Dave on Demand: Midseason report card for new shows and flunkers

istockphoto.com/shawnl and istockphoto.com/sedeugra
istockphoto.com/shawnl and istockphoto.com/sedeugra
Posted: December 08, 2012

Well, the networks are off on a well-deserved winter break. Not a creature is stirring, except Willie Geist.

Time once again for our midseason report card.

Let's not beat around the bush. This freshman class, which was pretty small to begin with, is failing.

Having canceled Animal Practice and Guys With Kids, NBC is heading into the next semester with only four new shows surviving. And that puts it atop the heap. Obviously, we're marking on a steep curve here. Grade: B minus

Fox launched only three series, all comedies. Wait, Mob Doctor was supposed to be a drama? It has been canceled anyway. And the remaining candidates - Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project - are both on Nielsen probation. Grade: D

The CW is doing well statistically, with two holdovers - Arrow and Beauty and the Beast. But put that in context. The CW never cancels anything. It's the extreme hoarder of prime time. That tells you how atrocious Emily Owens, M.D. must have been to get yanked. Grade: D plus

With the cancellations of Partners and Made in Jersey, CBS has already lost half its crop. The network is said to be contemplating an all -NCIS lineup for next year, with a wisecracking naval investigative unit in every major American city. Hello, Phoenix. Grade: C

ABC's numbers don't look good, with Last Resort and 666 Park Avenue already done. And to tell the truth, while Malibu Country and Nashville will probably finish out the year, I'd be surprised if either gets invited back after the summer. But at least the alphabet network took some chances. It's the only member of this class that didn't plagiarize its entire lineup. With extra credit, grade: B minus

If next fall's batch of new shows turns out to be even meeker and more derivative, you have only yourselves to blame. The handful of broadcast programs you did support were the most stale and derivative of the lot.

Chicago Fire, NBC's "big hit," is a cheese-ball throwback to '70s men-in-uniform series like S.W.A.T. and The Rookies. I feel as if I'm being haunted by the ghost of Chad Everett every time I watch it.

The feather in ABC's cap is The Neighbors, a comedy about a group of space aliens in New Jersey trying to pass as human. I haven't laughed this hard since seeing Dan Aykroyd in Coneheads.

CBS has two successes. Vegas has a good cast, but plays like a dusty Potemkin Village version of Walking Tall. And Elementary has that modern-day Sherlock premise, but the crime-solving is creaky and contrived. Blues Clues has better cases.

You know it's a weak year when you root for commercials to come on.

Beyond recognition. Have you seen Arrow? Silliest superhero costumes ever. Billionaire Oliver Queen transforms himself by pulling up a hoodie and darkening a small patch of skin under his eyes. You can still see his face clearly.

He has been joined by the Huntress, who looks just like mob princess Helena Bertinelli wearing a plain domino mask. You guys have to put a little more effort into your secret identities. You might as well be wearing name tags.

By a whisker. Duck Dynasty's season-ending Christmas special this week drew 6.5 million viewers. That's a record for the show and for the network it airs on, A&E.

Last year's top miniseries? Hatfields & McCoys, which drew upward of 14 million people.

It's becoming increasingly obvious that the key to attracting big numbers on television is a long, scraggly beard. You listening, Katie Couric?

Moment of the week. Alan Simpson appeared on Today with a YouTube video that showed the lanky 81-year-old former senator along with a guy in a foam costume molded to look like a soda can doing Psy's aerobic Gangnam dance.

Not sure what issue Simpson was touting, but I can't get that image out of my mind.


Contact David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or dhiltbrand@ phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv.

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