Has the winding-down summer TV season told us everything we need to know about the almost-here fall TV season?
Maybe. (And silly you thought there was nothing to be learned from Bachelor Pad…)
Here are five take-aways from the last three months of Nielsen ratings results:
1. Nothing Can Beat Football, But Football: Labor strife was the only thing that was going to keep the NFL from dominating the Top 10 in the latest broadcast standings, from scoring the most-watched Thursday-night season opener ever (27.2 million viewers) and from scoring the most-watched Sunday Night Football contest ever (25.8 million).
2. Dancing With the Stars Hasn't Lost a Step: Guess what happened when Chaz Bono, Nancy Grace, David Arquette and the rest of the celeb dancers for the series' 13th season were revealed during Bachelor Pad? Bachelor Pad became a Top 10 show.
3. The X Factor Will Be Fine (and Maybe Grimm, Too): Not that you doubted Simon Cowell's sense of timing, but if you did, know that there's nothing to doubt: Talent shows are (almost) as hot as football, with America's Got Talent about to close out its most-watched season ever. Supernatural monsters continue to trend well, too, with True Blood killing as a Top 10 cable show, and Teen Wolf earning a second season. (Do witches count as monsters? If so, then The Secret Circle is also in a good way. And if Person of Interest counts as a supernatural show crossed with the always-popular police procedural, then it should be in a very good way.)
4. Either Charlie Sheen or Two and a Half Men Is in Trouble: Or, then again, maybe neither is. All that's for certain is that the sitcom's summer reruns (which, given the show's unnaturally short eighth season, are more like reruns of reruns) are at times drawing 40 percent fewer viewers than last summer's.
5. Glee Is…? A Question Mark, Pretty Much: The reality show ended up a winner, but the 3-D concert movie ended up a loser (at least in the expectations game—the movie itself made money). So, what do these divergent results mean, Nielsen-wise, for the mothership's third season? Absolutely no idea.
Elsewhere, here's a quick rundown of some of the other winners from the just-released Nielsen broacast and cable rankings:
• The Closer: It wasn't cable's No. 1 show (football was, natch), but it was cable's No. 2 show, with 7.2 million Jersey Shore-trumping fans.
• Sons of Anarchy: The week's biggest cable-series opener (4.9 million).
• True Blood: The week's biggest cable-series finale (5.1 million).
• Curb Your Enthusiasm: A huge season (by the standards of the Larry David cult comedy) ended in a huge fashion, with 2 million viewers—the series' biggest finale audience since 2004.
• Entourage: The boys' farewell scored a season-high 2.6 million. (Still, not exactly the 10 million-plus who tuned in Sex and the City's girls' farewell seven years ago.)
• Rescue Me: Denis Leary's acclaimed firefighter series lost steam a while ago, but it rose up before 2.3 million for its series finale.
• The Secret Life of the American Teenager: The summer closer did its thing among young women and teens, and wound up with a big 2.8 million viewers overall.