On any other network, “A Gifted Man” would be a major hit. But on CBS, it’s the lowest-rated prime-time series on the network (not counting Saturday nights).
The question is: Are the ratings a problem for executive producer Neal Baer? He answered that question, and made his “pitch to America” on behalf of the show as part of a telephone news conference held Thursday afternoon to promote Friday night’s new episode of the Patrick Wilson medical series and to try and boost the show’s fortunes as the season’s second half gets under way.
Here’s the situation: Through the first half of the season, the New York-based “Gifted Man” — a “spiritual” medical series introduced last September and starring Wilson, Margo Martindale, Pablo Schreiber and others — is drawing a total audience of around 8 million-plus viewers a week Friday nights at 8/7c. On the show, Wilson’s character, a brilliant surgeon, also happens to possess the ability to “see” and converse with the spirit of his deceased wife. The show’s last original episode aired about a month ago, before the onset of the holiday season. It returns with a new episode this Friday night at 8.
A show drawing more than 8 million viewers a week on ABC would be considered a pretty good show. If it were on NBC, staffers at the Peacock network would be popping champagne corks. Not so on CBS, where the 8 million-plus weekly audience falls short of what the network scores typically for other shows on other nights. Examples: On Tuesday nights, “NCIS” scores in the neighborhood of 20 million viewers; on Wednesday nights, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” is good for about 10 million; on Thursdays, CBS gets a big bang from “The Big Bang Theory” with 15 million.
When we asked Baer if he’s concerned about the ratings for “A Gifted Man,” here’s what he had to say:
“That would be better than any show on NBC,” he noted, adding: “It’s even better than ‘Glee’ [on Fox].” He went on to explain the pitfalls, as he sees them, of his show’s 8-9 p.m. time period on Friday nights (7-8c). “Well, 8 o’clock Friday is a really interesting time because it’s 7 o’clock central so its not a time when a lot of people are watching TV. But there are still many, many viewers out there and we’re trying to connect with them and tell them about the show.
“We find that when people tune in and find out about it, they seem to really like it and we’re going to be moving to 9 o’clock [8c] after ‘Undercover Boss’ on Feb. 17 for a number of episodes. So we’re very excited about moving just a little bit later because there are just more viewers at 9 o’clock so that’s really nice for us.” He also noted that “A Gifted Man” has remained steady in the ratings since its premiere, rather than dropping off, as other shows have been known to do.
Then he made the case for watching “A Gifted Man”: “I think it’s a show that explores areas of medicine that we haven’t seen before on television. It’s all the processes of healing, not just the doctor shows that we’ve seen in the past but the other side of healing — the spiritual side, the side that can’t be explained. And through Patrick’s character we go to the most high-tech hospital possible with every gizmo and gadget at hand and he also works in a community clinic which is down and dirty where people really need basic care. So we’re showing all the parts of medicine and healthcare that people are going through, and we’re adding that other side to it, which is the spiritual side that all healing isn’t just taking pills or having surgery, but it’s connections and other spiritual elements.”
And there you have it. “A Gifted Man” airs Friday nights at 8/7c on CBS.