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Allen’s New Sitcom Is From Another Time

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Early in the pilot of Tim Allen’s new ABC comedy, “Last Man Standing,” his character looks at the sun outside his house to tell the time of the day.
“Why don’t you look at the clock?” his acerbic wife Vanessa (played by Nancy Travis) says.
Viewers are advised that this series about a man who rants about the decline of manliness and wants his daughters to learn how to change a tire should set their clocks back about 15 years.
That’s when “Last Man Standing” would have looked original.
It’s an old-fashioned, only occasionally amusing comedy in which Allen (see above with Travis) plays Mike Baxter, a father of three girls and the grandfather of one boy. Mike is in charge of selling weapons and other manly tools for an outdoor sporting goods store.
His oldest daughter, Kristin (Alexandra Krosney), is a 20-year-old single mother who works at a diner. His middle-child, Mandy (Molly Ephraim), 17, seems allergic to any kind of work. His youngest daughter, Eve (Kaitlyn Diver) is a soccer player who has just discovered boys.
As in his old hit “Home Improvement,” Allen’s new show is set at home and at work. Veteran actor Hector Elizondo is wasted as his boss, Ed, who wants Mike to increase online sales at the sporting good store and thereby gives him a forum for his manly rants. Christoph Sanders plays Kyle, a goofy kid whose job essentially is to be tormented by the older men in charge.
Travis plays the kind of working wife she could probably do in her sleep, a woman who can tolerate her husband’s childishness with the help of a nightly glass of wine or two.
ABC is running episodes back-to-back tonight starting at 8, which means Allen’s series is on its own when it comes to building an audience.
The content is generally tame. However, it is surprising to hear Allen utter a slang word for male genitalia, which is pretty much the only evidence that this show wasn’t created in the 1990s.
The weak plots in the first two episodes involve Baxter trying to save his job and his oldest daughter questioning whether their home needs to be baby-proofed. His kids always are looking for advice and are even willing to take it from dad against their better judgment.
Those hoping for “Improvement” in the second episode may be sadly disappointed. In the days of the clever “Modern Family” and “The Middle,” “Last Man” looks like it comes from another century or belongs on TV Land. My advice tonight: “Last Man” may be the last thing anyone will want to do with their time unless they are huge Allen fans. Rating: 2 stars out of 4

Cancellation City: Here’s a warning to Allen. The networks are dumping comedy losers very quickly. CBS has already canceled the lame comedy “How to Be a Gentleman,” and NBC has canceled the Hank Azaria romantic comedy “Free Agents.”

Bills Rates Drop: The combination of a beautiful fall day and 69,000 possible viewers at the Ralph led to a drop in the local ratings for the Buffalo Bills’ 31-24 victory over Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday afternoon,. The 34.1 rating for the game carried by Fox affiliate WUTV was the lowest since the Bills season opener at Kansas City and 5.5 points lower than for the road loss at Cincinnati.

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Some Intriguing Items (I Hope)

Ron Jaworski

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This is what I’m seeing, reading and hearing:
* You’ll have to wait until the end to hear what I have to say about NBC sports reporter Pierre McGuire using the word “intriguing” when talking about the Buffalo Sabres during a conference call on the start of the NHL season.
“Buffalo was so close for so long but then they had to lose all their key components like (Chris) Drury, like (Danny) Briere,” said McGuire. “They don’t have to do that anymore. And I love where this thing is going. And Buffalo is going to cause a lot of heartache. They’re going to cause a lot of heartache.”
Let’s hope the heartache isn’t in Buffalo.
* Inquiring minds want to know why Channel 2 morning anchor John Beard was anchoring the early afternoon shifts Wednesday.
It wasn’t an experiment. Regular anchors Scott Levin and Maryalice Demler were on special assignment for a special the station is planning on bullying.
* Pop the champagne, Channel 2’s low-rated noon talk show with Bill O’Loughlin and Lydia Dominick cracked the 1 rating mark on Wednesday. O’Loughlin did much better with his half-hour late-night show on Sunday nights.
* Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner has to be pleased that NBC shuttered “The Playboy Club” after three episodes. Monday night’s finale had about a  2 rating in Buffalo, which didn’t help Channel 2’s 11 p.m. news get off the ground. Next week, NBC plans to re-air episodes of “Prime Suspect” in “Playboy’s” slot for a few weeks until a news show with Brian Williams is ready.
* With the 39.6 rating for the Bills loss in Cincinnati, the NFL reports that Bills ratings are up 12 percent on the season.
* If you want to better understand the Bills offense, ESPN’s Ron Jaworski (see above) will do the explaining Sunday on “NFL Matchup.” The show airs at 3 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Sunday on ESPN and 8:30 a.m. Sunday on ESPN 2.
According to ESPN, the Lackawanna native “unfolds his playbook to show how the Bills offense uses a unique formation where receivers are distributed to create mismatches against opposing defenses, a play that has proven successful in the team’s surprising 3-1 record.”
* I’m hearing that Channel 2 is planning to unfold its new full high definition newscasts on Halloween weekend in time for the November sweeps. The tentative plan is for the first HD newscast to be at 11 p.m. Oct. 29.
* Inquiring minds also want to know: How can Channel 4 reporter Lorey Schultz stay on the air until she takes her job in Mayor Brown’s administration? Beats me. I can see why some people believe taking a political job should immediately disqualify her for on-air work even if the station keeps her away from covering political stories.

