Category: Friday Night Lights (Page 2 of 6)

Friday night — where good shows go to die

In theory, Fox had a solid idea. Pair Joss Whedon’s new hour-long drama, “Dollhouse,” with “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” to create a male-skewing sci-fi block on Friday night. They’ve had success on Friday’s in the past with sci-fi; “The X-Files” flourished there (or at least paid for itself) for several years. But The Live Feed reports that ratings for both shows were a disappointment.

The series premiere of Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse” was seen by 4.7 million viewers Friday night and garnered a 2.0 preliminary adults 18-49 rating and 6 share. It was beaten in the 9 p.m. hour by ABC’s “Supernanny” (6.1 million viewers, 2.2/7) and is the lowest-rated scripted series premiere on a major broadcast network this season aside from NBC’s now-defunct “Crusoe.”

“Dollhouse” was paired with the midseason return of “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (3.7 million, 1.3/5), which was shifted from its previous Monday post. “Terminator” came in third place in the hour and hit a series low (by like 27%). “Terminator” beat NBC’s “Howie Do It” (3.9 million, 1.2/4), but not by much. Both “Ghost Whisperer” (10.3 million, 2.4/8) and “Wife Swap” (4.3 million, 1.5/5) did better.

I thought “Dollhouse” had a pretty solid premiere, but I was by no means blown away. The premise is interesting — that there’s a business that can reprogram “dolls” to become whatever its clients need. In the premiere, Echo (Eliza Dushku), started out as a party girl meant to entertain a rich playboy, but was reprogrammed to become an expert in kidnapping scenarios. Dushku looks great in a dress, but was a little stiff when she was trying to convince the father of a kidnapped girl that she was the right person for the job. I’m not sure that she’s the right one to carry the series, though future episodes will decide this. Stepping back a bit, I’m not sure how some viewers may react to seeing this pretty girl having her brain wiped at least once per episode. If the heroine doesn’t have some consistent character traits week-to-week, she may be tough to relate to.

I’ve liked “Terminator” all along, and I’m surprised that it is struggling in the ratings. I suppose this has to do with the collective attention span of fans of the movie series. Maybe stringing out a serialized plot over 20+ episodes is just too slow of a pace for those that fell in love with the action-packed “Terminator” films. This is a perfect example of a series that should have a 13-episode season, like many of the series on HBO, Showtime, FX and TNT. Shorter seasons means a compact season-long story arc and no filler, which is the main reason that a series loses viewership. When people get bored they naturally move on.

Another Friday show that is dying a slow death is “Friday Night Lights.” It consistently scored in the 4.0-5.0 range in its first season, and that fell to the 3.0-4.0 range in its second foray. Now, after premiering on DirecTV this fall, the show is garnering ratings in the 2.2-2.8 range as NBC runs the episodes for the non-DirecTV folks. Is this enough to keep this stellar show on the air for another season? Only the big-wigs at DirecTV and NBC know for sure, but given the state of the economy, it would be surprising if it were granted a fourth season.

“Kyle XY” canceled, “Leverage” renewed, “Friday Night Lights” ratings reports that ABC Family has elected not to renew “Kyle XY” for a fourth season, but did pick up “Lincoln Heights” and “Greek” for additional seasons.

The news of Kyle XY’s cancellation first hit the Web via a report from’s Michael Ausiello, who believes that Kyle’s slumping ratings may have done it in. The show, ABC Family’s first original program, was one of the main reasons ABC Family has turned itself into a promising off-shoot of Disney and ABC. But now with other ABC Family shows–such as The Secret Life of the American Teenager–raising the bar, it appears that Kyle XY is the odd-man out.

I didn’t watch “Kyle XY,” but this has to be heartbreaking news to fans of the show. “Greek” makes for good summer viewing, so I’m happy to see it was picked up for another season.

In other news, TNT renewed “Leverage” for a 15-episode second season.

The early-December debut of Leverage drew an impressive 5.6 million viewers, and over its first nine episodes has averaged 3.2 million viewers.

“Leverage” has been sailing along, though it is pretty unbelievable at times. It has a sense of humor and doesn’t really take itself too seriously (except when it takes itself too seriously). The characters are diverse and strong, and though the humor can be a little “shticky” at times, it’s a pretty funny show.

“Friday Night Lights” fans have to be wondering how the ratings have been since the show debuted on NBC. Well, the show averaged 4.17 million viewers over its first three episodes, which is down from 5.61 million last season. Michael Ausiello says that the show “will be back provided all (or most) of the 4.6 million people that tuned in for last Friday’s season premiere … stick around for the entire season. And they’d be fools not to.”

Hopefully, “Friday Night Lights” can stay above the 4.0 million level so that NBC is getting enough out of the show to continue to co-own the rights with DirecTV.

