Since dismantling its two-hour Tuesday comedy block at the midpoint of the 2013-14 broadcast season, Fox has struggled to carve out an identity for itself on the night. A high-concept reality show ("Utopia") was scuttled a month into its year-ago run, and the long-running female-friendly battery of "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project" was formally dissolved in May, when Fox announced it had canceled the latter series.
Fox last night took another stab at redefining Tuesdays with a pair of new comedies featuring well-known male leads. At 8 p.m., the John Stamos vehicle "Grandfathered" launched to a modest 5.28 million viewers and a 1.5 rating among adults 18-to-49, which translates to 1.75 million members of the target demo. A half-hour later, Rob Lowe's "The Grinder" held onto 100% of its demo lead-in, while drawing 4.93 million total viewers.
While both shows finished last among the Big Four nets in their respective timeslots, they were also up 88% versus the 0.8 rating "Utopia" managed in the year-ago time slot. Comparisons to the comedies that premiered two years ago are less generous; "Grandfathered" was down 32% versus the Sept. 2013 debut of "Dads" (2.2), and "The Grinder" dropped 42% from the 2.6 rating notched by the "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" pilot.
On the bright side, "Grandfathered" did so well with young women that it easily beat out "The Muppets" in the female 12-to-17 demo (1.0 to 0.7). The show also topped Kermit and the gang by two-tenths of a ratings point among women in the 18-to-34 crowd.
(Of course, comedy is a notoriously tough nut to crack, and in recent years it's been a particularly challenging part of the broadcast programming mix. Of the 14 new comedies that made it to air in 2014-15, only four were picked up for a second season. That 71% failure rate goes a long way toward explaining why there are only seven new sitcoms scheduled for this fall, whereas the previous autumn ushered in 10 freshman sitcoms.)
After a softer-than-expected launch, "Scream Queens" lost 18% of the 18-to-49 demo, eking out a 1.4 rating in its regular 9-10 p.m. slot. While Fox hopes the second episode enjoys the sort of VOD lift demonstrated by the premiere, younger women continue to tune in. "Scream Queens" finished No. 2 on the night among teens, female teens and women 18-to-34, trailing only NBC's "The Voice."
As Fox forges ahead with its all-new Tuesday roster, NBC continues to dominate the night. "The Voice" delivered an evening-high 3.6 in the demo, up a tenth from last week, but down a half, or 12%, from its year-ago 4.1 rating. Episode three of the live variety show "Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris" may have once again earned another week in the post-"Voice" slot; while the plan is to move NPH to 8 p.m., last night's 2.0 demo rating was sufficient to win the hour.
Speaking of 10 p.m., CBS's new drama "Limitless" managed the rare feat of maintaining its premiere deliveries, averaging a 2.5 in the adults 25-to-54 demo, flat versus a week ago. Earlier in the night, "NCIS" slipped fourth-tenths of a point to notch a 3.2 in CBS's target demo, while "NCIS: New Orleans" was off by a tenth to a 2.5.
Over at ABC, the aforementioned "Muppets" lost a lot of steam in its second outing, falling 31% in the 18-to-49 demo to a 2.0 rating, while lead-out comedy "Fresh Off the Boat" was down 11% to a 1.7. (It's worth noting that the two sitcoms' combined 1.9 average represents a 90% improvement over the 1.0 managed by last season's "Selfie"/"Manhattan Love Story" combo.) At 9 p.m., "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." returned for its third season with a 1.7 demo rating, which marked a 15% decline from a year-ago 2.0.
This week will give rise to two more series premieres, as CBS's medical drama "Code Black" preps for tonight's 10 p.m. slot, while ABC takes the wraps off its freshman comedy "Dr. Ken" on Friday, Oct. 2.