2009-10 TV Scorecard: The Best and Worst Shows and Networks

  • Comments: ↓ 27 user comments
  • Publish Date: May 3, 2010

ABC

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2009-10 New Shows
Avg. Metascore 56.8
Avg. User Score 7.0
Metascore Rank 2nd
Ratings Rank * 3rd (tie)

*Ratings through April 25. Source: Nielsen.

For the second consecutive season, ABC placed second among all broadcast networks in average Metascore for its new primetime programs. The network actually had the highest percentage (38%) of shows with generally positive critic reviews, however, and it led all competitors in average user score, helped by the fact that Metacritic site users, as a group, liked almost 77% of ABC's new shows.

ABC launched more new shows during the 2009-10 season than any other network, and five of those shows scored big with critics. (It may not sound like a lot, but it is.) One of those shows was the single-camera sitcom Modern Family 86 -- the best-reviewed new series on any network -- which has also proved to be a ratings hit in its first year. Most of the other new shows that you see below with yellow or red Metascores are unlikely to return next season, with the exception of Cougar Town 49, which has been renewed.

Overall ratings for the network, however, have been poor for the 2009-10 season. With four weeks officially remaining in the season, ABC is tied with NBC for third place in total viewers, and ranks 4th out of the five networks in viewership among adults aged 18-49. The alphabet network is also the only one of the four biggest networks to experience an overall ratings drop this season, with ratings down 4% so far.

ABC's New Primetime Shows, 2009-10 Season
  Show (Network) Genre Metascore Users
1Modern Family Comedy868.6
2FlashForward Sci-Fi726.7
3Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Reality (Non-Competitive)719.5
4The Middle Comedy707.6
5V Sci-Fi676.4
6 Shark Tank Reality Competition55 6.9
7Happy Town Drama53 7.5
8 Eastwick * Drama50 8.5
9Cougar Town Comedy49 5.4
10The Forgotten Drama45 5.8
11Romantically Challenged Comedy44 6.8
12The Deep End Drama40 7.4
13 Hank * Comedy37 4.4

* Show has been canceled.

CBS

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2009-10 New Shows
Avg. Metascore 55.5
Avg. User Score 6.5
Metascore Rank 3rd
Ratings Rank 1st

CBS (which, like Metacritic, is owned by CBS Corporation), didn't exactly wow critics with its slim slate of new shows during the 2009-10 season. The network's solitary freshman critical hit was the Julianna Margulies drama The Good Wife 76, which also rated highly with Metacritic users. Overall, CBS placed in the middle of the five networks for average Metascore of new programs, after finishing in first place (with a 58.5 average) in 2008-09. The network also finished in third place when ranked by average user score of new programs.

While they didn't receive uniformly positive reviews, two other first-year programs -- the reality series Undercover Boss 60 and the procedural NCIS: Los Angeles 59 -- were ratings hits for the network. Thanks to these solid newcomers, a stable of returning hits, and the Super Bowl, CBS had no problem repeating as the overall ratings champion during 2009-10. (The season still has four weeks remaining, but it is virtually impossible for another network to pass CBS at this point.)

CBS's New Primetime Shows, 2009-10 Season
  Show (Network) Genre Metascore Users
1The Good Wife Drama768.1
2Undercover Boss Reality (Non-Competitive)60 6.4
3NCIS: Los Angeles Drama59 4.1
4Accidentally on Purpose Comedy49 6.3
5 Three Rivers * Drama48 7.4
6 Miami Medical Drama41 6.7

* Show has been canceled.

The CW

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2009-10 New Shows
Avg. Metascore 48.3
Avg. User Score 5.1
Metascore Rank 5th
Ratings Rank 5th

The CW managed to pull off a hat trick during 2009-10, finishing a distant last in average Metascore, average user score, and total viewership among all five networks. Before you start thinking that the CW does this every year, keep in mind that the network's new shows during the previous season boasted an average Metascore of 51.3, which, while not stellar, was good enough for third place among the networks.

Like sister network CBS, the CW did manage to launch one new critically-praised series during the past year: the family drama Life Unexpected 69, which is on the bubble for renewal after receiving somewhat disappointing ratings during its short debut season. Critics didn't care for any of the CW's other new programs, although The Vampire Diaries 50 proved to be a hit, attracting the highest ratings for any series in the network's short history.

The CW's New Primetime Shows, 2009-10 Season
  Show (Network) Genre Metascore Users
1Life Unexpected Drama698.5
2 Melrose Place Drama57 6.0
3 The Vampire Diaries Drama50 5.7
4 The Beautiful Life: TBL * Drama41 5.1
5 Fly Girls Reality (Non-Competitive)39 4.5
6 High Society Reality (Non-Competitive)34 1.0

* Show has been canceled.

