Michael Becker / FOX
Michael Becker / FOX
How many will tune in tonight's American Idol premiere? Is Desperate Housewives the new Office? Why should grieving Lipstick Jungle fans take deep, cleasing breaths? And why is Ashton Kutcher only two miracles shy of sainthood?
The answers—and more questions—in this week's TV ratings pop quiz:
1. So, what's the deal with Idol? Nielsen-wise, is it going to be bigger than last year's premiere? Smaller?
Idol will be bigger if DVRs break, YouTube crashes, pigs fly and forensic evidence is introduced along with new judge Kara DioGuardi. So far this season, the only top 10 shows that aren't down by double digits are three police procedurals (CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds), and one newsmag (60 Minutes) that viewers apparently have mistaken for a police procedural.
Idol will be smaller if it acts mortal, and slips just like Dancing with the Stars (down 12 percent on Mondays; down 11 percent on Tuesdays); Desperate Housewives (down 15 percent) and Grey's Anatomy (down 12 percent).
2. What is Idol's magic number?
Answer: If Fox doesn't want to spend all Wednesday hearing about how nobody watches Idol anymore, tonight's show can't slip by much more than 10 percent from last year's opener. Anything a hair over that decline, and the premiere will fall under 30 million viewers for the first time since 2004, and the world will wonder how a show can possibly survive with 29.4 million fans.
3. Why's Desperate Housewives looking so Dunder-Mifflin-y?
Answer: Because last week its niche appeal was bigger than its overall appeal. In the weekly total viewer rankings, Housewives barely put together a big enough audience to crack the top 10. (It was, in fact, No. 10). And yet in the 18-49 demo, it was No. 1—or, well No. 6, really, behind five football games.
4. What could you possibly write that would upset Lipstick Jungle fans anymore than they're already upset?
Answer: Let's try this: Last week, Lipstick Jungle (4.14 million), which wasn't picked up for the full season by NBC, outdrew Kath & Kim (4.13 million), which was. With its 13th episode now aired, Lipstick is fresh out of new ones. Maybe forever?
5. What makes Ashton Kutcher so special?
Answer: His new CBS show Game Show in My Head (6.4 million for back-to-back episodes) rose from the dead on deader-than-dead Saturday night—up 88 percent in viewers from its premiere week.
6. Which show is the big teen drama on campus?
Answer: ABC Family's The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Last week, in a head-to-head matchup against the CW's Gossip Girl, the cable series' second-season premiere outdrew the free TV's original episode, 4.4 million to 3 million.
American Teenager was the No. 2 scripted series on all of cable. USA's Monk (5.2 million) was No. 1.
7. Don't kids have homework on Wednesday?
Answer: Judging by the eye-popping numbers for an early-evening iCarly rerun, the guess here is no. The 6:30 p.m., Wednesday offering scored more viewers (4.2 million) than any cable comedy series airing in prime time, including Nick's iCarly itself.
8. Tyler Perry or Miley Cyrus?
Answer: Perry's new TBS comedy series, Meet the Browns (4 million average for back-to-back episodes), bested an all-new Hannah Montana on Disney (3.7 million) for cable's prime-time comedy crown.
9. Does Nip/Tuck need a facelift?
Answer: The FX show needs a waybackmachine, just like every other show on TV. If judged against its own history, the series' long-delayed return didn't turn in an impressive performance (3.1 million). Judged against the current competition, the show remained a top draw for the week, ranking 37th out of all 10,614 cable programs.
10. So, where did the historically low-rated Golden Globes end up in the broadcast weekly rankings?
Answer: In the modern-day top 10. The NBC telecast ranked eighth in total viewers, and eighth in the 18-49 demo.