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Top TV Stories of 2008: Second-year shows go down the toilet

by Debra McDuffee, posted Dec 19th 2008 11:03AM
Jonny Lee Miller as Eli Stone
As we do every year, we here at TV Squad are reminiscing on the top TV news stories of the year. What has 2008 brought us? Well, while we were all complaining about the lack of quality shows that debuted this season, we may have missed the second-year shows going right down the crapper.

Let's start over at ABC. Three very promising shows premiered last season -- Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, and Pushing Daisies -- to praise from the critics and buzz from the viewers. Dirty Sexy Money, with the cast that could be someone's fantasy cast, started off strong. There was a mystery, unique and complex characters, and some integrity. With the writer's strike went the integrity and the ratings, and recently, we got the news that no more episodes of Dirty Sexy Money would be ordered.

Cut to Pushing Daisies ... visually amazing, quirky and unique, and unsustainable. The viewers grew tired of the gimmicks and strayed, and no more episodes of Pushing Daisies were ordered.

Eli Stone was a different story. I still think the writer's strike affected Eli, but I don't think the viewers have lost interest like they have in DSM and Pushing Daisies; it's more like they didn't have time to develop an interest, and then there was such a long break that people forgot about it.

Other shows followed the lead of the ABC trio, but will fare a bit better: Lipstick Jungle and Chuck over on NBC; FOX's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and ABC's Private Practice.

Lipstick Jungle is one of the biggest mysteries to me. For all accounts, this show is hitting its stride, churning out quality episode after episode. Did it just take too long to get there and lost people along the way? Clearly, it leaves a nice spot in the schedule for Jay Leno to fill, and that must make NBC very happy.

I wonder if Chuck will be one of the shows that gets dumped for Leno as well. Chuck's ratings this season have been less-than-stellar, and I've got to imagine the budget for Chuck is a lot bigger than what it will take to produce Leno's daily crap (probably they won't name it that).

After radically canceling three of its quality one-hour dramas, ABC makes another move to try to eke out some ratings for another one of their second-year shows, Private Practice. I think the move to Thursdays at 10:00 will make sense, since Grey's Anatomy is a natural lead-in for its spin-off. I wonder if people will stay tuned for the puerile drivel of Private Practice after the adolescent drivel that Grey's is becoming.

It's a Christmas miracle that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is even still around to be a part of this article, with the track record FOX has for canceling shows. The ratings have sucked this season, and now FOX has moved it to the timeslot of death: Friday nights at 9:00. Can we say buh-bye?

Is there a dangerous pattern forming on Network TV this year? Will next year bring even more failing shows that are not given a chance to hit their stride? Without the writer's strike, I'm wondering if we'll be able to see a few good shows stay good -- and on the air -- after their second seasons.

Be sure to read all of TV Squad's top TV news stories of 2008.

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JheartsDSM

I still can't believe DSM is being canceled. It was so original and there was nothing else like it on tv. I absolutely loved the cast and the storylines, this show is just damn good and absolutely entertaining. Everyone I know watches it, even some people that don't watch a lot of tv. ABC is making a huge mistake by not renewing this one or atleast trying to put it into a different timeslot or a different day! I LOVE DSM!

January 07 2009 at 8:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lucy

Suggesting Pushing Daisies ratings declined because viewers grew tired of its "gimmicks," is a subjective evaluation, utterly unsupported by an objective analysis of its ratings. The ratings, though low, have remained consistent since it premiered again in October. That these numbers are considerably lower than the numbers it maintained in the fall of '07, suggests its 9 month absence from the airwaves was more detrimental to its ratings than any alleged creative failings.

December 19 2008 at 11:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Karen

I didn't discover Eli Stone until this year and didn't know this was the second year. I wish they would keep that one around. We really enjoy it.

December 19 2008 at 5:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff N.

Eli Stone is one of our very favorite shows in our household. It is an original concept, which is unusual for TV and it is very entertaining. It's so sad it is being Cancelled. Network TV continues to disappoint.

December 19 2008 at 2:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Josh

Check out this site which compiles a list of the shows on the air and based on ratings in key demos predicts which series will make the cut for the following season:

http://tvbythenumbers.com/2008/12/16/tv-zombie-according-to-jim-lives-on-despite-dreadful-ratings/9690

December 19 2008 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tony

Although Chucks ratings are not "stellar" as has been pointed out nemerous times on this site, Chuck isn't as bad off as this site makes it out to be. Chucks ratings have continued to improve week to week with this past Monday's episode I believe, hitting a season high. It's not stellar but for an 8pm show opposite great competition (Dancing w' The Stars, CBS comedies, Monday Night Football and a Sci fi Show on Fox) I think it does ok and I think NBC realizes that.

All these shows probably wouldln't have made it to a 2nd season if it wasn't for a strike. Lipstick Jungle bombed in the ratings last spring and that was against no competition. I'm amazed it has lasted this long and I'll be shocked if it comes back. Eli Stone was an average show that even with great lead in's(lost,Dancing w' The Stars) could not garner a good audience. PD was a unique show that probably deserved better but it wasn't a very exciting show and the ratings showed this. DSM had a good cast but you can't expect an audience ( a very average audience numbers wise from last year) to return to a show that only ran for 10 weeks a year later to the same or better numbers. Especially without running ANY repeats throughout the summer.

I think the bigger story here is not that these shows bombed but that the network bombed because:
A. they did not develop better quality shows
and
B. they decided to bring back shows that were not good enough to be brought back

December 19 2008 at 11:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tony's comment
mb

Your two points about the networks bombing out were excellent. Right on the money.

Apparently, the networks have made quality sitcoms and dramas an extinct species, and these shows will only be available on pay networks if things continue this way.

Oh, and has anyone ever noticed that there are NO MORE RERUNS of any shows on TV anymore? After a TV series runs through its allotted shows for the season, these impotent networks stuff as many reality shows into their vacant spots for a quick buck.

So let's see... a network can either play a rerun to keep a show's fanbase current or.... they can put on a ridiculous reality show thought up by an idiot like Ryan Seacrest. What will keep the sitcoms and dramas target audiences around?

Not hard to see why viewers have abandoned network television.

Btw, I think Chuck's writing is rather good and the second season has been very entertaining (when compared to its first, which was also good).

December 24 2008 at 5:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lisa

I agree that Eli Stone is still the show that should succeed. It got poor scheduling and promotion but has everything going for it to still be a big winner if the network would make an effort to find the audience this classy show deserves. Reality shows can be big hits or big failures immediately because there's no story to follow week to week. Scripted shows need time that the networks won't give them. The viewers know this. Why don't the decision-makers at the networks?

December 19 2008 at 11:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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