[Originally concluded: February 8th]
6.61 million viewers.
Not too bad if you’re a comedy in this gig not on CBS.
Not so good if you’re a drama.
Terrible if it’s your first episode.
Usually, after a show’s pilot, its next episodes has some runoff. So when Chicago Fire posted a 6.61 million viewership in October, there was some worry. NBC had just been leading the year in viewership with The Voice and its new hit comedy Go On and drama Revolution. Chicago Fire was supposed to be the next big drama by Dick Wolf, doing something different. It was a big deal. Well, a big deal to NBC.
Most of us thought that it was going to be the same thing we’d seen from Wolf before. We’d seen how Wolf does things. He likes lawyers. He likes cops. He likes cops who pass the criminal over to lawyers halfway through an episode. He likes cops who find sexual predictors. That’s his thing. And now firefighters?
Or even worse, we’d see another firefighters series. Oh sure, the guy at the beginning dies, beginning a turf war, or an “ownership of responsibility” cold war. Eh. Okay, and some hot women. But I mean, they don’t do that much of anything in fires.
So. So wrong.
4 episodes in, the ratings fell. But not by very much. And then, the ratings went through a rollar-coaster ride throughout the season. One week would be a ratings season-high; and then the next week would be a season low. Then high again. Viewers couldn’t really make a decision. But then January came. And for the last 3 weeks, Fire has been 8.54, 8.04, and 7.31 million in viewership: three of their best ratings to date.
But it doesn’t even stop there.
NBC may be losing a lot of comedies this year. And I mean a lot. Two comedies will be gone next year (The Office and 30 Rock), and there are a few comedies that are either really teetering on the fence (Animal Practice was cancelled, but Whitney, 1600 Penn, Up All Night, Guys with Kids, Community, The New Normal are all subject to be gone by next year). So NBC may be already replacing a ton of shows come May. Do you know how many pilots NBC ordered last month? 17. ABC? CBS? FOX? 12, 9, & 7.
So NBC probably doesn’t want their schedule to be completely unfamiliar. So the dramas will probably have a higher chance to stay on. But no guarantees.
New drama Do No Harm is in no way, shape, or form coming back for a second season, and Deception, while there’s still a chance it could rebound, doesn’t look like it. So two rookie shows are more than likely to be gone. Smash premiered to dreadful numbers last night (more people watched Raising Hope (FOX)), so chances are they won’t recover. This leaves, veterans Law & Order: SVU and Parenthood behind, and there’s no reason any of them will be gone. So this leaves rookie dramas Revolution and Chicago Fire to wrap up the dramas. In addition, Chicago Fire has been performing better than its timeslot rival and rookie show Nashville (ABC). So that has to be factored in as well.
I’m not saying that there’s absolutely no way Chicago Fire will be cancelled this spring. But I’d be hard-pressed to see a reason why it should. But if we learned one thing from this:
You never doubt Dick Wolf.
Update: Do No Harm got cancelled after two episodes, breaking records for the lowest network ratings of all-time. Let’s just say that really helps Chicago Fire’s case in staying.