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James Hibberd

Photo Finish For 'Kid Nation' and 'Kitchen Nightmares' in Reality Premiere Battle

September 20, 2007 9:13 AM

UPDATED 3 p.m.: Last night's trio of major broadcast network premieres resulted in a three-way tie for first place.

CBS's controversial "Kid Nation," Fox's Kelsey Grammer sitcom "Back to You" and Fox's reality makeover series "Kitchen Nightmares" all earned a 3.1 rating among adults 18 to 49.

The figures are based on the national Nielsen ratings, which bumped up "Kid Nation" a notch since this morning's preliminary tallies. A 3.1 rating is considered a gray-area premiere figure, neither impressive nor embarrassing, particularly for reality shows.

For CBS, the rating means "Kid Nation" won the 8 p.m. hour. For Fox, "Back to You" held even with CBS for the first half of 8 p.m. and was up 24 percent in the demo from last year's "Bones" season premiere.

At 9 p.m., "Kitchen Nightmares" won the hour, improving over last year's debut in the time period, but down from the Monday night season premiere of Gordon Ramsay's other Fox series, "Hell's Kitchen," in June.

Among total viewers, the showdown was slightly more diverse: 9.5 million watched "Back to You," 9.4 million tuned in to watch "Kid Nation" and 6.6 million checked out "Kitchen Nightmares."

Overnight reviews on “Kid Nation” -- which was not screened for critics -- were generally positive. The Los Angeles Times called it “artificial yet adorable.” MSNBC says the kids “were real and rather entertaining.” The New York Post said it was “just an average reality show, yet one that deserves another look.” But the Boston Globe says it’s “as much fun as baby-sitting overtired tots who've had one too many Sweet Tarts.”

The reality series, which has been threatened with advertiser boycotts due to accusations of child exploitation, aired with very few ads. The first commercial break aired after 8:30 p.m. CBS said the premiere was originally supposed to run as a 90-minute episode. Edited down for a one-hour time slot, the show was still longer than usual, clocking in at 58 minutes rather than the typical 44.

"An extended run of programming at top of a new show is a strategy we've used on previous reality shows such as 'Survivor,'" a CBS spokesperson said. "There was less inventory than usual due to the length of the episode. Next week we have a full commercial load."

Other premieres last night include The CW's "America's Next Top Model" (2.5) and "Gossip Girl" (1.7). None of the Wednesday premieres hit high Nielsen notes, or even topped Fox's "K-Ville" debut earlier this week.

Overall, Fox handily won the night with "Back to You," the season premiere of "Til' Death" (2.7 --down 13 percent from last year's premiere) and "Nightmares." The win should help bolster Fox for the upcoming Wednesday night battleground, which next week heats up with the premiere of heavy-hitting scripted shows like ABC's "Private Practice" and NBC's "Bionic Woman."

NBC was second with the time-period premiere of “Deal or No Deal” and the season finale of “Last Comic Standing” (2.9).

CBS was third with "Nation" and repeats.

The CW was fourth with the premieres of "Top Model" and "Gossip Girl," which helped lead the network to a three-way tie with Fox and NBC among The CW's target demographic of adults 18 to 34. "Model" was up 4 percent among adults 18 to 49 compared to last fall's premiere. The "Gossip" opening was modest, though had the highest retention ever of a "Top Model" lead-in among the network's key demo.

ABC was fifth with repeats and a "Grey's Anatomy" special (2.5) and "Primetime" (2.0).


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Comments (52)


I would like to see how they fared in Chicago ,Milwaukee , Boston and New York up against baseball


The only one that was worth watching was Back To You. And shame on CBS for going over 7 minutes on Kid Nation. It completely threw off my DVR scheduling.

Ugh! I'll bet I watched a whole five minutes of "Nation."


I watched the show and thought it was an excellent example of psychology to see how kids would react under difficult situations and to see which kids would be the leaders and which ones would be the followers. I liked it. It certainly was better than the endless parade of boobs,bimbos and party animals and Bush lies we've been subjected to.


Wow...only 4 posts before a Bush-bashing statement....

Stay classy, Bill

Check out the Kid Nation blog at Reelfans.com:

Kid Nation Ep. 1 on Reelfans.com


Bill, you're a boob.

Try to stay on topic, or is that too much to ask?


Yea Michael, Kind of reminds me when Clinton was President. It usually only took one or two posts before he was bashed or blamed for something.
How soon you forget.
You stay classy too!


I thought Kid Nation was excellent and entertaining.


