Here's part two of our journey through the five networks' scripted series by ranking their season-to-date TRUE averages. I've pushed the introductory stuff from the first post to the bottom.
Other networks: ABC | CBS | NBC | Fox | The CW
1. The Big Bang Theory (6.15)
2. Two and a Half Men (6.04)
Big Bang made the pass of Men just last week, and the gap should widen as the season progresses unless American Idol somehow comes in and absolutely destroys the nerds. Based on recent results, 2.5 Men has actually been closer to the below two shows than the surging Big Bang, but its monumental early numbers are still helping it out. Meanwhile, The Big Bang Theory has fairly consistently emerged as the Truly strongest scripted show on TV.
The Young People in the City Division
3. How I Met Your Mother (4.69)
4. 2 Broke Girls (4.49)
This is another block much like The Middle and Suburgatory where the 8:30 show is building in raw numbers but typically a little lower in TRUE because the 8:00 show is leading off the night. Still, 2BG's performance is certainly convincing enough that it looks like it will be used as an anchor show sometime soon.
The Unsafe Division?!
5. Mike and Molly (3.36)
6. Rules of Engagement (3.04)
OK, so these shows are probably not big anchors in the vein of the four above, and they're certainly in very favorable situations that exaggerate their raw numbers. But do they really deserve to be in trouble, as Rules of Engagement would seem to be based on recent news?! Maybe they're just third-tier shows at this point, but I still have tier three of the comedies stronger than tier two of the dramas. (See below.) I'd be looking at expanding the comedy presence on the network before I look at shoving Rules out the door.
The Dunzo Division
7. How to Be a Gentleman (2.06)
The above average just includes the two Thursday results, and Gentleman is reportedly returning for holiday burnoff. Still, this was the biggest CBS comedy flop in quite some time. Even last year's clear failure Mad Love did noticeably better (averaged 2.48 in its first two airings).
1. NCIS (4.39)
2. Criminal Minds (3.58)
As last year, it's basically these two shows and a big gap to everything else. And frankly, there's a pretty large gap between the ever-amazing NCIS and everything else, with Criminal Minds actually a bit closer to the second tier than to NCIS.
The Next Generation Division
3. Hawaii Five-0 (2.90)
4. NCIS: Los Angeles (2.89)
5. CSI (2.58)
6. The Mentalist (2.46)
The thing that's always most admirable about CBS is their depth. Almost every year, it seems they're able to churn out a drama that at least makes it into this second-tier area and is capable of sticking around for many years. There's occasionally an exception, and this year looks like it may be one such exception, but they really haven't had an 0fer long-term-drama year since strike-shortened 2007-08. Of course, CSI is not exactly "next generation," but it still seems a cut above the bubble at present. The Mentalist has been disappointing this season, but I still don't see it being in much trouble unless things sour even further.
The Bubble of Young and Old Division
7. Person of Interest (2.34)
8. Blue Bloods (2.25)
9. Unforgettable (2.22)
10. CSI: Miami (1.94)
11. CSI: NY (1.91)
If I'm CBS and I have the two CSI spinoffs lingering barely in my top ten dramas (not to mention outside of the top fifteen scripted shows), I'm probably pretty tempted to just cut 'em both loose. But let's see how the younger and for now slightly stronger shows hold up as the season progresses. In terms of renewability, I'd give Blue Bloods the edge over everything else in this division. The reason is that most of these TRUE numbers are in relegate-to-Friday territory on CBS, and Blue Bloods is already a "bird in the hand," as they say, in that situation.
The Undercounted Division?
12. The Good Wife (1.47)
13. A Gifted Man (1.40)
These two are both posting clear flop-level numbers for CBS, but you can make a case that they're deceptive. In The Good Wife's case, I can point to the unreliability of the TRUE metric on Sunday, and particularly on Sunday at 9/8c. (8/7c is not quite as bad because it only half-faces football, while 10/9c has such huge competition relative to other 10:00 slots from football that it tempers some of the viewing inflation.) And with A Gifted Man, it's the "Can anything do better in this timeslot?" question. I suppose that's at least worth considering, since CBS has gone about a season and a half now never really doing better than these numbers. Either way, I think it'd be a tough time finding an adjustment that could pull either show up to bubble-worthy numbers. But as I've been saying for basically its entire run, I think CBS is riding prestige and sorta fanwanking the ratings when it comes to The Good Wife.
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.
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.