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“Horror” Doesn’t Meet Scary Expectations

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Expectations can be a killer.
Such is the case with the new FX series, “American Horror Story,” which premieres at 10 tonight on the basic cable channel.
Several of my friends in the critical fraternity this summer proclaimed “Horror” as the must-see show of the fall.
Here is why the expectations were so high.

* Tonight’s extended pilot was written by co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, the co-creators of the Fox hit “Glee.” Before “Glee,” Murphy created FX’s “Nip/Tuck” and Falchuk was a writer and executive producer of that show, which is closer in content and craziness to “Horror” than “Glee.”
*“Horrorstars Dylan McDermott (“The Practice”) and Connie Britton (“Friday Night Lights”) and the cast includes Jessica Lange (“Tootsie”).
Greatness was expected.
It is easy to understand why many critics fell in love with this creepy and disturbing show about a married couple, Ben (McDermott. seen above with Britton) and Vivian Harmon, trying to recapture their love in a Southern California Victorian house that they got for a bargain because of its sordid history. Lange plays a troublesome neighbor, Constance, who creeps out Vivian out by showing up inside her house uninvited, sometimes with a daughter with Down Syndrome who advises Vivian she is going to die. Frances Conroy (“Six Feet Under”) plays a housekeeper who comes with the haunted house.
With its multiple camera angles, raw language and violent scenes, “Horror” is different than most TV shows and many critics love different.
There also is one powerfully written scene in which McDermott and Britton exhibit their acting chops and also  illustrates how deep the Harmons’ marital wounds have become.
And the pilot includes a teenage bullying story line that should speak to Western New Yorkers even though it was written months before the tragedy involving the Williamsville North student who committed suicide.
The story line involves a teenage patient being treated by Ben Harmon, a psychiatrist who works out of his home. The patient, Tate (played by Evan Peters), befriends the Harmons’ daughter, Violet (Taissa Farmiga), which illustrates that Ben’s decision to work at home is a dangerous one.
Ben gets much more than he bargained for tonight and is haunted by his infidelity, which threatens his marriage and leads to visions that suggests he fears repeating himself.
In a sense, much of “Horror” appears to be about confronting one’s fears. Or maybe I’m crazy to think there is any message to come out of the show’s visions and other craziness.
It is easy to fear that many viewers will be more horrified by some of the explicit content than by the routine scares provided.
But if you’ve watched dramas on FX before, you should know by now that being repulsed occasionally is part of the bargain. The show is rated MA for mature audiences before of its graphic violence, explicit sexual activity and crude and indecent language.
I’ll come back for one more even though I expected the payoff tonight to be much greater and was much more horrified by the content than entertained. Rating: 2 and a half stars out of 4

* Inquiring minds wanted to know if Pete Gallivan and Marissa Bailey are going to be the permanent co-hosts of Channel 2’s “Daybreak” on Fridays after hosting the past two Fridays. Alas, no. John Beard and Jodi Johnston just had the last two Fridays off, General Manager Jim Toellner said.
* As predicted here last week after looking at the ratings in Buffalo, NBC is dropping “The Playboy Club” after three low-rated Monday night episodes. The network has given a full season order for the comedies “Up All Night” and “Whitney.”

