2010-11 TV Scorecard: The Best and Worst Shows and Networks

  • Publish Date: May 3, 2011
  • Comments: ↓ 12 user comments


2010-11 New Shows
Avg. Metascore 56.0
Avg. User Score 6.6
Metascore Rank 2nd
Ratings Rank * 3rd

*Viewership through April 24. Source: Nielsen.

ABC placed second among the five broadcast networks in average Metascore for the third consecutive year. But despite launching more new programs that all but one competitor, the network scored positive reviews for just three of its new shows, making for a disappointing 30% success rate.

And it is looking like even those modest critical successes will do the network little good; No Ordinary Family and Detroit 1-8-7 are almost certain to be canceled, and Better With You could very well join them. In fact, of ABC's 10 new shows during the 2010-11 season, only Body of Proof looks likely to stick around for a second season.

The news could be worse, however; thanks to a few solid returning programs, ABC will finish in 3rd place among the five broadcast networks in overall viewership and in the key 18-49 demographic. Still, at this point in the season, ABC has lost 9% of its 18-49 viewers compared to the 2009-10 season, according to industry site TVbytheNumbers.

ABC's New Primetime Shows, 2010-11 Season
  Show (Network) Genre Metascore Users
1 No Ordinary Family Drama 65 6.3
2 Better With You Comedy 64 6.5
3 Detroit 1-8-7 Drama 63 7.9
4 Happy Endings Comedy 57 6.6
5 The Whole Truth * Drama 56 7.6
6 Body of Proof Drama 56 5.6
7 Mr. Sunshine Comedy 54 6.4
8 Off the Map Drama 49 7.1
9 My Generation * Drama 43 5.4
-- Skating with the Stars * Reality Competition n/a n/a

* Show has been canceled.


2010-11 New Shows
Avg. Metascore 55.0
Avg. User Score 6.5
Metascore Rank 3rd
Ratings Rank 1st

Though the #1 network in overall viewership had mixed critical success with its new programs during the 2010-11 season, CBS did manage to score positive notices for four of its nine freshman series. That's a big step up over the previous season, when the network had just one well reviewed new show (The Good Wife).

However, as was the case with ABC, CBS may not keep many of these first-year programs on the air for a second season. Hawaii Five-0 and Mike and Molly are certain to return, but we can't say that about any of the other programs listed below, and even the network's highest-scoring new show, the Tom Selleck cop drama Blue Bloods, is in danger despite the lowered expectations accompanying its Friday night timeslot. And even with the "star" power of Paula Abdul, the network failed in its attempt to launch a new entry in the increasingly competitive talent competition genre -- a feat that even NBC seems to have pulled off (with The Voice).

CBS's New Primetime Shows, 2010-11 Season
  Show (Network) Genre Metascore Users
1 Blue Bloods Drama 70 7.7
2 Hawaii Five-0 Drama/Action 65 7.0
3 The Defenders Drama 65 7.4
4 Mike and Molly Comedy 63 6.2
5 Mad Love Comedy 60 7.2
6 Chaos Drama/Action/Comedy 49 6.9
7 Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior Drama 42 4.8
8 $#* ! My Dad Says Comedy 28 4.4
-- Live to Dance * Reality Competition n/a n/a

* Show has been canceled.

The CW

2010-11 New Shows
Avg. Metascore 54.0
Avg. User Score 6.3
Metascore Rank 4th
Ratings Rank 5th

The CW isn't in danger of shedding its "fifth network" status anytime soon, as it continues to program fewer hours than any other network and trail far behind its competitors in the ratings. (In fact, the CW will finish this season in 6th place, if you include the Spanish-language Univision.) But while it and every other network has lost viewers this season, the CW has so far experienced a smaller percentage drop than its fellow broadcasters.

The network launched only two new scripted series in 2010-11 (down from four during 2009-10), one with generally positive reviews (the movie spinoff Nikita) and one that proved to be more mediocre (cheerleading dramedy Hellcats). Both shows are still on the bubble, with the latter looking unlikely to return.

