Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Meditations on an emergency

While I try to distract myself from the growing possibility that my newspaper might cease to exist by January, let's take a look at some notable recent developments in that magical place we call TV land...

• TNT has renewed both "Raising the Bar" and "Saving Grace." While the press release about the renewals noted that "Raising" is averaging 5.5 million viewers per episode three weeks into the series, that's factoring in the basic cable record debut audience of 7.7 million viewers. The most recent episode averaged about 4.2 million.

• In other quick renewal news, HBO has ordered another season of "True Blood" after only two episodes have aired. The second episode drew about 1.8 million viewers, which was up considerably from the premiere (second item), but is still way down from the glory years HBO shows. (Insert obligatory disclaimer about how "Sopranos" and "Sex and the City" began in a universe without multiplexed HBO channels, On Demand, DVRs, etc., where virtually everyone watched each episode when it first aired.)

• Not surprisingly, ratings for "Fringe" were way up with "House" as a lead-in: from 9 million viewers last week to more than 13 million last night, retaining 92 percent of the "House" audience.Some of that retention is fake -- as people complained about, "House" ran a couple of minutes past 9, which artificially inflates the average of that first half-hour, but retention from 9 to 9:30 was still at about 90 percent. Even if you assume that all of the 9-9:30 number is a result of "House" running long, and that the 9:30-10 number is the true audience, "Fringe" still retained 83 percent of the people who were watching "House." You have to essentially consider this the real series premiere, based on the additional sampling, so we won't know for another week or two how many people intend to stick around for a while.

Entertainment Weekly says that the CW has approached the reps for three of the "90210" actresses -- Shenae Grimes, Jessica Stroup and AnnaLynne McCord -- about packing a few pounds onto their skeletal frames. I've been reluctant to say much about this in my reviews of the new show, but nearly everyone who comments on the show, either here or elsewhere, can't help but bring it up. As with Calista and Lara Flynn Boyle at the height of the David E. Kelley era of dominance in the late '90s, it's impossible to not notice it, unfortunately.

• Speaking of "90210," week three ratings were down to 3.3 million viewers, which is decent by the CW's low standards, but below Monday night's best-ever "Gossip Girl" numbers of 3.7 million. The goal for the CW this year was to translate the "Gossip Girl" buzz into actual viewership, and to then build on that show's audience with "90210," which on paper would combine teen viewers and nostalgic 20 and 30somethings. Phase one looks like a success; phase two, we'll see.

(Many links courtesy of the invaluable TV Tattle.)

And now back to watching revised pilots and season premieres (and trying not to pay attention to the Recent Unpleasantness here).

24 comments:

LA said...

From someone whose department is about to be outsourced, I feel for you Alan. Hang in there.

dez said...

Definitely hang in there, Alan. I'm positive that no matter what happens, you'll land on your feet!

Re: 90210: Are they telling Shenae's people to rein in her ego, too? ;-)

Nicole said...

Hopefully this is just management posturing so I'm hoping for the best for you.

As for the super skinny 90210 girls, I am surprised that the network actually said something about it, but they do all look skinnier than the Gossip Girl actresses and have the big head syndrome. I doubt they will actually gain weight and instead will probably just cover up more. It is scary to see how much thinner they are than the original 90210 girls and had those beanpoles been on in my formative years, I would probably have been slightly depressed at the impossibly skinny standard.

Bobman said...

First, best of luck with the paper. I wish there were a way for you to make considerable money just on this blog, as it is an invaluable addition to my TV viewing and I tell pretty much every television fan I know about it.

As for the thin 90210 girls, I havent' watched the show, but I did see Annalynn McCord on Craig Ferguson last week, and she is hella thin. But she also claims to never drink (surprising for a hot 21-year old actress) and be super-healthy, so... While I certainly don't agree with perpetuating eating disorders amongst young girls, what we really want is HEALTHY people and we should try not to demonize someone who seems to actually be healthy just because they also are waifish.

Chris said...

Alan, I read about the S-L on Romenesko and cringed while thinking of what it might mean for you. I hope something is done to keep you guys afloat. Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully this is just the union posturing so I'm hoping for the best for you.

Toby said...

No matter how this plays out by January, Alan, I wish you all the best.

With the internet, so many TV critcs and columnists who lost their gigs are still to be found, still have a voice out there.

The trick is to make it pay.

I'm sure you'll find a way to make this work for you!

Christopher said...