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Ch. 4 Takes Back News Lead

Byron Pitts

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Hold the phone.
In the first week of the post-Oprah era, Channel 2 took over the news ratings lead in the 5 p.m. to 6:30 news block from Monday through Friday in the first week of the post-Oprah era.
When I reported that weeks ago, I noted the news race is a marathon and not a sprint.
And sure enough last week, Channel 4 was back on top in the news block despite losing the 5 p.m. head-to-head battle with Channel 2.
After Channel 2 won at 5 p.m., Channel 4’s wins over Channel 2 at 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. were large enough to win the 90-minute block collectively.
This doesn’t mean there isn’t more good news for Channel 2 News.
A year ago on the corresponding week when Oprah provided the lead-in, Channel 4 had a combined 27.9 rating points from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Channel 2 received a combined 23.3 rating points, Channel 4 had a 4.6 rating points win.
This year, Channel 4 wins by 24.2-23.0 or 1.2 rating points. So the race is much tighter. You can also see that fewer people are watching the news in the 90-minute period as four ratings points have been lost by these two stations from a year ago.
Channel 4 wins the 11 p.m. news now handily, with the help of the lead-ins it gets from its popular 10 p.m. CBS programs. Channel 2 continues to suffer at 11 p.m. from the lead-ins provided by NBC’s unpopular prime time programs at 10 p.m.
Wondering about Channel 7, which doesn’t subscribe to Nielsen ratings?
It remains deep in third and lost viewers from a year ago in the 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. time period. It does get some good news at 11 p.m., where it was the only news station to get a higher rating last week than it had a year ago on the corresponding week.

*As predicted during my brief appearance on YNN last week, the Buffalo Bills 3-0 start to the season paid off with its highest ratings for Sunday’s 23-20 loss to Cincinnati. The game averaged a 39.6 rating on Channel 4, the highest rating for a Bills game since a 2008 away game against the St. Louis Rams in week four of that season. Ratings for away games have the benefit of the 70,000 potential viewers who go to home games at the Ralph. Lousy weather also brings in more viewers.
* Byron Pitts (see above), the CBS news correspondent and “60 Minutes” contributor, gave an optimistic and inspirational speech at Medaille College Monday night to students, faculty and members of the community.
Surprisingly, the only news station to interview Pitts after his speech was Channel 7, which is an ABC affiliate. Channel 4 is the CBS affiliate. Generally, stations try to cover national figures who work for their networks and ignore those who work for competitors.

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Dr. House’s Weird Visit to “Oz” Has Its Moments

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Imagine if Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie, see right) was incarcerated in Tom Fontana’s old HBO series, “Oz.” Or if the self-destructive doctor was hanging around with the Fox gang in “Prison Break.”
Then you would have tonight’s so-called TV event – the season premiere of “House” at 9 p.m. on WUTV.
Called “Twenty Vicodin,” the episode could easily be in jump-the-shark territory since it puts the brilliant doctor in harm’s way and doesn’t include any visitors from members of his former hospital team.
How he lands with really bad guys for a crime that any decent lawyer could have gotten him probation for is one of the ludicrous and suspenseful elements of the episode, which has a few decent twists and is involving despite its absurdity.
It probably won’t surprise anyone that Dr. House is the same in prison as he is in the New Jersey hospital – an addict who seems to get an adrenalin rush from ticking people off.
An amateur psychologist would diagnose Dr. House as needing to punish himself but ultimately he does have an instinct for survival.
The inmates aren’t even quite as accepting as his medical team or his patients of his attitude and manner. House seems to almost have a death wish in the way he deals with them.
However, he is smart to make friends or at least live in peaceful co-existence with the violent prisoner with whom he shares a cell.
His “popularity” with his fellow prisoners decreases after they learn he will be out on parole in five days, which decreases his leverage and increases the pressure on him to give up the precious vicodin that he receives for his pain. Thus the episode title.
House remains a brilliant doctor, who comes to the aid of a pretty, young prison doctor, Jessica Adams (Odette Yustman Annable). She grudgingly accepts his diagnosis of a patient against her boss’ better judgment. Well, not exactly better judgment but certainly safer, by-the-book judgment.
This is not a safe “House” episode and undoubtedly as many fans will hate it as will love it. Against my better judgment and my expectations of calamity, I recommend tonight’s episode and especially enjoyed the final, understated scene.
Rating: 2 and a half stars out of 4

