Early TV Standouts: 'Mentalist,' 'Fringe'

CBS' The Mentalist A few weeks into the new TV season, Interpublic Group of Cos.' media consulting arm, Magna, says CBS' "The Mentalist" and Fox's "Fringe' are two standout new series so far. While most new dramas decline after their debut episodes, "The Mentalist" and "Fringe" have defied expectation, writes Steve Sternberg, executive vice president of audience analysis for Magna--with higher ratings in their most recent outings.

"The Mentalist" improved one-tenth of a rating point against 18-49 viewers with a 3.6/9 in its second episode. "Fringe" also gained in its fourth episode to a 4.2/11, from its first and third outings.

"Fringe" in particular is a good bet--especially for TV advertisers--because it has been enjoying high ratings, in relation to other new shows. It also carries a lighter commercial inventory load--which, according to analysts, yields better recall for marketing messages.



Sternberg says ABC's "Life on Mars" and CBS' "Eleventh Hour" had "decent debuts" in running in the same Thursday night 10 to 11 p.m. time slot, earning a 3.7/10 and a 3.2/9, respectively. Those shows may gain more male viewers in the coming weeks because their initial outings ran against Fox's baseball playoffs.

On the same night, NBC's highly touted "Kath & Kim" did "OK," according to Sternberg, "but certainly can't be labeled a hit."

On the fence are two other new CBS shows: "Gary Unmarried" and "The Ex-List." Under these two, according to Sternberg, is NBC's "Knight Rider," which "must be a disappointment for the network."

Many second-season shows are coming in under expectations, he says. This list includes ABC's "Pushing Daisies," "Private Practice" and "Dirty Sexy Money"; NBC's "Lipstick Jungle" and "Life"; and Fox's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." All are hovering around the 2 rating mark among 18-49 viewers, with "Terminator" most recently earning a 2.3/6---the highest of the group--and "Life" pulling a 1.7/5 at the lowest.

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