If Dollhouse were on cable, would it be a hit? Which medical drama has the bigger problem with defections: Grey's Anatomy or House? And why is Tuesday night dragging down American Idol?
The answers—and more questions—in this week's TV ratings pop quiz:
1. So, Dollhouse Would Have Totally Ruled on Cable, Right? Well...let's say this: If the new Joss Whedon series were on FX, instead of Fox, its 4.8 million viewers would have made it the fourth most-watched scripted series in the latest cable rankings, instead of the 69th overall series in the latest broadcast rankings. As it was, Dollhouse not only got outdrawn in the 9 p.m. Friday hour by the free-TV likes of Supernanny (6.1 million), but by an actual cable hit, Monk (5.1 million). On the upside, Dollhouse did lord over Cartoon Network's Star Wars: Clone Wars (2.9 million for back-to-back episodes).
2. Why Shouldn't Fans Give Up on Dollhouse Yet? Because Fox hasn't. In its weekly ratings release, the network devoted four paragraphs to the Dollhouse premiere. (Best obscure stat brushed off for the occasion: Dollhouse was Fox's highest-rated Friday premiere since the January 2005 debut of the esteemed Jonny Zero.) If you think networks spin the numbers on every series, think again, and then become very worried if you're partial to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which rated one passing mention from Fox—in a parenthetical.
3. Which Show Has Suffered More Key Losses: Grey's Anatomy or House? If there's nothing more key to a TV series than TV viewers, then House is the one that's suffering, down 27 percent, or nearly 4 million viewers, from last season (when it aired after American Idol, as opposed to leading into 24). Grey's Anatomy, which may or may not be about to experience more cast defections, is basically even with last year (13.8 million versus 14 million).
4. What's Up With Tuesday's Idol? Not the ratings. (Thank you, we'll be here all week.) While Wednesday's show is holding its own (27.1 million this season versus 27.4 million last season), Tuesday's is down 4 million viewers (26 million versus 30 million). The difference-maker appears to be competition, which, no, didn't used to bother Idol, but, well, mortality happens. On Wednesday, Idol doesn't face anything tougher than Gary Unmarried. On Tuesday, Idol squares off against NCIS, TV's No. 2 scripted series. Last year, because of the writers' strike, Tuesday Idol only faced an all-new NCIS twice.
5. Should Somebody Pinch Private Practice? Nah. Let it enjoy finishing ahead of Desperate Housewives in the weekly rankings (9th place to the latter's 10th place)—and see if it can do that trick once the Grey's Anatomy crossover ends after Thursday's episodes.
6. Should Somebody Pinch The Mentalist? If you think that's you're in with Simon Baker, then go for it. In any case, The Mentalist is what it is. Last week, it was TV's No. 1 scripted show (19.7 million), finishing third overall behind Tuesday Idol (24.9 million) and Wednesday Idol (24.8 million). Grey's Anatomy, sixth place overall, with 15.2 million viewers, was TV's No. 1 scripted show in the 18-49 demo.
7. Should Somebody Pinch Monk? Yup. Its run as cable's most-watched drama or comedy series was short-lived. The Closer (5.4 million) was back on top, followed by the demoted Monk, Burn Notice (4.8 million), Psych (4.3 million) and Wizards of Waverly Place (3.9 million). Other cable standouts: Top Chef (3.3 million), The Secret Life of the American Teenager (3.5 million) and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (3.1 million).