It’s time to set your TiVos…

There are a number of new (and returning) shows making their season debuts this month. Here is a list of the scripted shows that premiere in the next two weeks (through 1/19):

1/6/09 at 9:00 PM & 9:30 PM
8th season premiere

1/6/09 at 10:00 PM
5th season winter premiere

1/6/09 at 11:00 PM
3rd season premiere

1/7/09 at 10:00 PM
2nd season premiere

1/9/09 at 9:00 PM
2nd season premiere

1/9/09 at 9:00 PM
7th season winter premiere

1/9/09 at 10:00 PM
3rd season winter premiere

24 (FOX)
1/11/09 at 8:00 PM
7th season premiere – special night and time

1/12/09 at 9:00 PM
3rd season premiere

1/15/09 at 10:00 PM
(from A&E’s press release, November 2008) A&E Network will premiere the original scripted drama series, “The Beast” on January 15th at 10PM ET/PT. “The Beast,” starring Patrick Swayze and Travis Fimmel, centers on an unorthodox but effective FBI veteran, Charles Barker (Swayze), who takes on a rookie partner, Ellis Dove (Fimmel), to train in his hard-edged and psychologically clever style of agenting. In the premiere episode of “The Beast,” the mischievous Barker hazes Dove as they go undercover on their first case to infiltrate a weapons smuggling ring. Barker brilliantly manipulates situations, constantly tests his new partner’s abilities and pushes him to delve deeper into the roles of the undercover characters he creates. Although Dove takes a liking to Barker, the new job takes its toll on him. The stress and danger of being an agent quickly makes him realize that he can no longer maintain normal relationships outside of work. Yet that’s not the worst of it. The rookie is confronted with a larger challenge: An FBI Internal Affairs team feels Barker may have gone rogue and they try to enlist Dove as a double-agent in the bureau’s investigation of his mentor.

1/16/09 at 9:00 PM
3rd season premiere
(Note: I’ve been watching this season and it’s as good as it has ever been.)

1/16/09 at 10:00 PM
4th season winter premiere
(Note: Be sure to check back for our weekly blog of the final season.)

1/18/09 at 9:00 PM
5th season premiere

1/18/09 at 9:00 PM
3rd season premiere

1/18/09 at 10:00 PM
2nd season premiere

1/18/09 at 10:00 PM
(from Showtime’s press release, June 2008) Showtime Networks has fast-tracked the pickup of THE UNITED STATES OF TARA, a new 12 episode half-hour comedy series starring Academy Award(R)-nominated actress Toni Collette (“Little Miss Sunshine”) as a wife and mother who suffers from disassociative identity (formerly multiple personality) disorder, it was announced today by Robert Greenblatt, President of Entertainment for Showtime. The comedy series, a co-production of Dreamworks Television and Showtime Networks, will delve into how a dysfunctional family, including Tara’s working husband played by John Corbett (“Sex and the City”), copes with the various identities that may appear on any given day and range in age, temperament and even gender.

1/18/09 at 10:30 PM
2nd season premiere
(Note: I’ve seen the first few episodes of the second season and there was no fall off.)

Check back on 1/19/09 and we’ll have another list of debuting shows for you. If you can’t wait, the Futon Critic has a complete list of January premieres.

2008: The Year in TV – Jeff Giles


1. “Lost,” ABC

After two seasons of listening to viewers bitch about everything from too many characters to plots not moving fast enough, the “Lost” writers whomped us all over the head with a run of episodes that was better than anything fans had seen since Season One. Many of the show’s most important riddles were answered – or at least what we thought were its most important riddles, because now there’s a whole new list of them to answer. Not even that damn writers’ strike was enough to put much of a dent in this season of “Lost” — and not even the new Fray single playing in the background is enough to keep us from geeking out over the Season Five promos that ABC recently started airing.

2. “The Office,” NBC
Few network shows – and zero sitcoms – have played as fast and loose with their casts as “The Office”; whether it’s Oscar going on “gaycation,” Andy entering anger management counseling, Jim transferring to Stamford, Toby fleeing to Costa Rica, or Pam wandering off to art school in New York, you never know who’s going to move off-canvas for a spell – kind of like your actual workplace environment. It’s this grounding – along with one of the best casts and some of the strongest comedy writing on television – that helps keep “The Office” from getting stale, and allows it to transcend such stereotypically show-killing plot devices as the star-crossed couple (in this case, Jim and Pam) that finally gets together. Of course, it helps when said couple isn’t even the hottest pairing on the show: this season, Dwight and Angela’s secret warehouse liaisons have proven that even a Second Life-playing, beet-farming paper salesman can get his mojo rising every once in awhile.

