Just a few short months ago, everyone was ready to dismiss the network sitcom as a dying breed. Suddenly, they're hailing it as this season's biggest success story. Yes, it seems new life has been breathed into the genre this season. So far, the new comedies are benefiting the most from the resurgence. NBC's My Name Is Earl is holding its own in a tough, competitive Tuesday night timeslot, and it's faring very well in the 18-49 year old group. For the week that ended October 9th, the show was the top-rated comedy for that group. UPN's Everybody Hates Chris made a huge debut for the network, actually beating NBC's Joey in total viewers during the half hour the two went head to head. Since then, viewership has dropped slightly, but the show is still a big enough hit by UPN's standards that the network picked it up for a full season. Both these comedies fall into the non-traditional sitcom category because they are not filmed in front of a studio audience, they contain no laugh track and they are single-camera shoots (like a drama series and unlike your traditional studio set filmed sitcoms). But, the non-traditionals are not the only new comedies enjoying some early success. CBS's How I Met Your Mother builds on its lead-in's audience, King of Queens, each week. It has been returning solid numbers for the eye network, and it just earned a full-season pick up.
It isn't all good news this season for sitcoms, though. For every new comedy that is doing well, there are several older ones that are not. ABC moved According to Jim from 9 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays this season and it is off 26% compared to this time last year. Fellow ABC comedy and Tuesday night companion Rodney is down 22%. CBS moved its most watched comedy Two and a Half Men from 9:30 p.m., where it followed mega-hit Everybody Loves Raymond, to Raymond's old timeslot at 9 p.m. Although the show is doing well, the timeslot is down 20% from the numbers it used to get with Raymond. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the season is NBC's Joey. The show was never a huge hit last season, but it's down 46% compared to last year. Even more troubling for NBC, the show leads off the network's "Must See TV" block, and Joey's troubles spill over to the rest of the Thursday night schedule. The once king of Thursday night has slipped in every hour of the evening, allowing CBS to easily step in and claim victory each week. The only returning comedy to make a big showing so far is ABC's George Lopez, which had it largest season premiere since 2002. Overall, viewers still seem to gravitate toward dramas more than any other genre as they composed 15 of the top 20 shows for the week ending October 9th. The highest rated half hour comedy landed in 16th (Two and a Half Men), but it does seem that the (new) comedy is slowly making its comeback.
Last night's Medium took us on a journey through Allison's past. She kept dreaming about her friend Lila and an earthquake. Meanwhile a councilman's 19 year old daughter was missing. In true Medium style, all three things were connected, but it's how they connect that makes this show so impossible to predict. We only see what Allison sees, and she only sees fragments at a time. It's up to her and the viewer to piece the fragments together into a completed puzzle. Lila had left for California just before she graduated from high school to build a career in show business, but she found herself in a bad situation with bad people. That was until an earthquake struck northern California and she was assumed dead along with her husband because their car went off a bridge during the strong tremor. Lila created a new identity and life through the help of a man who knows how to get the correct documents. Allison discovered all of this after thinking Lila had died because she turned on the news late at night to see if an earthquake had struck Arizona after a vivid dream. She didn't find an earthquake, but she did find a story on a teacher who saved a young girl's life - the teacher was Lila. Allison realized that the councilman's missing teenager had faked her death and contacted the same man that Lila had years before to start her life over again. Why? Because the councilman was sexually abusing her. Allison tracked her down, but realized it was better to let her follow through with her plans then to go back to her abusive father. I love how Allison's dreams lead her to the right places and people to solve the mystery of the week. They suggest where to look, and she has to figure out what it all means. There are no easy answers and no simple storylines on Medium, which makes it so intriguing.
About Last Night... ABC won the first hour of the night with Wife Swap and football (on the West Coast), followed by CBS's comedy block of King of Queens and How I Met Your Mother, and NBC's Surface tied Fox's MLB coverage for third. At 9, Two and a Half Men and Out of Practice moved CBS into the lead, followed by Monday Night Football on ABC, and on Las Vegas NBC. The final hour of the night went to CBS's CSI: Miami, followed by football on ABC, and Medium on NBC. For more on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.
@8 p.m. - Rory makes a surprising confession to Logan, Lorelai learns that the Dragonfly Inn's street used to go by a disgusting name and Richard finally realizes that he shouldn't have let Rory drop out of Yale on WB's Gilmore Girls.
@9 p.m. - A close race to the pit stop fuels a rivalry between two teams and the Weavers come face-to-face with a tragic memory on CBS's The Amazing Race. Earl teaches an ESOL class to make up for making fun of people with accents on NBC's My Name is Earl.
@10 p.m. - CCH Pounder guest stars on NBC's Law & Order: SVU as the team investigates a string of murders linked to a mission of mercy. Denny Crane works on a case involving assault weapons while Alan Shore works to defend his former secretary on ABC's Boston Legal.
*The West Wing creator and former executive producer Aaron Sorkin is back at NBC. He and producing partner Thomas Schlamme will create a new show that deals with the backstage antics of a sketch comedy show (ala Saturday Night Live). The show, Studio 7 on the Sunset Strip, is guaranteed a slot on the 2006-2007 NBC schedule.
*And finally, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will make a cameo appearance on WB's Gilmore Girls. She'll play herself, and she'll give advice to Rory on the advent of her 21st birthday and her continued estrangement from Lorelai. The episode airs October 25th.
That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for The Amazing Race and Law & Order: SVU. Plus all the latest television news!!