Nets fail to impress in midseason

Looking to do some spring cleaning, it’s time to clear out the ratings notebook:

  • BIG-CITY BLUES: Try as it might, CBS continues to stumble with dramas suggesting either New York or Los Angeles in its title.

With futuristic legal drama “Century City” heading nowhere after putting up weak numbers its first two weeks, the Eye, which has always played better in the middle of the country, has now struck out with all 10 such dramas.

The laundry list of losers –and they include some real doozies — consists of: “South of Sunset,” “Big Apple,” “Central Park West,” “New York News,” “Brooklyn South,” “L.A. Doctors,” “City of Angels,” “Big Apple,” “Queens Supreme” and, now, “Century City.”

(Note that last year’s failed “Robbery Homicide Division,” changed from “RHD:LA” a couple of months before its premiere, does not qualify.)

Such ineptness makes the choice to put the third edition of “CSI” in New York a bit surprising. (Also, the Gotham crime rate is at 40-year lows, and the “Law & Order” franchise and other shows have done Gotham crime to death.)

But since “CSI” is the hottest franchise on television and the “New York” cast is appealing, you have to figure that it gives the net its best chance to end this streak.

Personally, I would have preferred “CSI,” which has worked well in Las Vegas and Miami so far, stuck with its Southern flavor. CBS could have combined its two greatest drama successes for “CSI: Dallas.”

  • SCRIPTED SKEINS STRUGGLE: “Century City” isn’t alone in failing to find an aud this midseason. While new reality skeins “The Apprentice” on NBC and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” on ABC have performed well, it’s been a horror show for scripted series.

List of struggling dramas on the air also includes Fox’s “Wonderfalls” and ABC’s “Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital” (which started well but faded) and “The D.A.” And among laffers, there’s CBS’ “The Stones,” Fox’s “Cracking Up” and UPN’s “Game Over.” Fox’s reality entry “Forever Eden” has also fizzled.

NBC looks smart by omission, as it has decided to keep its midseason laffer, “Come to Papa,” on the bench.

  • HANKERING FOR HIS PICS: ABC has spent a lot of money on blockbuster theatricals in recent years, but those that have preemed this year (including “Jurassic Park 3″ and “Fast and the Furious”) have struck out in the ratings.

But what has worked for the Alphabet is just about any Tom Hanks pic. “The Green Mile,” for example, had already aired three times on ABC before it drew its largest audience March 15 (11 million).

Also, repeats of “Cast Away,” “Saving Private Ryan” and perennial fave “Forrest Gump” have also provided ratings surges for the net.

Maybe ABC should pick up “Turner and Hooch,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and a few others and turn Saturday into “Tom Hanks Night at the Movies.”

  • ‘IDOL’ WORSHIP GROWING: Much to the dismay of every net but Fox, music talent show phenomenon “American Idol” is exhibiting no signs of slowing down: In fact, it’s never been hotter.

Now in its third season, “Idol” has edged past CBS drama “CSI” as the season’s most-watched show overall (26.9 million viewers) and is also No. 1 in key demos like adults 18-49 and 25-54.

It’s becoming much broader this season, too — up a modest 7% in adults 18-34 and teens but 17% stronger in adults 25-54 and more than 20% higher in both adults 50-plus and kids.

Now, if it can only help Fox attract some auds for its new scripted series.

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