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Predictions of Bills Flex Chances and Fitz’s Millions

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This is what I’m thinking:
* Buffalo Bills fans may be getting ahead of themselves to think the team’s 3-0 start will eventually lead to a game being flexed to prime time on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
But, hey, who am I, to dash such hopes?
So I looked ahead to NBC’s schedule to see what game could possibly be flexed to SNF when the network is allowed to move games into prime time.
The flex window is from Nov. 20 to Jan.1.
Looking ahead, the most unattractive games presently on NBC’s schedule are a Nov. 27 game between Pittsburgh and winless Kansas City and a Dec. 4 game between winless Indianapolis without Peyton Manning and the New England Patriots.
The Bills road game on Nov. 27 with the New York Jets currently looks like the most likely game to be flexed even though the Jets already are scheduled to have five prime games. The Dec. 4 home game with Tennessee doesn’t look that attractive.
If the Bills Jan. 1 game at New England has playoff implications for both teams, it also could be a flex game candidate. Of course, that’s if the Bills stay hot and the 3-0 start isn’t a mirage.

* Did you hear CBS insider Charley Casserly speculate on what Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was worth on the pregame show last Sunday before the Bills beat the Pats?
Casserly said the Bills would have to pay Fitz $14 million or more if they made him a franchise player next season. Casserly added that Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb signed a contract worth $11 million a season. The former NFL executive for the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans added that he thinks Kolb isn’t as good as Fitz.
*You might have thought the Bills 3-0 start would mean CBS would send one of its top play-by-play men to Sunday’s game with the Bengals. CBS assigned former Bills star Steve Tasker as the analyst alongside play-by-play man Andrew Catalon. Who? Catalon made his name as the sports director of WNYT-TV in Albany. He also worked the curling event in the 2010 Olympics for NBC and has done a preseason game for the New York Giants. He’s a graduate of Syracuse University so I expect him to be very good.

CBS is using its No. 1 team — Jim Nantz and Phil Simms — on the Bills game against the New York Giants on Oct. 16. That has as much or more to do with the Giants and their No.1 market than it does about the Bills.

*Just when I thought that CBS announcer Marv Albert had improved since his performance in the Bills opener against Kansas City, he had trouble distinguishing Bills receivers Donald Jones. Stevie Johnson and Namaan Roosevelt during the Bills win over New England. They all wear numbers in the teens so I’m thinking that Marv either needs some new glasses or a new spotter in the booth.
* I caught the “Bill O’Loughlin Show with Lydia Dominick” on Channel 2 for the first time Thursday and didn’t recognize Dominick, probably because of all the makeup she was wearing. She looked much more sophisticated than I remember when she hosted Channel 2’s “Lunch Time with the Classics.”
*Channel 4 reporter Lorey Schultz said this week that she didn’t realize the job she is taking with Mayor Brown was even available until mid-August. That’s a little surprising since former Channel 4 reporter Mylous Hairston was believed to be a candidate for the job when he left the station months earlier.
* Here’s a rarity: I agree with the WGR sports guys who praised the ESPN documentary “Catching Hell” about all the abuse Chicago Cubs fan Steve Bartman received after he instinctively and innocently went for a foul ball in a sixth-game Cubs playoff loss to the Florida Marlins and prevented Cubs outfielder Moises Alou from catching it. The Cubs subsequently lost game 7 to the Marlins, who went to the World Series.
“Hell” was a helluva story even without Bartman’s participation. You had to feel for him and feel a little ashamed about what the media did to him and another playoff goat in the documentary, Boston’s Bill Buckner.
Buckner, who committed an error in a World Series game with the Mets, has since recovered and even poked fun at the embarrassing moment in a 2011 episode of  HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

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CBS’ “Gentleman” Is a Loser; Schultz is Classy

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A former newspaper columnist would have to sympathize with Andrew, the lead character in the new CBS comedy, “How to Be a Gentleman,” that premieres at 8:30 tonight on Channel 4.
The magazine advice columnist  is being told to reinvent himself to appeal to a younger audience that doesn’t care about manners or else be fired by a middle-aged editor Jerry (played by Dave Foley) who has sold out to stay employed.
Andrew (David Hornsby) also is verbally abused by his sister Janet (played by Mary Lynn Rajskub, seen above when she played Chloe on “24”). And things are so bad that Andrew has to seek out his macho high school nemesis, a health club trainer, Bert (played by Kevin Dillon, getting much too much screen time while reprising his “Entourage” attitude), for advice on how to be more of a real man. Goodness knows Andrew couldn’t get that advice from his British brother-in-law, Mike (Rhys Darby), who lets Andrew’s sister walk all over him.
You’ll Like It If: Can’t think of a thing. Unless you’re likely to enjoy a comedy with an obvious message about how low society and media standards have become.

