|Avg. User Score||5.8|
|Ratings Rank *||3rd|
After three consecutive years in 2nd place among the broadcast networks in average Metascore for its new shows, ABC dropped to fourth place this season despite actually launching more positively reviewed newcomers (seven in total) than any other network in 2011-12. In fact, ABC saw 54% of its new series debut to positive reviews, a percentage second only to Fox.
So why did ABC's average Metascore decline for the third straight year? For that, you can thank a trio of terrible new sitcoms (including the previously mentioned Work It 19, which set a record for critical disdain) as well as a disastrous reboot of Charlie's Angels 30. Oddly, one of those four poorly reviewed newcomers—the Tim Allen-starring Last Man Standing 33—has been renewed for a second season, though it has been banished to Fridays.
And, despite sitting in fourth place in the key 18-49 demographic (while staying in 3rd place in overall viewership), the season wasn't a total loss for ABC. The network was able to launch a pair of critically praised and successful sitcoms in Suburgatory and Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, and has a genuine hit on its hands in soapy drama Revenge. However, the network was unable to translate decent reviews for thriller The River or period drama Pan Am into viewers, though there is a very slim chance that the latter series, canceled at the end of the season by ABC, could get picked up by Amazon for a second season.
|1||Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23||Comedy||71||6.7|
|3||Pan Am *||Drama||67||7.5|
|5||Once Upon a Time||Drama||66||7.9|
|6||The River *||Drama||65||6.1|
|10||Man Up! **||Comedy||36||5.9|
|11||Last Man Standing||Comedy||33||5.0|
|12||Charlie's Angels *||Drama||30||2.7|
|13||Work It **||Comedy||19||0.8|
|--||You Deserve It *||Game Show||n/a||n/a|
|Avg. User Score||5.7|
With just a few days remaining in Nielsen's official 2011-12 television season, it is clear that CBS will once again lead all networks in total viewership, achieving that feat for the ninth time in the past decade and actually growing its audience a bit compared to the previous year. While the network remains in second place in the key 18-49 demographic, CBS will finish the season averaging nearly 3 million more viewers than its nearest competitor (Fox), the largest margin of victory in over 20 years.
The result of this ongoing ratings success is that CBS once again launched fewer new shows than ABC or NBC. Just three of its seven first-year programs managed to eke out positive reviews from professional critics, and even those didn't exactly overwhelm reviewers with their quality. Interestingly, CBS's two highest-scoring new programs are the only ones advancing to a second season on the network, and they are both ratings hits: drama Person of Interest is the season's most-watched new series, and comedy 2 Broke Girls was the top newcomer among the 18-49 set. Last year, by comparison, CBS introduced four new series to critical acclaim, with three of those earning renewal.
|1||2 Broke Girls||Comedy||66||6.3|
|2||Person of Interest||Drama||65||7.7|
|3||A Gifted Man *||Drama||62||7.1|
|5||NYC 22 *||Drama||57||6.9|
|6||How to Be a Gentleman **||Comedy||42||3.1|
|Avg. User Score||5.5|
Once again at the bottom of the pack in terms of ratings and average Metascore for its new shows, fifth "major" network The CW successfully launched just one new series in 2011-12: Hart of Dixie, the only newcomer that will return next season. That show actually left critics mostly unimpressed, as did nearly all of The CW's freshman lineup; as a result, the network fell back to fifth place in average new show Metascore after improving to fourth place the previous season.
Oddly, The CW's lone new program to receive strong reviews—Canadian import The L.A. Complex—was so shunned by viewers that it established a new ratings low for broadcast drama debuts. Critics still like that show (an article in Slate just this week comes with the headline, "The Lowest-Rated Show in Broadcast History Is Actually Great"), but its ratings have somehow managed to decline even further since its premiere, to the point where fewer than half a million people watched the most recent episode. Elsewhere on the schedule, the return of Sarah Michelle Gellar (in Ringer) and a new supernatural series from the people behind hit The Vampire Diaries (The Secret Circle) failed to connect with either critics or viewers.
|1||The L.A. Complex ***||Drama||70||n/a|
|3||The Secret Circle *||Drama||55||7.2|
|4||Hart of Dixie||Drama||43||6.8|
|Avg. User Score||5.5|
After two consecutive years of boasting the highest average Metascore for its first-year programs, Fox fell to second place in 2011-12, its average score plummeting by nearly 7 points. Yes, that drop occurred in spite of the fact that five out of the network's nine scored newcomers (a 10th, Q'Viva!, did not earn enough reviews to receive a score) earned positive reviews—a success rate (56%) higher than that of any other broadcast network this season.
The culprit is the presence of two negatively reviewed shows on Fox's roster—something the network avoided in the two previous seasons. Animated comedy Allen Gregory and non-animated "comedy" I Hate My Teenage Daughter were despised by Metacritic users about as much as they were by critics (if not more), and neither will return for a second season. Three first-year series did earn renewals, and they were three of Fox's four highest-scoring newcomers. The fourth, time-travel dinosaur epic Terra Nova, was neither good enough nor viewed enough to merit its massive budget.
|1||The X Factor||Reality competition||70||5.3|
|3||Terra Nova *||Drama/sci-fi||64||5.9|
|6||The Finder *||Drama||58||6.4|
|7||Napoleon Dynamite *||Animation/comedy||46||5.3|
|8||Allen Gregory *||Animation/comedy||39||3.1|
|9||I Hate My Teenage Daughter **||Comedy||36||3.1|
|--||Q'Viva! The Chosen *||Reality competition||n/a||n/a|
|Avg. User Score||5.5|
The always-struggling NBC once again debuted more new series than any other network, and while those newcomers didn't help the peacock network emerge from its fourth-place total viewership hole, it did manage to grow its 18-49 ratings compared to the previous season. And all of those new programs were, as a group, better than those the network introduced in 2010-11. In fact, they were good enough to place NBC first among all networks in average Metascore.
You wouldn't necessarily guess that by looking at the list below, however. Three of NBC's six well-reviewed newcomers have been canceled, a fourth (news program Rock Center with Brian Williams) was mysteriously renewed despite miniscule ratings, and a fifth (NBC's best new show, Smash) has seen its viewership eroding and will undergo major changes in front of and behind the camera when it returns next season. Still, critics only hated one of the network's new shows (Are You There, Chelsea?) this season, which is an improvement over the two that were panned the previous year.
|4||Prime Suspect *||Drama||66||7.5|
|5||Up All Night||Comedy||64||6.5|
|6||Rock Center with Brian Williams||News||63||n/a|
|7||Fashion Star||Reality competition||55||n/a|
|9||The Firm *||Drama||52||6.5|
|10||Free Agents **||Comedy||51||5.2|
|11||Best Friends Forever **||Comedy||50||6.4|
|13||Who's Still Standing? *||Game show||47||n/a|
|14||The Playboy Club **||Drama||45||5.9|
|15||Are You There, Chelsea? *||Comedy||36||5.1|
|--||Betty White's Off Their Rockers||Comedy/reality||n/a||n/a|
|--||Escape Routes *||Reality competition||n/a||n/a|
What are your favorites?
What are your picks for the best and worst new shows of the 2011-12 season? What did the critics get right and wrong when first assessing these new programs? Let us know in the comments section below.