Loved it. I hate "cute" crap but those kids were fun to watch and their honest reactions to stuff was refreshingly diametrically opposed to the calculated "i know I'm on TV and can't wait to go on a talk show afterwards" reality whore contestant "emotions" you usually see.

Good content.. i can see families loving this show.

BIG franky:

hey there jmn...

you classless liberal piece of trash... that statement is a total fabrication.... another example of the lies being spewed from the dems!

notice that it was a Bush-basher that started this thing from getting entirely off-topic. can we please get back to the subject at hand?

kid nation sucked.

i would be embarrassed if those cry-babies were my kids. i guess it speaks volumes as to the integrity of the parent for even subjecting your child to something like that.... i guess that is the state of the nation, however.... anything for a buck!!!! (unfortunatly even your kids!)


As a grandfather of 7, I found the children inspirational and very intelligent. Yes they have now become actors and what's wrong with that? It's a tv program and it's entertaining. What's so entertaining about people picking attache case numbers to win money? If not for Mandell the show would have gone a long time ago. And, what's exciting watching people trying to lose weight.My grandchildren enjoyed the show.

Common Sense:

Lord of the Flies ring a bell with anyone? How "real" can a show be with two dozen cameras and hundreds of production people milling about? Public executions can't be far off. And what type of dolt over the age of 15 would watch that pap?

Bucky Maxwell:

Cmon. This is a wholesome show with real kids showing real emotion. Some of these kids actually brought tears to my eyes - and I'm a crusty senior. I can't wait for the next episode. And for cripes sake, can't we leave politics out of it for an hour?


Uhm...Lord of the Flies much? This is headed for complete disaster.


Common Sense: You sadly underestimate the intelligence level of the American people in general; they will watch all kinds of stupid things on television and have proved that over and over.


Interesting. The producers were looking for another $ winner, of course. The concept is different, for a tv show. I don't know if was just chance, or some decision maker has taken graduate sociology courses, because hundreds of studies have been conducting relative to the show. Put a number of random people of varying backgrounds, sex, education, into a room. Period. You give them no instructions. You just tell them that they will be in the room for four hours, or eight, or whatever, it doesn't matter.

And every time the same dynamic occurs. First there is idle chatter between and among different subjects. Then, not too long into the study, two things occur. One, a leadership pecking order is established, and two, a confict/disput/disagreement develops and is resolved. Following number two the leadership roles are solidified and persons with certain knowledge or skills are recognized, and another confict/disput/disagreement develops and is resolved.

This has already begun in Kid Nation. Natural leaders are emerging, and kids with specific skills and knowledge are being recognized. Organized peer group influences are emerging.

I believe the program will teach a lot of people a lot of useful life lessons.

Finally, Bill Clinton was/is a low life degenerate hick from Hope Arkansas with extraordinary leadership skills, much to the detriment of most Americans for eight painful years. George Bush is a decent human being and dedicated public servant, a little rough around the edges but by no means lacking in intellect. (His life has been one success after another and his grades at Yale were better than reprobate Bill.)

Made in the USA:

There is no worse parent then the one who signs over their childs life for money. They all signed a document stating that they wont seek any compensation if their child were to die.

Anyone with any moral convictions at all should seriously consider a CBS boycott, ie... turn the channel.


This kid show is nothing but a waste of time. These kids are being told what to do and there will be no real life lessons here. For the morons who constantly say President Bush lied - PROVE IT, or shut up.
CBS should be ashamed of itself for talking advantage of the kids. There parents should be tarred and feathered.


Documents of that nature are, as they say, "Only worth the paper they are written on." The CBS executives know that and so do the parents. Those waivers are jokes in court. They don't prevent lawsuits and they have no standing in liability cases.


BUSH made the kids do and say anything you find disturbing.

Didn't take out the garbadge in my house.
Didn't remember to wake me up and make me breakfast.

Impeach I say.

I just slapped myself for wasting my time to blog about the Nation, much less watch it.


LOVED Back to You! Spent 15 years working in the "news biz" and it was a dead-on skewer, especially the weather girl who talked normally until she spoke a spanish-root word and went all Latina on us. Priceless, and SO true.

And, as for President Bush - LOVE him too. Awesome leader, decent fellow, follows what's right not what's popular. Only about 1/3 of colonists were in favor of the Declaration of Independance. Hmmmm. Where would we be without that?

Well, we probably wouldn't be able to watch shows like Back to You, which I will next week! And you thought I went all off-topic on you! :)

Julie Schwarz:

Kid Nation is child abuse, pure and simple. If an adult makes a conscious choice to sign on to say a "Survivor" type of show, that is fine but when a parent gives permission for their minor child to participate that is pathetic!

