Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Overnight TV Ratings -- "Fifth Graders" Very Smart Indeed

It's amazing to think that for many, many years -- essentially decades -- gameshows were basically absent from primetime. With "Deal Or No Deal" propping up NBC's schedule, filler like "1 Vs 100" doing yeoman's work" and now "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader" getting a HUGE sampling after "Idol," the networks must be asking themselves, "What were we thinking?" Gameshows are cheap, family friendly entertainment. "Fifth Grader" was slightly better than most of the recent idiotic entries like "Identity." But it has the same problem must current ones do: it takes FOREVER for them to ask a question. Every round involves an explanation of the rules, banter, byplay, some commentary, numerous options and then finally the question and answer. Merv Griffin -- the king of gameshows -- would never stand for such a pokey format. The addition of kids could create a few Cosby-like moments of genuine cuteness, though those were very absent last night. And I'll be interested to see if it's the same kids every night or an ever-changing cast. Jeff Foxworthy clearly helped bring in the heartland, but his quips were mild in the extreme though not harmful. The questions were actually kind of hard every once in a while, since it involved modest facts most adults haven't contemplated for years. How many sides does a trapezoid have? Who was the first president to be impeached? And personally, I hadn't a clue what month Colombus Day takes place in. But how dumb are the adults? The guy didn't get a single question right and the gal didn't even remember the Mayflower was the boat the pilgrims came in on. I can see families watching this with the added advantage that kids could actually do better than their parents -- something that wasn't true on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire." But it's oh so slow and an hour-long format will seem interminable. Speed it up and it could do okay. But this was a great sampling, reaching 26 million people and holding on to almost all the "Idol" audience. Typically, "Idol" reached almost the same viewers than the other networks combined. Can't wait to see the ratings explode when we hit the final 12. For a complete ratings breakdown, go to MediaWeek's Marc Berman.

8 p.m
1. American Idol -- 30.44 million viewers
2. NCIS -- 16.20 million
3. Dateline -- 6.10 million
4. America's Funniest Home Videos (r)-- 5.81 million
5. Gilmore Girls -- 4.08 million

9 p.m.
1. American Idol -- 30.44 million/Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? -- 26.57 million
2. The Unit -- 12.81 million
3. Law & Order: Criminal Intent -- 9.29 million
4. Primetime Live: The Outsiders -- 5.41 million
5. Veronica Mars -- 2.74 million

10 p.m.
1. Law & Order: SVU -- 11.72 million
2. Criminal Minds (r) -- 10.52 million
3. To Iraq and Back: Bob Woodruff Reports -- 10.11 million

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