Fox

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2009-10 New Shows
Avg. Metascore 58.8
Avg. User Score 6.6
Metascore Rank 1st
Ratings Rank 2nd

Thanks to a pair of critically-praised series, Fox finished in first place among the five networks when ranked by average Metascore of new programs. Those two series -- the musical-comedy sensation Glee 77 and the graphic novel adaptation Human Target 70 -- also earned praise from Metacritic users, although fellow freshman program The Cleveland Show 57 apparently was the target of some Seth MacFarlane backlash among users, who voted their dislike of the animated series.

Fox canceled its other three freshman series after they performed poorly in the ratings (and the network may do the same to Human Target, whose fate is still to be determined). Overall, however, the network has seen its viewership rise this season when compared to 2008-09, and Fox currently finds itself in second place in total ratings and well ahead in first place among viewers aged 18-49.

Fox's New Primetime Shows, 2009-10 Season
  Show (Network) Genre Metascore Users
1 Glee Comedy/Musical777.9
2 Human Target Action708.2
3 The Cleveland Show Animation/Comedy57 3.5
4 Brothers * Comedy53 5.8
5 Sons of Tucson * Comedy53 6.8
6 Past Life * Drama43 7.2

* Show has been canceled.

NBC

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2009-10 New Shows
Avg. Metascore 52.3
Avg. User Score 6.1
Metascore Rank 4th
Ratings Rank 3rd (tie)

NBC's average Metascore of 52.3 (for its first-year programs) placed it fourth among all networks during 2009-10, which actually is an improvement: the network finished dead last the previous year, with an average score of 46.3.

Critics had generally positive comments about just two of the peacock network's freshman series: the sitcom Community 69 and the movie adaptation Parenthood 61, both of which have been renewed for a second season. Metacritic users also preferred Community to NBC's other first-year programs.

The network's ratings, dragged down by the failed Jay Leno at 10pm experiment, were also disappointing; NBC is currently tied with ABC for third place for the 2009-10 season, which has four weeks remaining. Subtract the Winter Olympics from the mix, and NBC drops to a distant fourth place.

NBC's New Primetime Shows, 2009-10 Season
  Show (Network) Genre Metascore Users
1 Community Comedy698.1
2 Parenthood Comedy/Drama616.9
3 Trauma Drama53 6.0
4 Who Do You Think You Are? Reality (Non-Competitive)53 8.0
5 The Jay Leno Show * Talk48 4.1
6 Mercy Drama41 6.2
7 The Marriage RefReality (Non-Competitive)41 3.6
-- Minute to Win It Game Show n/a n/a

* Show has ended.

What are your favorites?

What are your picks for the best new shows of the 2009-10 season? What did the critics get right and wrong when first assessing these new programs? Let us know in the comments section below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (27)

  • Chris L  

    I have to say, Human Target, Treme, and Spartacus: Blood and Sand are the best new shows of the season!!! Flash Forward is doing good as well, and it's good to see it's stopped trying to be a clone of Lost.

    Lost is hopefully leading up to a spectacular series finale and the final season has been great so far. Fringe and Castle are both continuing to improve in their second seasons and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with their third.

  • Corey  

    Where is LOST!? Why didn't Metacritic post reviews for the final season, it posted early reviews of all other seasons. This has been an incredibly groundbreaking series and will be one that will be remembered for a long time to come. I admit bias here, LOST is easily my favorite show of all time, nothing else even comes close, but I am just really surprised that LOST hasn't had reviews compiled for its final season... is Metacritic (and reviewers?) waiting for the series finale?

  • Christopher  

    It didn't premier in this television season.

  • nenov  

    I'm genuinely surprise that "Breaking Bad" is not in the list.

  • Christopher  

    I love Archer and Modern Family. They make television worth watching.

  • Ryan  

    I'm going to ignore the terrible comment above me and state that I liked quite a few new television shows. Flashforward tried really hard to be Lost at first, but it hit its stride. Also, best TV show belongs to LOST which will remain in history while shows like Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl will be whispers of trashy shows. Gotta give a nod to 24s good season, but heros has earned the proverbial "final nail in the coffin." American Idol still sucks like most reality shows, but Dancing with the Stars has been greatly improved due to Chad Ochocinco. But hands down, without a doubt (unless you are retarded or have never seen it) Lost is the best show on television, and it will be a shame to see it disappear.

  • Jonathan  

    I found Melrose Place to be the ultimate guilty pleasure considering Gossip Girl's dip in quality this season; Life Unexpected and Vampire Diaries are both amazing, I hope to see the two unrenewed shows (thus far) metioned get renewed. Otherwise, I'm very excited that Parenthood got renewed considering it's slight underperformance in ratings; I adore it! Modern Family is one of the funniest shows this season, and Glee is easily the best show on television. As for worst, Trauma, Marriage Ref, and Fly Girls range from tolerably bland to unwatchable. I can't even imagine how bad High Society is. Come on, CW, let's get a Wednesday lineup that viewers can get behind and enjoy next season (it would preferrably include LUX and Melrose)!

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