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2009 Mid-Season TV Preview: ‘Lost,’ ‘Damages,’ ‘Nip/Tuck,’ ‘24,’ More

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CHICAGO – Be honest, TV fans. Fall 2008 was lackluster at best. The TV season really starts now.

With the strike delaying production on established series and the development of new ones, many more programs are returning or premiering in Jan. 2009 than the average mid-season. It couldn’t have come at a more important time for the medium, too.

Lost: Season Five debuts on ABC on January 21st, 2009.

To be blunt, the first 31 days of 2009 could be one of the most important months in the history of television. It comes down to this - If established hits like “24,” “Damages,” “Nip/Tuck,” “Monk,” “American Idol,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Lost,” and “The Closer” don’t meet expectations and if a new show like “United States of Tara,” “The Beast,” “Lie To Me,” or “Trust Me” can’t take off and become an established hit, television is likely to change forever.

Sound like an exaggeration? Consider this - NBC gave up on an hour of original, scripted programming every single night. They’re so disappointed in their slate of 10 pm dramas, including failures like “My Own Worst Enemy,” that they’re handing over an hour of TV every night to talk show host Jay Leno. It’s one of the most amazing programming decisions of the last few years and proof that original television on the big networks is changing for good. Does anyone think we’re that far off from all reality and talk on the major networks with original programming relegated to pay cable, basic cable, and the internet? I don’t.

Scrubs: Season Eight debuts on ABC on January 6th, 2009.

And the Leno story is only one of the biggest headlines of a season that has seen far more failures than successes. Shows that took off the post-strike period, including “Pushing Daisies” and “Dirty Sexy Money,” saw ratings decline every week before their cancellations. It feels like people left during the strike and simply never came back.

New hits? There aren’t any outside of CBS, the only network that has anything to be happy about this year with the massive success of “The Mentalist” and the continued growth of “The Big Bang Theory” and “How I Met Your Mother”. More than ever, the buzz in 2008 went from the big networks to the cable box with HBO launching new hits, Showtime developing their own, and even AMC developing a reputation for quality.

We’ll get into what worked and what didn’t in our TV year in review next week at HollywoodChicago.com, but let’s look ahead before we look back. Is it too late for the broadcast networks to save this sinking ship? Are NBC, Fox, and ABC done? Will there be another “Mad Men” in the bunch of shows premiering this month? Can a series actually improve on last year’s ratings for once? Let’s hope so.

Stay tuned to HollywoodChicago.com for reviews and coverage of all the upcoming series and mark your calendar with the highlights of the coming month on the following page, in chronological order.

Anonymous's picture

Not true about Chuck, it’s

Not true about Chuck, it’s numbers are lower than last year but it did not keep dropping every week like you claim:
Chuck season premiere - 6.6 million, 18-49 2.6
Chuck mid-season finale - 7.56 million. 18-49 2.6

And while The Mentalist may be doing great in total viewers, calling it a “massive success” may be a bit of an exaggeration as it’s still being beaten in the 18-49 demo (more important for setting ad rates than total viewers) by shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, House, Two and a Half Men, CSI, How I Met Your Mother etc.

BrianTT's picture

Chuck and Mentalist

I’ll give you Chuck. I know numbers were down for a while - 6.23 for a November episode - but I’ll admit that I missed the December swing in the positive direction. It’s been corrected. I’m actually very happy for the success of the show. That’s good news.

As for The Mentalist, I understand the demo situation but any first season show that can boast being the #1 show on television for even one single week is a “massive success”, as the show did this month. It’s the first time that had happened since May 2005.

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