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.
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog