CBS Wins the Night With Crime Dramas

Rash Report: NBC's 'Knight Rider' Not Holding Up So Well

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Economically, it's starting to look like the 1930s, especially after today's 678.9-point Dow drop. Socially, it seems like the 1980s, as Lehman Bros.' Richard Fuld channels Gordon Gekko of "Wall Street" and spa-pampered AIG execs evoke images of Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky, two infamous financiers of that decade's go-go-gone-bust era. Even shoulder pads are back in fashion. But nostalgia has its limits, as NBC is learning with its souped-up series "Knight Rider."
'Knight Rider' lost the 8 p.m. timeslot to Fox's 'Bones.'
'Knight Rider' lost the 8 p.m. timeslot to Fox's 'Bones.' Credit: NBC

After a quick start as a TV movie last winter, the revival of the 1980s car series has stalled, delivering a 2.3/6 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, which is down 8% from its premiere and 54% from the TV-movie version.

"Knight Rider" lost the 8 p.m. timeslot to Fox's "Bones" (3.4/9), which, like CBS's 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. winners "Criminal Minds" (4.3/11) and "CSI: NY" (4.3/12), offers a postmodern media mix of simple, straightforward justice with 21st-century forensic science. "Criminal Minds" was up 10% from last week, while "CSI: NY" jumped 5% as CBS finished first with an overall 3.6/10.

Conversely, the other dramas competing at 10 p.m. had the ring of the over-the-top excess that now seems so fleeting. ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money" (2.0/5, down 17% from last week) plays like an updated "Dynasty," the network's '80s soap that celebrated that generation's masters of the universe.

In a week when Americans lost an estimated $2 trillion in investment savings, NBC seemed similarly disconnected with "Lipstick Jungle," which evokes the last eight years of a gilded age that turned to lead so quickly. "Lipstick" posted a 1.9/5, down 5% from last week and 21% from its first fall showing.

Outside of the police procedurals and CBS sitcoms "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (2.2/6) and "Gary Unmarried" (2.4/6), which saw a 10% and 9% ratings rise, respectively, all the other network programs were at or below prior week levels.

Fox's first episode of "'Til Death" was steady at a 1.7/4, while episode two fell 7% to a 1.4/3 as the network ended in second place overall with a 2.5/6.

On ABC "Pushing Daisies" (2.0/5) pulled in the same amount of viewers last week while lead-out "Private Practice" (2.6/6) slipped sharply, down 21% as the network averaged a fourth-place 2.2/5.

The CW's top program, "America's Next Top Model," was off 5% to a 1.8/4, but that was double the lead-out repeat of "90210," which notched a 0.9/2 as the network finished fifth with a 1.3/3.

And in between the nostalgia of the '80s ("Knight Rider") and of last month ("Lipstick Jungle") ran NBC's "Biggest Loser: Families," which shed 18% of its viewers to a slimmed-down 2.7/6. For the night, NBC averaged a third place 2.3/6.

Hopefully the families are realizing their weight-loss goals. To be sure, they won't be tempted by another '80s artifact, the "power lunch," as like everything else evoking Wall Street, Main Streeters seem to have only so much stomach for that era's ethos.

WHAT TO WATCH:
Thursday: The successors to the "not ready for prime-time players," as the original "Saturday Night Live" cast was called, are not only ready, but highly anticipated in prime time, as the first of four SNL specials runs tonight on NBC at 9:30 p.m.
Friday: The American League Championship between the worst-to-first Tampa Bay Rays and the World Series defending champs Boston Red Sox starts on TBS as the National League version between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies continues on Fox.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Even more than multiple Emmy Awards, Tina Fey's portrayal of Sarah Palin has finally given her the notice she deserves. But what will rate higher -- her appearance on tonight's "Saturday Night Live" special or her NBC sitcom "30 Rock?"

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NOTE: All ratings based on adults 18-49. A share is a percentage of adults 18-49 who have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all adults 18-49, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. adults 18-49 population with TVs. Ratings quoted in this column are based on live-plus-same-day unless otherwise noted. (Many ad deals have been negotiated on the basis of commercial-minute, live-plus-three-days viewing.)

John Rash is senior VP-director of media analysis for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.
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