WASHINGTON, March 17, 2013 —There couldn’t be two more different shows airing tonight than “The Bible” and “The Walking Dead,” which makes their ratings race at least as interesting as the shows themselves. The third night of their head-to-head competition is tonight. Last week’s audiences put them at a dead heat, with “The Walking Dead” holding onto a small lead of half a million viewers.
While most of the reviews of “The Bible” have been less than enthusiastic, “The Walking Dead” also seems to be struggling to find its identity this season. Andrea, one of the emerging protagonists on the new season of “The Walking Dead,” has spawned enough hate to get her own “We Hate Andrea From The Walking Dead” Facebook page.
Thankfully, there is no hate page for History Channel’s Bible epic, and with the birth of Jesus depicted tonight, the audience reaction will no doubt be positive. Criticized for being disjointed and lacking a soul thus far, maybe The New Testament will elevate the story enough to keep viewers coming back throughout the entire five part series that wraps up on Easter Sunday.
Regardless of which show comes out on top in the best-of-five series, the obvious winner is basic cable. Between the two shows, they are pulling over 22 million people from broadcast TV. To be fair, both The History Channel and AMC have expanded their programming to include a lot more than Hitler documentaries. But this can only explain part of the exodus from the top broadcast networks.
With the number of reality shows on broadcast TV at an all time high, maybe TV audiences are sick of all of the manufactured drama and annoying celebrities, and just want to be told a good story. With previous broadcast giants like “American Idol” and “Celebrity Apprentice” in a ratings free fall, maybe someone needs to send a memo the network heads.
Maybe if I ever finish counting negative Nicki Minaj Facebook pages, I’ll do just that.
All times are EST:
ABC: Once Upon a Time: (New) David, Emma and Mr. Gold try to protect Mary Margaret from a vengeful Regina; a man and his son find their way into Storybrooke.
CBS: Amazing Race 22: (New) The race continues in Hanoi, Vietnam, where the teams face a Double U-Turn. Also: One pair receives crushing news.
FOX: The Simpsons: (New) Lisa comes to her brother’s defense when Bart is accused of an Easter prank involving the school marching band, the horn section and some rotten eggs. Meanwhile, Mr. Burns seizes the opportunity to realize his lifelong ambition to become a superhero.
NBC: Dateline NBC: (New) The efforts of two narcotics detectives to help drug dealers turn their lives around are chronicled. Also: Twists and turns mark the case of a young woman who vanished in St. Augustine, Fla.
History Channel: The Bible: (New) Part 3 of 5. The Jews are enslaved in Babylon; Mary is told she will bear a child; and Jesus is born.
FOX: The Cleveland Show: (New) The Browns move to L.A., where Cleveland pursues his dream of becoming a Major League Baseball scout, but when he strikes out with that endeavor, he longs for the simple life back in Stoolbend. Meanwhile, the rest of the family is dazzled by the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown.
ABC: Revenge: (New) Jack is suspicious when Conrad and Victoria start a charity in Amanda Clarke’s name; once again, Emily’s past catches up with her.
CBS: The Good Wife: (New) Alicia and Will’s latest case brings them to an inquest at the coroner office, where they are hindered by a strict rule that limits their questioning to three per witness. Also, Cary’s father returns to bring new business to the firm and Eli schemes against Jordan.
FOX: Family Guy: (New) A skydiving accident lands Peter in the hospital, where he befriends a guy named Mahmoud who convinces him to convert to Islam, but Quagmire and Joe suspect that Mahmoud has ulterior motives.
NBC: All-Star Celebrity Apprentice: (New) Soap stars Susan Lucci and Jack Wagner help the all-stars perform a soap opera for Crystal Light.
AMC: The Walking Dead: (New) With the Governor busy pursuing a runaway dissenter, a traitor looks to sabotage his impending plans.
SHOWTIME: Shameless: (New) Fiona starts a new office job, and Frank inadvertently becomes involved in the gay rights movement.
FOX: Bob’s Burgers: (New) Tina dates a ballet dancer, which leads to a dance-off between him and a jealous Jimmy Jr.
ABC: Red Widow: (New) Marta’s plans to flee the country with her children are derailed when Irwin is released from prison early; Mike stages a robbery of his own house in hope of paying off his debts.
CBS: The Mentalist: (New) The body of a female army medic who worked with soldiers with PTSD is found near a military base.
SHOWTIME: House of Lies: (New) Doug and Clyde are summoned to testify in a wrongful death suit, and Monica begins to unravel after Roscoe moves out.
SHOWTIME: Californication: (New) Atticus throws a party, and Hank gets a taste of his own medicine with Karen when Eddie Nero returns.
New episodes of:
The Real Housewives of Atlanta at 8 p.m. on BRAVO
Cupcake Wars at 8 p.m. on Food Channel
Extreme Homes at 8 p.m. on HGTV
Wild West Alaska at 8 p.m. on Animal Planet
Wicked Tuna: Hooked Up at 8 p.m. on NGC
Trip Flip at 8 and 8:30 p.m. on Travel Channel
Finding Bigfoot: Further Evidence at 9 p.m. on Animal Planet
Kourtney and Kim Take Miami at 9 p.m. on E!
Worst Cooks in America at 9 p.m. on Food Channel
Army Wives at 9 p.m. on LIFE
Wicked Tuna at 9 p.m. on NGC
Gypsy Sisters at 9 p.m. on TLC
Talking Dead at 10 p.m. on AMC
Finding Bigfoot at 10 p.m. on Animal Planet
Restaurant Impossible at 10 p.m. on Food Channel
Vikings at 10 p.m. on History Channel
Mudcats at 10 p.m. on NGC
Bar Rescue at 10 p.m. on SPIKE
Welcome to Myrtle Manor at 10 p.m. on TLC
Mob Wives at 10 p.m. on VH1
For movie lovers:
Green Lantern on CINEMAX
Just Go With It on ENC
Hellraiser: Inferno on FLIX
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows on HBO
The Rising of the Moon on TCM
Why Stop Now on TMC
The Dark Knight on TNT
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse on FX
The Tree of Life on HBO
American Pie on IFC
Saving Private Ryan on MOMAX
The Quiet Man at 9:30 p.m. on TCM
Meet the Fockers at 10 p.m. on CINEMAX
Bringing Down the House at 10 p.m. on ENC
The American at 10:30 p.m. on HBO
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