Here's part four 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. New Girl (3.75)
While New Girl still hasn't recovered to pre-baseball hiatus levels, and it's getting more like a 3.4 lately than the above 3.75, that still puts it head and shoulders over every other comedy on the net along with basically all live-action Fox comedies in recent memory. This show's going to be around, but its ability to be a game-changer is still something of a question mark.
The Animation Anchors Division
2. The Simpsons (2.67)
3. Family Guy (2.67)
Nothing to see here. Perhaps these numbers "should" be higher due to inflated viewing levels on Sunday, but they're still well within the safe zone even before you consider that they get such an incredible bang for their 18-49 buck.
The Persistently Mediocre Division
4. Raising Hope (1.88)
5. The Cleveland Show (1.75)
6. American Dad! (1.72)
I don't really feel comfortable writing any of these shows off, but I do feel comfortable saying they are all in very favorable timeslot situations and would be relatively weak when put on their own. It looked early in the season (and for at least one week post-baseball) like Raising Hope might be poised to take a step up in season two, but it's basically fallen back to its late-season one levels.
The Dunzo Division
7. Allen Gregory (1.31)
It's not official, but...
The Falling Star Division
1. Glee (3.73)
As I said on a couple occasions in the last couple weeks, Fox has a developing yet fairly underreported drama problem. The fact that the fast-fading Glee is still (even at its 3.25ish post-baseball levels) easily Fox's biggest drama at present can't be all that comforting.
The Let's Game the Negative Costs Division
2. Terra Nova (2.61)
3. House (2.61)
4. Bones (2.58)
My goal at this blog is to make improvements in the realm of "ratings strength," not (explicitly) in "renewability." The biggest reason for this is that "renewability" often comes down to economic factors beyond ratings/ad revenues that I can't give a proper treatment. It's just a guessing game for me, and that's not a game I'm all that interested in. Meanwhile, "ratings strength" is a more complete-information arena that I believe can be improved upon, and it's still an important enough part of "renewability" that I feel like I'm doing something that has some meaning.
So what's my point in all that? Well, these shows should be renewed from a "ratings strength" standpoint; yes, probably even Terra Nova at its recent low 2's level. But in these cases, the "ratings strength" may ultimately not mean much (or at least a lot less than usual). Terra Nova costs a bajillion dollars an episode and each episode takes thirty years in post-production. Nobody knows what's going on in Hugh Laurie's head. So... for cost and behind-the-scenes reasons, it would appear that this is where the Fox bubble is for now.
The Where My Homies At? Division
5. Fringe (1.28)
The TVByTheNumbers line on Fringe has always been that season four was entirely brought about for the syndication package. I'm don't necessarily disagree with that, and it does seem unlikely that its ad rates could make this a first-run money-maker. But I do think there was a case to be made last season that Fringe was "stronger," even in terms of first-run ratings, than its fellow bubble Fox dramas, and that it might produce slightly better ratings for that Friday 9/8c slot than the other three bubble dramas (or some half-assed reality replacement). Perhaps the good buzz and the timeslot improvement would be worth the financial hit, and even moreso if they got the license fee break from WB.
I think one thing that really benefited Fringe last season was the massive weakness of the other bubble dramas. But Fox trimmed the fat, and now there's really nothing which which Fringe compares even remotely favorably on a ratings basis. I won't rule out a fifth season just yet, but it's tough to see it happening unless Fox can grow a whole lot of new fat that will give Fringe anything it can reach out and touch. Economic implosions by some of the others above wouldn't hurt either.
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.