Well, what is wrong with "Grey's Anatomy?" Averaging a miserable measley 10.5 million or so viewers this season - not counting the nearly 3 million time-shift viewers - and simple arithmetic tells you that this tentpoll is off seven million viewers from the same period last year.
It's like the whole city of Los Angeles has tuned out. (Actually, LA's a little bigger, but you get the drift.)
Here's my column tomorrow. Something's wrong in "Grey'sville" and I have my theories...
"Grey's Anatomy," WABC/7, 9.
Reason to watch: A major sweeps episode – “That’s Me Trying” - hoping to reverse
the 3 to 4 million viewer drop from this time last year.
What tonight's about: Residents are pushed through a trauma certification drill, while poor muddled Christina Yang (Sandra Oh) faces another test of her own. Not available for review.
My say: There aren't many jobs harder in TV than refreshing a primetime soap that's drifted from mega-hot to mega-not. There’s a temptation to shake things up, and boldly go where no viewer has gone before - until viewers tell you they don't want to boldly go anywhere. Fans pretty much want the same old stuff - in "Grey's" case that'd largely be the forever-fraught tie that binds Derek (Patrick Dempsey) and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo). But at the end of last season, "Grey's" yielded to temptation. A mad gunmen stalked the halls of Seattle Grace, shooting patients and doctors - eleven killed in all - while shattering whatever sense of complacency viewers may have started to feel about their "Grey's" habit. Assuming this wasn't a bald-faced ratings stunt - and "Grey's" has been known to yield to that temptation too - ABC and creator Shonda Rhimes were suddenly faced with a grim reality. How to avoid a Columbine-like pallor draped across the seventh season? Unfortunately, they’ve settled on far too easy and facile answers for the most part. The funeral meats were hardly cold before Sloan (Eric Dane) was bedding Derek's sister, or Torres (Sara Ramirez) was bedding Robbins (Jessica Capshaw). A still-childless Mere started to fret about her "hostile uterus." Naturally, a mcsteamy new doctor - James Tupper's Andrew Perkins - was added to help everyone through their PTSD. A faux-documentary camera crew rolled through Seattle Grace last week for a cinema verite episode to check on the staff's progress. It found everyone much improved - with the exception of a comically inept new security system. Only Yang (Sandra Oh) is still moping around, waiting for that miraculous November sweeps moment when she'll snap back to old form.
Bottom line: In a rush to get back on track after their brush with Columbine, characters - with the exception of Yang - have been turned into parodies of themselves. Worse, the stories surrounding them feel airless, forced and manipulative. Maybe the finale was a stunt after all, and in retrospect a costly one, because it's done this fading franchise a
world of hurt.