Sunday, September 30, 2007

New Season Ratings Report

Network Ratings Update

We're at the end of the first week of the new season with somewhat surprising results from the new crop of genre shows. Here's a quick rundown using numbers reported on The Futon Critic.

Monday - NBC's lineup of three back to back genre shows fared relatively well. The second season debut of Heroes had ratings comparable to the season average for the show and about 10% above the show's debut last year.

Both Chuck and Journyman debuted with OK numbers, although compared to year ago ratings of previous time slot holders, they were both down. NBC may be willing to give both shows a chance to be found or at least see where the ratings level out to in the next couple of weeks. Last year, Studio 60 debuted strong but dropped quickly and nothing else NBC aired after Heroes was a success.

Tuesday - The CW's debut of Reaper did slightly better than Veronica Mars season opener last year in the time slot, especially in the male demographics.

Wednesday - In probably the biggest surprise so far, the debut of The Bionic Woman drew very good ratings for NBC, handily beating the year ago ratings and giving NBC its best ratings in the time slot since The West Wing in 1999. This was up against the debut of the highly promoted spinoff of Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice. Bionic Woman didn't have the top overall ratings, but did beat Private Practice in the adult 18-49 demos.

Thursday - Smallville's return was 13% lower than last season's debut. It may pick up a bit this week with the episode fully introducing Kara Zor-El.

Friday - Moonlight debuted with ratings pretty much on par with Ghost Whisperer and Numb3rs, providing a pretty good link between the two shows. However, both Ghost Whisperer and Numb3rs were down close to 20% in total ratings and the adult demos from a year ago.

The other thing to keep in mind is that DVR penetration has gotten higher since a year ago, so once live + 7 day ratings are added in, the overall ratings will likely improve. If anything, none of the new genere shows had debuted with weak ratings which would get them pulled right away (ala Nashville on FOX).

Still to come for its series debut is Pushing Daisies on ABC this coming Wednesday, which will likely benefit from lots of promotion during Dancing With the Stars. The CW's third season of Supernatural returns on Thursday.

SciFi Notes

SciFi Channel has renewed Eureka and Destination: Truth for new seasons, both of which will air next summer.

The Battlestar Galactica minisodes from Razor will start airing next week during Flash Gordon. These feature a young Bill Adama during the first cylon war and preview the Razor TV movie debuting on SciFi on November 24th.

SciFi also reported that the return of Ghost Hunters on Wednesday drew its biggest numbers ever at a 1.44 rating and over 2 million viewers, doing very well against new shows on cable and the networks (even beating The CW's Gossip Girl in the adult demographics). It will be interesting to see how Stargate Atlantis fares in its return without SG-1 as a lead-in and low ratings for Flash Gordon.


Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm a TV Big Shot!

TV Big Shot!

Television Without Pity and Bravo have launched a new Fantasy TV competition called TV Big Shot which allows users to buy and sell current TV shows, gaining points on how well they do in the ratings and other factors. It launched early this week and appears to be having some growing pains (as well as some confusion about how it all will work, especially with shows going on hiatus or in limbo). Since they do have a grand prize of $100,000, there will be a lot of people trying to win and right now it isn't clear what is the best strategy. You are limited to a budget of $300 million and the way shows are priced, that will get you two hit shows and one or two other lower priced shows. My network, SFTVPlus will likely not win overall, but I figured I'd try a mostly genre strategy. No one will actually get
any points until after next weeks ratings are in, so it's currently a list of 6000+ networks all hoping to do better than the others. With the limited budget for each network, it may make it difficult to have one single one break ahead of the pack.
SFTV Schedules Updated
The SFTV Schedules have been updated and the upcoming schedule file will be emailed out this weekend. In the meantime, you can check things out to the right of the page.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

WorldCon, The Mini Doctor, Flash Fizzles Even More

A few quick things to post here after a bit of a lag due to CopperCon last weekend.

Paul Cornell's WorldCon report - A report by Paul Cornell on his trip to WorldCon and Japan.

Which includes a link to the Mini-Doctor's trip. "She had good buns, indeed!"

