Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CSI Continues To Sink In Ratings As NCIS Remains Number One.

NCIS (TV series)Image via Wikipedia

I don't write about television ratings very often. In fact, without going back and looking at over 800 posts since I started this blog, I am pretty sure that I have never written an article about TV ratings. Since they change from week to week and since you can find that information almost everywhere you look, I felt there was no need for me to put my two cents worth in.

What motivated me to change my mind is that as week five of the new season has passed, I have noticed a constant into the season that I think almost any TV programming executive has also taken notice of and is wondering what exactly happened this year that has made a show that, in it's seventh season, become the highest rated show on the air, when in the past it has always managed to float around in the top twenty, but had never until now been able to achieve the unrivaled success that it has now became the recipient of.

At the same time, how did television's number one show last year, which premiered in 2000, and soon after became and remained televisions top show, find itself sinking out of the top ten, and in the case of last week, out of the top 20. It would make more sense if the decline in the show after nine years was gradual, but from number one to an also ran doesn't make much sense. Or does it.

Count me as one of the CSI avid viewers who have defected from other programs and have little use for new episodes of the show. Certainly when you lose three of the main characters from the show, it has to hurt. Within a years time CSI lost Sarah Sidle (Jorja Fox), Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan), and most painfully, Gil Grissom (William Peterson). Sarah moved out of town. Warrick was brutally murdered (a big mistake on the part of the writers and producers as far as I was concerned). Gil also moved out of town and we learned later that he ended up joining up with Sarah, who he had supposedly had an affair with during their entire tenure, but was only revealed two seasons ago. Sarah and Warrick were replaced with less than memorable characters that unless I looked it up I couldn't even tell you who they were.

On the other hand, I can tell you that Gil Grissom/William Peterson was replaced with Dr. Raymond Langston/Laurence Fishburne. However, he wasn't hired as head of CSI which was Grissom's job. Catherine Willows/Marg Helgenberger was promoted to that position and Langston was more or less a trainee with medical experience. And this is why the show went sour.

The characters that replaced the original three just weren't memorable enough or even interesting enough to maintain interest in the show. The Sidle/Grissom relationship added new spark in the show at a time when the shows were becoming repetitive. When Sidle decided to take a break from the show (she has returned this season for several episodes but without her love interest Grissom. When Warrick Brown was killed, they did away with one of the most complex but liked persons on the show. Brown's personal problems often ran afoul of what he was supposed to do at work, but everyone could relate to his life but liked the fact that he was inherently a good person.

Neither of these two losses however, were enough to turn viewers off. That came when William Peterson decided to leave the show. Gil Grissom was the driving force behind CSI and his personality was one that kept viewers returning week after week. Gil was an extreme complex person and was someone that we could never fully understand as he generally kept his personal life secret not only from the viewers, but also from the rest of the team, which is why when his affair with Sarah was revealed, not only were viewers surprised, but also the CSI team as well.

Ultimately, CSI ran into the perfect storm when it lost three of it's main stars. When they failed to shore up the cracks in their hull by creating new, interesting characters, they sealed their own fate with the show sinking quickly in the ratings. I doubt that their is anything that they can do, even if William Peterson did return (extremely unlikely), to bring them back to the popularity they had maintained for so long. And just like Law & Order: SVU, both CSI: Miami and CSI: New York are more popular than their parent.


I have to admit that my wife liked NCIS before I ever did. I started watching it for the first time over the summer (which it seems is the same time as most new fans). My wife by then had been watching it for maybe a month or so. It was only when USA Network began running several rerun episodes back to back that she began watching them, and shortly after, I did the same.

NCIS is, like CSI, a procedural program that was actually a spin-off of the Navy law show JAG. I actually remember seeing the spin-off episode but at that time I found the show a little unbelievable and never bothered to pursue it any further especially since JAG was not a show that I watched on a regular basis.

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs is the leader of a team of special agents belonging to the NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) Major Case Response Team. Gibbs, a former Marine, is a tough investigator and a highly skilled interrogator who relies on his gut instinct as much as evidence. Gibbs' second in command is Senior Field Agent Tony DiNozzo, a womanizing, movie-quoting former Baltimore Homicide Detective, who despite being the class clown always gets the job done. The team also consists of Officer Ziva David, a Mossad officer who is a skilled fighter, as well as Junior Field Agent Timothy McGee, a computer-savvy agent often mocked by DiNozzo. Assisting them are Abby Sciuto, the energetic-but-Goth lab tech who is like a daughter to Gibbs, and Dr. Donald Mallard, nicknamed Ducky, the eccentric medical examiner full of unusual stories. This team of elite agents, based in Washington, D.C., solve criminal cases involving Marine and Navy personnel and their families, sometimes traveling the United States - or the world - to do it.

That description comes from IMDB.Com and is pretty accurate in it's description of the show. What it failed to mention is the camaraderie between the characters and the exquisite fun that takes place between them while undertaking serious and grisly matters. NCIS has been fortunate during their first six seasons in that while they have lost two major characters over the years, the first death resulting in the perfect choice of Zavid David (Cote de Pablo) being introduced, they were both spaced out over several years and both deaths resulted in replacements that were replaced with interesting characters that resulted in new storylines that viewers were interested in.

But it is the core ensemble of actors, Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Cote de Pablo, Sean Murray, Pauley Perrette, and of course David McCallum that makes each episode so deliciously captivating and fun to watch.

Mark Harmon's performance as Jethro Gibbs is perhaps one of the most complex and underrated performance ever shown on television. He is a tortured soul (still grieving after all these years over the death of his wife and daughter) who places his intensity in finding justice for those who cannot defend themselves, while at the same time thinking of his team as if they were family. It is one of the best performances on television and has always been overlooked by those who dole out the awards.

But what happened to suddenly make NCIS soar to number one? All evidence points to those reruns I mentioned on USA Network. It seems that as more people (such as me and my wife) caught those reruns, the more they saw what a great show this was. I don't know what DVD sales for the show tracked over the summer, but for my wife, by this fall I had to buy her all of the six past seasons so that she could watch them in sequence over and over.

So for now, the gang at NCIS sits on top of the throne. Perhaps if Mark Harmon or Michael Weatherly, or (in my case) Cote de Pablo were to leave the show, it could suffer the fate of CSI. Sometimes, it seems, the stars are the motivating factor behind the show.

But for now, my television, as well as those of 21 million other viewers have their channel or dvr set to CBS on Tuesday nights for NCIS, with more than 16 million of those viewers staying for another hour to watch the new spin-off of NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments:


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin

Get The Official Blog-o-Rama Widget!

Keep up with all the latest info on the blog-o-rama by posting this to your blog or my space page. You can also scroll this widget to go directly to the latest article that you are interested in. Give it a try!