Reruns Repeat Summer's Pattern

Rash Report: Scripted Series Took Their Own Summer Vacation

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MINNEAPOLIS ( -- The figurative last night of summer was marked by two of the three trends that typified the season itself: low ratings and high amounts of repeats.

ABC came in fourth with three repeats of 'Castle.'
ABC came in fourth with three repeats of 'Castle.' Credit: ABC

Absent was the third -- reality TV -- which has been the season's dominant genre, albeit one that seemed to solidify hits such as NBC's "America's Got Talent," Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" and "So You Think You Can Dance," ABC's "Wipeout" and CBS's "Big Brother."

Scripted series, however, were a summer bummer for broadcasters. Despite some admirable attempts at new dramas and comedies, no new hits emerged.

Instead it was reruns that ruled, such as CBS's entire lineup last night, which averaged a first place 1.9/5 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic. (All based on Nielsen fast-affiliate ratings, with final live-plus-same-day data delayed due to the Labor Day holiday.) CBS's -- and network's -- top show was "The Big Bang Theory" (2.6/7), which even out-rated Monday's usual winner, lead-in "Two and a Half Men" (2.5/7).

NBC was second with a 1.4/4, and did so with original programming, including "Dateline," which tied CBS's "CSI: Miami" with a 1.7/5 in the 10 p.m. timeslot. But as if to amplify the repeat cycle, NBC played two versions of "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" (1.1/3 and 1.5/4), which itself seems like a repeated version of the original "Law and Order."

ABC went one step further en route to a fourth place 0.9/2, running three repeats of "Castle" (0.7/2, 0.9/2 and 1.1/3). Third-place Fox (1.3/4) and the fifth-place CW (0.4/1) also got in on second showings, with Fox repeating "House" (1.3/4) and "Lie to Me" (1.3/3), and the CW rerunning "One Tree Hill" and "Gossip Girl" (both 0.4/1).

The CW will be the first network to turn the channel on the summer season, with the new fall season's first program premiere.

Of course, it, too, is somewhat of a repeat, as it's a remake of the big '90s hit "Melrose Place."

Tuesday: OK, you didn't make it out west during this summer of the Great Recession, so visit a great summer destination on PBS's "Yellowstone: Land to Life."
Wednesday: From glum to "Glee": After this town-hall summer of discontent, President Obama looks to resuscitate health-care legislation in a nationally televised address. It's important. But after the latest in the dreary debate, escape to the season premiere of "Glee," Fox's promising dramedy about a high-school glee club.

With a big free-media push and mostly playing against summer series, it's "Melrose's" big chance for solid sampling. And while one week does not a series make, it's important for any serial (OK, in "Melrose Place's" case, soap opera) to get off to a good start, as viewers are less likely to jump in to an ongoing plot line later.

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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

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