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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

The fall season so far: ugly, uglier, ugliest

New show "Mike & Molly" is doing well for CBS. It stars Melissa McCarthy and Billy Gardell.

New show "Mike & Molly" is doing well for CBS. It stars Melissa McCarthy and Billy Gardell.

A year ago at this time, broadcast networks could celebrate several genuine new hits: ABC’s “Modern Family,” CBS’s “Good Wife” and “NCIS: Los Angeles” and Fox’s “Glee,” to name a few.

This fall, the prognosis is significantly bleaker. At least five shows are already dead and buried. NBC’s “The Event” could hardly be dubbed as one. The new program getting the most buzz (and an Entertainment Weekly cover) isn’t even on broadcast but cable: AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” a zombie-based drama shot here in Atlanta.

Here’s a synopsis after two months of mostly disheartening results:

CBS: Although none of its five freshman programs have become runaway smashes, all have potential to be around awhile. “Mike & Molly,” about two overweight, average joes, fits well on the Monday night schedule and hit a season high this past Monday. The reboot of “Hawaii Five-O” is escapist fun. Cop drama ”Blue Bloods” gives gravitas to Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg. Law drama “The Defenders” actually makes Jim Belushi palatable.  Silly sitcom “$#*! My Dad Says” holds up okay after “The Big Bang Theory” Thursdays.

NBC: With Jay Leno back to 11:35 p.m., NBC filled 10 p.m. again with pricey dramas. Unfortunately, its ratings performance has not improved. ”The Event” has shed audience every week since it debuted. “Outlaw” and “Undercovers” are already gone. Cop drama “Chase,” starring former Atlantan Kelli Giddish, has peformed poorly but  is alive out of default. “Law & Order: Los Angeles” is not proving to be the next “Law & Order: SVU.” Reality show “School Pride” on Fridays crashed.  The brightest spot is “Outsourced,” which complements “The Office” on Thursdays.

ABC: No “Grey’s Anatomy” or “Lost” in sight in this mix. Two shows are already gone: “My Generation” and “The Whole Truth.” Its promising sci-fi drama “No Ordinary Family” loses viewers every week. The strongest of a weak lot: “Detroit 1-8-7″ has stabilized at 10 p.m. Tuesdays with 8 million viewers a week, and Wednesday sitcom “Better With You” is in the same vicinity.

Fox: With “American Idol” and “24,” Fox used to depend on the midseason to pick up the fall slack. Now ”24″ is gone and “Idol” is in transition. And its fall freshmen flock has been unimpressive thus far. Despite a promising premise and great production values, “Lone Star” was quickly nixed after just two episodes. “Running Wilde” looks dead. Comedy “Raising Hope” may be the network’s only hope.

The CW: “Hellcats” fits the 18-34 female demographic well. Spy remake “Nikita” opened strong, has lost steam. But both will last the year.

For now, the networks can only hope for something magical to happen midseason. ABC’s “Skating With the Stars,” which debuted last week, is not the panacea.

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By Rodney Ho, rho@ajc.com, AJCRadioTV blog

31 comments Add your comment

Jeff

November 26th, 2010
11:47 am

I’m wondering what CW pulls out of its hat next year to replace Smallville – one of FEW reasons I even watch that channel anymore. (The others being Nikita, Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural – all MUCH weaker for me than Smallville.)

Jere

November 26th, 2010
12:06 pm

I LOVE Parenthood — I hope enough people are watching that to keep it around

Michael

November 26th, 2010
1:11 pm

The only two good fall shows are on cable–”The Walking Dead” on AMC is a solid hit, but things are looking bleak for the even better “Terriers” on FX. HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” isn’t bad. And we can look forward to new seasons of “Justified” and “Big Love” in January.

joe

November 26th, 2010
1:25 pm

HA HA, someone admits to watching CW…too funny.