As a followup to the post about Flash Gordon and Bonnie Hammer. This week's SciFi top ten did see Flash Gordon in its third week, at a .8 rating. That means almost half of the people who tuned in to the debut episode have not come back. No sign of Doctor Who, Who Wants to be a Superhero or Painkiller Jane, either. Repeats of former Saturday night movies such as Mega Snake and Ice Spiders still have legs.

1 ECW 1.7
2 Eureka 1.7
3 In the Spider's Web 1.0
4 Mega Snake 1.0
5 Ghost Hunters 0.9
6 Sasquatch 0.9
7 Ice Spiders 0.9
8 Flash Gordon 0.8
9 Marabunta 0.8
10. Earth vs. Spider 0.8

Source: Nielsen Galaxy Report, 8/20/07 -- 8/26/07

Monday, September 3, 2007

Long Range Dr. Who Plans for the BBC, Galactica to be Strung Out?

BBC Commits to Doctor Who Through 2010

In an official BBC Press Release, the BBC has announced their plans for Doctor Who into 2010. Recently, it was announced that David Tennant was committed to a lengthy run for the Briitish Shakespeare company that would obviously overlap with what the normal filming schedule for Doctor Who would be. In the BBC Announcement, they indicate the Doctor Who schedule will be as follows:

Christmas 2007 - New special
Season Four - Spring 2008
Christmas 2008 - New Special
2009 - Three specials (with Tennant and Russell T. Davies)
2010 - Full Fifth Series of 13 episodes

The BBC doesn't indicate any more details about the fifth series, which has already led to speculation on if Tennant or Davies will continue. This does make some sense when you look at the production of other BBC series, most of which don't do more than a few series and then end. The fact that Doctor Who has done four series in four years plus three Christmas specials is pretty remarkable and giving the actors and producers a bit of a break will probably help (plus they still have Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures to produce and who knows what else they might come up with for other productions, be it a Doctor Who related spinoff or something completely different).

Battlestar Galactica Final Season Being Stretched into 2009?

In a report on some of the Battlestar Galactica actors at DragonCon this weekend posted on Ain't It Cool News, the actors indicated that SciFi currently plans to run the first half of the 20 episode final season in January 2008 and hold the remaining ten episodes until early 2009! SciFi appears to want to get as much mileage as they can with the final run of BG, and this will likely mean a split season release (or calling them season four and season five). Of course, if Sky TV in the UK gets to run all 20 episodes straight through and airs them before SciFi, it may be a moot point for a lot of fans.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Quick Note to NBC Universal

Dear NBC Universal,

Don't you think its about time to admit that Bonnie Hammer doesn't really need to oversee two networks and let someone have a shot at running the SciFi Channel that might be able to either come up with something people will watch or let something that people do watch and has potential to grow its audience stick around?

Cases in Point...

1. Painkiller Jane - Debuted at a 1.3 rating, settled down at maybe a .6 or .7 rating. That has already been canceled. Maybe it was a good deal since you did a co-production arrangement so the people who produced it could sell it in weekly syndication and it didn't cost SciFi that much. At least they let the viewers who were watching it know that it will end at the end of the season and it isn't being renewed.

2. Flash Gordon - It debuted with the highest numbers of any new series on SciFi this year. At a 1.5 rating it was slightly better than Dresden Files' 1.4 debut. Dresden Files did manage to keep most of its viewers though. Looking at this weeks SciFi Wire report on the top 10 SciFi Channel shows we see no sign of Flash Gordon, which means it at best was a .9 rating, which means over 1/3 of the households that tuned into the first episode didn't come back the next week.

3. Tin Man - SciFi appears to be concerned about this year's big miniseries. A recent survey done with the NBC viewer survey board was primarily to see if a different name might encourage people to watch it. Things like "Behind the Brick Road" or "Battle for Oz!" were asked opinions of. How about "Oz ReImmed" to reflect the reimagining of The Wizard of Oz to the point where no one wants to see it? Of course, that appears to have not worked very well with Flash Gordon.

