The good, bad and the ugly on the tube this past week:
CBS sweeps the competition
Kudos to CBS, which not only won the November sweeps in total viewers, but ended up winning the sweeps for the entire year of 2001. The Feb. sweeps had CBS claim a clean win with Survivor: The Australian Outback. May also had Survivor--the finale--and a little TV movie about Judy Garland. November saw Raymond, CSI and the surprising JAG dominate the top 10.
CBS did not win the key demographic--the coveted 18-49 group of viewers, though. (It's still a toss-up between FOX and NBC for that one.) But CBS proved something very important: even though the third installment of Survivor is plummeting in the ratings (down this week to No. 20), CBS execs still figured out a way to position their programming for an impressive effect.
ABC, take note.
"Real World" really good
Just when you thought MTV The Real World was easily dismissible (after 10 seasons on the air, including bore-fests in New Orleans and London), we get this season's return to New York City. The show's about to air its finale, but it's certainly grown on me. The fact that they're in Manhattan had nothing to with it--it was the cast. Some nice tension existed throughout the season, but after a barrage of fights and obscenities, the seven figured out a way to get along, which is rare.
Sure, the San Fran season was enjoyable because of the troublesome Puck and his eventual demise, but actually finding a true conclusion on The Real World is a good thing to see. No fancy editing this time. Just calm resolution between a group of people who truly hated each other for weeks on end.
FOX fuels "24"
Unfortunately for FOX, their mega-hyped new series 24 is taking a massive hit in the Tuesday-night ratings battle between 24, Frasier, NYPD Blue, Smallville and the breakout CBS hit The Guardian. Last week, 24 snared a meager 6.5 share and appears to be slipping into obscurity. As far as FOX shows go, 24's placing behind COPS in the Nielsens.
Amazingly, though, FOX is renewing 24.
That's right, they've ordered an additional 11 episodes. Let's see--11 more episodes. Hmm, that would push the series' total number of episodes to...lemme think...24. Nice little ploy, good gimmick. But as ABC's decision to yank Bob Patterson (which had aired in the 9 p.m. Tuesday timeslot) has shown, it's probably best to cut your losses and keep searching for a new hit.
Carlin curses for a cause
In case you missed it on Saturday, Nov. 17, look for reruns of George Carlin's latest HBO special, Complaints and Grievances, broadcast live from New York City, as they air throughout the coming weeks. A devout New Yorker, Carlin began the show by addressing the Sept. 11 tragedy. He commended Mayor Giuliani (who Carlin says should run for president) and offered up his own unique (and flatulent) solution for flushing Bin Laden out of his cave.
Carlin then went on to his trademark slandering of religious freaks, small-minded people and bad drivers--using far more than those infamous "seven words you can't say on television"--but ended the night donning a "New York City" T-shirt and saluting the crowd. Watch closely, because it's probably the most compassionate Carlin moment you're ever gonna get.