Miami is the hot spot to be this TV season.
Both of the new South Florida-themed shows on the TV dial, CBS' CSI: Miami and NBC's Good Morning, Miami, are among the latest batch of rookie series getting full-season pickups.
Sure, the David Caruso-led CSI spinoff is actually mostly shot in Los Angeles, but that hasn't stopped the new Monday-night forensics drama from being an instant hit, becoming the most-watched newcomer on the tube, ranking fifth among all shows this season. Last night's episode attracted nearly 19 million viewers. So committing to the series was a no-brainer for the Eye.
The network also has announced 22-episode orders for its two other new dark crime dramas, Without a Trace and Hack, as well as the sitcom Still Standing.
The blue-collar family comedy Still Standing has reached genuine hit status, registering in the Nielsen top 20 and pulling in 15.5 million viewers last night. Without a Trace, starring Aussie imports Anthony LaPaglia and Poppy Montgomery, has proved a surprise for CBS--despite facing off in the presumed suicide slot against NBC's ER on Thursdays, the missing-persons drama has also consistently ranked in the top 20. Even more surprising is the success of Hack. Ripped by critics, the David Morse-as-sleuthing-taxi-driver drama has clocked up an average of 9.9 million viewers and ranked 47th last week--but it earned its full ride by improving CBS' performance in the 9 p.m. Friday time slot by 56 percent over last year, when dismal court drama First Monday failed to, um, hack it.
NBC, meanwhile, is flying high over a nun. The Peacock's Good Morning, Miami, featuring a wimpled weatherwoman, also got the full-season good news. The workplace romantic comedy set in a South Florida TV station attracted only 12 million viewers last week but has been rewarded for holding its own on Thursdays opposite the second half-hour of CBS's established hit, the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (which was the second most-watched show last week with 24.9 million viewers).
Good Morning, Miami has also performed well in NBC's favorite 18-49 demographic while holding on to 79 percent of the audience from lead-in Will & Grace. Both shows are produced by Max Mutchnick and David Kohan.
Neither CBS nor NBC, the two top-ranked networks, has yet to pull off a clean sweep in the new programming stakes.
CBS still has to decide on the fates of the dramas Presidio Med and Robbery Homicide Division and the comedy Bram and Alice. All have only ranked in the 70s among the top 100 programs. NBC, meanwhile, is still pondering whether it will stick with In-Laws, which is barely better, finishing 68th last week with just 7.7 million viewers. "We're just being patient," NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker told the Hollywood Reporter, seeming to imply that the sitcom stands a good chance of joining the network's previously announced full-season stayers American Dreams, Boomtown and the 'burbs comedy Hidden Hills.
Over at still-struggling ABC, The George Lopez Show didn't have much impact when it debuted midseason last spring. But this fall on Wednesdays at 8.30 p.m., the Latino comic's family comedy--designed to capitalize on the hope all the networks' have of attracting Latino audiences (think "Miami")--has been playing well across ethnic boundaries. Its ratings have improved, registering first in its time period with total viewers, attracting 12.7 million last week. So, grateful for even small blessings, the Alphabet net has greenlighted a full season.
At UPN, The Twilight Zone also got picked up, despite rating worse in its Wednesday night slot than last year's spoofy sci-fi series Special Unit 2. Only 3.4 million zoned in last week. But in an era where ratings spin has no real boundaries, the latest version of Rod Serling's classic survives because it has managed to hold on to 73 percent of the lead-in from Enterprise. (Then again, the latest Star Trek series has seen a sharp 54 percent drop-off from last year.)
But, at a network where ratings are often so low they can hardly be traced, that's apparently okay, because UPN President Dawn Ostroff stated the sci-fi combo is "a solid night of out-of-this-world programming."
The WB, which has been thrilled by the success of its Monday-night family drama Everwood, has been less happy with its Thursday-night sitcom lineup but is sticking with The Jamie Kennedy Experiment for the full season. The sketch comedy, which debuted midseason last year, has done okay, drawing around 3 million viewers in the 9.30 p.m. slot.
Fox is still in limbo about two shows created by major talents. There is only the faintest glow still emanating from Joss Whedon's sci-fi Firefly, and last night's installment of David E. Kelley's legal-chicks drama girls club was in fourth place in its time slot with even lower ratings than its premiere week, when it drew just 5.7 million viewers, losing to Everwood's 5.8 million fans.
As for the little-seen sixth network, Pax, the new Sunday-night femme drama Sue Thomas, F.B.Eye, starring deaf actress Deanne Bray, has been reupped for a full season.