Fall TV Results: The Season's Best & Worst New Shows

  • Publish Date: November 6, 2012
  • Comments: ↓ 2 user comments

Network performance

The five major broadcast networks launched six fewer programs than they did last fall—21 new shows this year, compared to 2011's 27—and the result was a slight overall uptick in average Metascore. Those 21 new programs combined to average 56 this fall, up two points from the average of 54 for last fall's freshman class. Ten of this year's 21 newcomers earned positive reviews from critics, making for a nearly 48% success rate, up from 2011's 44% rate. And just three new networks shows received truly terrible reviews, half the number of lousy shows that viewers were subjected to the previous fall.

Out of the five broadcast networks, ABC had the most positively reviewed programs and the highest average Metascore, a reversal for the network from the past few fall seasons. There was also some good news at the last-place CW, whose Arrow 72 was just the network's second positively reviewed new fall series over the past four years. (Arrow is also the CW's highest-scoring new series in five years.) NBC, however, had the worst success rate with critics, earning solid reviews for just two of its six freshman series. Here's how the networks compared this fall and in fall seasons past:

Broadcast Network Comparison, New Fall Shows by Year
  2012 2011 2010 2009
  Avg Shows Avg Shows Avg Shows Avg Shows
ABC 60 positivepositivepositive
53 positivepositivepositive
58 positivepositivepositive
60 positivepositivepositive
Rank: 1st Rank: 4th Rank: 3rd Rank: 2nd
Fox 59 positivepositivemixed 55 positivepositivepositive
65 positivepositivemixed
62 positivemixedmixed
Rank: 2nd Rank: 2nd Rank: 1st Rank: 1st
CBS 55 positivepositivemixed
58 positivepositivepositive
58 positivepositivepositive
58 positivemixedmixed
Rank: 3rd Rank: 1st Rank: 3rd Rank: 3rd
NBC 54 positivepositivemixed
55 positivepositivemixed
52 positivepositivepositive
53 positivemixedmixed
Rank: 4th Rank: 2nd Rank: 5th Rank: 4th
CW 51 positivemixednegative 47 mixedmixedmixed
59 positivemixed 49 mixedmixedmixed
Rank: 5th Rank: 5th Rank: 2nd Rank: 5th

Averages are of Metascores for new primetime shows debuting in the fall of each year. Dots represent each individual new show with colors indicating positive (positive), mixed (mixed), or negative (negative) reviews from critics.

Best and worst new series

2012 Nashville ABC 84
2011 Homeland Showtime 91
2010 Boardwalk Empire HBO 88
2009 Modern Family ABC 86
2008 Life on Mars ABC 74
2007 Pushing Daisies ABC 86
Best Reviewed Fall Shows by Year

If it seems like there weren't many great shows this fall—well, that's because there weren't. ABC's country music drama Nashville was the season's highest-scoring new program, but, at 84, it was the lowest-scoring first-place fall newcomer since 2008. It was also the only new series to surpass the 81 mark that we consider the minimum for a show to have "universal acclaim" from professional critics. That makes two fall seasons in a row where just one show was able to achieve that mark.

This fall also marked the first time in three years that the highest-scoring new series was on broadcast television rather than cable. The cable networks failed to introduce any programs of note this fall, with Cinemax's little-seen Hunted 68 scoring highest among cable newcomers.

Here's how all the new fall shows ranked with critics:

Metascore Ranking of New Primetime Series - 2012 Fall Season
  Show (Network) Genre Metascore Users
1Nashville (ABC) Drama846.6
2Call The Midwife (PBS)Drama807.7
3 Last Resort (ABC) 2nd Look reviews Action, Drama74 8.0
4 Elementary (CBS) 2nd Look reviewsDrama736.3
5Arrow (The CW) Action, Drama72 8.0
6 The Mindy Project (Fox) 2nd Look reviewsComedy696.7
7Hunted (Cinemax) Action, Drama686.7
8 Vegas (CBS) 2nd Look reviewsDrama676.3
9Ben & Kate (Fox)Comedy676.5
10 Go On (NBC) 2nd Look reviewsComedy66n/a
11 Revolution (NBC) 2nd Look reviews Action, Drama645.4
12 666 Park Avenue (ABC) 2nd Look reviews Drama, Fantasy617.2
13Breaking Amish (TLC)Reality61n/a
14The New Normal (NBC)Comedy60 6.0
15Underemployed (MTV)Comedy, Drama555.3
16Chicago Fire (NBC) Action, Drama494.8
17 Animal Practice (NBC) *Comedy48n/a
18Emily Owens, M.D. (The CW)Drama473.3
19The Houstons: On Our Own (Lifetime)Reality43n/a
20 Made in Jersey (CBS) *Drama434.3
21 The Mob Doctor (Fox) Drama423.4
22The Neighbors (ABC)Comedy414.3
23Malibu Country (ABC)Comedy417.7
24Guys With Kids (NBC)Comedy384.5
25Partners (CBS)Comedy375.1
26Beauty and the Beast (The CW)Drama34 4.0

* Show has been canceled.
Includes all shows debuting in the U.S. this fall with a minimum of 7 reviews from professional critics as of November 6, 2012. Shows are ranked by Metascore prior to rounding.

What do you think?

What new shows are you enjoying this fall? What did critics get right and wrong? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (2)

  • conditionals  

    Elementary is awesome, the spiritual successor to House. Mindy Project and Go On are pretty OK, but can't touch established comedies like Parks & Recreation or Happy Endings. Revolution is... well, I'm watching it and it's on TV. Those are the two things I can say about Revolution.

  • Cilliandrew  

    THE NEIGHBORS is criminally underrated. Best new comedy of the season. I am surprised by the high ratings for "LAST RESORT". It's silly, but i enjoy it on that level. "ARROW" is surprisingly solid so far. It's DARK KNIGHT light, but it works. I also find i enjoy "REVOLUTION" despite the weak lead actress.

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