Monday, December 11, 2006

Report Cards I: Alphabet Soup

It's been an interesting fall for ABC, the network that refuses to add me to its critics' list.

The network would likely spin it is as a successful season, pointing out that the ABC was No. 1 in the ratings in the coveted 18-49 age group bracket.

But with ABC, for every good thing that happened, something bad seemed to always follow.

THE GOOD: ABC is still a contender for No. 1, with a roster that includes "Desperate Housewives," "Lost" and its top show, "Grey's Anatomy." ABC also scored a major success on the reality front with "Dancing With the Stars." And of the new shows, "Ugly Betty" has been among the best of any network both critically and commercially. Even "Brothers and Sisters," which came into the season looking like a disaster, has seemed to find a home on Sundays.

THE BAD: "The Nine," one of the most anticipated new shows of the fall season, never found a ratings home and is gone. So is the heavily hyped new show, "Day Break." "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" have both seen ratings decline, and the latter show has been in a creative slump for two years now. "Men in Trees" is getting mediocre ratings, and "Six Degrees" never caught an audience. "Help Me Help You" needs a lot of help, period.

THE UGLY: ABC has totally mismanaged Wednesday nights, an area it once dominated. Not only has the network seen "Lost" slip into a tie in its timeslot with CBS' "Criminal Minds," but it also has hurt all of the shows around it.

ABC is practically giving up on the night when the winter season starts up by moving "Lost" to 10 p.m. so it doesn't have to face Fox's "American Idol." Instead, it will load up the 8-10 hours with sitcoms, one of which, "Knights of Prosperity," had a lot of positive buzz but will likely die a quick death in the 9 p.m. slot. And with "Lost" not returning until Feb. 7, it's going to kill a lot of momentum the show had.

Creatively, "Desperate Housewives" is a mess and largely unwatchable. "Grey's Anatomy" made more headlines with its soap opera off the air than it did with the soap opera on the air. "Brothers and Sisters" has had solid ratings numbers, but they appear to be built on quicksand - it's losing a lot of its "DH" lead-in.

OUTLOOK: Folks, ABC is looking a lot like NBC was about three years ago when it was in first place, and NBC is now a third or fourth place network. Bringing "Lost" back earlier than February would be a start in the right direction. GRADE: C+

MONDAY'S BEST BET: A couple of treats this holiday season.

While I was on the road last week, I wasn't able to plug "Eleventh Hour" on BBC America (9 p.m.) Starring Patrick Stewart as a government scientist and Ashley Jensen ("Ugly Betty") as his assistant/bodyguard, the show follows scientific mysteries in Britain. Last week involved illegal human cloning attempts; this week's installment is about a deadly outbreak. It's a show worth catching if you can.

Also tonight is the first of a three-part miniseries called "The Lost Room" (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.) It stars Peter Krause as a detective investigating a murder at a pawn shop, where he finds a key to a mysterious hotel room. Julianna Margulies also stars. The series will continue with episodes on Tuesday and Wednesday.


Zodin2008 said...

I have yet to watch the recording of "The Lost Room" I have but I am more excited to see my recording of "Sleeper Cell"; I watch "Sleeper" season 1 on DVD this Summer and it was one of the most gritty and authentic looks at Islamic Fundamentalism and sleeper cells I have ever seen.

As for ABC, they clearly have some furry animals making their creative and scheduling decisions. Most critics like Matt Roush seem to be praising the "Lost" move to 10 PM, I am not going to praise it because ABC screwed it up in the first place and I am simply not happy to have another show I have to stay up late in the East coast for.

Phillip Ramati said...

ABC has struggled ever since it got rid of Lloyd Braun as president. I wonder about many of their decisions.

I haven't seen "Lost Room" yet either (will likely wait til the weekend) but "Eleventh Hour" is worth your while.