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October 9, 2015

Why is Rules of Engagement getting such good ratings?

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 6th 2007 2:21PM
Rules of EngagementI've watched all five episodes of CBS' new comedy Rules of Engagement, mainly because I'm already watching Two and a Half Men at 9. I also watch because Patrick Warburton and Megyn Price are two sitcom actors that I like, and I'm always hoping they'll land in a successful show. But I've got to tell you, the show is barely above average. I chuckle once or twice per episode, mostly in reaction to Warburton's droll line readings. And don't even get me started on the bland "young" couple played by Oliver Hudson and Bianca Kajlich and the sight of David Spade aging before our eyes as yet another version of Dennis Finch.

But for some reason, the show is attracting a pretty good audience. In the LA Times article Bob linked to yesterday, it was noted that Rules is holding on to much of Men's lead-in audience, averaging 13.5 million viewers per week.

This is the exact same thing that happened when Old Christine took over the 9:30 slot last year, earning the show a renewal and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss an Emmy. But at least that show was marginally funny at the start, and got better as the season went along. Rules? I'm not seeing much of an improvement. Which makes me wonder why people are continuing to watch.

Maybe the Nielsen folks are like me; since there's not much on that starts at 9:30, they just leave their TVs on after Men and watch Rules. Maybe people genuinely like the show. I don't know. What I do know is that Rules is likely going to get a second season, and it may all be the product of the timeslot it's in.

I wonder how bad this makes the producers of Out of Practice and Courting Alex feel. Those two shows "bombed" in the same timeslot last year, before Old Christine came along to stabilize things. But, in reality, they both got good numbers; their performance just wasn't satisfactory enough for CBS to keep them going. That's what happens when you follow a hit show; if you're not retaining the audience, you are given the heave-ho pretty quickly. However mediocre it is, Rules is holding the audience. So I guess that means another year of counting the bags under Spade's eyes.

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In my opinion, the rule of understanding creative works is that you must apply the correct level of analysis to each work that you see.

Trying to understand 'Rules' as anything other than program intended to make us laugh and entertain us on a very visceral level is ludicrous.

IMO, sitcoms exist to make us laugh and make us feel life part of our culture. Rules succeeds. Period.

June 04 2007 at 10:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

The thing about "Out Of Practice" is that I seem to recall that it actually got better ratings than "Christine" in that Monday timeslot. I don't think that the show got respect from CBS because the mainstream critics didn't like it. So I have a suspicion that people watching "Two and a Half Men" just stay on to watch what follows.

March 07 2007 at 7:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The second episode of Rules was pretty funny, but that's the only one I've caught to date.

As far as Two and Half Men.... I don't understand why anyone watches that show. I've tried. It's just not funny.

March 07 2007 at 12:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

yeah 'rules' sucks, but man o manowar--Out of Practice! That feels like such a blast from the past! I would SO much rather that show now...well, no, actually I'd prefer Christine. Of course, I'm probably not remember my own negative rants about OoP...

March 06 2007 at 9:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah I think it is terrible but Patrick Warburton just steals the show, and that is the only reason I watch it

March 06 2007 at 9:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

barely above average?
Thats the nicest thing I could even imagine anyone saying about this show...

March 06 2007 at 9:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Maybe it has Kenny Banya appeal. On Seinfeld, Jerry discovered that George actually liked hack-comedian Banya's act. "I like stuff you don't have to think about too much," was George's defense.

I'd probably check it for Warburton too, if I wasn't watching Heroes at that time. And tivo-ing "Rules" seems excessive.

March 06 2007 at 6:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not groundbreaking, but more enjoyable than "Til Death" and more hurtful because it covers similar story territory.

I laugh at it, and I do love Arrested, Battlestar and the like...

March 06 2007 at 5:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think it's definitely the Warburton factor. Every time I see his face I start chuckling, there's just something eminently watchable about the guy. Certainly, it's enough to make me tolerate the intolerable young couple on the show. I really hope they improve over time, because right now they are simply excruciating to watch.

March 06 2007 at 4:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Danny Cohen

I think CBS is paying off Neilson, and has been for the last 15 years.

March 06 2007 at 3:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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