TV tonight: American Idol and strong ABC line-up battle for ratings

The Middle takes on American Idol for ratings tonight.

Photo: ABC/The Middle

WASHINGTON, January 23, 2013 —Last Wednesday night the premiere of American Idol had the smallest number of viewers since its first season 12 years ago. The show still won the night, but with an almost 20% drop from last year. Even more telling is the fact that last week ABC and CBS lost less than 1% of their viewers in the Wednesday night ratings battle.

By scheduling reruns tonight, it is obvious NBC has surrendered to American Idol. But the other major networks have plenty of top 25 heavy hitters to capture American Idol’s dwindling audience. Among these are Modern Family, The Middle, Criminal Minds, and CSI; all regularly found in the top 25 Nielsen ratings.

The underlying question is whether American Idol’s lower number reflects their questionable choice of judges, or America’s dwindling love affair with reality-based shows in general. With these kinds of shows popping up in a seemingly endless parade of questionable formats, it’s no wonder their allure may be waning.

I’m probably in the minority and will take a lot of heat for it, but I’d welcome the demise of reality shows. Americans get a healthy dose of cold reality every morning when they step out the door to go to a job that isn’t secure, save for a retirement that may disappear, or send their children to a school that isn’t safe. ABC’s The Middle for example, one of TV’s more successful sitcoms, deals far more realistically and sympathetically with the everyday realities of America’s middle class than do any of the networks’ largely predictable “reality” freak shows. Is there a lesson in here?

Why not give the audience a little more in the way of well written entertainment that doesn’t exploit the dreams of a select few, but provides a blessed moment of escape from reality for the rest of us? After all, Congress manages to escape from reality nearly every day, and they get paid handsomely for it, too. So why shouldn’t we get the same opportunity, at least when we’re ready to grab the remote after another miserable day at the quarry?

Tonight’s schedule:

All times are EST:

8 p.m.

ABC: The Middle: (New) Frankie tries to get Mike to spend time with a new neighbor who shares his interests; Sue demands a cheer-off between the Wrestlerettes and the cheerleaders.

CBS: Criminal Minds: (Repeat) An attendee at a popular motivational-speaker’s conference in Seattle is murdered and the speaker himself disappears soon afterward. Meanwhile, Garcia is puzzled when Morgan refuses to attend a dinner honoring an old family friend.

FOX: American Idol: (New) The judges continue their quest to find the next singing superstar with auditions airing from Charlotte, NC.

NBC: Whitney: (Repeat) Alex and Whitney decide to admit to past lies they’ve told each other; Lily discloses too much information about Whitney’s past; Mark hires a new bartender who draws lusty attention from Roxanne and Lily.

CW: Arrow: (New) Oliver’s confidence is shaken after being beaten by the Dark Archer and he takes a break from being Arrow. However, when Laurel calls Arrow for help investigating a firefighter’s suspicious death, he reluctantly agrees but his hesitance while fighting almost costs him his life.

8:30 p.m.

ABC: The Neighbors: (New) When the Weavers and the Bird-Kersees chaperone a school dance, Debbie tries to re-create a romantic moment with Marty; Jackie wishes she and Larry had a more interesting story about how they met.

NBC: Guys With Kids: (Repeat) Marny and Gary disagree about whether to have another child.

9 p.m.

ABC: Modern Family: (New) When Gloria’s mother and sister visit, they bring traditions, baby names and family baggage; Phil helps the kids with their problems; Mitchell and Cameron try to correct Lily’s bad habits.

CBS: Criminal Minds: (New) While Reid copes with a loss in his personal life, the rest of the BAU travels to San Francisco to investigate victims discovered in the Mission District.

NBC: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: (Repeat) Pressure mounts at the precinct as Cragen is investigated for murder. Meanwhile, Cassidy continues his work deep undercover in a prostitution ring.

CW: Supernatural: (New) Naomi (guest star Amanda Tapping) tells Castiel that Crowley (guest star Mark Sheppard) is holding an angel captive and Castiel must rescue him before Crowley finds out their secrets. Castiel turns to Dean for help.

9:30 p.m.

ABC: Suburgatory: (New) George starts to feel stifled when Dallas’ efforts to promote his business go overboard; Tessa learns what life is like as a football player’s girlfriend.

10 p.m.

ABC: Nashville: (New) To celebrate the success of “Wrong Song,” Edgehill records throws a lavish party; things get awkward for Juliette, who brings her mother to the party; Teddy asks Rayna about her relationship with Liam.

CBS: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: (New) The CSIs need to ace the case involving a rising tennis star. Meanwhile, the CSIs are surprised to hear Hodges is engaged to an Italian bombshell.

NBC: Chicago Fire: (Repeat) Casey faces pressure to cover for a cop’s son, who was responsible for a drunken-driving accident that left a teenager paralyzed. Meanwhile, Severide ignores his doctor’s warnings that his neck injury may never heal if he doesn’t seek treatment; and Mills must choose between working at the fire department full-time or helping his mom with her restaurant.

Basic cable:

New episodes of:

Moonshiners: Outlaw Cuts at 9 p.m. on DSC

Lords of War at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on NGC

Ghost Hunters at 9 p.m. on Syfy

Toddlers & Tiaras at 9 p.m. on TLC

Baggage Battles at 9 p.m. on Travel Channel

Restaurant Impossible at 9 p.m. on Food Channel

Shipping Wars at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on A&E

Barter Kings at 10 p.m. on A&E

Top Chef at 10 p.m. on BRAVO

Moonshiners at 10 p.m. on DSC

Bobby’s Dinner Battle at 10 p.m. on Food Channel

American Horror Story: Asylum at 10 p.m. on FX

Highway Thru Hell at 10 p.m. on NGC

Street Eats at 10 p.m. on Travel Channel

Ghost Mine at 10 p.m. on Syfy

For movie lovers:

8 p.m.

The Fugitive on AMC

Snow Falling on Cedars on FLIX

Entrapment on REELZ

Bend it Like Beckham on SUND

The Doctor Takes a wife on TCM

9 p.m.

Charlie St. Cloud on ABCFAM

Along Came Polly on CINEMAX

Unknown on HBO

The Iron Lady on SHO

Later tonight:

Garden State at 9:50 p.m. on MOMAX

Lethal Weapon 2 at 10 p.m. on REELZ

Horrible Bosses at 10:30 p.m. on CINEMAX


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Lisa King

I was born and educated in Southwest Virginia, traveled with my job all over America in my twenties and early thirties then came back to the mountains to raise my daughter.

I’ve been employed as everything from a quality control technician in industrial construction, to a mail processing plant manager, to postmaster of a small town. I’ve been to forty nine of the fifty states, as well as many other countries. Traveling will always be a passion I indulge, and something I’ll call upon often in my writing. 

I come from a long line of story tellers, and will shamelessly exploit a family tree resplendent with colorful and unique characters, both past and present.

In short my perspective will reflect the pride and familiarity I have of my Appalachian heritage. My stories will be a reflection of the values I believe we hold dearest here, all embellished with a healthy dose of Southern Appalachian flare.

 

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