Bob Packwood

November 26th, 2010
2:34 pm

Rodney–Is RoE (CBS) coming back?

delois

November 26th, 2010
2:46 pm

Raising Hope is the only funny new show on. A couple of us at my office started watching it and spread the word and now half the office watches it. It’s our favorite watercooler show on Wednesday morning – even more so than Glee.

PR

November 26th, 2010
2:46 pm

How can anyone watch “Outsourced” when it deals with U.S. jobs being sent overseas. It just shows how out of touch the american viewing public is with today’s problems. Thousands of U.S. jobs were sent to India and yet people watch a show about it and laugh. Sad comment on america’s TV viewing.

Diana

November 26th, 2010
3:11 pm

Blue Bloods is my FAVORITE new show! I’ll be glad when it moves from Friday night though.

Tech Man

November 26th, 2010
5:22 pm

NBA League Pass gives great programing almost every night even before the college basketball TV season cranks up.

Jay

November 26th, 2010
5:37 pm

Can’t think of any news shows I would like to see hang around. Even last year’s refreshing programs quickly became stale this year – Glee most prominent among them. Its characters are silly and tiresome.

Patrick

November 26th, 2010
5:57 pm

The Event keeps losing viewers because it wanders all over the place and can’t even decide what it’s about, exactly. Is it a sci-fi drama, a terrorist/political drama, or (with last weeks’ ludicrous pap) some sort of mobster throwback (”shoot yourself in the knee to show your loyalty to me”)?

Even putting aside the scifi fantasy plot, the writing and scenes often makes no sense. Assorted characters who would otherwise be the subject of manhuts wander around in pubic quite openly. Agent Lee -by now a known mole- freely fraternizes with his alien buddies -all without a tail or cop in sight? And they go out on the Washington Mall in the open, firing guns and nobody notices? What?

I think this show is being crippled by having different directors for every episode and every one of them has his or her own idea of what they are doing and they’re not working from the same show bible. Junk like this that makes the show hard to follow does not mean there’s something good going on that you as a viewer just need to figure out. No. Sometimes it’s just incoherent junk because the people making the show have no clue.

Jennifer

November 26th, 2010
7:25 pm

The Walking Dead on AMC….awesome!!!! The only bad thing…. they haven’t started filming season 2 yet! It’s a great show.

Mark

November 26th, 2010
11:11 pm

Looks like A&E could start filming all their episodes for “The First 48″ in Atlanta. Wow, when did this city become Detroit?

Magnum PI

November 26th, 2010
11:18 pm

Problem is no new shows on Networks are edgy enough. They can not compete with the Dexters, Boardwalks, Curbs, Justified, and several others. Networks no longer can produce products like Cheers, Seinfeld, Miami Vice, CSI etc etc. We are now left with 8 spin offs of the orignal. Law and Order South Alabama is slated for next year

Some cable shows are running their course out soon: Sons of Anarchy??? Boring. Californication is getting close to going night night,

Michael

November 27th, 2010
12:05 am

Jeff, I doubt The CW cares much about keeping any viewers outside of the 18-34 female demo. Almost every new show in the past three years has been all about locking up that demo. Nikita is probably the closest attempt, but I wasn’t really drawn into a remake of a remake. I used to like One Tree Hill, but when Lucas and Peyton left the show really seemed to dive into the soap opera realm.

I would agree with Rodney’s take on the overall broadcast network situation. The only new show I like is Conan, but that’s on TBS. The overall Hollywood problem is people scared to take a risk or get original. I mean how many shows about police, doctors and lawyers can you put on the schedule without retreading everything? Every band and chorus nerd in the world gravitates toward Glee because it’s something new that we haven’t seen before. I’m hoping The Cape will be more original and not just another superhero show you can’t pick out of a lineup.

Jeff

November 27th, 2010
12:17 am

Magnum, I disagree… we don’t need EDGY, we need CONSISTENCY, and by God, we need QUALITY more than anything!!!

