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James Hibberd

Fall Ratings Surprises: What the ‘Chuck’?

October 1, 2007 12:18 PM

ChuckA select crop of heavily buzzed fall shows have premiered to merely average ratings in recent weeks, prompting industry head-scratching. The titles had fair-to-great press coverage and several had strong research tracking numbers to indicate significant pre-air viewer interest. Keep in mind this is very early in the season, all are considered viable and have the potential to gain in the coming weeks. Still, it’s worth asking: What happened?

  • NBC’s “Chuck"
    Prior Consensus: All the geeks at Comic-Con loved it.
    In Retrospect: Need more than just geeks to watch it. Still, it did pretty decent, and Saturday’s encore picked up some healthy sampling that could pay off tonight.
  • CBS’ “Kid Nation”
    Prior Consensus: With all those headlines, everybody’s gotta be curious, right?
    In Retrospect: Do viewers really want to watch kids learning to cook macaroni?
  • The CW’s “Reaper”
    Prior Consensus: A clever and funny pilot that critics loved.
    In Retrospect: Like “Chuck,” the geek factor may be at play, and this time the show is on a network targeting young females. In other words, “Reaper” is a show for guys who get rejected by “America’s Next Top Model” fans. But, also like “Chuck,” its well-received repeat might help this week.
  • Fox’s “Kitchen Nightmares”
    Prior Consensus: A popular U.K. import format starring a proven Fox reality star.
    In Retrospect: Some critics say the Fox version is a tad overcooked, and that time period is a killer.
  • The CW’s “Gossip Girl”
    Prior Consensus: A demographic bull’s-eye for The CW’s target audience from proven showrunner Josh Schwartz.
    In Retrospect: This one really is puzzling. As one reader wailed on this blog’s comments section, “Leave ‘Gossip Girl’ alone!”

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    Comments (4)


    People may not want to watch kids cook macaroni, but KIDS want to watch kids cook macaroni, so parents with kids (excluding a lot of reviewers...) will watch Kid Nation with them. My jaded 9-year-old becomes another person (e.g., wild) when the show comes on.

    Not sure what to make of the rest of them, but am really looking forward to see how "Chuck" does tonight. "Chuck," like the rest of NBC's new shows were all over the place in the weeks leading up to the premiere. Whether renting at Blockbuster, via Cable and Satellite Video On Demand, or free downloads at Amazon, many of the prospective hardcore fans of these shows had probably already seen them before they aired and didn't watch the actual premiere airing, much like I did. "Bionic Woman" was the only one of NBC's new four that really performed well out of the gate. It will be interesting to see if any of the people who liked the shows, but didn't watch the premieres, will be watching the second episodes and how much of a bump that could create.


    Doug--I see your point, but I read that the Kid Nation premiere ranked 4th in kids viewing for that hour behind Disney, Nick and Cartoon Network.

    I'd be curious to know how much promotion Kid Nation got on Nick given the Viacom connection, but if most kids are watching Disney and Disney has no off-channel ads, how aware were they of Kid Nation overall?


    The only new show that I like is Life. The other new shows that I tried to watch, (Cane, Chuck, The Practice, Dirty Sexy Money) were boring with bad acting. I am sick sick sick of reality shows and I think Kid Nation just shows how irresponsible some parents are to allow their kids to be on that show.

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