Here is a note to producers disheartened by the soft opening of their new series — it can still become a hit. You just need to have a showrunner like Shonda Rhimes behind it. Rhimes’ ABC drama Scandal continues to grow, opening its third season with series highs in adults 18-49 (3.6) and total viewers (10.5 million). In 18-49, that was up a whopping 71% from last fall’s Season 2 debut, which in turn was up 5% from the show’s inauspicious midseason debut (2.0). (Can anyone on TV do cliffhangers better than Rhimes?) Scandal also built on its Grey’s Anatomy lead-in by its largest margins ever, 12% in viewers and 20% in 18-49. Grey’s (3.0) was down 12% from last week’s season premiere.
CBS used juggernaut The Big Bang Theory to launch a second new comedy this fall. The Millers (3.3/10) did OK but fell short of The Crazy Ones‘ debut last week (3.9) and Two And A Half Men‘s season premiere in the 8:30 PM slot last fall (3.5). The Crazy Ones opener had a bigger lead-in from a second Big Bang original at 8:30 PM (6.1), while last night’s Big Bang (5.0) was down 9% from last week’s 8 PM episode. Following The Millers, Crazy Ones (2.9) dropped 26% from its premiere. Two And A Half Men (2.4) was down 17% for a series low, while Elementary (2.0) was down 5%. Still, CBS edged ABC for the top spot in 18-49 (2.9 vs. 2.8), winning comfortably in total viewers (11.7 million).
NBC Thursday comedy block’s mighty struggles post-The Office continue, with no series able to break the 2 18-49 rating threshold. (The network’s fast nationals ratings may be further adjusted down by a tenth or so because of an NFL pre-emption in Cleveland.) The Michael J. Fox Show (1.9) did the best and built on its lead-in by 19% but was down 17% from last week’s series premiere. Two other new comedies joined the lineup last night with little fanfare. Sean Saves The World (1.6) at 9 PM did better, building on its lead-in 33%. It was down 24% from the final season premiere of The Office in the 9 PM slot last fall. The other new entry, Welcome To The Family (1.2) was pretty much dead on arrival, posting the lowest fall comedy debut ever for NBC and slipping from its Parks And Recreation (1.3, flat) lead-in. At 10 PM, Parenthood (1.7) was actually up 6% from last week’s season/time slot premiere.
The alarming ratings declines for Glee, in the first year of a two-year pickup, continue, with last night’s episode (1.6) down 20% from last week’s underwhelming season premiere. The series is expected to rebound next week with the Cory Monteith tribute episode, the question is whether fans will stick around after that. At 8 PM, The X Factor (2.0) was even with last week.
The CW joined the fall season fray last night with its first premieres. Flagship The Vampire Diaries (2.6 million, 1.2 in 18-49, 1.3 in 18-34) was down 25% in 18-49 from its season premiere last October. Versus the show’s May finale, it was up 18% in 18-34. The Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals (2.2 million, 0.9 in 18-49 and 18-34) didn’t have a lot of bite, premiering down 25% in 18-49 from the debut of Beauty And The Beast in the time period last fall when it faced lesser competition with the major networks airing the Vice Presidential debate. The Thursday 9 PM slot’s regular inhabitant, new drama Reign, will premiere in two weeks.