Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Reality Report Card, Guilty Pleasures, and a Sleep Walking Allison!

Throughout the next few weeks, I'll be covering different genres of the new season and letting you know how the shows in those genres are faring this season. I give you the overnights each day in About Last Night and the weekly reports on Wednesdays, but these don't always tell the full story. There are plenty of shows that are considered successes without generating large amounts of total viewers. Today, let's take a look at this season's crop of reality series. We saw over the summer that viewers were starting to tire of the recycled set-ups, and opted instead for a fresher take on the genre with hits like Dancing With the Stars on ABC and Beauty and the Geek on the WB. With a bunch of copycats and franchises making their debut this season, the question is, are viewers interested in the reality genre or are we back to loving scripted series instead? Scripted shows have made a lot of progress over the past couple of seasons with the advent of originality with shows like Lost (who no one thought would succeed), Desperate Housewives, Medium, and Veronica Mars. So, has the void that the reality shows filled been taken over by the genre that left it open in the first place? Ratings indicate that interest in the reality genre is waning. One of the category's biggest hits, NBC's The Apprentice, is down 41% in the 18-49 year old group. Its sibling, The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, is struggling to find an audience, managing to average only 6.5 million total viewers. By comparison, scripted series like CSI and Desperate Housewives are averaging around 30 million viewers and Lost hovers around 23 million. NBC recently moved the struggling Martha Stewart version up against Lost in a move to help its scripted series E-Ring. Elsewhere, the most profitable series in the genre, CBS's Survivor, is also down this season. The show is down 19% in the 18-49 year old group. Perhaps the most telling sign that reality is not commanding the audiences that it used to, Fox , which used to lead the networks in its amount of reality programs, didn't premiere a single reality series this fall. Its only dose of reality comes with Nanny 911, and it appeared only after Fox cancelled scripted series Head Cases. So, does all of this mean that reality is dead? Probably not, but it does mean that the genre will have to evolve as viewers' interest change and scripted series step up to the plate. Everything in television is cyclical anyway. What do you guys think? Are you done with reality? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

We all have them - guilty pleasures. Shows we know are not on the top of the list of quality programs, but we just can't help ourselves. No matter how many times we laugh at a premise, roll our eyes at a ridiculous scene, or stare at the television wondering why we're still watching, we continue to come back and watch week after week. Why? I suppose we all have our reasons. Some shows are just so bad that they're good (think The O.C.), while others have one good thing that keeps us coming back in hopes that the bad elements will correct themselves. The latter perfectly describes my guilty pleasure love affair with NBC's Surface. I know the writing is terrible and cheesy, like last night's creature eats dog scene. I know it's terribly cliche with its characters and plot points. Who didn't think that Laura and Jackson had been in a relationship before when she asked him to take her out on his boat? I know, I know, but I just can't help myself! I like the sea creature theme, the neat settings, Laura and her portrayer Lake Bell, and yes, I like the cute baby creature. Somebody help me! Well, if the ratings continue their decline, it appears NBC will most likely cut off this guilty pleasure for me. So, what are your guilty pleasures? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Did Allison have a bad case of sleep walking last night on Medium or what? Can you imagine waking up in the middle of a busy street?? Speaking of which, Phoenix must have some serious traffic! Did you see all those cars on the road in the middle of the night! All kidding aside, last night's episode just embodied what makes this show so great - complex stories and real human drama. I watch this show and let the story unfold. I'm not trying to figure out what's going on because it's completely pointless. Whatever I could muster up as an explanation will not be correct because this show takes us down its own path. It avoids crime show cliches and pitfalls. It gives us real people with real issues. Allison and daughter Ariel's struggle over whether she could walk home from school instead of riding with Allison was very relatable, either as a daughter or as a mother. This show never fails to surprise or make you think, and that's good storytelling.

About Last Night... Fox captured the first hour of the night with its MLB coverage, followed by ABC's Wife Swap (but numbers include a football game on the West Coast), and CBS's comedy block of King of Queens and How I Met Your Mother edged NBC's Surface to claim third and fourth, respectively. At 9, ABC grabbed the top spot with its Monday Night Football, followed by CBS's Two and a Half Men and Out Of Practice. NBC landed in third with Las Vegas. The final hour of the night went to CBS's CSI: Miami, followed by Monday Night Football on ABC, and Medium on NBC. For more information on last night's ratings, visit Zap2it.

~Primetime Pass~
@8 p.m. - A small fire breaks out at the Dragonfly Inn on the WB's Gilmore Girls. On Fox, it's game 1 of the American League Championship as the Angels take on the White Sox. Cote de Pablo joins the cast of CBS's NCIS tonight.

@9 p.m. - The country's first female president must deal with her first national crisis - the death of nine DEA agents - on ABC's Commander In Chief. Over on CBS, the remaining teams head to a mystery location and find a challenge that's "out of this world" on The Amazing Race.

@10 p.m. - Det. Elliot Stabler faces his rage with the help of Dr. Rebecca Hendrix (guest star Mary Stuart Masterson) in a stand-out episode for Christopher Meloni on NBC's Law & Order: SVU. On ABC, Alan Shore and Denny Crane spend some male bonding time fishing in British Columbia on Boston Legal.


*It seems that finding a decent audience for NBC's Inconceivable was, well, inconceivable. The peacock network is taking the fertility drama off its October schedule, and it doesn't look to be returning any time soon. Production has been halted as well. The show struggled to find an audience, averaging only 5.4 million viewers in its two airings. Reruns of Law & Order: Criminal Intent will fill the slot for now.

*CBS is releasing actress Sarah Brown from her role on Cold Case according to a message the star posted on her official web site. The message states that the eye network "didn't see how [Brown's character] fit into the mix this season." Brown played Detective Josie Sutton on the popular crime series. She originally signed on for five episodes, so look for two more to feature the actress. No official word yet from CBS or Cold Case on how the character will be written out. Stay tuned to Pass the Remote for updates on this story.

*And finally, what do you do if you're holding a live, but fictional, debate on NBC's The West Wing and you need someone to moderate this fictional live debate? You hire a real reporter! Former ABC reporter Forrest Sawyer will play moderator on the November 6th live episode of The West Wing. Fictional Presidential candidates Vinick (Alan Alada) and Santos (Jimmy Smits) will face off in the episode in a debate.

That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for thoughts on The Amazing Race and Law & Order: SVU. Plus, my thoughts on this new Cold Case development. And, all the latest television news and Primetime Pass!


suekola44 said...

I've pretty much had it with reality shows. I wish survivor would call it quits. That is my guilty pleasure for sure. Not sure why I keep coming back each new season to watch. I just can't help myself. I'd like to see them all go except of course the fabulous Amazing Race. Medium was its usual awesome self last night. Hey! no picking on the O.C.!! Last but not least, Surface pissed me off last night with that dog scene. You could just see it coming! It really is a cheesy show!

ignorance said...

Not much of a reality show fan either.

Anonymous said...

If you're a fan of LOST, check out land of the lost tv