Ratings Archive: ER (Season 1)

er-s1-logoTelevision history was about to change a bit, when NBC premiered their long-running medical drama ER on September 19, 1994, before finding its way to its stronghold Thursday 10pm timeslot, where it remained for its entire lifespan. For the first few weeks, the Michael Crichton-created and John Wells-run drama was facing off against CHICAGO HOPE on CBS, and the expectations were not friendly with NBC in this duel. CHICAGO HOPE got the better reviews, and had the bigger name behind the camera (David E. Kelley). Which is probably why it was such a surprise for everyone when ER turned out to be the more successful show. And most likely a week later, no one was surprised anymore, when they saw that ER was not only the more successful TV drama, but also much better quality-wise.

ER is the show I could always watch. In fact, I currently watch at least one episode a day of this show, for most likely the rest of my life. It is my all-time favorite show after all. and it looks like I was not the only one thinking that, looking at the numbers for the first season, which started off high for NBC, but low compared to what ER would deliver during the next four, five years. The season started off with a 27 share, and even went as high as a 40 share, cementing its place in television history. In a way, the first action-episode “Blizzard” put ER on the map of Nielsen ratings killers, delivering the highest numbers of the show so far (it was the first episode above a 20.0 rating), and continuing to climb afterwards. Whatever kind of promo NBC stuck behind that one episode, viewers were interested after that.

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Ratings Archive: WALTER & EMILY (Season 1)

walter-emily-s1-logoLook at the numbers of this show from 1991, and be astounded that shows like this were cancelled with numbers like these. WALTER & EMILY was close to getting a 20 percent share throughout its short-lived season, yet NBC was unhappy with the sitcom’s performance, and shitcanned it at the end of the season, albeit the network having given it a good-enough chance to find a bigger audience in late 1991/early 1992. Apparently Cloris Leachman and Brian Keith weren’t audience grabbers in the beginning of the final decade of the 20th century.

At this point in time, the show is pretty much forgotten and being fed dust somewhere in the ABC Studios archives (it was produced by then-Touchstone). Maybe people will try to remember the show during imminent Cloris Leachman eulogies (not wanting to sound like an asshole here, but she is an old woman, and at one point she is going to die), but there is pretty much no chance this 3-month piece of television history will ever see the light of day again – except of course someone on this planet finds old episodes on their VHS tapes. Because since Matthew Lawrence was involved in the project as well (and I know his face, even though I’m generally not interested in what the guy stars in), I might want to take a peek into WALTER & EMILY.

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the-big-one-the-great-los-angeles-earthquake-logoOne year after the Loma Pietra earthquake hit Los Angeles (October 1989), which famously interrupted the pre-game ceremonies of a World Series game and was therefore rarely captured on television (in fact, the first earthquake captured live on television – clips can be found on Youtube), American interest in all things earthquakes seemed to spike going into 1990. In addition, seismologists were predicting that the an earthquake among the New Madrid faultline would eventually happen – not to forget the actual big one that has been predicted to destroy everything on top of the San Andreas faultline. To jump on the earthquake hype after the October 1989 World Series earthquake, NBC quickly ordered a two-part disaster movie that would deal with the titular “big one”, and kill dozens of main characters (probably) in the process.

THE GREAT LOS ANGELES EARTHQUAKE found its airing on Sunday and Monday, November 11 and 12 of 1990. As usual, it was airing against movie fare on Sundays, and MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL on Mondays (in which Philadelphia beat Washington). And NBC won both timeslot duels with their two-part earthquake disaster, even going so far as placing #4 in the weekly Nielsen charts with the second part, being the most successful drama entry of that week. And once more it looks like 2-part miniseries can get an even larger audience and better ratings with their second parts. Or to be exact, with their Monday airings.

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Ratings Archive: A MATTER OF JUSTICE

a-matter-of-justice-logoA true crime story made it on NBC in form of a two-part miniseries in November 1993. A MATTER OF JUSTICE, which is also known under the title “Final Justice”, deals with the murder of Chris Randall Brown, a Marine who, before his demise, came back from duty with a woman he introduced as his wife, and was soon murdered by her. Or so Chris’s mother was believing, who decided to go to court and deliver justice, while trying to get the custody of her grandchild. NBC aired the two-parter on TV movie Sunday November 7 and Monday, November 8, to some success. The first part might not have gotten past ABC and CBS’s movie delivery on Sunday, but the second part turned out to be the highest rated TV movie of the week.