The CW's New Primetime Shows, 2010-11 Season
  Show (Network) Genre Metascore Users
1 Nikita Action/Drama 66 6.9
2 Hellcats Drama/Comedy 51 5.7
3 Shedding for the Wedding Reality Competition 46 n/a


2010-11 New Shows
Avg. Metascore 63.0
Avg. User Score 6.7
Metascore Rank 1st
Ratings Rank 2nd

The only broadcast network with an average Metascore in the "green" range during 2010-11, Fox also had more positively-reviewed new shows than any other network, with five of its eight first-year series scoring 61 or higher. Last season, by comparison, just two of Fox's six new shows received positive reviews.

Again, however, those reviews don't seem to translate into ratings. The Chicago Code, the best reviewed new show on any broadcast network this season, has yet to crack the ratings code, and appears increasingly unlikely to return next year. The sitcom Traffic Light, another new Fox show getting the green light from critics, is also about to get the ax from the network.

Still, the network scored a modest ratings and critical hit with its new comedy Raising Hope, and Fox will finish the season in first place in the crucial 18-49 demographic -- as it did the previous year -- though it remains behind leader CBS in total viewership.

Fox's New Primetime Shows, 2010-11 Season
  Show (Network) Genre Metascore Users
1 The Chicago Code Drama 75 6.5
2 Raising Hope Comedy 75 7.6
3 Lone Star * Drama 73 7.3
4 Traffic Light Comedy 63 6.1
5 Million Dollar Money Drop Game Show 61 6.4
6 Breaking In Comedy 55 7.7
7 Bob's Burgers Animation/Comedy 54 5.5
8 Running Wilde * Comedy 48 6.5

* Show has been canceled.


2010-11 New Shows
Avg. Metascore 51.0
Avg. User Score 6.1
Metascore Rank 5th
Ratings Rank 4th

Thanks to the departure of The Jay Leno Show, NBC had many hours to fill in its primetime schedule, and fill them it did, with more new programs (13) than any other broadcast network.

Unfortunately, the network seems to have relied on a variety of mediocre -- at best -- series to plug the gaps in its lineup, and the result was the worst average Metascore of any network, as well as another year of low ratings. It was the second time in three years that NBC finished dead last in average Metascore for its first-year shows.

Once known for its comedies, NBC launched only three this season, and all were duds, though there is a small chance that Outsourced could survive to a second season. Of its three well-reviewed new programs (all dramas), Undercovers was canceled almost immediately, Law & Order: Los Angeles was pulled off the air for retooling and has performed poorly since its return, and, barring a miracle, The Event will not be invited back for a second season. Last season, by comparison, NBC launched just two well-reviewed new programs, but both (Community and Parenthood) were successful and will be back for third seasons next year.

It wasn't a complete disaster for NBC in 2010-11, however; the Kathy Bates legal drama Harry's Law has performed well enough in the ratings to make a case for returning next season, and new American Idol competitor The Voice had a strong premiere last week.

Note that two shows that were originally announced as part of NBC's 2010-11 schedule last year -- the anthology series Love Bites and the sitcom Friends with Benefits -- have yet to debut. The former has made it onto the network's summer schedule (beginning June 2nd), while the latter still doesn't have a premiere date. Neither is expected to be part of NBC's 2011-12 schedule.

NBC's New Primetime Shows, 2010-11 Season
  Show (Network) Genre Metascore Users
1 The Event Drama 67 6.2
2 Law & Order: Los Angeles Drama 64 5.9
3 Undercovers * Drama/Action 63 5.9
4 America's Next Great Restaurant Reality Competition 58 4.6
5 The Voice  Reality Competition 55 8.4
6 The Cape * Drama/Action 54 6.7
7 Chase * Drama 48 6.4
8 Harry's Law Drama 48 6.9
9 Outsourced Comedy 46 7.2
10 School Pride Reality 45 n/a
11 Perfect Couples * Comedy 43 7.0
12 The Paul Reiser Show * Comedy 38 4.4
13 Outlaw * Drama 36 3.4

* Show has been canceled.

