Four freshman series survived September Hell Week

FALLTV_ledeAt the cusp of the 2009-10 TV season, Daily Variety ran a story discussing whether the broadcast networks might putting their fall series launches in jeopardy by premiering so many new series in such a small window of time:

“In a 27-hour stretch from Sept. 22-23 alone, seven new network TV series (illustrated above right) will premiere: ‘The Forgotten’ (ABC), ‘The Good Wife’ (CBS), ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ (CBS), ‘Modern Family’ (ABC), ‘Cougar Town’ (ABC), ‘Eastwick’ (ABC) and ‘Mercy’ (NBC).”

Not surprisingly, some of these shows failed to make it out of their freshman seasons, but the overall results actually were pretty positive.  Three of the seven series — “Good Wife,” “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Modern Family” are real-deal hits, emerging from the fall premiere frenzy on track to run for years and years to come. A fourth, “Cougar Town,” was successful enough to earn an official return ticket for season two, “Mercy” is on a bubble (though a fragile one) for renewal, and only “Eastwick” met with a quick cancellation.

The lesson is that a new series can survive freshman Hell Week, though it had better be ready to face the competition, new or old. “Forgotten” wilted in a Tuesday 10 p.m. battle against “Good Wife,” while “Eastwick” floundered even though its only competition was “CSI: NY” and “The Jay Leno Show.” On the other hand, “Modern Family” and “Cougar Town” made the grade in the Wednesday 9 p.m. hour despite battling fellow newbie “Glee” (which had a two-week head start) and stalwarts “Criminal Minds” of CBS and “Law & Order: SVU” of NBC.

To his credit, NBC Universal exec VP of program planning and scheduling Mitch Metcalf had this pegged back in September.

“Somehow viewers are wise enough and experienced enough that they can
work through the noise to find the shows that are going to work for
them,” Metcalf said.

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