You’ll Hate It If: You expect sitcoms to be funny and don’t think the lowered standards for society (or comedy) are very funny.

Outlook: After “The Big Bang Theory,” the second-most popular CBS comedy, the worst comedy of the season will get a huge opening night audience. My advice: Stay away. Reading Miss Manners every day is funnier. I’d say something even harsher, but I was brought up to have good manners.
Rating: 1 stars out of 4
Speaking of classy, Channel 4 reporter Lorey Schultz praised the younger generation of reporters and anchors at her station Wednesday when talking about her decision to leave the station in two weeks to become the director of marketing and communications in Mayor Brown’s administration.
While noting the business has gone away from the writing she loves to do in favor of quicker, shorter stories, Schultz noted the young broadcasters “do it very well.”
I would also be remiss if I didn’t note that Schultz realized that journalists try to avoid revealing their political party affiliation after she told me that she is a Republican. But to her credit as a journalist, she didn’t try and take it back. She also added that her husband, former Channel 4 operations manager Tom Garlick, is a Democrat so they live “in a split (political) household.”

To those who asked: ABC’s lame remake of “Charlie’s Angels” didn’t make much of a splash in Buffalo for last week’s premiere. It averaged a 4.7 rating, but at least beat NBC’s “Community” for third place in its 8 p.m. time slot. Things are unlikely to improve for tonight’s second episode now that viewers realize that this series starring Minka Kelly and two other beautiful women is a dog.

Fox announced late Wednesday that it has ordered an additional 11 episodes of the Zooey Deschanel comedy “New Girl” to give it a full-season order ot 24 episodes. It opened to strong ratings and even stronger reviews.


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Ch.4′s Schultz Leaving to Work for Mayor Brown

Channel 4 veteran reporter Lorey Schultz is leaving the station in two weeks to work in Mayor Brown’s administration.
Schultz, who has been at the CBS affiliate for 17 years, confirmed today that she will become the assistant director of marketing and communication for the Buffalo mayor’s office.
She’ll work with Mike DeGeorge, the former TV personality and producer who now is the spokesman for the mayor and the Buffalo police department.
“It was time for a change,” said Schultz. “I’ve been here (at Channel 4) a long time. I had a great run at Channel 4. I love the people there and have beautiful memories of the stories I covered and the people I met. It’s time to back away and take on a new challenge.”
She and her husband, former Channel 4 operations manager Tom Garlick, will have to move into the city as part of the requirement for the job. Schultz said the timing is great for her family because she has one child in college and another in high school and she and her husband had planned to downside anyway.
Schultz added she is excited about the job.
“It entails a lot of writing, which I love,” said Schultz, who noted she didn’t realize the job was available until last month. “It happened very quickly.”
Schultz will be getting a significant pay raise in taking the new job, which has been vacant for several months while DeGeorge reorganized the department.
“I’ve been reporting all over Western New York,” said Schultz, a native of Amherst. “I’m from Western New York. What a great opportunity to represent the community in this capacity.”
When I joked that I didn’t realize Schultz was a Democrat like the mayor, Schultz quickly corrected me.
“I’m a Republican,” she said. “They (the mayor’s office) love that. They know I’m qualified for the job and didn’t care about my affiliation.”

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“Playboy” in Danger of Closing and Other Sexy Notes

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When it comes to television ratings, Buffalo is a very good barometer for how shows are doing across the nation.

So here are the top 10 things that are noticeable about local ratings in the first 10 days of the new season.

1. “The Playboy Club” May Close Quickly:The opener of the NBC drama that made sex boring got a lowly 3.6 rating and it slipped even lower in the second episode. A network often pulls a series with numbers like that or considers moving it somewhere else. Also in danger of being pulled is the Hank Azaria comedy “Free Agents,” which had a 3.6 rating in its second airing.

