LIE TO ME (FOX)
Scheduling history: Lie to Me debuted in winter 2009 with five episodes after American Idol on Wednesday. The show then moved to 8/7c for the rest of season one, with Idol back to 9/8c. The first half of season two aired on Monday after seemingly compatible House, and the network used the back half of season two to try to push into year-round programming. It scored a season three renewal, but not on the fall schedule; however, it was very quickly called back to its Monday 9/8c slot after Lone Star bombed to a historic degree.
When there was hope: Lie to Me arrived on the scene during the peak years of House, when character-driven procedurals in the same vein had become a hot commodity. With American Idol also squarely in its prime, the network had a nice support system, and it helped vault Lie to Me to one of the 2008-09 season's biggest premieres: 12.37 million viewers and a 4.9 demo rating on 1/21/09. (Idol had double that: 25.90 million and a 9.8.) It trickled downward across the rest of its five episodes after Idol: to 4.4 in week three, 4.1 in week four and 3.7 in week five. After a surprising hold in its first 8/7c episode (3.4), it took big drops the next two weeks and ultimately settled in the mid-2's. That scored it a renewal and a slot after seemingly compatible House in season two. It consistently pulled upper-2 ratings in that slot (while House was usually around 5.0).
When hope was lost: Considering its very good timeslot situations, Lie to Me wasn't really anything special in its first season and a half, but it wasn't exactly a bomb either. Given the rest of the Fox regular season schedule was pretty much filled with goodness at this point, the network decided to take a flier on Lie to Me as a relatively good-faith effort at summer programming, using it to launch co-production drama The Good Guys. The summer run mostly hit upper-1's, which was fairly modest even by summer standards (though The Good Guys did much worse at low-1's). Though it had been renewed for season three, it was held off the fall schedule... until Lone Star got a 1.3 and 1.0 in two episodes with a House lead-in. Lie to Me had one of the earliest replacement premieres I can remember, starting on just the third Monday of the regular season, and it began at 2.1 and mostly found upper-1's from there. As the previous fall, it held just over 50% of a (now in decline) House.
Though it wrapped for the season on January 31, the decision didn't come till near the upfront. It was axed alongside fellow bubble dramas Human Target and The Chicago Code. Honestly, these shows were all fairly weak, and Fox saw much more upside in a high-profile class that included Terra Nova, Alcatraz and Bones spin-off The Finder. But given the disappointments those three became, one wonders if Fox wishes in retrospect that they'd tried to shepherd this modest performer from their studio to syndication levels.
Adults 18-49 info by season:
|1||Winter 2009||Wednesday 9:00||3.33||2.3||4.9|
Historical-adjusted ratings by season:
For more on The War of 18-49, my look at the history of primetime TV's veteran shows, see the Index.