Before there was HOUSE, M.D. as you know it, there was HOUSE, M.D. that wasn’t a ratings killer. When the show premiered in 2004, FOX most likely didn’t anticipate how the show would rise in the ratings and be in many mouths and in many top lists of the year. The show wasn’t a hit, because it started late in the 2004/2005 season. The show wasn’t a hit in the beginning, because FOX decided not to wait for AMERICAN IDOL to premier in January and pair HOUSE, M.D. with the singing competition from the beginning. The show wasn’t a hit, because the numbers might have been skewed, when it was finally aired out of Simon Cowell and his friendly judges telling hobby singers they might wanna take the ticket to go to Hollywood. HOUSE, M.D. became a hit, when it was 2005, and all of a sudden Americans were interested in the show, even though it already aired for two months.
The ratings in the target demo rose 100 percent in 2005, and even went up another close to 50 percent over the course of the second half of the season. It took two weeks to air out of AMERICAN IDOL to raise the viewership numbers to more than 100 percent as well, in addition to climb a couple more million throughout the rest of the season. And HOUSE, M.D. even managed to air its season finale with the highest numbers of the entire season. At the beginning, one might have thought the numbers were skewed. But at the end, it was evident that HOUSE, M.D. was able to carry itself, since the numbers were continuously rising, even for the finale. Generally speaking, it’s rare for a show to do that, even when it had a ratings killer of a lead-in program.
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FOX’s 1995 remake of the 1960s science-fiction alien invasion show THE INVADERS aired as a two-part event on Sunday, November 12 and Tuesday, November 14, 1995. While the two-season show was suddenly cancelled, even though it sort of delivered a round ending (maybe it didn’t, I just read that from Wikipedia), FOX’s version was only three hours long and starred future Enterprise captain Scott Bakula, who is the one person on this planet to stop the titular invaders, before they destroy the Earth, because maybe that’s what all alien invaders wanna do at some point.
As usual, two-part miniseries were able to get higher ratings with the second part for some reason (someone needs to do research on that, because why would people watch a second part when they haven’t watched the first part, especially in the 1990s?), but THE INVADERS, which is also known under the title “The New Invaders”, did not manage to be part of that series of ratings successes. THE INVADERS lost two and a half million viewers over the two days, though the ratings were still acceptable enough for FOX to consider the miniseries “mediocre”. As FOX only seemed to have with their sitcoms on Sundays and THE X-FILES, any program that pushes FOX off the bottom 10 of the weekly Nielsen charts could be considered a major success. And THE INVADERS did exactly that, though the second part was close to kissing the bottom rows.
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In this short-lived FOX comedy, the inside voice of a 40-year-old man named after the show (portrayed by Tim Matheson) comes to life in the form of Hugh, a foot-high miniature alter ego (portrayed by Sam Kinison). CHARLIE HOOVER was supposed to start a little later in the season, but half of FOX’s Saturday night program was placed to Friday nights, after their Friday night program THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE was cancelled. That left room open for CHARLIE HOOVER to premiere a little earlier than expected, as well as the second season of GET A LIFE, which didn’t get a start in the Fall line-up. FOX was hoping to continue their success of getting some viewers to Saturdays (and putting boring reality TV shit on Fridays, because that night was being given up by the networks) this way, even though the two shows were planned to team up on Monday nights. But FOX’s change of plans sort of backfired.
Well, not sort of. CHARLIE HOOVER failed to make a splash instantly, and performed bad enough for FOX to forget all about the show after its airing, even though the ratings looked like they were slowly, but steadily, climbing. Within a month and a half, CHARLIE HOOVER won more than two million viewers, and was able to raise the Household rating by one point. But for some reason that wasn’t enough for FOX. Maybe the comedic talents of Sam Kinison, who died shortly after the cancellation of CHARLIE HOOVER, being wasted for a FOX sitcom had something to do with it.
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Television history changed a little in the Fall of 2001, and not just because right before the broadcast season was to begin, fundamentalist crashed two planes into the Twin Towers. on ABC, ALIAS was about to give them a taste of the spy action, while FOX was doing the same, in a way, but only much harsher and more brutal: 24 was born. But because of 9/11, FOX had to pre-empt not only the start of the broadcast season, but eventually the show’s premiere for one week. Originally, FOX planned to get the show into the run for ratings after the World Series on October 30 (the network didn’t want to pre-empt the show in its beginning, due to its real-time nature, and the World series would have definitely pre-empted 24), but the pilot episode needed to be reworked (it depicted an exploding plane – you know, the one Mandy jumped out of). Eventually, November 6, 2001 was the date in which FOX found a success that came like a miracle, since THE X-FILES was about to end.
