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Week 1: Winners ('Two and a Half Men'); losers

Poppy Montgomery in a scene from

Poppy Montgomery in a scene from "Unforgettable," a drama premiering Sept. 20, 2011, on CBS. Photo Credit: AP

We now have a week and day under our belts for the new fall season, and -- first impressions being the most important as far as viewers are concerned -- some apparent observations: Solid starts for "Two and a Half Men," "Unforgettable," "Pan Am," "Charlie's Angels" (seriously). "Two Broke Girls," "New Girl," "The X Factor" and "Revenge" also had good launches. You also can put an * next to a couple of others, meaning "too early too tell but possibly promising:" "Person of Interest," "Up All Night," "Whitney" and "A Gifted Man." In trouble: "Free Agents."

"Terra  Nova?" It got a 5.3 rating in New York last night -- one rating in NYC equals about 77,000 homes -- and the nationals are out at about 11 a.m. This is certainly not bad, but a bit softer than Fox would have preferred. Rough guess is that "TN" could end up with anywhere form 9 to 11 million in total national viewers. (I expected much higher -- at least 12.) The CBS comedy block won the night (in households), and "Dancing with the Stars" pulled in second place. I don't expect the ranking to change with the nationals. 

And of special note: "Prime Suspect," which got a sub-2 rating in adults 18-49 for the first outing. That's of special concern for NBC because this  was really modeled as a somewhat younger, hipper, less cerebral version of the U.K. counterpart. NBC had dumped its all-Thursday comedy block for this, hoping to recapture a time period that was long, long, long under the control of NBC. But jump-starting old habits are difficult in this environment -- he says with modest understatement -- and Thursday had been turned into a boutique night under the previous administration. There's simply no reason to assume fans of "The Office" are going to hang around for "PS"... I'm guessing NBC will give this another week or two, and if the 18-49 numbers slide much further, it'll head to another night where it can get sampled and (hopefully) build. 

Here's a version of a column that's in the paper today and more observations... 

The big winner: By an almost a ridiculous margin, "Two and a Half Men,' which brought in a new star in place of a harrowingly unhinged former one, and for its trouble added nearly 15 million new viewers, for a total of 28 million! Most of this was rubbernecking, but even if half disappeared last night, CBS could still judge this a successful reboot. Speaking of boots, this may be the same old shoe -- with a new shoelace - but that huge first night turnout should guarantee a full season pickup any minute now.

Honorable mention to: In order, CBS's "Two Broke Girls" (18 million), though with an asterisk -- that lead-in (see above); "Unforgettable" (14 million) which everyone -- save Poppy Montgomery and Dylan Walsh fans -- had seemed to forget about before launch; ABC's "Pan Am" (11 million) which built on the lead of flagging "Desperate Housewives;" "The X Factor" which settled to around 12.5 million opening night even if expectations had been far greater; and . . .ready for this? . . . bodaciously bad "Charlie's Angels" (under 9 million), which got a solid adult 18-49 sampling.

Comedy kings get bigger: "Modern Family" and "The Big Bang Theory" (both north of 14 million) easily secured wins, and bragging rights, as TV's most popular sitcoms. When DVR playback ratings were factored in, they even edged a bit further north.

"Glee's" sour note: Last season, "Glee" launched with 12.5 million, and last week could muster no better than 8.9 million viewers. A 35 percent decline is massive, and a reflection of dissatisfaction in Gleekdom.

The biggest loser: The hard unforgiving fact is that most of 'em are on NBC -- and I'm not talking about that show of the same name. "Free Agents" (4 million viewers, and a sub-2 rating among young adults) is on track to become the first cancellation of the season. Of greater concern, however, is "Prime Suspect" (6M), squashed in its Thursday opening. The good news for NBC is that a handful of shows -- like newbies "Up All Night" and even "The Playboy Club" -- got a solid boost in DVR playback.


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