What are your favorites?

What are your picks for the best and worst new shows of the 2010-11 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 (12)

  • Ben  

    Best New Shows 2010-2011
    1. Game of Thrones
    2. The Killing
    3. Boardwalk Empire
    4. The Walking Dead
    5. The Event

    I enjoyed the Event, but stop watching after it was axed. The Event was good 7-7.5 rating. Game of Thrones, Killing, Walking Dead, and Boardwalk Empire could all be Epic shows. They each have the potential to get in the discussion with Deadwood and early seasons of Lost. To early to tell if they can reach The Wire or even touch the greatest piece of film work ever The Sopranos. Hard to say but I think The Killing and Game of Thrones have the best shot.

  • Feedback  

    I loved this article. And I have to agree with the people above me that Episodes is comedic brilliance. I hope it gets nominated for many an Emmy this year and am impatiently awaiting its second season. However, my favorite new show of the year has to be Boardwalk Empire. I'm a sucker for period pieces though and damn, that show is the greatest period piece on TV since Mad Men. The Walking Dead is great, but 6 episodes was not enough for me to make a solid opinion. It seemed more like a miniseries to me. I'll have a better opinion by its second season. For now, Episodes and Boardwalk Empire are the kings of the season. Haven't seen The Killing yet though. I'll get around to that next week.

  • Madame Mimi  

    I agree with most of the cancellations, but a few very good shows weren't mentioned perhaps because they air on cable. As someone mentioned above Episodes is brilliant in both the English and the American way. It's as if someone realised the world will never see Matt LeBlanc as anything but Joey and has thus brilliantly (there's that word again) scripted a show around it. Still this might be the first time in a very long time that there seems to be so much good stuff on TV that there aren't enough hours in the day. Let's keep it up TV execs. TV should always be a watchers market.

  • BHM1304  

    "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" was the best mini-series on television this year, hands down. It gave us a wonderful set up to the first series and Dustin Clare got a perfect introduction as "Gannicus" and did not disappoint filling Andy Whitfield's, who is still missed terribly, shoes as champion of the House of Batiatus. John Hannah and Lucy Lawless were fantastic as usual. One of the best parts was the tragic love triangle of Clare's "Gannicus" , Peter Mensah's "Oenomaus", and Marisa Ramirez's "Mellita". All three gave this tragic story a new look, these three characters all loved one another and none acted on base impulse and they were all characters the audience rooted for and the performances were wonderful giving the tragic ending so much more weight. No offense to "The Walking Dead" but that spot belongs to "Shameless" on the writing and acting alone. There were no performances in "Walking Dead" as memorable or as good as Emmy Rossum's or William H. Macy's in "Shameless". "The Borgia's" belongs on that list as well as Jeremy Iron's is going to win an Emmy for his "Rodrigo Borgia". And, could Holliday Grainger have been more perfectly cast as "Lucrezia Borgia"? She should be in the running for an Emmy nom as well.

  • will  

    How did Sparticus: Blood and Sand not make the list?

  • Chuck  

    Technically weren't Sherlock and Downton Abbey both series. Both were picked up for a second season.

  • Amir  

    Episodes (Showtime) is comedic brilliance.

  • Amir  

    I haven't seen Boardwalk Empire yet, but The Killing (AMC) is the best new show of the season. Rubicon (AMC) was politically incorrect and deserved to get cancelled. I hope Outsourced (NBC) does get cancelled too. I may have inadvertently contributed to the ratings woes of Lights Out (FX) and The Chicago Code (Fox) because I ran out of time to watch these shows, but found both of them enjoyable. Sad about Terriers (FX); San Diego is my favorite city! I found Upstairs, Downstairs (PBS) far more entertaining than Downton Abbey (PBS).

  • luisl  

    Rubicon was also pretty good, but was cancelled.

  • jay  

    perfect couples was hilarious.....why cancelled?????

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