Yet 24 wasn’t a success in its first season. The critics were having a raging boner for this unusual and thrilling show, and the watching audience loved Jack Bauer’s first day of anti-terror action as well, but 24 wasn’t the pop culture show it became to be in later seasons. Still, despite the rather mediocre numbers the show delivered, it was a good-enough success for FOX to renew the show for another season. And the numbers show that 24 had the potential to be a hit show, even in the ratings. After all, the target demo ratings only went below the 4.0 mark six times throughout the season, and never below a 3.5. Considering how much trouble FOX had to establish new shows during the late 1990s, the network was most likely taking these numbers, seeing them as “da bomb”, and hoping the second season wouldn’t go down. Well, it didn’t, because 24 became a pop culture hit and rose like THE X-FILES did back in 1994.
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It’s surprising that there wasn’t much Halloween programming on Halloween on the broadcast networks in their history. A couple of TV flicks here and there around the festivities, but never really on the day of All Hallow’s Eve. Well, FOX tried to remedy that in 1995, when they put HERE COME THE MUNSTERS on the air. The film tells the story of the Munsters moving from Transylvania to California, and of course hilarity ensues, or otherwise this wouldn’t be a Munsters movie. Co-written by future THE BIG BANG THEORY co-creator Bill Prady and co-produed by John Landis, HERE COME THE MUNSTERS found its TV premiere on Tuesday, October 31, 1995, and had to air against an airing of the equally festivus-appropriate EDWARS SCISSORHANDS on CBS.
Well, FOX kind of won against CBS in this case, even though that doesn’t really say anything good about both networks’ efforts with their movies. 12.7 million viewers (8.0/13 in Households) tuned into FOX that night and gave HERE COME THE MUNSTERS a respectable showing for the network. It didn’t land anywhere notably in the weekly Nielsen charts, but it was also not the expected flop. It showed that the Munsters franchise can’t be reanimated for television (a lesson NBC learned with MOCKINGBIRD LANE, though I kind of would have appreciated a quirky little horror show), but it also showed that viewers were still interested in looking into something that carries the Munsters in the title.
Halloween programming is happening right before the actual day of Halloween, and a few networks and cable channels decided to air an original Halloween-themed movie, inspite of the fact that it might not make much sense. There are better movies out there to be aired on Halloween, which were produced by movie studios with a more heftier budget (and then there is THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, which could have been so easily recreated for television for the same price), and the cable channels usually go into a Halloween marathon with all the horror classics from yesteryear. Nevertheless, FOX brought FRANKENSTEIN: THE COLLEGE YEARS onto the small screen on Monday, October 28, 1991. The TV movie starts with the death of a college professor, who apparently died of boredom during a presentation of one of his students, who happens to be one of the main characters of this two-hour sci-fi horror comedy event.
9.1 million viewers (6.1/9 in Households) tuned in for Frank N Stein’s efforts to blend into college. FOX was most likely happy with that number, considering they were scheduling original ware on Mondays again. FRANKENSTEIN: THE COLLEGE YEARS was in fact the second program during the 1991/1992 season that aired on a Monday. Still, it was a forgettable programming experience for anyone that day, because the TV movie was the only program that day to reach less than 10 million viewers, and it landed in the bottom part of the weekly Nielsen charts. I guess there was nothing to see here…
The first THE X-FILES spin-off premiered in the Fall of 1996 to very impressive ratings for FOX, which were needed, considering how bumpy the ride for FOX has been in the 90s. MILLENNIUM was a show that was eyed by television insiders and viewers alike, hoping to witness the birth of the next television hit. The question was if MILLENNIUM would be able to repeat the ever-growing success of THE X-FILES (which would be at its peak with its fourth season, airing in the same year as the first season of MILLENNIUM), and if the show might be able to stand on its own. Well, the second question was definitely answered, but the first one was crushed to death after the airing of the second episode.
Like THE X-FILES, MILLNNIUM premiered on Fridays, with a very impressive 17.7 million viewers – more than a quarter of the TV-watching target demo tuned in for the premiere, just to see what the hype is all about. The premiere of MILLENNIUM was the highest-rated series premiere for any new FOX show at that time. But after the numbers for the second episode were revealed, FOX was suddenly a little worried. Even though the ratings constantly stayed around a 7.0 in the Households, the show proved it was unable to repeat the success of THE X-FILES, even if it was kind of repeating the critical acclaim factor. Four episodes landed below the mark of 10 million viewers, all of them being part of the latter half of the season, showcasing where MILLENNIUM would be heading in the future. If it weren’t for THE X-FILES, the show would not have existed in the first place, but if it had been, MILLENNIUM would have been history after its first season.
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