Rather than a star system, the San Francisco Chronicle uses a graphical "chair system". The range is usually from "falling asleep in your chair" to "jumping out of your chair with wild applause". I've always been very fond of the approach.
I don't remember ever seeing an empty chair used before, but TV Critic Tim Goodman gave both The CW's The Beautiful Life and Vampire Diaries an empty chair! Melrose Place got the guy falling asleep in his chair.
Goodman recently put a beat down on me in the blog comments for a post where I called him out for saying broadcast networks would love to have Burn Notice. While we don't agree on everything, (and even TV critic for the USA Today Robert Bianco isn't a fan of the notion that cable hits would perform well on the broadcast networks), I enjoy Goodman's blog The Bastard Machine, and his columns in the Chronicle. Plus he's a huge fan of Lost and The Wire, so he can't be all bad.
Not that I had an expectations for the CW shows from a quality perspective, there is so much interest in vampires these days, and TVGuide.com lists The Vampire Diaries as the fifth most-anticipated new show of the season according to its research panel. I'm very interested to see how it does in the ratings.
We'll be following the ratings for Melrose Place and The Vampire Diaries closely when they both premiere next week (Melrose Place on Tuesday, The Vampire Diaries on Thursday). The Beautiful Life debuts on 9/16, and we're already predicting more people will tweet about it than actually watch it.