The Summer of Our
Discontent - September 1
Quick quiz. Name five primetime shows that broke out this summer to become
"Dancing With the Stars", definitely!
"Beauty & The Geek," good thinking there.
"Ultimate Fighter 2", of course...
... and you're stumped. Sure you could make a case out of "Hell's Kitchen" or
"So You Think You Can Dance", but compared relatively to these three, they're
only modest in their impact on TV this summer. For instance, take the megahit of
"Dancing with the Stars", with some 22 million viewers watching Kelly Monaco &
Alec Mazo rob John O'Hurley & Charlotte Jorgenson, compared to a
good-if-you're-a-Fox-show 8 million viewers watching Michael Wray win, then give
up, his own dream restaurant on "Hell's Kitchen."
Then there's the heavily-hyped "So You Think You
Can Dance," which at its beginning was ranking about 10 million viewers, good
enough for both second-place showings and a chance to plug Fox's Wednesday hole
caused by "The Inside." I'm sure Fox didn't have plans on making "Dance"
Wednesday's only show. It just happened to happen that way. Since then, it's
settled to about 7 to 8 million viewers for each showing. Last week's show
posted thusly: 6.4/10 in households, 7.82 million total viewers, and 3.2/10 in
But aside from that, and the "Ultimate
Fighter's" big honking premiere, there was nothing really standoutish this
summer. To put it bluntly, it was your typical summer doldrum. Even summer mainstay "Big Brother 6"
wasn't immune to some slumping this year. In fact, and this is from what I
gather from my partner-in-crime Gordon, more people watched the Tuesday veto
shows this summer than the Thursday voteouts. Last week, Tuesday's show placed
17th in the week in total viewers with 7.95 million (also fifth in 18-49ers).
Thursday's show placed 21st in viewers with 7.76 viewers (tenth in 18-49ers).
Which means if you do the math right, about 190,000 didn't even know that Rachel
had gone the way of "The Law Firm" until later that evening (and that's assuming
that they have internet access).
Did someone say segue? Let's talk about summer
bombs. Sci Fi "Master Blasters" was gone after four episodes, a cable failure
not seen since the tens of thousands of people who managed to sit through the
entire run of "American Candidate". "The Law Firm", David E. Kelley's
heavily-hyped concession to the reality TV crowd, was jettisoned to Bravo from
NBC after two. The one-two punch of "Average Joe: The Joes Strike Back" and "I
Want to Be a Hilton" were pretty much non-factor fillers for something good
("Tommy Lee Goes to College", anyone?). "The Cut" moved twice after failing to
perform on the level of the show from which it was cloned. "My Kind Of Town"
never quite recovered from its initial showing, averaging 5.2 million viewers,
down 54 percent from 11.4 million two weeks ago. "Rock Star" was a rocky ride.
More on that later.
Why was this summer very unkind to the reality
game show? Is it because there were so gosh darned many? Well, I'm not one to
say, because I don't know. All I know was that "Dancing With the Stars" was
something a bit different, while other shows were just retreads of other ideas.
Perhaps the viewing audience finally got the
A Perk Up for "Rock Star?"
You probably wouldn't believe me if I told you
that CBS is mulling renewing its struggling "Rock Star" franchise. After all, it
was heavily overexposed and didn't yield a return worthy of said overexposure.
Perhaps the cutting of one of its episodes over to sister cabler VH1 was a good
thing. Going back to the beginning, Rock Star: INXS was fourth in the 9p hour in
households (3.9/6) and total viewers (5.62), and second among adults 18-49
(2.4/7) on Monday, July 11. Perhaps bolstered by "Big Brother", the Tuesday
performance shows have since averaged 6.22 million viewers. The Wednesday show,
helped along by nothing and since expanded to an hour, has averaged 4.74
million, about a million and a half less. Again, more people care about the
build up than the actual outing, which isn't surprising, given the ratings for
"American Idol" this season, but is still weird.
Which begs the questions a) why renew the show
in the first place, and b) why expand the show to an hour? Are CBS and Mark
Burnett hoping that this show is another "Amazing Race" that started out
sluggish only to grow by leaps and bounds later?
Only time will tell on that one.
Questions in "Jeopardy!"
This week, if you're a "Jeopardy!" fan (and if
you're reading this, I'm just going to assume that you are for argument's sake),
then you're probably enjoying the best of Ken Jennings as he takes on any and
all comers again. You can't wait for that DVD either, can't you? Anyway, you are
probably no doubt aware that people are making the assumption that no grand
champion means no viewers, as is evident in the sudden dip in viewers, as
reported on this very site. "Jeopardy!" is down 22 percent to a 6.2 from last
year's numbers, when we say the subject of a game show dynasty, a board game, a
CD game, and his own game show mop the floor with whoever Harry Friedman could
throw at him.
This is one of those cases of "correlation not
equating causation". After all, ratings typically do take a nosedive over the
summer. The real test will be to see whether or not David Madden's little streak
can bring back the viewers when the show starts anew on September 12.
Good News for "Wild'n Out"
According to the Futon Critic, MTV has renewed
the Nick Cannon-hosted improv competition "Wild'n Out" just five episodes into
its inaugural run. Now here's why... To date this season, "Wild" has regularly
topped its cable competition in the Thursday, 10p ET half-hour among viewers
12-34, 12-24 and 12-17. Ten new episodes will comprise the new season, which
will bow in early 2006.
So as we end this summer in "The Numbers Game," remember one thing... With
new seasons of "The Amazing Race", "Survivor", "Jeopardy!", "Millionaire", "The
Apprentice", "Wheel of Fortune", and "Family Feud" on the way, the summer of our
discontent will soon give way to a glorious harvest come fall.
Until next week, remember, the numbers don't lie.
wishes he was still in California, but realizes that,
against his better judgment, he has a life outside of
the fandom. E-mail him at email@example.com.