Some of the past shows you mentioned are my favorites — Cheers, Miami Vice, CSI, etc. Some shows, when they came out, were groundbreaking (24, Lost, Law & Order, Survivor, etc.)… but now they are beaten to death and tired and overworked.

Movies are the same way — I have seen maybe FIVE quality films over the last decade, movies that I REALLY liked and will watch over and over when they come on TV or cable.

My theory? The lack of quality and keen perception and depth and understanding of reality among TV and movie producers, writers, directors and actors is startling. I can count on my two hands the number of GOOD and ORIGINAL ideas to come out of Hollywood since the 1980s. Edgy is now confused with offensive, trashy with reality, and “critically acclaimed” with “well, it must be good because the L.A. Times likes it.”

The problem is also that Hollywood is falling farther and farther out of touch with middle-class, grass-roots, traditional America. In a mad effort to reach EVERY SINGLE 18-to-35 viewer and be “cool” and “relevant” to high school and college kids (who have the attention span of gnats), Hollywood is cranking out garbage at a record pace. Any movie with Jonah Hill should have never been made…. rather than tell a story to audiences, producers seem to love to try to confuse the hell out of them (Lost, The Event)…. if ONE is good (Vampire themed shows, reality programs, cop/crime dramas), than two is better and fifteen should be GREAT, right? I mean, people in Hollywood JUST DON’T GET IT.

Listen close, people: just give us QUALITY. Give us an original idea for a change… NO MORE MOVIE SEQUELS. Stop going overboard with 3D and Imax and CGI effects. Tell a story, for God’s sake, that a majority of people can RELATE to. Quit falling all over yourselves to be quirky or different or stupid. Quit trying to impress the 14-year-old-boy marker, because in the process, you gross-out or offend people who can actually patronize your advertisers. And for God’s sake, LISTEN TO YOUR CONSUMERS, but DON’T HAVE A HAIR-TRIGGER. Give shows a complete season, a full 15 to 20 episodes, to prove it belongs. TV producers get so panicky now that if a show doesn’t produce 1982-MASH-finale numbers immediately, it’s canned. How can a TV show really gain traction and build an audience in 3 or 4 weeks? Give it time! My God, Hollywood, GET A FEEL FOR THE PUBLIC AND BE NORMAL FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE!!!

That’s the problem with most of the crap out there… with 150 channels to fill and 20,000 movie theater screens to fill, the fact is that there’s just not enough quality content to go around, and the disappointing thing is that the trash out there FAR outweighs the quality stuff.

If Hollywood would listen to middle class America, take a hard look at what they do, and have the onions to stick with a quality, original show every now and then, we’d see better stuff out there. But patience, quality, morality, decency, intelligence and originality are qualities that I’m afraid left America long ago.

Gary B.

November 27th, 2010
2:02 am

“The Walking Dead ” is a great show….can’t wait for them to start filming the next season !!!

FRINGE LOVER

November 27th, 2010
2:10 am

Just as long as Fox keeps FRINGE on the air….they can send me back and forth on alternate universe trips every week and I will follow…..

Too few control what we all watch, hear and read..

November 27th, 2010
2:15 am

The problem is that 5-7 giant media companies own 99% of every tv station, movie studio, publishing house, magazines, radio stations, internet access, newspapers and music companies. As a consequence, and contrary to Jeff’s rant, they all have reduced the country down into homogeneous segments in order to not offend a mythical “middle class America”.

The truth is that shows made not to offend are too often boring and dependent upon using “actors/actresses” that are stunningly good looking, but lack range.

We need to break up the big media companies and let the free market decide what survives by letting more people take risks with lower barriers into the market. We need more news outlets. Shouldn’t there be more competition than just FOX, CNN. MSNBC and the like? Why should FOX be the only dominant conservative presence in news?

Lastly, we have to learn to live with the idea that if something offends you, the the answer is to change the channel and let shows survive because people are excited about watching them not because they wish to make it so no one can watch.

