Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Strange New TV Season

The new fall TV season is only around a month old now, but it has already proven to be one of the more unusual ones in my opinion. Indeed, many of the developments during this season have caught me totally by surprise, and I don't think I am the only one.

Among the most unexpected things to have happened this season for me has been the success of Ugly Betty. The series is scheduled against Survivor on CBS and My Name is Earl and The Office on NBC. I really had no expectations as to how well or badly it might do in the ratings, but I fully expected it to come in third place to the shows on CBS and NBC. As it turns out, however, for the past few weeks it had been coming in a close second to Survivor and beating out both My Name is Earl and The Office. This only changed this week, when My Name is Earl managed to come in second place, although Ugly Betty still beat The Office. At any rate, it is the most watched new show on television. And I am still rather surprised by its success. Survivor has been a juggernaut in the ratings since the beginning, while both My Name is Earl and The Office are older, established, critically acclaimed shows. I didn't think a newcomer would do well against them.

Speaking of Thursday night, I am also surprised by the close race between CSI and Grey's Anatomy. I actually predicted that CSI would trounce Grey's Anatomy in the ratings. It appears I was wrong. Although it has been close--in Nielsen terms nearly a statistical tie--Grey's Anatomy has been beating CSI. This shocked me, as I thought most viewers would prefer the older, established CSI to the fresh, new, and, in my opinion, shallow Grey's Anatomy. I suppose I was wrong, although I still cannot see Grey's Anatomy lasting. Quite frankly, I think the show is pretty much a fad that will be gone in two or three more years.

While I have been surprised by the success of some shows, I have been surprised by the failure of another. Namely, the fact that Smith was the first new drama to be cancelled took me totally by surprise. While I did not expect it to be a roaring success, I certainly did not expect it to be cancelled after only two episodes. What shocks me so much about this cancellation is not so much how swiftly it occurred, but rather the fact that Smith was not doing that badly in the ratings. In fact, its ratings were pretty much average. Of course, perhaps CBS executives did not figure average ratings justified the high price tag of the show. Personally, as long as its ratings weren't bottom of the barrel, I would have kept on the air until it found an audience. Most shows that are decidedly different take a while before audiences discover them, and I think this would have been true of Smith

Not quite as puzzling as the cancellation of Smith is that the audience for Lost had declined from what it once was. The third season premiere was down 20 percent from the second season premiere. And this week's episode was down 10 percent from the third season premiere. I cannot quite explain why Lost is slipping, although it is possible that for some it was simply a novelty show and now they are tired of the novelty. At any rate, I thought the second season was as good as the first, and I don't see the show slipping in quality in its third season. Regardless of what others might do, I will continue watching Lost.

So far this season has had several surprises for me. And I can only wonder what will happen during sweeps next month. If sweeps is anything like the season so far, I am sure it will be something totally unexpected.


RC said... you watch ugly betty?

Unknown said...

I didn't think it was possible but I did get suckered into "Ugly Betty" and it took all of, hummm...15 minutes. It's not a new story but it's very, very funny.


Terence Towles Canote said...

No, I don't watch Ugly Betty. I work evenings and so I have to record anything in prime time. When I do record anything at that time on Thursday nights, it's My Name is Earl and The Office. I might tune in some time when those two shows are in rerun just to see what it's all about.