Scary thought about January Alan. I'm quite new to the blog but I've found your writing charming and dedication to the tube's stories quite passionate. Take this quote from Leo in the West Wing, hope it brightens your perspective:

This guy's walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out. A doctor passes by, and the guy shouts up, "Hey, you, can you help me out?" The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along, and the guy shouts up, "Father, I'm down in this hole. Can you help me out?" The priest writes a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by. "Hey, Joe, it's me. Can you help me Out" And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, "Are you nuts? Now we're both down here." The friend says, "Yeah, but I've been down here before - and I know the way out".

Sarah said...

Alan, I love your blog and your insight. I really hope everything works out okay for you.

Karl Ruben said...

I'll add my voice to the support chorus here; I hope the Star-Ledger continues operation, since any newspaper employing such a fine critic must be doing lots of other things right. Your blog and columns are a much valued side dish to my daily TV consumption, thank you so much for that.

joy said...

I saw that news yesterday - pretty scary stuff. I hope it works out for you. I'm sort of not worried, because you're way too good not to land someplace even better than before.

As for Raising the Bar, I'm quite amazed that TNT has *lowered* their bar. This show had the honor of being the first show cut from my roster this year. And, I'm the one who usually holds out til the bitter end.

renton said...

I, too, wish the best for you.

But if needed, I'm willing to pay a subscription fee to keep the blog going.

Byron said...

I'd pay a subscription fee as well. I doubt you could live off subscriptions, but it might keep it worth your while to maintain the blog in addition to whatever other job you'd have to get.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you put ads on your blog? I know blogspot/blogger offers that service. You might find out you have even more readers than you thought!

Pamela Jaye said...

If I could remember the name of the guy from Journeyman, I'd suggest that he save the paper, but of course the actor is off getting into someone's scrubs by now, I'm sure.

(of course if it wasn't so darned hard to sign upto comment on the SL's page you would see more of us that those "motivated" Moonlight fans (there). Not that that would change anything of course.

Aside from that - something else unpleasant happened lately?
I meant to read Mad Men on Monday and I don't think I did, so now I'm *two* sets of blogs and comments behind.

(and yesterday I went to user group meeting for software I've never even seen, just to do something remotely job search related (one of the group runners suggested I download a trial and gave me the names of some of the company's local "partners" (then i came home and fell into a coma for about 3 hours)))

Kate said...

I haven't read up on it yet, but I am quite sad to find out that the Star-Ledger is in peril! I spent most of my formative years in New Jersey and the S-L was the paper of choice in my household, with my parents nicknaming your strongest competition "The Daily Retched." Being in Ohio now, I love continuing to read everything you post on this blog, as it's a little slice of home for me, and it is always insightful (and I generally agree with your assessments). I hope this blog doesn't fall by the wayside, should something happen to the paper. I will keep my fingers crossed for you and our beloved Star-Ledger!

Tim Masterson said...

All the best, Alan. I hope things work out.


Have you heard anything else about David Simon and Manhunt?

EOTW said...

HBO is completely dead in every sense of the word.

KC said...

As a S-L subscriber that news has been a double bummer. I always felt it was important to support print newspapers (even if the delivery guy normally throws mine in a puddle every day).

Hard to see how a state with 9million people can't work up enough support to keep one state paper. Sad, how the world has shifted. I would pay more for my subscription so all those dedicated people could keep their jobs.

Anonymous said...

Best of luck to you Alan. Along the lines of what KC said, it's hard to imagine that a paper like the Ledger could be in trouble considering it is the dominant paper in the state. Sad news, but I hope it works out for you and all the other dedicated journalists on the staff. Losing the Ledger would create a major void for a lot of people.

Jenn. said...

(1) You are my favorite TV critic, bar none, so I definitely wish you well.

(2) Raising the Bar never made it to my TIVO list, the first TNT original series not to get even a token look from me. I just jettisoned Fringe.

Linda said...

Without knowing anything about this situation, and understanding that the circumstances are obviously serious, it wouldn't be the first labor dispute to raise the spectre of "we'll just shut the whole thing down if we don't get concessions" without that actually happening. I continue to hold out hope that that won't happen, but if it does, somebody's going to throw a lasso around you on your way out the door. Not a substitute for staying where you're happy, I know, but better than not having a place to write.

Kate said...

I'd pay a subscription fee too, especially since I didn't realize how much I looked forward to reading your Wire Season One reviews till we started Season Two. Every episode I think about what would be in Alan's Wire review . . . and what the comments would focus on . . .

Oh well, we're still enjoying it (and the blog) very, very much.

alm8319 said...

ads, subscriptions, bake sale. Alan, you'll be surprised at what people will pay for. i remember when it was crazy to pay for espn.com insider service, but i've been paying for about 7 years now.