Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Network Report Cards '08, II: Fox

So, are you a glass-is-half-full type of TV viewer, or glass-is-half-empty?

Because, depending on which you are, will no doubt influence your view of Fox's year.

WHAT WAS GOOD: Fox brought us the top-rated show of the season ("American Idol") and the second-best rated drama ("House"). "House" delivered some of the best episodes of its run, including the Super Bowl night episode with Mira Sorvino and the devastating two-part season finale. As it has during the Mike Darnell era, Fox continues to dominate ratings-wise with reality fare such as "The Moment of Truth" and "Hell's Kitchen," not worrying about pesky things like good taste.

"Prison Break" inexplicably earned yet another season as well as a spinoff, and "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" brought in decent numbers for its debut. And remember, Fox was handcuffed by not airing "24" this season because of the strike, which is usually a ratings-earner. Its Sunday animation block is solid if unspectacular.

WHAT WAS BAD: Well, see above. When "The Moment of Truth" is the 13th-best rated show of the season, you know something is wrong, at least with the American viewing public. The much-hyped "Back To You," with Emmy winners Kelsey Grammar and Patricia Heaton, flopped. After its launch was pushed back to midseason, "New Amsterdam" was solid creatively but failed to find an audience. The usually dependable "Bones" was a bit of a mess creatively after the strike. "Canterbury's Law" came out flat and fizzled away quickly.

OVERALL: It's kind of tough to judge Fox without "24." It's a bit like watching the Braves play without Chipper Jones: They still might win, but they are playing without their heavy hitter. Fox seems more committed than ever to reality programming over dramatic programming, not a good sign for the TV audience but very good for the network's bottom line. On the creative front, I was pretty underwhelmed by most of Fox's dramatic shows, with the exceptions of "House" and "Terminator." It'll be interesting to see where Fox goes from here.

GRADE: C+. I may not like the programming, but it's hard to argue the numbers.


TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Well, the aforementioned "Moment of Truth" and "Hell's Kitchen" are new tonight on Fox, so I guess this is a good night if you are into the reality programming.

A much higher class of reality airs on Fox's sister network, as filmmaker Morgan Spurlock returns with "30 Days" (FX, 10 p.m.)


zodin2008 said...

First, I always support a Chipper Jones reference in any blog!

And I agree with you on your grade, I might split my grades for each of the networks, this way, to make it clearer:


Programming content - C-
Ratings Performance - A-

This more accurately reflects things. They got the ratings, but they won ratings, let's face it, on the backs of several shows that don't deserve any audience. "The Moment of Truth" makes "Joe Millionaire" look like "Mash".

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, when I was in school, you got one grade. And while Fox was the ratings champ again, shows like American Idol saw their lowest numbers ever this season, which is why they didn't get into the B-range.