2. “Two and a Half Men” Still Strong: The opener with Ashton Kutcher had a 25.5 rating here, which is an incredible number these days. The second episode on CBS lost about 30 percent of the audience, but still will be the week’s top prime time show in Buffalo.

3. It May Be Too Early to Call “Two Broke Girls” a Hit: After the crudely funny CBS show was moved away from a “Men” lead-in, it lost about 45 percent of its incredible 20.5 opener. But it improved on its lead-in, which is a good sign. Still, those promos calling it a hit may be premature since the second episode was nowhere near as funny as the pilot.

4. Simon Cowell’s “The X-Factor” Is No “Idol”: All the karaoke shows that copied “American Idol” before Cowell (see above) got “X” off the ground may have made the Fox show seem even less special to audiences. The first week’s shows only had ratings of 7.4 and 6.0 here, less than half of “Idol” and well below expectations.

5. “Terra Nova” Falls Flat: Monday’s two-hour premiere of Steven Spielberg’s family series didn’t even do as well as “The X-Factor” on Fox. Not a good sign for this very expensive series.

6. “Modern Family” Gets Emmy Boost: One bright spot for ABC here was the 11.2 rating that this award-winning comedy had for its hour-long premiere after all of its Emmy wins. The lead-in “Family” helped give “Revenge” with Emily Van Camp a decent-sized opening audience here, out-rating “The X-Factor” and “Terra Nova.”

7. “The Office” With New Boss Does OK: James Spader as the new boss in place of Steve Carell  helped this NBC show get a healthy 7.3 rating. But the real test will be if viewers come back this Thursday. That rating was double the rating for the premiere of Amy Poehler’s “Parks and Recreation,” which still can’t get arrested here despite critical acclaim and its Emmy nominations.

8. “The Good Wife” Sunday Debut Not So Good:After getting ratings in the teens last spring, Julianna Margulies’ CBS series had a 9.6 in its Sunday debut opposite football and the final season premiere of “Desperate Housewives.” I imagine that DVRs were working overtime Sunday and the “Wife” rating will significantly improve when that viewership is counted. (Keep in mind that DVR viewing and time shifted viewing within 3 to 7 days can be very important to all series).

9. “Prime Suspect” Promos Didn’t Help: Maria Bello’s antiquated version of the Helen Mirren series had a 5.6 rating on Channel 2, the NBC affiliate in a tough Thursday time slot against veteran hits “The Mentalist” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Perhaps NBC would consider moving it to Mondays and switching “The Playboy Club” to Thursday.

10. “New Girl” May Have “X Factor”: Last week’s premiere of the Zooey Deschanel series had a 6.7 rating and improved on its lead-in from a fading “Glee.” That’s a very strong rating for a Fox comedy.

Mini-review ofSuburgatory,” which debuts at 8:30 tonight on Channel 7: Neatly sandwiched in between the increasingly popular “The Middle” and “Modern Family,” this comedy immediately has a lot going for it.

It’s about a single father, George (Jeremy Sisto in a softer role than usual) who moves his 16-year old cynical daughter Tessa (Jane Levy) from very fast New York City to the very clean and very quiet suburbs after he finds condoms in her room. Cheryl Hines of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is on board as a clichéd suburban mother and Rex Lee of “Entourage” is also in the cast.

Tessa immediately hates the suburbs for all the clichéd reasons people ridicule the suburbs.

“A box of rubbers landed me in the land of plastic,” narrates Tessa.

“My plan is to serve my time and get out.”

“We need two things to survive: An automatic sprinkler and a restraining order.”

Love comments like that.

Meanwhile, Dad is loving all the attention and advice a single father and architect can receive.

“You are like an exotic import,” a friend tells George.

The cynicism about the suburbs can be darkly funny, but then the whole attitude is changed when it appears Tessa is ready to partially embrace the move. I hated that shift.

“Suburgatory” has enough cute moments to survive its cynical tone, especially with the help of its more popular and family-friendly suburban neighbors – “The Middle” and “Modern Family.”

