NBC’s midseason comedy Bent landed some of the best reviews for a new comedy this season. Unfortunately, that will be little consolation to the show’s producers after the romantic comedy starring Amanda Peet and David Walton premiered to dismal ratings last night: 1.0/3 in adults 18-49 and 2.82 million total viewers at 9 PM and 0.9/2, 2.42 million at 9:30 PM to rank as NBC’s lowest-rated in-season comedy debut ever — down from the quickly yanked The Paul Reiser Show (1.1/3) last spring. And that is with ABC’s Modern Family in repeat last night. NBC launched Bent with little promotion in one of the most underperforming time slots on the schedule. (In its ratings notes this morning, NBC points out that Bent delivered the network’s best demo rating in the 9-9:30 PM period in a month and a half.) Then NBC couldn’t find a show to pair Bent with, running it instead in a weird, burnoff-like pattern of back-to-back episodes. Since the show had a short, six-episode order to begin with, that airing pattern pretty much eliminates word-of-mouth as Bent will be over in three weeks, leaving no time for new viewers to discover it. Still, Bent was not the lowest-rated NBC show last night — that dubious distinction goes to Rock Center With Brian Williams (0.7/2) at 10 PM, which was actually up 17% (a tenth) from last week’s series low. NBC’s 8-9 PM comedies rebounded from their losses last week — Whitney (1.6/5) was up 14%, and Are You There, Chelsea (1.4/4) was up 27%.
Fox won the night for a 10th consecutive week with two hours of American Idol (4.9/14 in 18-49, 17.9 million), which was down 8% in the demo from last week’s fast nationals. CBS had a seesaw night in the ratings. Survivor (2.7/8) was down 10% from last week to a series low for original episodes. At 9 PM Criminal Minds (3.2/8) perked up, rising 14% from last week’s low. But at 10 PM, CSI (2.5/7) was down 11% to tie its season low running against Rock Center and a Missing rerun (1.3/3) on ABC. The only original on ABC last night was Happy Endings (1.8/5), which was expectedly down (25%) from last week when it followed a new Modern Family. At the CW, One Tree Hill (0.7/2) slipped a tenth in 18-49, while America’s Next Top Model (0.6/2) rose by that much.