I have returned from my travels through Italy. I needed a break from things. Cleared my head a bit, but I did follow the ratings over the start of the new TV season. Pretty bleak.
I understand the new world order where delayed viewing plays a significant role in evaluating programs, but I have always said about DVR ratings, “The rich shows get richer, and the poor shows get a little less poor.” I still think there is a lot to learn from the same-day ratings. After all, “Game of Thrones,” “The Walking Dead” and “This Is Us” manage to attract substantial audiences in the initial few hours. Those early ratings measure passion and urgency for a series.
We came home from Italy with a loaded DVR covering the first four weeks of the new season. It was interesting and surprising) to see what we “binged” first. It was comedies, especially the ABC comedies. We will get to “Jane the Virgin” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” next. We seem to be avoiding the dark and the bleak, of which we consume quite a bit. Italy was wonderful, and coming home to everything here I think made us go right to the comfort shows. However, I will be watching “The Walking Dead” this morning, as is my ritual.
Anyway, here are my four takeaways for the start of the season. I didn’t read many analyses while I was away, so I assume these have all been addressed, but here we go.
First, I was amazed at how little “This Is Us”-like development made it on to the fall schedules. Imitation is the greatest form of television, and either the networks think they developed shows that would tap into the “TIU” sensibility, were not quite sure why the show worked or thought it was a fluke. I don’t know. For NBC to have this asset and put a true crime murder limited series behind it was a missed opportunity; and for the other networks not to take a shot at this genre was surprising. I guess “Me, Myself & I” was a shot at some level.
Second, speaking of catching trends, boy did the networks whiff on their efforts to militarize and privatize television series. None of these series seem to have caught fire, and “Wisdom of the Crowd” is the third effort by the networks (following “Pure Genius” and “APB” last season) to assume the viewer is interested in shows about individuals doing things better than institutions. The other two were one and done; “Wisdom of the Crowd” is sort of meh in the ratings . Last development season I think the networks misread the country.
There appeared to be a lot of movement to the network schedules this year. I learned the hard way during my career that moving shows after their second season generally does not produce the intended results. I think several shows got a few precious tenths clipped off their numbers by moving nights, and I think a large part of the declines this season were self-imposed.
Finally, once again the one significant success this fall, “The Good Doctor,” is also one of the most durable of genres. If I were FOX, I would be focusing my efforts on turning “The Resident,” which I liked a lot, into their next success and right now start developing a companion for 2018-19.