High five for "Back to You"


I watched & actually quite liked Kid Nation. It's a nice show.
Can't wait to see how the producers make everything appear in future episodes!

I also can't wait to watch the full commercial load next week! Just kidding about that, it was actually nice not having so damn many commercials.

Oh, and in other news... you do have to be kind of a douche to be the one to bring up "Bush lies" when talking about the ratings for a reality tv show of 8,9,&10+ yr olds. Way to go giant douche!


I liked the show, but I hope that they let kids go home a little easier. That poor 8 year old should not have been questioned about going home! I loved him for sticking to his guns!
Noticed in the previews for next week's show the kids were pretending to take shots, bad idea! Need to tell the 15 year olds to quit it.

Remember you heard it here first! The new Fox show "Back to You" has hit written all over it. Familiar faces, clever writing, a new adorable kid - what else could you want?
I now I will be 'back' to "Back to You" every Wednesday night from now on.


"Back to You" looks like it will be a big hit to me. I didn't bother to watch the reality tv shows I'm not into that stuff.


Kid Nation was to me by far the most interesting new show of the season when the schedule was announced this summer.

Since then nothing has changed that. The first episode was very well done and shows that care was put into looking after the children featured on the show.

It was clear from the outset that Kid Nation was not going to be "Lord of the Flies." It's a celebration of what this younger generation is capable of. They would never have made this show without the idea of children accomplishing something positive. They're real children, after all! It's structured enough by the show-runners to give children what they need to rise to the challenges they're given.

This ties in with generational theory that suggests children of this age range will be very oriented toward working together for positive change through social institutions as adults.

Kid Nation is a celebration of the new younger generation as well as a sociological study similar to the first season of Survivor. I'm sure its purpose all along was to inspire, even if the nature of promoting these shows is about playing up conflict. CBS has had to walk a fine line in promoting the show.

Thanks to CBS for putting Kid Nation on the air.


Kid Nation is definitely on my MUST WATCH list.

I loved it and and am glad 'jimmy' got to go home. And a spanking is in order to the girl that poured out the pasta.


oh! Kid Nation was on? Somehow I must have forgotten.


Oh, I completely didn't realize it was on either. If I get home in time next week, I will probably check it out though. At least it presents different material from the usual 30-min., "comedic" fall sitcom that lasts just a matter of weeks before it falls to pieces and disappears...


Flush another load of shows. 'Back To You' was great...very funny. 'Til Death' is OK. The rest pretty much stunk up the place. Looks like most are geared for the 12 to 14 year age or mentality. Network execs must feel comfortable and familiar working in this range.

Next year, I'd like to see a reality show about two companies that install real estate for sale signs. Now that would be exciting and genuine competion for most of this years new shows..or even last years shows. Or, how about a reality show following former network execs through the unemployment struggles.


Personally, I can't believe they (the networks) put so much into reality TV. I'm the type of person who watches TV to escape reality, not see how some other poor schmuck has trouble paying bills, dealing with kids, etc.

Shows like Jerich, Heroes, The 4400, etc. are worth watching, in my opinion, as there is some actual thought that goes into the writing process, but all this Kid Nation, Survivor trash is worthless. Seriously, how much thought goes into putting 4+ people together and watch who buddies up with who and starts backstabbing the others? Yeah, lots of thought goes into watching people do what they do best. Thus the reason why I refuse to invest in cable/satellite TV (cheers to the networks for online viewing), there isn't any really original anymore, only this reality TV garbage. Just my opinion, though.


"Back to you" was just not funny..."Til Death" was about as much fun as watching "According to Jim"..."Nightmares" was entertaining...

DoubleD in NYC:

I found "Back to You" to be laugh out loud funny. While it is setup, if you will, as a standard network sitcom, I found Kelsey Grammer to be hilarious in his role. Never was a big fan of 'Frasier', but somehow, he connected with me. And it was great to see two comic actors like Grammar and Fred Willard (who is consistently awesome) riffing off each other. The whole Heaton-Grammer daughter element was a bit blah, but other than that, I found myself laughing throughout. Good supporting cast, some great zingers... and I haven't watched a network sitcom, other than '30 Rock' for years. I'll be watching again next week.


child exploitation? please! a 40 day experience like this and the dimwits call it child exploitation?

here's the deal. yes, the network is only in it to make money. so?

Most programming is innane and mind numbing. "Back to You" is a canned formula programs that will probably stay on longer than most, only because of the great comedic talent and timing of ... what's his name...the Fraiser guy. The writing is crap with a nice package.

