Viewers ignore networks' new TV shows

Thu Mar 27, 2008 1:53am EDT
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By James Hibberd

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - It's been a midseason muddle for the broadcast networks.

Most of the 10 comedies and dramas launched in the last three months, such as NBC's high-profile Internet pickup "quarterlife" and Fox's Julianna Margulies drama "Canterbury's Law," struck out with viewers.

The resumption of regular programming, as the industry slowly ramps up production following the 100-day writers strike, cannot come soon enough for the networks.

The walkout, which ended six weeks ago, transformed the TV schedule into a barren landscape of low-rated reruns and reality shows, not the best platform to promote new scripted offerings.

Midseason often is reserved for rolling out questionable shows that didn't make the networks' cut for fall. Some shows do find an audience, such as ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," NBC's "Medium" and CBS' "Rules of Engagement." And Fox has regularly held off promising new entries to launch around midseason heavyweights "American Idol" and "24."

This season, the midseason scripted batting average has been modest: CBS took one bite at the apple with the February comedy "Welcome to the Captain." Airing amid repeats of its Monday night comedy block, "Captain" was sunk after five episodes.

NBC yanked "quarterlife" after a single episode in January. Soon after, the network debuted "Lipstick Jungle," which has limped along Thursday nights with a season average of 6.7 million viewers.

ABC debuted "Miss Guided" after "Dancing With the Stars" last Tuesday. The sitcom averaged 9.3 million viewers, losing 7.7 million from its lead-in. When moved to its regular Thursday slot, the series dropped to a 6.3 million viewers. The drama "Eli Stone," which airs against "Lipstick," has given lukewarm returns with a 8.6 million viewers. Still, ABC is creatively pleased with the show, and "Stone" looks likely to return next season.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Julianna Margulies gestures at the panel for the FOX television series "Canterbury's Law" at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills, California July 23, 2007. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>