Yeah there already are lots to channels “with nothing on”, but that’s because they are all owned by the same few companies. Why else do they all take the same commercial breaks at the same time? Let’s get some good old fashion competition going and let channels build and grow, or die off if someone else cannot come in and offer the viewers better choices.

Jethro

November 27th, 2010
7:49 am

Detroit 1-8-7 is a good show and would have a much better chance of survival if it moved to Wednesday.

jake's mom

November 27th, 2010
10:09 am

I hope THE GOOD GUYS finds an audience…LOVE it!!!

Clint

November 27th, 2010
12:09 pm

Chase is good, but it’s the same story every week with a new person running. I mean, how many killing sprees can go on across Texas? I’m still watching it, but they need some different storylines and fast.

AUfan

November 27th, 2010
12:59 pm

Justified on FX is the best show on tv. Plain and simple.

Honestly

November 27th, 2010
1:25 pm

I am a huge fan of NBC’s “The Event”, but the upcoming hiatus from Nov 29th to Feb 28th make absolutely no sense.

Answer me This

November 27th, 2010
7:35 pm

HAHAHAHAHA……TV. Why don’t some of you lunk heads read a book instead of complaining whats on TV.

Cecee

November 28th, 2010
3:42 am

“Nikita,” which airs on the CW on Thursday nights, is my new fave of the season. I am still upset that “Undercovers” did not last; it was an amazing show and I loved seeing two Black characters as leads. Hawaii Five-O is also a good new one for me and I hope it lasts. Law & Order: Los Angeles, is another fave of mine. I love ALL of the Law & Orders, but SVU rocks!! I hear that “Medium” ends in January, and I am soooooo disappointed already. Why is it that the truly great TV shows and series never last as long as they should??? I hate that good shows get canceled and these other crappy shows are still surviving. We do NOT need anymore cop/detective shows; the ones that are on now should be the lasts of the bunch!!! Whatever happened to creativity? Everyone is trying to be the next Dick Wolf (Law & Order originator)!!!

traci

November 28th, 2010
9:00 am

@Answer me this – Hilarious – but true! READ A BOOK!

TV programming is now a consequence of what reality TV has done to the entertainment industry. If a TV show doesn’t give instant ratings – they are given up on and sent to the trash bin.

Before the writers strike – before this “fake reality” trash hit the TV – shows were given time to grow. I recall that NBC’s E.R. was not an instant hit – but grew to be phenomenal
NCIS was not a hit, it took a long time to grow on people. I am sure that there are other TV shows that people can chime in on.

NBC has 2 hits it just cancelled. Undercovers and Outlaw. The shows are better than some of the other junk on TV – but not instant ratings hits. Stop having a “hair trigger” – realize the game has changed. People have other choices now –Twitter, Facebook, XBOX – Hulu.com, Food Network.

People used to sit around the TV waiting for shows to come on. THE WRITERS STRIKE – taught us all to find something else to do with our time — AND we DID. —– start using other marketing — to get us to come back.

P.S. stop hyping the shows like they are the last TV show to ever air in this millennium, and then 5 weeks later cancel it. I finally started getting into The Event, UnderCovers, and Outlaw – only to find out you pulled the plug on them.

I am not watching NBC puts on anymore.

dagadawgs

November 29th, 2010
7:09 am

PR

November 26th, 2010
2:46 pm
How can anyone watch “Outsourced” when it deals with U.S. jobs being sent overseas. It just shows how out of touch the american viewing public is with today’s problems. Thousands of U.S. jobs were sent to India and yet people watch a show about it and laugh. Sad comment on america’s TV viewing.

AMEN!!!!!

amazed

November 30th, 2010
2:53 pm

The best dramas and comedies can be found in Shakespeare and Homer.

DY

November 30th, 2010
7:14 pm

Who has time to watch TV anyway?

gerri

December 1st, 2010
1:19 am

This is a great show, most people in the southern region of georgia can identify with this couple, right white people??