Rating: 2 and a half stars out of 4


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Bills TV Ratings Are High, But Should Go Higher

Tom Brady

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Buffalo Bills hysteria is alive and well, as exemplified by Channel 2’s decision to lead its 6 p.m. newscast Monday with a four-minute report on the team’s 3-0 start and a silly poll that asked fans what place Ryan Fitzpatrick and company would finish in the AFC East.
Would you believe 47 percent of the Bills fans voting predicted they would finish first, 30 percent predicted a second place finish, 16 percent thought third place was right and 7 percent thought they’d finish fourth and last.
Inspired by that foolish predictable poll (did Channel 2 think Bills fans were going to be pessimists?), I’ve decided to give my blog readers a quiz. By what percent do you think television ratings for the Bills in their 3-0 start have been higher than the 2010 Bills who had a 0-3 start? A) 20 percent? B) 30 percent? C) 40 percent? D) 8 percent?
The correct answer is D. That’s right only 8 percent.
A year ago, the Bills averaged a 31.1 rating for their first three losses against Miami, Green Bay and New England. The 27.9 for Green Bay lowered the average.
This season, the Bills have averaged a 33.5 rating for its wins over Kansas City, Oakland and New England.
Two of the three games in 2010 were on the road, which meant the 70,000 fans or so that attend home games at Ralph Wilson Stadium could watch on TV and add several potential ratings points. Two of this year’s first three games were at home when those fans are in their stadium seats. The weather was great, which also means some fans not at the stadium were enjoying the outdoors instead of sitting in front of their sets.
The New England game (34.5) actually had a lower rating than the Oakland game (34.6). The audience for the victory that broke the Pats 15-game mastery of the Bills peaked to almost a Super Bowl-like rating in the 40s in the final 45 minutes, ending with a 44.5 before Rian Lindell’s winning field goal.
That means that 44.5 percent of TV homes in the market were tuned into the Bills game at that time. The entire game had a 63 share, meaning 63 percent of people with their TVs on during the game were tuned to the Bills.
To put that in further perspective, only two prime time programs last week had ratings in the 20s, led by the season premiere of “Two and a Half Men” in Ashton Kutcher’s debut. And “Men” only runs for 30 minutes, while the Bills games run 3 to 3 and a half hours.
The Bills game this Sunday at Cincinnati should beat the season average to date because of all the Bills hoopla and the fact it is on the road when most of the 70,000 fans at The Ralph on home Sundays should be sitting in front of their sets.
And just think, it was only a few weeks ago when talk shows hosts were suggesting Buffalo now was a Sabres town instead of a Bills town.
When the Bills are winning or even competitive, they own the town until January.

* The Bills also owned the national TV talk shows Monday, with ESPN’s “Around the Horn” and “Pardon the Interruption” asking the same thing: Are the Bills are real? Just about everybody was positive about the Bills except for Woody Paige, the class clown on “Horn.” He said last week that the Bills were a “fraud” and predicted their demise against the Pats.
Paige, who is prone to say idiotic things just to get attention, wasn’t about to change his tune. He was critical of the Pats for losing “to a minor league team in Buffalo.”
Puh-lease don’t take Paige seriously. No one does.
On “PTI,” Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser praised the Bills, with Kornheiser saying “I root for the Bills because of my connection to Upstate New York (he graduated from SUNY Binghamton).”
ESPN analyst Cris Carter praised Bills Coach Chan Gailey, noting that he took a job that “nobody wanted.”
* A perceptive reader and local radio personality noted that the Buffalo News ran a picture of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (see above in an old photo) in Monday’s paper that had to be from a year ago because the Bills were wearing their old jerseys. He thought whoever selected that picture should get 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. But I suspect the error had something to do with the lower staffing levels in the sports department that make it harder for honest mistakes like that to be caught.
* “HornandPTI” both addressed Syracuse University’s controversial 33-30 overtime win over Toledo that featured a late extra point erroneously awarded to Syracuse in regulation that gave the Orange a 30-27 lead before Toledo marched to a tying field goal to force overtime.
I happened to be listening to the Orange radio broadcast of the game and both Syracuse announcers thought the point shouldn’t have counted after looking at a replay and were pleasantly surprised that the point was allowed after replay.
Both Bill Plaschke on “Horn” and Wilbon on “PTI” thought Syracuse should give up the win. Kornheiser had the better idea – replay the game from the point SU was up 29-27 to see if their defense could hold Toledo without a field goal if it knew they needed a stop to win. Of course, that will never happen but it is the right idea.


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