Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Like ABC with Nashville, NBC waited on Chicago Fire's premiere till after the presidential debate in week two, meaning it was in a head-to-head showdown with Nashville. And Chicago Fire pretty much met its low expectations, hitting a 1.9 demo and fully holding onto its Law and Order: SVU lead-in. That's not great, but it's certainly not the worst "conventional" drama they've launched in recent years. Last year's Prime Suspect had just a 1.6 with a much bigger (though less compatible) lead-in.
But a lot of the "not bad"-ness evaporated in week two. Chicago Fire dropped a surprising 21% to a 1.5 demo. It had little help from SVU (which was down to a 1.7 in the 9:30 half-hour), but this was still a disappointment considering the show was relatively steady in the half-hour breakdowns in week one.
If this show had held up pretty well in week two, I was ready to unload some kind of potential sleeper narrative. The -21% surprised me, and so I think I have to retreat to my pessimistic preseason outlook for this one. I'm not ruling out an episode extension or a full season at this point, because frankly I'm not sure there's going to be a better plan for long-troubled NBC Wednesday within the rest of this season. But it just feels like the Dick Wolf era is winding down on NBC, and I can't imagine NBC wanting another SVU-centric Wednesday in 2013-14. If Revolution continues to look like a legit success for the rest of the season, NBC would probably be better off trying to center Wednesday around that show, and I don't see Chicago Fire having the ratings to justify trying somewhere else. Cancel.
"First Two Weeks" is my look at... the first two weeks of a new scripted broadcast show's ratings. I also line up all of the premiere and week two drop numbers together.