For the first time in seven weeks, it's the True Power Rankings! This is the most critical edition of all, because the networks have just about all the ratings info that they will take into final decision-making time. This should be fun, since lots of new shows have entered the mix since last we spoke. Let's go.
As last time, the numbers below take the ten most recent final TRUE scores (as of April 22), drop the highest and lowest result, and average whatever's left.
Previous ABC Power Rankings: November | January | February
Other networks: ABC | CBS | NBC | Fox | The CW
1. Modern Family (5.39)
2. The Middle (2.92)
3. Suburgatory (2.40)
4. Apartment 23 (2.27)
5. Last Man Standing (2.27)
With two episodes in the books, Apartment 23 is looking pretty good, with a couple TRUE scores higher than anything Happy Endings has done since January. Tonight will be its first and only season one airing after a Modern Family repeat. Since it's just the third episode in the history of the show, I personally don't think there's a whole lot to lose unless it goes like sub-2.0 or something. The question is where it is once Modern returns, and I feel it still has some cushion relative to its week two numbers.
I'm pretty sure Last Man Standing is still getting renewed based on its body of work, but the show has been perhaps the biggest post-Daylight Saving Time disaster on TV. The 1.9 it first got after DST was an acceptable drop based on HUT levels. The 1.6 a month later is a different story. I'd personally shift it to 8:30 and try to help it out with something new (like Reba McEntire's Malibu County) at 8/7c.
5. Happy Endings (1.86)
6. Cougar Town (1.52)
Happy Endings was part of that "nearing renewal" article from several weeks ago, so I imagine it (like Last Man Standing) will eke out another season, even though I'm personally less convinced it should be renewed. The question is what to do with it. Will it get thrown into a totally incompatible situation as Cougar Town did this season? The ideal pairing is Apartment 23, but I think that block's viability depends on where Apartment 23 ends up by season's end.
As for Cougar Town, it's basically Man Up! with acclaim, so its only real hope is something beyond the realm of ratings.
7. Man Up! (1.51)
8. Work It (1.39)
1. Grey's Anatomy (3.35)
2. Once Upon a Time (2.80)
3. Revenge (2.40)
The top two ABC dramas are feeling pretty good lately, as each hit its highest number in at least the last five episodes during the last pre-sweeps week. But Revenge was a bit soft in its first post-hiatus ep, and then you have...
The Complete Mess
4. Private Practice (2.04) (1.41)
5. Castle (1.93) (1.85)
6. Missing (1.93) (1.86)
7. GCB (1.90) (1.60)
8. Scandal (1.86) (1.86)
10. Body of Proof (1.45) (1.73)
The one show that I'm very confident is getting out of this mess with a renewal is Castle. I think people have kinda ignored what a soft season it's been having since the new year, and it hasn't really gotten any better since Dancing returned, but it's still doing well enough and is within striking distance of good syndication package numbers at this point.
The second set of parentheses represents the midpoint of just the last three episodes, with the exception of Private Practice which is just its first post-DWTS ep. Admittedly that metric is rather cherry-picked to make PP look bad and Body of Proof (just including its spring post-Dancing eps) look somewhat still in the mix. But last night's preliminary 2.2 for PP (maybe 2.1 after finals) is undeniably not good for Body of Proof. Basically the only argument for Body of Proof is that it's far from the worst-rated thing they've ever put after DWTS; you just have to ignore the fact that it hasn't done much of anything anywhere else. But if Private Practice can do better or even the same post-Dancing, why do you need it?
As for Private Practice, I try not to be too much a prisoner of the moment. So what do you say when one Tuesday result is clearly very bad (1.7 last week) and one is clearly very good (2.2 this week)? I'm guessing the reality, especially with Unforgettable returning next week, will be somewhere in the middle. I'm thinking the level will be 1.9 or maybe 2.0. If that's the level, it seems quite clearly a better option than Body of Proof, because it'll have the same post-DWTS numbers but more demonstrated viability apart from that one specific lead-in.
On to the newbies. I would guess the leader of the three right now is Scandal, but its lead is quite fragile. 2.0 -> 2.0 -> 2.0 in raw numbers looks pretty damn steady, but TRUE is not buying it, because the slot got noticeably easier both weeks. First, HUT levels came back up after a low pre-Easter premiere Thursday; also, The Mentalist went into repeats. Then its Grey's Anatomy lead-in had a big spike last week while the competish remained minimal. We'll have to see if the bottom falls out tomorrow night as both Grey's and Scandal should be more challenged.
Everyone has written off Missing long ago, but I find it kind of an interesting situation. It's like Body of Proof in that it's not really a success, but the timeslot history tells us ABC can do much worse. It's a couple ticks ahead of where Charlie's Angels stabilized even though the slot currently has wayyy less overall viewing and is still highly competitive. How much better can ABC realistically do in what's one of TV's very toughest hours? Another question: how much is ABC paying for the show, since it's a co-production? I would still lean toward it getting canned, because a 1.4 rating just looks bad. But I also feel it should be "closer than the experts think," as Lee Corso would say.
GCB's three-episode average includes a 9/8c tryout and a post-Titanic airing. It'd be at 1.90 if you just look at the midpoint of the last three post-Housewives eps. I personally think it needs to at minimum get back to the ~2.0 demo level of those days. Will Desperate Housewives start to climb in the run-up to the finale, helping out the raw numbers of this show?
So those are the individual situations for these six shows. The network-wide situation is also important. In other words, how many of these shows do they even need? They could probably renew just two of the six and still only need four new dramas: the same number they had last fall. So these shows are all gonna have to earn their keep. Coming off a very good ABC development season, there's much less need than last year to save face or fill timeslots. My guess is three come back: Castle returns, one of the other returnees is renewed (leaning Private Practice over Body of Proof unless PP goes back to 1.7), and one of the three newbies ekes out a second season (very slightly leaning Scandal right now). That said, this situation is changing on an almost daily basis!
9. Desperate Housewives (1.81)
11. The River (1.33)
12. Charlie's Angels (1.26)
13. Pan Am (1.14)
1. Dancing with the Stars Mon Spring (3.20)
2. Dancing with the Stars Mon Fall (3.15)
3. Dancing with the Stars Tue Fall (2.60)
4. Dancing with the Stars Tue Spring (2.55)
5. The Bachelor (2.55)
Dancing doesn't seem any Truly weaker against The Voice than it was in the fall, but it's still headed for another brutal season year-to-year. As I said a couple weeks ago in my big unscripted post, I think we're still one more worst-case scenario year away from the talent competition world getting rocked, so there isn't much else to say for now. It's still delivering, relatively speaking.
4. Winter Wipeout (1.92)
5. Shark Tank (1.89)
6. Celebrity Wife Swap (1.77)
7. 20/20 (1.71)
8. America's Funniest Home Videos (1.63)
9. Primetime: What Would You Do? (1.59)
Wipeout is still an OK regular season option for Thursday 8/7c, but my hope is that ABC will be able to hold the show to just the summer in 2012-13. We'll see how it holds up this coming summer.
I think any Friday lineup that doesn't include Shark Tank and 20/20 for the full season will be a huge mistake. But I could see them trying something else (scripted?) in the other hour, then bringing in What Would You Do? at midseason if it doesn't work. That would help deal with WWYD's tendency to burn out when aired for a long stretch.
10. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (1.42)
11. You Deserve It (0.74)