WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2013 — Despite a bevy of new shows cascading from other networks, CBS still rules on Tuesday nights. Just like last year, “NCIS,” “NCIS: LA” and “Person of Interest” easily dominated their Tuesday night time slots. Not only do these shows win on Tuesday night. All three of them are regularly in the top fifteen list for the entire week.
The TV audience is notoriously fickle, except when it comes to “NCIS.” The U.S. Navy sleuth drama/procedural finished its tenth season as the most-watched television series in the U.S. during the 2012–13 TV season. Each season since its first one in 2003, “NCIS” has increased its viewer numbers.
In recent years we have seen the major broadcast networks hemorrhage viewers who prefer the edgy alternatives on cable TV, making “NCIS’s” popularity even more impressive. The people behind “NCIS” have done this by consistently giving us compelling story lines and developing characters we grow to love.
Unlike the many new shows that depend on flawed anti-heroes to tell their stories, “NCIS” has maintained a moral high ground throughout its entire eleven season run.
This may well be the key to the phenomenal success and impressive longevity of “NCIS.” In what increasingly seems to be a thoroughly corrupt America, perhaps increasing numbers of viewers are longing for incorruptible heroes. If that’s the case, NCIS has always reliably provided them.
But there’s a more sinister TV thesis at work as well. At the other end of the moral spectrum are shows like “Sons of Anarchy” and “Blacklist,” just to name a couple. On these shows, the writers have the unenviable task of making us like characters that don’t always do the right thing. But lately, this hasn’t been too hard.
There was once an unspoken rule in the earlier days of TV that the good guys always came out on top. There was almost always a moral to the stories that reassured us that good inevitably triumphs over evil. Joe Friday always got his man and Opie always learned a lesson from Andy. But four decades of political scandals, international upheavals and unapologetic global greed have left us without real-life heroes and with no clear direction ahead.
These days, particularly in everyday life, we see that good rarely trumps evil (or evil’s lawyers). Meanwhile, our alleged democratically elected senators and representatives are too busy with their own selfish agendas to care about what happens to the average American. Witness the current adolescent-style budget blamefest on Capitol Hill that passes for serious debate. Americans are being left behind by an increasingly elitist and intransigent ruling class and resentment is growing slowly but surely in America’s neglected non-coastal hinterlands.
This may be why many viewers are increasingly fascinated with the adventures and misadventures of meth-making science teachers and trigger-happy zombie hunters who dominate the ratings on cable network series. With an apparent absence of real-life, straight-shooting, no-nonsense, moral and patriotic heroes like Jethro Gibbs and crew, the anti-heroes on shows ranging from classics like “Breaking Bad,” “Dexter,” and beyond may directly reflect our collective realization that in today’s world, the rule of thumb is “get what you want at any cost and the hell with everybody else.”
As our fascination and identification with alienated TV anti-heroes grows, the current message seems to be that the best way to deal with idiotic laws is to ignore them, and the best way to deal with people that aren’t a welcome part of your own little world is to blow them away.
Even the likes of Gibbs & Co. and their real-world counterparts are going to need to work double-overtime to reverse a growing cynicism toward government, institutions, and everyone else for that matter. Otherwise, America’s drift toward a day when a majority of its disenfranchised citizens choose to become sons and daughters of anarchy may be inching much closer than any of the Fools on the Hill could possibly imagine.
All times are EDT:
ABC: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: (New) The woman behind a series of high-stakes heists holds a troubling secret that stands to ruin Coulson.
CBS: NCIS: (New) Gibbs and McGee travel to Afghanistan to investigate the murder of a woman who impersonated a soldier. The probe leads the two to an Afghan women’s shelter that Mike Franks secretly supported for years.
FOX: Dads (New) The guys worry about their fathers’ health, and so they all get physicals. Warner ends up grappling with his own mortality when his doctor drops dead before passing along the results.
NBC: The Biggest Loser: (New) Fifteen contestants, including “American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard, begin their weight-loss journeys in the premiere of Season 15.