SciFi in general is suffering from a lot of ratings erosion, whether its due to people using their PVRs, buying them on Itunes (which NBC Universal has pulled the plug on for the new season, reportedly because Apple wasn't willing to charge more for the episodes), or just downloading them off the internet. Down the pike they don't have anything really exciting in the works for new series and coming up this fall, to go with repurposed episodes of The Bionic Woman, they will be showing Odyssey Five as a lead in to Flash Gordon and Stargate Atlantis. Granted, O5 was an interesting series, but it has been out on DVD for a while but its not likely to do gangbuster ratings, either. I have a feeling that Stargate Atlantis will have trouble keeping its viewers with the lousy leadin it will have with Flash (assuming Flash makes it to October).

I noticed that Who Wants to be a Superhero apparently isn't doing that well, either. It's season debut was at best a .8 rating and it hasn't made Scifi's top ten so far. Mind Control with Darren Brown hasn't cracked the top ten in its short run, either. WWTBASH is a fun show, and I'll have more on it later this week, but its not going to save the SciFi channel in the ratings wars. In fact, SciFi has moved up the finale a week, airing the final two episodes this week and dropped a planned marathon of the rest of the episodes that would have aired on September 13th. Unfortunately, the Skiffytown Superheroes may not have a show to try out for and Stan Lee can concentrate on his turning Paris Hilton into a superhero. Says Stan "The plan is to make an animated cartoon show with her on TV. A hip comedy in the superhero comedy-adventure genre. We get on very well. This is a charming, very likable person. Sophisticated. Great comedic sense. A fine voice. And seriously, hard-working. Totally unlike whatever the public is led to believe."

FYI, there is a petition at petitionsonline to have Bonnie Hammer replaced. A lot of their demands on the petition are a bit misplaced or not possible, but the sentiment is good.

New Star Trek Worth Catching

Last week saw the debut of the latest episode of the fan produced Star Trek New Voyages series, "World Enough and Time." This is the third full episode of the series and sets a new standard for "fan" produced episodes. There's been a lot of attention given to the Star Wars Fan Films and the prior New Voyages episode, "To Serve All My Days" featured Walter Koenig as Chekov in a script by D.C. Fontana, got a bit of publicity. There's also the ongoing Star Trek Hidden Frontier fan film series that has produced seven seasons worth of episodes.

For the latest Star Trek New Voyages released, Marc Scott Zicree approached the producers with a script based on a story originally developed by Michael Reaves for the Star Trek Phase II TV series that was scuttled in favor of the first Star Trek movie. Zicree directed and co-wrote the script and enlisted George Takei to play an older Sulu, seen on the Excelsior with Janice Rand (played by Grace Lee Whitney) as well as Sulu after he was stranded for 30 or so years on an alien planet. Zicree also enlisted a lot of well regarded people for behind the scenes and also worked with the regular cast to improve their acting (Zicree's wife, Elaine, ran acting workshops for the cast). When I talked with Zicree last year at WesterCon and again at CopperCon (just a couple of weeks before filming was done), he was excited about putting it together and wanted to make it the best production it could be.

For the new episode, they did a hollywood premiere and set the episode up to be streamed online but found out that they grossly underestimated the demand for it and had a lot of problems getting it streamed. They do now have it streaming for the most part and also have set the episode up on their official Star Trek New Voyages Bittorrent site.

The episode tells a good story, bringing Sulu to front and center early in the episode and putting him through an emotional wringer by the time the episode is done with. The acting by the regular cast has improved over the prior episodes and the guest cast is very good. Takei definitely enjoys getting a chance to play Sulu again and makes the most of it.

What's next for the Star Trek New Voyages crew? They've already filmed the next installment this summer, "Blood and Fire" with David Gerrold directing his own script, which was adapted from his original script done for Star Trek: The Next Generation. On David's blog, he goes into detail on the genesis for the story and the original script, why it didn't get made back then and what he hoped to accomplish with it now. This doesn't have any of the original crew reprising their roles, but he does have Denise Crosby (ST:TNG's Yar) and Bill Blair (The Alien Actor) taking part and a good crew behind the scenes including Rick Sternbach and Daren R. Dochterman (currently working on remastering the original series for HD). After that, they have a Harry Mudd centric episode, "The Sky Above, the Mudd Below", written by Howard Weinstein, and starring J.G. Hertzler (DS9's Martok) as Harry Mudd.

Until we get the new Star Trek movie next December, we've got some good efforts to watch continuing the Trek legacy.