The games have begun, Friday the 13th is over, but the Valentine’s day love has arrived. And by love, I mean the love of speculating on the Internet. So what’s the early read on the fates of FOX’s Friday night lineup?

The premiere of Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse despite being lower than some already lowered expectations, performed better than the consensus expectations I saw from commenters on the blog when it came to 18-49 ratings, where the consensus was in the 1.8 rating range and it came in at a 2.0. Even some people within FOX weren’t thinking it would hit a 2.0 rating, so I think the premiere numbers may actually have been better than some at FOX thought they would be.

Both Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Dollhouse performed better with men, winning the 18-34 and 18-49 male demos against the competition at ABC, CBS, NBC (and The CW). But I’m not sure how meaningful that is. You could’ve put Summer Glau and Eliza Dushku in bikinis sunning themselves on chaise lounges and drinking fruity concoctions out of straws for two hours and doing nothing but product endorsements for geek gadgetry and it might have still won the male 18-34 and 18-49 demos.

But while the 18-49 demo for Dollhouse might have exceeded internal hopes, the numbers for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles must be disappointing. Many think the night overall isn’t a fair indicator for either show because even though Fridays in general aren’t the best nights for broadcast TV viewing this one might have been worse due to the theatrical release of Friday the 13th and early Valentine’s Day festivities hit harder than normal.

I’m not so sure because as is fairly typical, while there are fewer TV viewers on Friday nights, most of them aren’t watching ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and the CW. Last night between 8pm-10pm of all the people who were watching television, more than 75% of them were watching something else besides ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and the CW. But we’ll know for sure next week.

I haven’t been optimistic for a third season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and the move to Friday didn’t make a third season seem any more likely. But now I am a little worried that it might not even see its full run the rest of this season. It could be argued that at least for another week there is reason to be (extremely times infinity) cautiously optimistic about Dollhouse. While its numbers were far from stellar, it’s not like a gazillion people tuned in and switched it off after 10 minutes. In fact, there were pretty much an identical amount of people watching the second half hour as the first.

But this optimism for Dollhouse actually makes me even more (if that’s possible) pessimistic for TSCC. Somebody at FOX is bound to think, “well, there might be some hopes for Dollhouse, but if there are, are we giving it the best lead-in we can with TSCC?”

It seems like a pretty fair thing to think and there are some other options for FOX. I’m pretty sure FOX won’t change up anything by next Friday (February 20), but if Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles numbers don’t perk up, and there isn’t much drop off from Dollhouse, I wouldn’t be very surprised to see FOX make changes with the 8pm hour. Entertainment Weekly is already reporting that FOX will air TSCC as Dollhouse’s lead in until it runs out of TSCC episodes and then air the final six episodes of Prison Break. But that was announced well in advance of last night’s premieres. If next week isn’t much different than this week for TSCC, I’m not sure FOX won’t change things up much sooner.

After weeks and months of waiting, we’ll likely have to wait at least another week to have a better idea of the lay of the land.

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Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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