The three-hour movie starred Patty Duke and our favorite TV President of all time Martin Sheen as the murder victim’s parents; and favorite TV villains Jeff Kober and Cole Hauser, making A MATTER OF JUSTICE kind of a star-studded TV movie, at least for my taste. The first part had to air against FOX’s usual sitcom ware, as well as the theatrical movies DANCES WITH WOLVES (ABC aired the first half only) and GHOST (on CBS). A MATTER OF JUSTICE was able to get situated above FOX in the ratings, but not above both movies. The second part was extremely successful though, winning against MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL (Kansas City won against Green Bay), and CBS’s sitcom block, besides being #5 in the weekly Nielsen charts.

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Ratings Archive: EARTH 2 (Season 1)

earth-2-s1-logoER wasn’t the only show in the Fall of 1994 that was produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. Early November that year, the interplanetary settler sci-fi show EARTH 2 premiered to quite stunning ratings on Sunday night, giving NBC hope that they might have a TV show on their hands that would be able to solidly go against football games that were about to end. 25.2 million viewers watched the two-hour pilot, which apparently meant NBC really had a successful TV show on their hands.

A week later though, it was clear that at least a third of the Households didn’t like the show and decided not to return for the second episode. From here on, EARTH 2 continued its downfall into oblivion, though for two times the show was able to spike its ratings with whatever kind of promo material NBC was assaulting their viewers with. Some might have thought the 11.5 rating in early 1995 would have brought the show back to attention of Americans, but that was pretty much the last time EARTH 2 saw solid numbers. The share danced around 10 and 12 percent, and even went down to eight percent for its penultimate episode.

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Ratings Archive: CROSS OF FIRE (Season 1)

cross-of-fire-logoThe Presidential election of 2016 is going to happen in a couple of days, and one thing the ugly campaigns included was the Ku Klux Klan’s endorsement of Donald Trump. How fitting that 27 years earlier, NBC aired a two-part miniseries involving the Ku Klux Klan, and the story of the rape and death of a young state employee in 1925 Indiana at the hands of D.C. Stephenson, Grand Dragon of the KKK, whose crime precipitated the Klan’s collapse.

John Heard, Lloyd Bridges, David Morse and Mel Harris starred in this two-parter that aired on November 5 and 6 of 1989 on NBC, giving the network solid-enough numbers, even though the movies never won their time slot. On Sunday, CROSS OF FIRE, Part 1 was third of all three TV movies aired at 9:00pm (on FOX, MARRIED WITH CHILDREN’s Household ratings were close to those of CROSS OF FIRE), and on the following Monday, the second part drew the short one yet again against MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL (San Francisco demolished New Orleans) and CBS’s WHEN HE’S NOT A STRANGER

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Ratings Archive: CARRIE

carrie-2002-logoNBC was planning to get another franchise up and running on Monday, November 4, 2002, when they premiered the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie. From 8:00pm to 11:00pm, the movie, which was closer to the novel than Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation, was supposed to be the backdoor pilot to a potential TV series with Carrie as the titular character, but even though the movie scored very solid ratings for NBC, the series never got off the ground. Which was probably a good thing happening for the character, since it would have made her a lot more different from the book. Then again, if the TV show would have happened, the 2013 remake might never have happened…

The 2002 adaptation was written by yours truly Brian Fuller, directed by David Carson, and starred Angela Bettis as the titular anti-heroine. CARRIE might have been her biggest work in her career, since I haven’t seen anything else that is on her CV, with the exception of GIRL, INTERRUPTED, which I can’t even remember anymore. Anyway, the three-hour airing delivered 12.21 million viewers (7.3/11 in Households, 5.0/12 with adults 18-49), which was a strong number for NBC, though the competition was harsh. ABC had Green Bay Packers winning against Miami Dolphins, and CBS continued their usual Mondays with high numbers for their two-hour sitcom block and CSI: MIAMI. NBC was third that day, though the numbers for CARRIE meant something good for NBC: it was their highest rated Monday night of the season up to that point, and the TV movie itself was the highest rated one-part TV movie in eleven months, and fared especially well with women between 18-34 (6.3/16), where CARRIE was first place.