Monday, February 10, 2014

Flipping Channels: Is Nashville No. 3 with a Bullet?

Posted By on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Theres room on the couch — but not if youre watching Chicago P.D.
  • There's room on the couch — but not if you're watching Chicago P.D.
There's the proverbial good news and bad news regarding ABC's Nashville (9 p.m. Wednesdays, WKRN-Channel 2). The positive side is that the show is No. 2 among all the network's 9 p.m. programs — second only to Castle, which has almost surged back to the audience levels it had in its first two seasons.

Nashville also does decently in the 18-49 demographic, generates ample online and social media buzz, and delivers a healthy amount of ancillary income with iTunes songs, etc.

The negative side, though, is that it continues to run a poor third in overall ratings for the time slot. CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation dominates in overall viewers and has a lead in 18-49 as well, but isn't as big a winner in that demographic.

And there's a bigger disappointment still. NBC's Chicago P.D. — a program that has inherited Criminal Minds' dubious title as the worst-reviewed show on network TV — has become a hit at Nashville's expense.

Few observers anticipated Nashville beating CSI, a show getting a larger audience now than it did in 2007 and 2008 (and seems poised to hit the 20-year mark previously reached only by Law and Order and Gunsmoke). But number-crunchers anticipated it would be second in the time slot, assuming that all but the most hardcore cop-show devotees would deem Rayna Jaymes better company than yet another inferior police-drama knockoff.

So how to put a bullet next to Nashville's numbers? A move to 9 p.m. Tuesdays could be in the offing. It would still be up against another powerhouse in CBS's Person of Interest, but that show could be vulnerable in the wake of audience uproar over the demise of Taraji P. Henson's character and a shift toward cyber espionage and spy dramatics.

At any rate, Nashville seems safe from cancellation, although the workings of network TV are as mysterious as those of Music Row. New episodes return Feb. 26 once the Olympics have called it a day.

Take Tums with Rake
The National Hockey League isn't the only organization that's taking a winter break for the Olympics. The broadcast networks who must put something on opposite NBC's nightly menu of figure skating, skiing, etc. are largely tossing in the towel. Look for plenty of reruns as no one wants to waste premium programming on a skeleton audience.

One exception is Fox's Rake (8 p.m. Thursdays, WZTV-Channel 17). The networks seldom air a new show's programs in the sequence they were shot, often preferring to get the show going, then air the pilot later. So the Feb. 13 episode is the one that was designed to introduce the character, and also contains one of its most bizarre storylines.

Brilliant but amoral defense attorney Keegan Deane (Greg Kinnear) is as usual heavily in debt and also has other troubles. So he accepts a case no one else will touch. His client (Denis O'Hare, better known for his appearances on American Horror Story) actually ate a man he met on a social-networking site.

Deane sees this as his chance to display both brilliance and the courage of his absolutist convictions, while others regard it as his ultimate act of venal stupidity. Rake creator Peter Duncan, in the current issue of TV Guide, denies the allegation that he had Fox deliberately air this show against the Olympics to limit the possibilities of audience backlash.

"It's one of the fictions of TV legal dramas that attorneys choose their cases for high moral reasons," Duncan said. "That isn't reality. If you're a criminal defense attorney, you take the cases you get, and that's a good thing for our cannibal. Keegan relates to society's lowlifes and underdogs — because he is one — and he really believes in everyone's right to a defense."

Thus far, Rake hasn't left many marks on Thursdays, but Fox hopes this episode will at least generate some buzz. With all its other competitors offering repeats, perhaps those uninterested in men's figure skating, men's freestyle skiing, women's short track and women's speed skating just might find Rake more to their … er, tastes.

TCM's Oscar bonanza
One channel won't be taking any Olympic break. The best movie channel on cable or satellite remains Turner Classic Movies (TCM), at least if you're talking about classic films. Each year they run a "31 Days of Oscar" series that celebrates award winners in every category and genre, taking viewers right up to the annual Oscar Awards show.

Friday's edition is the "Best Picture Nominee Marathon," a collection of films all nominated for the Best Picture. Selections include The Goodbye Girl, Father of the Bride (the 1950 Vincente Minnelli original), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Talk of the Town, Field of Dreams, and All Quiet On The Western Front.

Another sure winner (though there really aren't any loser days) is the "Best Song Nominee and Winner Marathon" Feb. 18. How much you enjoy this will depend to some degree on whether you enjoy musicals, but the list of films that day include Meet Me In St. Louis, The Way We Were, The Wonderful World of The Brothers Grimm, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, even the Steve McQueen-Faye Dunaway The Thomas Crown Affair (featuring the ’60s pop staple "The Windmills of Your Mind").

There's a "Best Actress Nominee" Marathon that starts at 7 p.m. Feb. 20. That night's films focus on the nominees from 1934. The film lineup: Of Human Bondage (Bette Davis), It Happened One Night (Claudette Colbert, winner), One Night of Love (Grace Moore) and The Barretts of Wimpole Street (Norma Shearer).

If programming were Olympic sport, TCM would be the only gold medalist this month on the podium.

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