CW: The Originals: (New) Klaus and Rebekah try to unravel Marcel’s empire from within in spite of Elijah’s concerns. Meanwhile, Marcel hosts a huge vampire party; and Hayley learns that the supernatural creatures of New Orleans are reacting to the existence of a hybrid baby.
PBS: Superheroes: A Never Ending Battle: (New) The story of comic-book superheroes starts during the Depression and WWII years, when star-spangled heroes were in demand. The 1950s saw the genre come under government scrutiny, however, due to its popularity with kids.
FOX: Brooklyn Nine-Nine: (New) Jake seeks revenge after a rival detective steals his thunder on a murder case. Elsewhere, Terry tries to get recertified to carry a gun with help from Capt. Holt and Gina.
ABC: The Goldbergs: (New) Barry and Adam bond over the discovery of a TV channel; Beverly involves herself in her father’s dating life.
CBS: NCIS: Los Angeles: (New) The team investigates the kidnapping case of a man who claims to be Callen’s father.
FOX: New Girl: (New) Nick receives an inheritance from his late father, and Jess surreptitiously attempts to apply the funds to Nick’s unpaid bills. Elsewhere, Schmidt searches for the meaning of life and turns to a rabbi (Jon Lovitz) for advice.
NBC: The Voice: (New) With a trip to the knockout rounds at stake, the artists sing do-or-die duets for their coaches.
CW: Supernatural: (New) Dean kidnaps Crowley in order to find the demons on earth. Meanwhile, Abaddon reappears and plans to take over hell.
ABC: Trophy Wife: (New) Meg creates conflict when she stays with Kate and Pete after a break-up; Warren discovers his true talent while helping Bert with a Lego project.
FOX: The Mindy Project: (New) Mindy meets a journalist who thinks she’s too ordinary, so she invites him to Christina’s art show, which includes nude photos of her ex-husband, Danny.
ABC: Scandal: (Repeat) Flashbacks reveal more about Olivia’s relationship with her father; the White House and Pope & Associates work to clean up the mess they created.
CBS: Person of Interest: (New) A number comes up for a well-known New York lawyer who may have been responsible for the death of her husband. Elsewhere, problems arise when Carter’s new partner spots her with Reese.
NBC: Chicago Fire: (New) Dawson and Shay get a shock on a routine call. Mena Suvari guests.
New episodes of:
BET: Hip Hop Awards at 8 p.m. on BET
Fast ‘N Loud at 8 p.m. on DSC
Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition at 9 p.m. on LIFE
Face Off at 9 p.m. on Syfy
Income Property at 9 p.m. on HGTV
Tickle at 9 p.m. on DSC
19 Kids and Counting at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on TLC
Snake Salvation at 9 and 9:30 p.m. on NGC
Buying The Bayou at 9:30 p.m. on DSC
The New Atlanta at 10 p.m. on BRAVO
Tosh.0 at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central
House Hunters at 10 p.m. on HGTV
Chopped at 10 p.m. on Food Channel
Real Husbands of Hollywood at 10 p.m. on BET
Sons of Anarchy at 10 p.m. on FX
Catfish: The TV Show at 10 p.m. on MTV
Doomsday Preppers Bugged Out at 10 p.m. on NGC
The Little Couple at 10 p.m. on TLC
Cold Justice at 10 p.m. on TNT
Buying Alaska at 10 and 10:30 p.m. on DSC
House Hunters International at 10:30 p.m. on HGTV
Brickleberry at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central
For movie lovers:
Van Helsing on ENC
Mistress on FLIX
Paranormal Activity on FX
Parental Guidance on HBO
Siverado on REELZ
Dead Presidents on TMC
A Fistfull of Dollars on TCM
Accattone at 9:45 p.m. on TCM
The Siege at 10 p.m. on CINEMAX
Cosi at 10 p.m. on FLIX
Magic Mike at 10 p.m. on HBO
Made in America at 10 p.m. on SHO
Moulin Rouge at 10 p.m. on SUND
A Knight’s Tale at 10:05 p.m. on STARZ
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