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All Those Network TV Shows that You Barely Know Exist? Yeah, Those are the Most Popular Ones

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 5, 2011 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | October 5, 2011 |

If you haven’t heard already, the big news yesterday was both of the good and bad variety: The good news was that the NBC cancelled the anemically rated “The Playboy Club,” effective immediately. I hope you weren’t too invested in the inane plotlines and the porn-star version of Jon Hamm, whose facial expressions looked akin to constipation. I understand that NBC will use that slot to re-run episodes of their low-rated but excellent (so far) “Prime Suspect.” I hope it picks up some viewers because I don’t want to see Donald Trump returning to that Thursday night slot. In a couple of weeks, Brian Williams will debut a primetime newsmagazine in that slot, though my preference would be to give Brian Williams a sitcom. He’s among the funniest men the network has in their stable.

The other good news was that the network picked up a full season order of “Up All Night,” the phenomenal new comedy with Christina Applegate and Will Arnett that’s being dragged down by the wonderfully talented Maya Rudolph in a horribly unfunny role. Hopefully, they will continue to reformulate Rudolph’s character, and make her more sympathetic and less a goddamn diva caricature.

The bad news? “Whitney” was also inexplicably picked up for a full season, despite the fact that it must owe 90 percent of its success to its post-“The Office” time slot. I told you assholes to turn your television off after “The Office.” Don’t just walk out of the room. Either change the channel or turn it off; the Facebook account on the laptop you left in the room is probably somehow registering that “Whitney” is on and sending that information to NBC. See what happens when you let Zuckerberg into your life? “Whitney” gets a full season order.

I’m not sure what this means once “30 Rock” returns in January. It’s possible that “Whitney,” “30 Rock,” “Community,” or even “Parks and Recreation” moves to Wednesday to fill the other half hour currently occupied by “Free Agents,” as there’s little reason to believe that will be picked up for a full season. My guess is that, with the new NBC dramas under-performing, they won’t can any of the current Thursday night shows (even the low-rated “Community,”) but will instead shuffle some stuff around to make room for “30 Rock.”

Meanwhile, over on Showtime, the premiere of “Dexter” had the premium cable network’s highest ratings for a premiere episode ever. At about the same time, negotiations broke down between Michael C. Hall and the network over renewing his contract. He wants $24 million for the next two seasons; Showtime is offering $20 million. I’m certain the bridge will be gapped, but not exactly certain that’s great news: Eight seasons of “Dexter” is stretching the already stretched premise.

In development news, a couple of high-profile Hollywood types are venturing into television. Jon Favreau has pitched a series about single parents dating to CBS called “Tweaked.” It is expected to go to pilot, and Favreau will direct the first episode. Unfortunately, since it’s on CBS, it will almost certainly have a laugh track and, as a result, be stultifyingly unfunny.

Elsewhere, the Coen Brothers are venturing into network television, too, with an hour-long comedy on Fox called “HarveKarbo” that they will exec produce. It comes from the writer of Cedar Rapids, and will center around an ill-tempered LA private investigator whose cases frequently involve the depraved doings of the Hollywood elite. That’s certainly Coen material, and the show also comes from Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine TV, which has a remarkable track record for great television (“Friday Night Lights,” “Parenthood,” “Arrested Development,” and “Sports Night,” among others).

Sounds promising.

Y’all want to know what the Top 20 Shows in Primetime were last week, the second full week of the premiere season? Here they are. There’s exactly one show actually worth watching among the top 20 (three if you count football and the football pregame).

1. “Two and a Half Men,” CBS, 20.53 million.

2. “NCIS,” CBS, 19.51 million.

3. NFL Football: N.Y. Jets vs. Baltimore, NBC, 18.9 million.

4. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 17.11 million.

5. “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 16.27 million.

6. “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 16.23 million.

7. “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 14.74 million.

8. “Dancing With the Stars Results,” ABC, 14.39 million.

9. “Sunday Night NFL Night Pre-Kick,” NBC, 14.09 million.

10. “Mike & Molly,” CBS, 13.86 million.

11. “Modern Family,” ABC, 13.45 million.

12. “The Mentalist,” CBS, 12.92 million.

13. “Criminal Minds,” CBS, 12.58 million.

14. “Person of Interest,” CBS, 12.52 million.

15. “Unforgettable,” CBS, 12.43 million.

16. “The X-Factor” (Thursday), Fox, 12.17 million.

17. “The X-Factor” (Wednesday), Fox, 11.86 million.

18. “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 11.76 million.

19. “2 Broke Girls,” CBS, 11.75 million.

20. “Castle,” ABC, 11.67 million.

New season, same old shit. God, that is depressing.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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