'Elementary' premiere gets jolly good ratings

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Two high-powered new dramas premiered Thursday night to two different, though not entirely unexpected, outcomes.

ABC’s submarine thriller Last Resort had a disappointing launch at 8 p.m. The lavish pilot episode (one source put the price tag at $11 million) delivered 9.1 million viewers and a 2.2 rating among adults 18-49. That’s just a tick above the debut of Charlie’s Angels in this slot last year in the key adult demographic. More thoughts on Last Resort’s survival odds below.

Over on CBS, the new Sherlock Holmes procedural Elementary (13.3 million, 3.1) fared better — just as everybody thought it would. The drama not only won the 10 p.m. slot, but slightly improved upon both its Person of Interest lead in and the debut of The Mentalist in this slot last fall.

CBS also had the return of Big Bang Theory (15.3 million, 4.8) at 8 p.m., down a mere tenth of a point from last year. Two and Half Men (12.4 million, 3.5), however, opened a bit soft in its new time slot. Comparing the veteran comedy to last fall’s Monday night premiere isn’t really fair given the enormous hype surrounding Ashton Kutcher joining the show (or, more accurately, Charlie Sheen leaving the show). But you would think CBS re-joining these two Chuck Lorre hits would have resulted in stronger flow between them.

CBS also had the return of Person of Interest (14.3 million 2.9), picking up where the first season’s cliffhanger left off. There’s been a fair amount of buzz about POI in the back half of last season and over the summer so I was hoping for the numbers to spike a bit, but this rating is down slightly from last fall’s series debut.

In addition to Last Resort, ABC had the return of Grey’s Anatomy (11.5 million, 4.3). And what do you know? Grey‘s came back a little stronger this year, up 5 percent. At 10 p.m., Scandal (7 million, 2.2) was up 10 percent from its modest midseason premiere, though down aways from Private Practice in this slot last fall.

On Fox, The X-Factor (9.2 million, 3.2) performed strong. Just like in the Wednesday’s ratings, the reality show was down only 6 percent against the increased competition. Glee (5.9 million, 2.5), however, fell 14 percent facing the return of Grey’s and POI.

As for NBC … local NBC affiliates carried NFL football in two major markets, so that’s messing up the network’s morning numbers. Everything looks like it went up slightly in the ratings, but the local sports coverage is tweaking the results (as much as I’d like to believe The Office and Parks & Rec shot up in the face of greater competition…).

Some more thoughts on Last Resort: One network insider just pointed out that ABC would keep this show alive for years if it managed to deliver this exact same rating every week and somehow avoided the usual post-premiere-decline trend. ABC desperately wants a strong performer in this slot to support Grey’s, and the soapy medical show returning slightly higher this fall with Last Resort as an opening act won’t go unnoticed. Plus, there’s a silver-lining in these numbers: The rating went up 15 percent from the show’s first half to its second. Now that’s practically expected of an 8 p.m. show compared to a 10 p.m. show (Elementary fell off slightly from its first half to its second). But at least the drama was gathering momentum instead of losing it. Fingers crossed…

See our interview with the Last Resort producers talking about the premiere.


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