal drama The Defenders after Criminal Minds, where it scored a 2.9 demo out of Minds' 4.0 premiere. (I predicted a 3.1.)  It's a start pretty reminiscent of The Good Wife's 3.1 premiere out of a 4.4 NCIS: LA premiere last year. The show is unlikely to garner the awards buzz of The Good Wife, but it still seems to have some critics on board. While legal dramas are never going to be demo stars, this is a serviceable enough start. That said, it won't have to go very far down to be in a danger zone for CBS, and in fact it's already below CSI: NY's average of last year.
  • ABC's attempt to find a fourth wheel for its comedy night got off to a decent start, as Better with You managed a 2.5 demo out of its 2.6 The Middle lead-in.  I was close, though I thought it'd build at least initially (I said a 2.6 out of The Middle's 2.4). The Middle kicked off with a 2.6 in this hour last year and scored a second season, so there's no reason why Better with You can't parlay this start into a good run. An 8:30 show dropping big from an 8:00 show could eventually be troublesome, but as long as the numbers look something like this, it can stick around.
  • Another early candidate for first cancellation (though I think it'll still be Lone Star) is ABC's The Whole Truth, as the 1.6 demo is pretty much dead-on-arrivals-ville, barely above half of what quick failure Eastwick debuted to in the slot last year. It's one of those shows whose fate you can pretty easily prognosticate with one data point. It's not gonna be around for long.

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