Critical Acclaim Does Not Equal Ratings

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August 20th, 2008

I'm not on the rampage against television critics just because I'm put out by not getting the first three episode DVD preview of Gossip Girl. OK, I'm kidding about being put out by missing out on the Gossip Girl preview. I'm not a television critic, I am not a member of the TCA (Television Critics Association) and when I see the hell some of these folks subject themselves to, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to be one.

But some of my favorite people on the Internet are TV critics, from Aaron Barnhart to the vacationing Tim Goodman to James Hibberd to Mo Ryan, and many more. In this day and age everyone with an opinion (which is everyone) is a critic, but TV critics are particularly good at their jobs. I don't always agree with them, but I appreciate them and again, I do not envy the abuse some of them wind up subjecting themselves to.

But I'm absolutely delighted that unlike Gossip Girl that the 2008 version of 90210 is not sending out DVD screeners to TV critics. Here's what's going to happen with Gossip Girl for the first few weeks of ratings beginning September 1, if the ratings are around what we expect they will be, its fans will chime in with "Sure, but nobody watches Gossip Girl on TV and all the fans downloaded the first three episodes off the Internet!" We will not have to endure this with 90210.

Zap2it's TV Gal, Amy Amatangelo predicts great ratings for the premiere episode (I agree, at least in terms of the CW and especially relative to Gossip Girl):

The decision also ensures that the ratings for the premiere are going to be huge. The network is doing a heck of a job generating interest - from the stories of Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty's first day on the set together (OMG! There was no -gasp- fighting) to the news that Tori Spelling had dropped out of the series to those ads with the scantily clad (and wet) new residents of television's most famous zip code.

It's possible that the reason CW is holding back is because the show completely bites, and we'll find that out very soon after its September 2nd premiere. But, if there ever was a huge correlation between critical reviews and ratings success, those days have passed us by. Shows routinely adored by critics like 30 Rock Mad Men, The Wire and Damages (I think Damages is overrated -- good, but not great) get paltry ratings. Meanwhile shows that critics are more prone to trash like Burn Notice and In Plain Sight (and I love these shows, too) get decent ratings.

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