Fall 2010 TV Scorecard: The Best & Worst New Shows

  • Publish Date: November 2, 2010
  • Comments: ↓ 13 user comments

Not as bad as it seems

2010 Boardwalk Empire HBO 88
2009 Modern Family ABC 86
2008 Life on Mars ABC 74
2007 Pushing Daisies ABC 86
2006 The Nine ABC 81
Best Reviewed Fall Shows by Year

It only seems like the fall television season has been worse than in recent years. Certainly, by some measures -- namely, ratings -- the new season has been a dud. Out of all 22 new network shows debuting this fall, not one has cracked the list of 10 highest-rated programs. Only two, Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods, even appear in the season-to-date top 20 (through October 24th). Read more about the ratings for fall's new shows.

But this year's crop of new shows has not been inferior to last year in terms of critical success; in fact, if you average out the Metascores for all of fall's new shows, it equals the average (57) for the fall of 2009. And there have actually been many more new network shows receiving positive reviews this fall than last fall, by a margin of 13-7. So why does the general consensus seem to be that the 2010 fall season is so unimpressive?

Blame cable. Most of those new broadcast network shows with positive reviews were just barely positive (eight of them had Metascores between 62-65), meaning they were closer to "mildly entertaining" than "exceptional." For the first time since Metacritic's television section launched in 2005, the highest-scoring show of the fall season was not on one of the broadcast networks, but on cable. In fact, the four highest-scoring shows of the fall were all cable shows, including the only three shows to score above 80. These new series, combined with the continuing runs of acclaimed cable series like Mad Men, only served to make the broadcast networks' programming seem lackluster in comparison.

More on those shows in a moment. First, let's go back to the broadcast networks and see how they rank now that all of the new fall series have debuted.

Broadcast Network Comparison, Fall 2010 vs. Fall 2009 (New Shows Only)
Network   Fall 2010 New Shows Average
  Fall 2009 New Shows Average
Fox   3: positivepositivemixed 65   3: positivemixedmixed 62   ↑3
CW   2: positivemixed 59   3: mixedmixedmixed 49   ↑10
CBS   5: positivepositivepositivepositivenegative 58   4: positivemixedmixedmixed 58   --
ABC   5: positivepositivepositivemixedmixed 58   8: positivepositivepositivepositivemixedmixedmixednegative 60   ↓2
NBC   7: positivepositivepositivemixedmixedmixednegative 52   4: positivemixedmixedmixed 53   ↓1
    All Fall 2010 New Shows: 57   All Fall 2009 New Shows: 57    

As you can see, as was the case in 2009, Fox once again has the highest average score for its new fall shows. The crown would have been taken by ratings champion CBS, however, were it not for its poorly-reviewed Twit-com $#*! My Dad Says; the network's average score for its four other new shows is 66.

The fall season's best and worst new shows

As we indicated earlier, only one broadcast network series managed to crack the top five: Fox's sitcom Raising Hope, which placed fifth. Critics and users both seemed to respond more positively to a varied lineup of cable offerings. The broadcast networks did, however, manage to lock up most of the spots on our list of worst-reviewed shows.

Best Reviews from Top TV Critics
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
Boardwalk Empire HBO The Walking Dead
BBC America
Raising Hope
Critics: 88 Critics: 85 Critics: 82 Critics: 75 Critics: 75
Best Reviews from Metacritic.com Users
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
The Walking Dead
Boardwalk Empire HBO Detroit 1-8-7
Raising Hope
Users: 9.2 Users: 8.6 Users: 8.3 Users: 7.9 Users: 7.4
Worst Reviews from Top TV Critics
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
$#*! My Dad Says CBS Outlaw
Big Lake
Comedy Central
My Generation
School Pride
Critics: 28 Critics: 36 Critics: 42 Critics: 43 Critics: 45
Worst Reviews from Metacritic.com Users
1 2 3 4 5
Image Image Image Image Image
$#*! My Dad Says CBS Mike and Molly
Melissa & Joey
ABC Family
Better with You
Users: 3.2 Users: 4.3 Users: 5.0 Users: 5.3 Users: 5.3

New television series with seven or more reviews and debuting on U.S. television between August 15, 2010 and October 31, 2010 were eligible for the above lists. Shows are scored and ranked based on reviews published at the time of the original first season debut; returning series are excluded from these lists. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). Although scores have been rounded to the nearest whole number, shows are ranked prior to rounding. User scores represent an average of scores assigned by Metacritic.com site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). All scores as of November 1, 2010.

All new fall shows

Finally, here are the scores for all of the season's new shows with at least seven reviews from professional television critics, ranked from best- to worst-reviewed.

New Fall Shows - 2010
  Show (Network) Genre Metascore Users
1Boardwalk Empire (HBO) Drama888.3
2The Walking Dead (AMC) Horror859.2
3Luther (BBC America) Drama827.3
4Terriers (FX) Comedy/Drama758.6
5Raising Hope (Fox) Comedy757.4
6 Lone Star (Fox) * Drama737.3
7 Teach: Tony Danza (A&E) ** Reality72n/a
8Blue Bloods (CBS) Drama707.2
9The Event (NBC) Drama675.8
10Nikita (The CW) Drama/Action666.4
11The Big C (Showtime) Comedy/Drama667.0
12The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret (IFC) Comedy664.3
13Hawaii Five-0 (CBS) Drama656.8
14The Defenders (CBS) Drama656.6
15No Ordinary Family (ABC) Drama/Action657.0
16Better With You (ABC) Comedy645.3
17Law & Order: Los Angeles (NBC) Drama635.9
18Undercovers (NBC) Drama/Action635.6
19Mike and Molly (CBS) Comedy635.0
20Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC) Drama627.9
21 Hollywood Treasure (Syfy) Reality62n/a
22The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (Bravo) Reality62n/a
23 The Whole Truth (ABC) * Drama567.4
24Melissa & Joey (ABC Family) Comedy545.3
25Hellcats (The CW) Drama515.6
26Running Wilde (Fox) Comedy485.9
27Chase (NBC) Drama485.7
28Outsourced (NBC) Comedy466.7
29School Pride (NBC) Reality45n/a
30 My Generation (ABC) * Drama435.4
31Big Lake (Comedy Central) Comedy42n/a
32 Outlaw (NBC) * Drama363.2
33$#*! My Dad Says (CBS) Comedy284.3

* Show has been canceled.
** Show is effectively (but unofficially) canceled.

What are your favorites?

What are your favorite and least favorite new shows of the fall 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 (13)

  • Steve  

    I am impressed to see that Raising Hope has scored so high here. So far, I've been the only one in my circle to really see it for what it is: a really clever sitcom that doesn't have to squeeze out the shmaltz to be sentimental. Boardwalk Empire failed to capture my imagination, no matter how great the production values are, but The Walking Dead has really made a believer out of me. Now to track down Luther somehow and give that a test drive.

  • Justin  

    I wish I had more than basic cable right now...there are some really great cable shows that I'm missing out on. However, I've grown to really enjoy Outsourced, Running Wilde, and Mike & Molly. Outsourced gets better every week, Mitch Hurwitz never has and never will get the love that his shows deserve, and Mike & Molly may not be the next great show but it has its funny moments. Between those shows and old favorites like House, Bones, Castle, and Hell's Kitchen I think it's altogether a not-so-bad fall TV season.

  • St. McDuck  

    Walking Dead has been the only new show I've bothered with, and it's pretty good. Too bad the first season is over in a week or two.
    Conversely, I really don't see the reason Boardwalk Empire is getting such rave reviews. I tried watching it and got so bored I had to change the channel.

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