What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, but what happens on Vegas stays on every television set in all of America. The show, about Dennis Quaid as the 1960s sheriff of Sin City and Michael Chicklis as a mob boss who likes to fly his planes over Dennis Quaid's land and scare his cows (yes, that is an actual thing), was the big victor of Tuesday night. Fox's premieres didn't fare nearly as well, with The Mindy Project and Ben & Kate (no mention of the 8) performing modestly but not horribly.
I'm going to try to break down the ratings in a fun and easy way so that everyone can understand them. In honor of Vegas' stellar premiere, I'll compare each network's performance to a casino game. And remember what Wesley Snipes says, always bet on black.
The king of all gambling games belongs to CBS, the king of all networks, which was the most watched network both in number of viewers and in the 18-to-49 demographic that advertisers crave on Tuesday night. NCIS and NCIS: With a Tan had 20.2 million and 16.7 million viewers, both down slightly from last year, but if your pile of chips goes from $1 million to $900,000, it's not such a big deal. Vegas was watched by 20.2 million people, which was CBS' biggest premiere in a decade. Yep, this show will be around for awhile. You can bet on it. Yuk. Yuk. I'll be here all week. Free buffet. Other Vegas cliches!
NBC knows when to hold them and when to fold them. The network hangs on to the number two slot, which for the near dead peacock is quite a feat. All of their shows were down slightly from last week, but then they had absolutely no competition from the other networks, so a drop is expected. The Voice sang to 11.3 million, the Matthew Perry comedy Go On stumbled by 20% to 7.3 million, The New Normal preached to 5.2 million, and Parenthood called at 4.8 million.
No one really likes roulette, do they? Well, they do a little bit when they're winning, but when they're not winning, forget about it! That's sort of what happened to Fox last night. Brother and sister parenting comedy Ben & Kate debuted with 4.2 million viewers and The Mindy Project scared up a bit more, 4.7 million, which isn't amazing, but better than Raising Hope was doing in the same time slot last year, so it's a minor victory for Ms. Kaling. Things weren't so hot for The New Girl, which aired two new episodes at 8 PM and 9 PM and they got 5.3 million and 5.2 million respectively. That's down considerably from the show's 10 million debut last year, but on par with the series finale in May. Guess some of the newness has worn off.
This game is complicated, awful, and only old people like to play it. Sounds just like ABC! It had the second most viewers in total, but was in last place for the 18-to-49 year old youngsters. Dancing with the Stars was down a third from last year with 9.9 million people watching Pamela Anderson pack her bags (spoiler alert). Private Practice threw snake eyes with 6.6 million viewers.
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[Photo Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS; Images_of_Money/flickr;John-Morgan/flickr; Håkan Dahlström/flickr; spacepleb/flickr]
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Barely remembered by his fellow countryman but revered to this day by the Chinese George Hogg was an Oxford-educated adventurer who led 60 war orphans on a 700-mile trek during the Japanese occupation of China to prevent them from falling into the hands of the advancing occupying forces. In director Roger Spottiswoode’s leisurely retelling of this heroic feat Hogg (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is introduced sneaking into Nanking in 1937 to report on the three-sided war between the Japanese Chinese Nationals and Chinese Communists. Upon his arrival Hogg witnesses Japanese soldiers execute hundreds in cold blood. With the aid of Communist resistance leader “Jack” Chen (Chow Yun-Fat) and Red Cross nurse Lee Pearson (Radha Mitchell) an injured Hogg is taken to recuperate at a school in Huang Shi. Once better Hogg plans to tell the world what’s happening in China. But he takes such a shine to the orphans that he decides to stay as the school’s headmaster. Soon though news spreads that Japanese troops are marching toward Huang Shi. Hogg has no choice but to take the orphans on a months-long journey--with rough terrain and bitter weather ahead of them--to find a safe place to live and learn. Let’s ignore the fact that pretty-boy Rhys Meyers struts through the Second Sino-Japanese War looking more like a fashion-conscious playboy on vacation than a war correspondent dodging bullets and bombs. The hunkiest Henry VIII ever--sorry Eric Bana--downplays the onscreen Hogg’s evident superior complexity in order to react to the horrible circumstances he’s found himself in with the appropriate amount of fear compassion and resourcefulness. On the other hand Yun-Fat acts like he’s in Apocalypse Now. He gleefully spouts war-isn’t-hell Kilgore-isms even though his fervor and glibness are out of place in a film that treats the war with obvious grave solemnity. The tough-as-nails Mitchell does serve as something of a calming influence whenever she’s around Yun-Fat. Unfortunately sparks don’t fly between Mitchell and Rhys Meyers making it impossible to buy into their perfunctionary romance. Honestly Rhys Meyers generates more heat with the sublimely regal Michelle Yeoh whose black marketer is taken with this most charming customer. Too bad Yeoh doesn’t share any moments with her Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon costar Yun-Fat. Of the orphans the stone-faced Guang Li makes the greatest impression as a warrior among children who rightfully fears Hogg will usurp his authority. “We’re all something different in China ” Pearson tells Hogg. That certainly holds true for Hogg. Beyond serving as a CliffsNotes-style history lesson in the Second Sino-Japanese War The Children of Huang Shi asks what it takes during a time of conflict to transform an observer to a participant a pacifist to an advocate of war. Actually it doesn’t take much for the reporter portrayed here to abandon his personal and professional principles. Even if director Roger Spottiswoode pulls no punches whenever he places Hogg in harm’s way our hero’s swift conversion from impartial bystander to unlikely savior would still probably be laughed at by the hardened war correspondents in the director’s superior Under Fire. Sadly after depicting the horrors of war with bloody and brutal honesty Spottiswoode falls into the trap of presenting Hogg as the all-knowing all-sage Westerner out to rescue 60 “savages” not just from the Japanese but from themselves. The students don’t teach anything of value to Hogg. Even his relationships with a select few students aren’t as fully explored as those he shares with Pearson and Chen. That’s not to say that the much-anticipated journey across the Gobi Desert isn’t inspirational. It is even if it seems more rushed and less eventful than expected. The Children of Huang Shi isn’t as powerful or compelling as Schindler's List but there’s no denying that it may help Hogg receive the recognition he deserves outside of China for his selfless actions during a war that he had no vested interest in.
In the wake of last week's revelations that Sony faked reviews and movie fans to tout its movies, Fox has revealed a similar misdeed. The studio used an employee in a TV montage, raving that the hit 1998 movie Waking Ned Devine was "hysterical," Variety reports. Then Fox executive assistant Carol Lipson, who is now employed at Universal Pictures, reportedly appeared in a national TV advertisement posing as a typical moviegoer. Florence Grace, a Fox spokeswoman, said: "No one who works here has any firsthand knowledge of it." Sony has promised to institute a policy preventing such practices from happening in the future. Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, called these incidents "aberrations" which were "stupid and unnecessary."