Almost Month Into New Season Struggling Shows Aim To Take Root


 Three weeks into the new TV season, what have we learned so far?

1. Critics -- even with some strong consensus -- don't always have the answer when it comes to a question about future TV entertainment (Hello, "Lone Star").

2. Older, seemingly predictable, less-glossy networks are sometimes the way to go (Hello, CBS).

3. Sports franchises that already seem to be too much of a good thing actually keep getting better (Hello, NBC's "Sunday Night Football").

4. One new spinoff of an old franchise -- and one original series of that franchise -- may yield the wrong equation (Hello, "Law & Order: LA"; Goodbye, "Law & Order").

5. Most times we need not wait until after the November sweeps to get our new fill of cable network programming (Hello, "Boardwalk Empire").

6. Not all retro TV series are bad (Hello, "Hawaii 5-0").



Making sense of any new TV season that's only three weeks old doesn't seem fair -- not in this day and age of the mid-season replacements, fall and spring editions of reality shows, and other special-event programming that can take root out of nowhere.

Gauging consumer interest in TV shows always seems premature after barely a month of activity. Yet with increasingly real-time metrics from real-time social networks, areas such as Facebook and Twitter, smart-thinking TV marketers have no choice than to make quick adjustments to their marketing plans.

New shows typically have their own quick-determining trajectory: NBC's low-rated "UnderCovers" isn't likely to buck up from its sub-two 18-49 rating level; "Hawaii 5-0" looks to maintain quality numbers for some time; CW's "Hellcats" might continue to struggle to give the network all that its looking for young women viewers.

But anything might change.

When "The Office" debuted years ago, it didn't look like it would last long. But given NBC's lowly status -- as well as its higher-income, somewhat-more-male and younger-skewing niche -- the show's broader adults 18-49 metric wasn't as important in the short term.

Do any troubled shows have better sub-stories to tell? TV network executives might be combing through more data -- not yet apparent -- looking for another struggling, growing flower among the weeds. Another "Office" wannabe is looking to hang on. Can you wait?

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