If launching drama series in midseason is hard, launching comedy series in midseason is daunting. Fox’s Surviving Jack was the latest example, debuting to a 1.3 in 18-49 and 5.1 million viewers at 9:30 PM last night despite mostly positive reviews based on the standout performance of star Chris Meloni. Surviving Jack followed American Idol (1.9), which, in its switch to half-hour result shows, tied last week’s series low. For comparison, at 8 PM, with no lead-in and scathing reviews, Fox’s fall comedy Dads premiered to a 2.1 fast national demo rating in September. American Idol and The X Factor have never been compatible lead-ins for comedies. The previous comedy series to launch behind Idol was the 2011 Breaking In, which opened with a 3.5 demo rating but on a 7.3 Idol 18-49 lead-in (Yes, Idol was pulling in that kind of numbers only three years ago) for a 48% retention. Surviving Jack‘s was 68%. At 8 PM, Hell’s Kitchen (1.8) was up a tenth from last week’s fast national.
More food for thought for NBC brass who had been mulling alternative comedies for Thursday’s struggling comedy block. Last night, back-to-back encores of Hollywood Game Night delivered a 1.1 and 1.2 in 18-49, on par with what Community and Parks And Recreation originals have been delivering in the hour. At 10 PM, a new Parenthood (1.4) perked up 8% to log its highest rating since October as it has been on the rise with HGN as lead-in.
Also posting a second consecutive week of gains were ABC’s Shonda Rhimes dramas. Grey’s Anatomy (2.5) was up 4% with a Christina-centered episode as the show is preparing to send off co-star Sandra Oh, while Scandal (3.1) was up 7%. At 8 PM, Once Upon A Time In Wonderland (0.9) was up a tenth.
CBS is poised to win the night with NCAA basketball (2.5 in 18-49 in the fast nationals, up 9% from the corresponding numbers last year). The CW’s Vampire Diaries (0.7) somewhat inexplicably tumbled 36% to a series low, while Reign (0.6) retreated after a spike last Thursday, down 14%.