Wednesday, November 30, 2011

ABC True Power Rankings, November 2011

Welcome to the inaugural True Power Rankings! I'm just going to line up the shows of each network by their season average to date in my TRUE metric (through November 27). I don't think there's enough interesting stuff to do these with any regularity, so my tentative plan is to do them at the beginning and end of each sweeps period. (Meaning the next one would come in late January.) Future editions will perhaps be glammed up a bit and likely incorporate an unscripted category, but with much of that stuff rolling out at midseason, there just aren't enough of those shows to create a good hierarchy just yet.

FYI, these will replace the "True Bubble" posts I've done on a couple occasions in the past. Basically the same idea, except I'm throwing everything in rather than just the bubble shows. ABC's out today, then two more networks each of the next two days.

I guess I don't read enough power rankings articles to know if this is commonplace, but I really liked the "division" setup that Bill Simmons uses, so I'm stealing it. Mine are a lot less clever. 

Other networks: ABC | CBS | NBC | Fox | The CW

The Elite
1. Modern Family (6.06)

What else is there to say except that there are probably at least a few more years of this show vastly outshining everything else on its network and almost everything else on TV?

The Stocked Stable Division
2. The Middle (3.32)
3. Last Man Standing (3.26)
4. Suburgatory (3.02)

It's amazing to think that about thirty months ago, ABC had nothing in the comedy department. They were keeping the likes of Scrubs, Better off Ted and According to Jim around just so they could say they weren't ditching all their comedies. (Yeah, there were also probably syndication reasons.) About three months ago, they really only had two. Now, it certainly appears they have four pretty legitimately strong comedies. And when you compare this second tier's 3.0+ TRUEs with the ~2.5s pulled by the second tier of dramas, it looks like the network should be dedicating more time to comedy moving forward. (Get used to me saying this.)

The Off-Brand Division
5. Happy Endings (2.27)

There's no question Happy Endings' raw numbers are among the most overvalued on TV, but I still don't think it's much of a leap to say the show could stick around. Why? It's shown genuine improvement since joining the timeslot, and they probably won't mess with that for now. Its low-50s Modern Family retention of the opening few weeks has become upper-50s. Still not good, but if it's getting better, you're inclined to roll with it and hope it keeps getting better. I still think the ideal lineup from a "brand" standpoint would have Last Man Standing in that 9:30 timeslot with Happy Endings joining Cougar Town and Apartment 23 elsewhere, but the numbers simply aren't lining up that way. In other words, Last Man Standing is a legit anchor show where it is for now. And I'm not sure Happy Endings enthusiasts would want to see what would happen if it moved basically anywhere other than its current whooping +35% Sitch.

The Dunzo Division
6. Man Up! (1.62)

The Elites
1. Grey's Anatomy (3.70)
2. Once Upon a Time (3.23)

The TRUE metric doesn't particularly like Once Upon a Time, but don't take it personally; it doesn't seem to like anything airing on Sunday. Even with its typically low-ish numbers relatively speaking, it's still miles ahead of most other dramas on the network.

The Solid 10:00 Division
3. Revenge (2.48)
4. Castle (2.47)
6. Private Practice (2.25)

It's probably a stretch to say that any of these relatively marginal shows are totally "safe" with the end of the season still over five months away. But they've all been scoring above these averages in recent results. And Private Practice, by far the shakiest of the bunch early in the season, has really impressed in its last few originals. It's been called the Brothers & Sisters of this season, and I could certainly see a similar fate ultimately befalling it, but it's showing a little more muscle at this point in the season than B&S ever did last year.

The Victims of Success Division
7. Pan Am (1.74)
8. Body of Proof (1.71)

Neither of these shows would have much of a chance at another season anyway, but what's interesting to me is that they both probably get more episodes than they're getting if not for ABC's solid development year. Body of Proof has disappointed this season, but it's still made legitimate improvements in the timeslot on last year's Detroit 1-8-7, slightly up in raw numbers despite a much weaker Dancing with the Stars Tuesday show leading in. And based on the Housewives numbers this season, it's hard to imagine Brothers & Sisters doing more than a tick or two better than Pan Am has. If ABC's new slate had been more like last year's bomb-fest, I think Body of Proof would have at least some chance of nailing that timeslot down for the whole season. Instead, a newbie probably fills in once Dancing returns in March.

The Dunzo Division
5. Desperate Housewives (2.16)
9. Charlie's Angels (1.41)

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