Midseason Report Card: Kathy Bates Soars as Others Struggle

'Harry's Law' (Photo: NBC)

'Harry's Law' (Photo: NBC)

TV’s new midseason shows aren’t exactly getting off to a flying start, with one exception: “Harry’s Law.” The Kathy Bates legal drama from David E. Kelley (“Ally McBeal,” “Boston Legal,” “The Practice”) is turning out to be much more of a hero for NBC than the title character of “The Cape,” another midseason newbie that’s not doing nearly as well.

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Which new midseason shows could be in jeopardy? Here’s how five of TV’s newly introduced series are faring so far:

“The Cape,” Monday nights at 9/8c on NBC: The comic-book capers of “The Cape” attracted just 5.34 million viewers this past Monday, down from 5.85 million a week earlier, according to Nielsen. Downward trends are never a good sign, of course, but even worse for NBC: “The Cape” is drawing the lowest numbers in the 18-49 demo for any show on the major networks on Monday nights (not counting “90210” and “Gossip Girl” on the ratings-challenged mini-net The CW). And now, a story on Deadline.com says NBC just cut its order of “Cape” episodes from 13 to 10. That’s not a good sign either.

“Harry’s Law,” Monday nights at 10/9c on NBC: All hail Kathy Bates! Despite having “The Cape” as a low-rated lead-in, “Harry’s Law” grew its audience over the last two weeks – from 10.43 million to 11.02 million this past Monday. That’s pretty good for a show that wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms by TV critics. And how about this – Bates, 62, is scoring better numbers among 18-49s than either of her lead-ins – “Chuck” and “The Cape.” With a 2.1 rating in the demo for each of the past two weeks, “Harry’s Law” looks like it’s here to stay.

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“Off the Map,” Wednesday nights at 10/9c on ABC: Producer Shonda Rhimes’ new medical drama – described by some as “Grey’s Anatomy” in the jungle” – may not turn out to be the prescription for high ratings ABC’s been looking for in this Wednesday time period. Last Wednesday, “Off the Map” drew 5.06 million, improving slightly on its “Cougar Town” lead-in (which isn’t saying much). Just as discouraging for ABC: “Off the Map” scored a lowly 1.8 in 18-49s – a dropoff from the comedies that preceded it. What’s our diagnosis? Touch and go, at best.

“Live to Dance,” Wednesday nights at 8/7c on CBS: Paula Abdul’s struggling dance-competition show was down to 4.51 million viewers last Wednesday – one of the lowest rated shows on any of the big networks all week (but not the lowest-rated – on that same Wednesday night, Paula at least did better than “Chase” on NBC). You can probably blame the Abdul show’s mega-competition, “American Idol,” for helping to snuff out her audience, but CBS might have helped her avoid that by scheduling “Live to Dance” somewhere other than up against her former show. Now, the problem is: How do you yank a competition show before it crowns a winner?

“Perfect Couples,” Thursday nights at 8:30/7c on NBC: Here’s one show that’s doing worse in total viewers than Paula Abdul. With just 3.39 million total viewers last Thursday night, “Perfect Couples” is the lowest-rated of NBC’s six Thursday night comedies and one of the lowest-rated series in prime time, period. It’s the lowest in 18-49s too (a 1.7 last week) among NBC’s Thursday-night sitcoms – which happens to be the lineup NBC counts on most to bolster its performance in the 18-49 demo (by contrast, “The Office” at 9/8c scored a 4.0 in the demo last week). The future for “Perfect Couples” looks less than perfect.

Still to come in the midseason:The Chicago Code,” the cop drama from producer Shawn Ryan (“The Shield“), starting Monday, Feb. 7, at 9/10c on Fox; “Traffic Light,” a new sitcom premiering Tuesday, Feb. 8, at 9:30/8:30c on Fox; and “Mad Love,” a new comedy series starting Jason Biggs and Sarah Chalke that takes up residence Monday nights at 8:30/7:30c on CBS Feb. 14.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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