There’s going to be a real freshman battle at 10 PM on Tuesdays this fall when the new season kicks off, but it’ll have to bring out some seriously sharp knives to compare with the clash at 9 PM last night with two heavyweight finales and an event debut. Going head-to-head in the slot were Fox’s new limited series Wayward Pines (1.03), The Blacklist (1.5/5) and Scandal (2.3/8) – and though it wasn’t pretty, Olivia Pope won the slot and the night. A 9 PM (1.9/6) encore of The Big Bang Theory took second place in the 9 PM slot and an 8 PM (2.0/8) BBT came in third for the evening, overall. And this was on a night when there were two big and dramatic NBA Playoffs games on ESPN with Cleveland beating the Chicago Bulls and then the Houston Rockets forcing the L.A. Clippers to a Game 7 in their series.
In that context, let’s look at the lone premiere of the night first with the Matt Dillon, Terrence Howard, Juliette Lewis and Melissa Leo-starring limited series from EP M. Night Shyamalan, who also directed last night’s pilot. Long story short – Wayward Pines is no Gracepoint. The October 2, 2014 debut of the David Tennant-starring series got 1.2/3 rating, a 19% increase of what WP pulled in last night. Unlike Gracepoint, Wayward Pines now has an opportunity to rise in its remaining 9 weeks as other originals on the schedule become more of a rarity as the 2014-2015 season ends. In the biggest same-day global launch for a drama, Wayward Pines saw triple digit time slot rises in Australia and Germany and proved the top series debut ever for Fox Norway. On the domestic front, Wayward Pines did hold 100% of its Bones (1.0/4) lead-in, which dipped 9% from last week.
Speaking of shows exiting for the season, some very serious Daddy issues, Gladiatorial betrayal and making a choice were just a few of the storylines in the whirlwind Season 4 finale of Scandal on ABC on Thursday. It might have all been a bit too much on a night of a lot, to say the least. While up 5% among adults 18-49 from last week’s show, this year’s finale crashed 32% from the Season 3 finale of April 17 last year, when Scandal aired at 10 PM. Last night’s result matches the Season 1 Scandal finale of May 17, 2012 for the lowest season-ender the Shonda Rhimes show has ever had.
Over on NBC in the slot, being on the run and some Elton John characterized the Season 2 finale of The Blacklist last night, which bopped up 7% from its May 7 show. However, against the much less competitive Monday night 10 PM Season 1 ender of May 12, 2014, the James Spader-starring series took a belly flop of 42% among the demo. The news was better on The CW for the season finale of Reign (0.4/1), which jumped up 33% from last week’s all-time low and, hence was even with last year’s season ender. Reign lead-in The Vampire Diaries had a finale of its own too. The Season 6 ender of The CW show was up 17% from last week but down 13% form last year’s finale. Blacklist lead-out, Dateline (1.0/3) had a nice 25% rise from last week.
Outside that 9 PM pile-up, there were other finales on TV last night. ABC had two of them with Grey’s Anatomy (2.2/8) and American Crime (1.0/3). The second highest-rated show of the night, a final voicemail left a crushing impression on the Season 11 finale of the medical drama as it rose 5% from last week but stumbled 15% from last year’s May 15 when it aired at 9 PM. Renewed for a second season, the John Ridley-created series had a harsh end last night but in terms of ratings stayed even with the week before. Overall, ABC won the last Thursday of the season with a 1.8/6 rating. In second place among the key demo, CBS took the viewership top spot with 7.92 million watching.
On a night juiced by Big Bang Theory repeats galore, CBS also had two finales on Thursday. First up was freshman The Odd Couple (1.8/7), which was even with its May 7 show. Elementary (1.2/4) wrapped up its third season with a 9% rise from last week and a 14% drop from last year. Last night’s result was the lowest season finale the Sherlock Holmes modernization has had yet.