Any way you cut it, those kids, who are already brighter than a super nova, and judging from their bios come from expectional families, will have a positive life-altering experience. Who care's what the motives of the parents or produces are if the kids benefit and several million people are entertained. When the kids are interviewed after the show is over, if they say it was worthwhile, that they learned good and useful life lessons, then else matters, really? To those fools crying "child exploitation", who have children, ask youself: if some CBS exec came to you and told you they wanted YOUR kid to spend 40 days, only 40 days, in a challenging and stimulating experiment with 39 other kids that will be made into a national primetime television series, and oh, by the way, the network will also throw in a $100,000 college fund for your kid, tell me you won't accept the invitation in a heartbeat.

The kid has a blast, learns powerful positive life lessons, that he/she would never otherwise learn, gets a massive positive self image boost and gets a big fat college fund to boot.

To some that appears to be a bad thing.


I cant believe some tool actually said "Bush lies" that he has been subjected to...ON CBS no less. ITs more like Lies about Bush on the Communist Broadcasting Service.

ANd not for nothing, but it didnt take more than ten minutes for KIDS to bash Bush on this show....which really hacked me off.

I really wanted to see this show, and basically liked it with a couple of producing errors as exceptions. But if its going to be a politically motivated propaganda tool, I am going to boycott the one sponsor that they have.


Markus Booster:

I can't believe the President of the United States of America got a blowjob in the oval office. What a disgrace! What are we supposed to tell our children? Where am I?


For gods sake don't any of you remember what it was like to be a kid? When I first heard about kid nation both me and my mom mention how fun it sounded... I would have LOVED something like that when I was a kid... I didn't get a chance to catch it but my parents watched and came away with the impression that it would have been a blast alot like camp...

I will have to catch Back to You sometime although the reason I didn't last night was because I was editing a news show. hehe Can't wait to see how "On" the show is...

Sui Juris:

This is a God damned TV show !!!

This is NOT NEWS !!!

Yankee Jim:

Im not mad about the BJ he got in the Oval office, its the other things. I wanted to give him a high five for the BJ.

However "Nation" was a little more entertaining then watching these other reality shows that are rigged. However they are all a waste of my time as the YANKEES are about to take first place back, Boston is falling apart. All is right with the world again, and George Bush is the man!!!

I don't think the girl was bashing Bush I think she was just making a point that they had no more leaders


Kid Nation - for a change a prime time program without Sexuality/Nudity/Innuendo! That itself is good.


The "children" were so full of themselves! Just turn on a camera and you will have instant "stars". What passes for entertainment is total hedonism. "leaders" I do not think so! At the childrens ages you can NEVER tell which one will be a leader. Alot of middle aged parents getting off on thier little creations, and maybe a sprikling of folks that prey on children.


Kid Nation. An hour of my life I can never get back. P.S. Read the bio's of these "kids" and tell me who ACTUALLY wrote these bio's. Puhleese.


Frankly, I'm tired of "the children".


My 13 year old son and I seldom like to watch the same network shows in prime time.
However, we both found "Kid Nation" to be pretty entertaining....at least for the first episode.

I can see how this could turn into more drama and conflict (which is exactly what drives viewership) as the kids tire of the responsibility and the pressure of being "adults".

It's a good social experiment and none of the kids are in danger. It's like a less structured Scout camp with one cool counselor.

At least we've got an alternative to the same old, tried and true, tired sitcoms and dramas.
What was it up against, CSI Toledo?

As long as the challenges get more challenging, we should see some interesting kids performing extraordinarily like adults, which may teach us adults some lessons.

Judge Roy Bean:

Kitchen Nightmares is definitely a hit in my book. Gordon Ramsey could probably score a hit with a prime time cooking show.


I really hope BACK TO YOU succeeds! It's nice to see a real, multi-camera comedy on the air after SO much reality. I thought the first episode was good and I bet it will keep improving. It didn't have that desperate feel so many new shows have. Nice to see Patricia Heaton back. Like someone said, the daughter thing was a bit much for the first episode - nothing like suspense...for the ten minutes before they told us - but, it didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of the show.


9/11 was a inside job... wake up people.


I liked Kid Nation. It was better than I thought it would be. Something that I can watch with my kids. They loved it.


911truth: F*#@ you - you leftotrash, keep your views in the right blog - like the CBS.COM or MOVEONTOCOMMUNISM.ORG blogs. 911 an inside job, where do you people come from? I KNOW where I was on that day.

Kid Nation: Ecccc, not sure yet. Figured CBS find a way to get their agenda across and they did. I say bring back PIRATE MASTER! A much better, however maligned show.

Gordon Ramsey: You rock! Let's go have a beer.

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