Before the season began, there were two big questions, mostly stemming from promotional materials: Would The X Factor fill the Idol void, and would Terra Nova debut big, justifying all of the cash Fox dumped into it? You might notice both of these shows are on Fox, and both questions assume that these shows must become super-hits, not regular old hits. That's a dangerous position for a network to be in, as pretty much nothing is going to live up to expectations, short of debuting to 28 million viewers, like Two And A Half Men did.
All of this is a long, round-about way of saying that while Terra Nova debuted well, pulling a modest number to start off the two hour broadcast and then largely holding that number (while growing in the demo from a 3.0 to a 3.1), it wasn't nearly enough to immediately announce the show as an outsized hit. Indeed, the show's viewership numbers (9.025 million for the first hour and 8.97 million for the second hour) couldn't match the big science fiction debuts of the last two years, The Event (10.88 million viewers) or FlashForward (12.47 million viewers, though that, at least, had a cushier time slot). If Terra Nova can hold on those numbers or improve them, it'll be marked as a success for Fox (and probably renewed), but it will never be the blockbuster the premise (time travel! dinosaurs!) or producer (Steven Spielberg!) would suggest.
The other network debuting its Monday night lineup last night was The CW, which once again wheeled out the rapidly decaying corpse of Gossip Girl and made us all pretend to still think it was relevant like it was back in the heady days of Aught-7. Grabbing 1.41 million viewers (down from last season's 1.83 million for the debut, to say nothing of when the show used to grab around 3.5 million for season premieres) and an 0.8 in the demo, Gossip Girl did pretty well for the network it's on (particularly in the demo), but it's clearly a show that's exhausted whatever cachet it once had with the general public. Hart Of Dixie, the new Rachel Bilson small town dramedy, ended up being a nice surprise for the network, however, matching Gossip Girl's 0.8 but also grabbing 1.78 million viewers. Like Secret Circle, this might end up being a nice fit for the network.
Also of interest: The return of comedy (which has now been confirmed by Deadline and is, thus, a real thing and not just something we've made up) continued, as all of CBS' comedies posted very good numbers. How I Met Your Mother (10.56 million viewers and a 4.4), 2 Broke Girls (11.58 million viewers and a 4.5), Two And A Half Men, (20.03 million viewers and a 7.2), and Mike & Molly (13.98 million viewers and a 4.9) were all down from what they did last week (well, Mike was down from what 2 Broke Girls did in the same time slot last week), but they were still so huge that CBS is sure to not care. In particular, that's the largest number Mike & Molly has ever grabbed, and 2 Broke Girls actually built on its lead-in, which is always a good thing for a show starting at the half-hour. For now, at least, CBS has to be very happy with this night. (Hawaii Five-0 continues to be the "weak link," only considered weak for CBS, with 11.06 million viewers and a 3.3 in the demo. That's still good enough to win the 10 p.m. hour in the demo, however.)
ABC pulled its usual good numbers for Dancing With The Stars (15.73 million viewers and a 3.1 in the first hour, followed by 16.31 million viewers and a 3.4 in the second hour) and Castle (11.9 million viewers and a 2.9). The real problem area, as always, was NBC, which somehow fell from last week's abysmal Monday numbers, suggesting the network may as well just keep airing all of its shittily performing shows, ride football for all its worth, and hold on until January, when it can shake things up a bit. Both The Sing-Off (4.39 million viewers and a 1.7) and Playboy Club (3.91 million viewers and a 1.3) continued to bomb, and TV By The Numbers reports that NBC is actually getting beaten by Univision. So there you go. Every fall, it seems like NBC has nowhere to go but up; every fall, they find new ways to fail. So… good on that, NBC!
The world of cable started sending ratings information trickling our way as well, and here are a few quick highlights:
- Boardwalk Empire was down from the heavily-promoted pilot episode last year (how could it not have been?), but it also was down from last fall's season finale, suggesting the waters may be choppier for the show this year. Just four of season one's episodes pulled a lower viewership number than the second season premiere's 2.91 million viewers. Granted, HBO is far less concerned about ratings than pretty much any other network not named Showtime, but that's still got to be of concern.
- Comedy Central apparently had its best week ever last week, thanks to the Charlie Sheen roast, the returns of Tosh.0 and Workaholics, and a, uh, Jeff Dunham stand-up special (which drew 5.5 million viewers). It was the number one network in all of television among 18-24-year-old males, according to a network press release. Way to prop up the Dunham empire, young men!
- Finally, Breaking Bad continues to bubble along, though the Sunday night chaos dropped the series to a lower rating for what was one of its best episodes ever. It pulled in 1.55 million viewers and an 0.7 in the demo. (That demo number is lower than Gossip Girl's, for comparison and also to make you weep.)
And now let us know how you'd like these reports to work going forward! We're nearing the end of premiere season, so we're considering dropping these back to a once-weekly thing, or we could pick a show at random and analyze its performance each day or… whatever you like. Let us know what you'd like to see more or less of. Thanks!