3. “Friday Night Lights,” DirecTV
Unless you have DirecTV, you haven’t seen any of “FNL’s” third season – and you won’t until early 2009, under the terms of a unique cost-sharing deal that saved the show from cancellation…for now, anyway. It certainly remains to be seen how non-DTV fans of the show will deal with this arrangement – if, for instance, they’ve managed to keep from spoiling the entire season in advance with recaps posted on the Web – or whether NBC will deign to promote content that’s already aired elsewhere. In the meantime, however, here’s what we can tell you: the third season of “Friday Night Lights” packs all of the addictive small-town drama and pulse-pounding gridiron action of Season One, minus the unwelcome addition of stupidly soapy ingredients that weakened Season Two (in other words, nobody’s throwing any bodies off bridges). We’ll be very surprised if “FNL” returns for a fourth season – on any network – but we’ve still got our fingers crossed.

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“Mad Men” tops Bullz-Eye’s 2008 TV Power Rankings

TV Power Rankings 2008

It’s been nine months since the writers’ strike shook up the entertainment industry – forcing some shows to shut down production for the rest of the season and leaving others to scramble for survival – and television still isn’t the same. Many of our favorite shows have yet to return to form (here’s looking at you “Heroes”), while some (like Power Rankings newcomer and new #1, “Mad Men”) have risen to the occasion and helped fill the void. If there’s any pattern to this year’s TV Power Rankings, however, it’s that there is none. While NBC’s reign in the top 10 continues, a dozen of the 20 shows below didn’t make the cut last year, and nine of those 12 are making their Power Rankings debut (“The Shield,” “The Daily Show” and “Family Guy” have popped up in previous editions). Still think the writers’ strike didn’t have a lasting effect? Think again.

Below you’ll find some sample entries, but be sure to check out the full list, where you’ll also find links to DVD reviews and interviews, as well as some Honorable Mentions and our list of favorite shows currently on hiatus.

1. Mad Men

In any sane world, Matthew Weiner’s “Mad Men” would not be on any “power ranking,” much less in the #1 spot. This supremely stylish drama about the alcohol-soaked, nicotine-stained, sexual harassment and adultery-friendly lives of early ‘60s advertising execs started out as a low-profile curiosity from a former member of the writing staff of “The Sopranos.” Still, with some help from ecstatic reviews and the Emmys, the show has emerged as first-class appointment TV and a launch pad for at least one potential superstar in Jon Hamm. As the metaphysically secretive Don Draper, Hamm knocks back too many Old Fashioneds while casually invoking the sort of grown-up masculine charisma of classic era film stars Gregory Peck and William Holden. Better yet, Season Two saw the show’s large and very strong cast of supporting characters become even stronger and more layered as the subject matter grew bolder. A semi-surreal late-season left turn with a roving band of wealthy Euro-bohemians was just the tip of the iceberg as rape, nuclear annihilation, religion and the meaning of existence were broached, with vaguely disturbing yet highly entertaining and sexy results. “Mad Men” cannot be pegged, and that’s the best thing about it.

11. How I Met Your Mother

We were close. We were so damned close. Creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas had teased us for three years, but we were sure that Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) had finally found the mother of his kids in Stella Zinman (Sarah Chalke). Of course, as we now know, we were wrong, but it was a hell of a ride getting there. Last season, “How I Met Your Mother” found the largest audience of its history as a result of scoring a pair of guest appearances by the superstar train wreck that is Britney Spears. And, even more impressively, she was really funny. Greeted with these new viewers, the series rose to the challenge of keeping them on, offering us Ted and Stella’s courtship, Robin’s rebound relationships, Marshall looking for work, Lily dealing with her credit crisis, and Barney banging as many babes as possible. We’re still not sure about this new wrinkle that Barney’s pining for Robin, but we trust that Bays and Thomas won’t turn it into a jump-the-shark situation. Or if they do, they’ll do it with a knowing wink and a smile.

17. Sons of Anarchy

If you took all the best parts of “The Sopranos” and “The Shield” and smashed them into one show, you’d have something that looks a lot like “Sons of Anarchy.” Created by “The Shield” co-writer and executive producer Kurt Sutter, the series is more Shakespearean than anything on television. It’s essentially a retelling of “Hamlet,” but instead of Danish royalty, they’re a California biker gang. There’s Jax (Charlie Hunnam), the second-in-command; his mother, Gemma (Katey Sagal), the very definition of a queen bee; and his step dad Clay (Ron Perlman), the club’s hard-nosed president and best friend of Jax’s deceased father. Heck, there’s even an Ophelia in the group – Wendy (“The Sopranos” alum Drea de Matteo), the drug-addicted mother of Jax’s newborn son. The theme of family and brotherhood is something that was explored in great length in both “The Sopranos” and “The Shield,” and it’s the driving force behind “Sons of Anarchy.” Add to that a supporting cast made up of some of the best tough guy character actors in the business (Tommy Flanagan, Mark Boone Junior and Kim Coates) and a multi-episode guest stint by Jay Karnes and you’re looking at a top nominee for Best New Show of the Season.

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