The cast and exec producers of CBS’ new cyber-cop-procedural drama Intelligence got the most dangerous assignment at the TCA Winter TV Press Tour today: wax optimistic about your show to a couple hundred TV critics two days after it did a ratings bellyflop. “Did something happen in the ratings?” creator/EP Michael Seitzman answered brightly when hit with the inevitable ratings question.
CBS is pinning great hope on Intelligence’s ability to regain the ratings ground the network once enjoyed Mondays at 10 with CSI: Miami and, to a lesser degree, Hawaii Five-0. Earlier this season, CBS unintentionally pulled a prince-and-pauper with NBC in the hour, putting the new, NBC-esque, heavily-serialized thriller Hostages in the hour, while NBC slotted its homage to CBS procedurals, The Blacklist, in the hour. NBC won.
Two weeks ago Intelligence got off to a terrific start in its out-of-timeslot premiere, clocking nearly 17 million viewers nestled between the most-watched scripted series on television, NCIS, and Person Of Interest, to become the most watched new series premiere this season. In adults 18-49, it posted a respectable 2.4 rating. But, this week, moved to its regular Monday night at 10 slot, Intelligence took a nosebleedingly steep plunge from its premiere to pick up where Hostages left off with a 1.1 in the demo. Intelligence’s soft performance was even more disappointing in that it followed solid performances by CBS’ Monday comedy block, and opposite a so-so Blacklist that lacked a Voice lead-in.
“We’re having a party and not thinking too much about the party down the street,” Seitzman said this morning. “We’re all human and want to win. Yesterday morning we woke up, and the ratings were not what they had been. That sucked. But it was great for five days having the network tout you as the No. 1 new show on TV. We had that and they can’t take it away from us,” he joked. “We don’t think Monday nights we’re going to give the world a cure for cancer – we’re going to give them a great night of television. Anything else is gravy, or makes us scratch our heads.” He noted CBS will replay this week’s episode on Saturday to get additional sampling, concluding, “If we thought about it any more I think our heads would explode.”
Just before their Q&A, they’d gotten an important show of support from CBS Entertainment chief Nina Tassler. “It’s a much tougher time period, Monday at 10 — we all know that,” she told TV critics of the ratings plunge, tipping her hat to Blacklist and ABC’s Monday at 10 Castle. “We’ve seen episodes and like the stories, love the stars, and we think it’s a really good show,” she added.
In other Intelligence news, Peter Coyote will guest star as Marg Helgenberger’s dad — ” a former CIA director and we have a very complicated relationship, as you can imagine,” Helgenberger said. Helgenberger stars in the drama series as Lillian Strand, the director of the United States Cyber Command — an outfit that oversees intelligence operative Gabriel Vaughn (Josh Holloway) who’s had computer microchip inserted in his brain, connecting him directly to the global information grid.