EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


November 3, 2013

The class, and crass, of the fall TV season

I’m seeing dead people — and there’s a good chance you are, too.

The fourth-season premiere of ACM’s “The Walking Dead” was watched by more than 20 million viewers, making it the most popular non-sports event in cable history. The creepiness continued with the start of Season 3 of “American Horror Story,” which became the most watched program in FX history.

Normally, this isn’t the season that cable steals the headlines. Fall is supposed to be the broadcast networks’ chance to strut their new stuff, but the Big Four have become more and more reluctant to take chances. And when they do conjure up innovative programming — such as “Happy Endings” and “Parenthood” — a significant audience fails to show up.

We’re only about a month into the new season, but it’s not too early to track triumphs and trouble spots. Here’s our preliminary report card:


Grade: D-plus

The network that used to know what women want appears to have lost its touch. “Lucky 7,” a ridiculous gamble, became the season’s first cancellation, and “Betrayal,” whose debut matched the network’s lowest-rated Sunday premiere ever, can’t be far behind. The network continues to do well on Wednesday with “The Middle” and “Modern Family,” but has yet to find quality sitcoms to fill the time between them.

“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” got off to a super-human start with TV’s best dramatic debut in four years, but numbers dropped 34 percent after the big, splashy opening. The most promising news is that “Scandal” continues to grow in its third season with a premiere that topped 10 million viewers, a 71 percent leap from the Season 2 opener.

Comments: Comic-book figures are fine, but ABC needs to get back to delivering tough, sexy, multi-dimensional female characters who are interested in more than super fun nights.

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