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'Red Band Society' gets sickly ratings

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Red Band Society

Fox’s earnest teen hospital drama got off to a weak start in the ratings Wednesday night, while NBC’s preview of Debra Messing’s cop dramedy delivered a healthy sampling.

The Steven Spielberg-produced Red Band Society had only 4 million viewers and an anemic 1.3 rating among adults 18-49 at 9 p.m., slipping a tad from its Hell’s Kitchen lead-in. Red Band Society follows a group of teens who cheerfully endure various medical hardships and live in a pediatric hospital ward run by tough-love nurse (Octavia Spencer). Industry insiders have been skeptical that the concept would be a reliable draw, despite the topicality of the similarly themed book and film The Fault in Our Stars. (“Nobody wants to watch sick kids in primetime,” one top studio chief told us.)

Over on NBC, the premiere of The Mysteries of Laura, about a detective (Messing) juggling busting criminals and raising a family, had a healthy 10.4 million viewers and a 2.1 rating. The delivery was doubtlessly helped by its big two-hour America’s Got Talent lead-in (12 million, 2.3), and the show is expected to face a tougher challenge when it shifts to its regular 8 p.m. time slot next week. Still, NBC has to be happy with this turnout.

Among the critics, Red Band received mixed reviews while Mysteries received negative reviews. For more, see our post in which insiders predict which new shows will be hits and flops.

Also Wednesday: CBS’ Big Brother continued to be solid (6.6 million, 2.2), but the finale of Halle Berry’s sci-fi summer thriller Extant ended with a whimper—5.5 million viewers and a 1.1 rating. CBS hasn’t made a ruling (at least publicly) on the fate of this show, but it’s hard to imagine a renewal. Like Red Band, Extant is also produced by Spielberg, so it’s a rough morning in the numbers for the iconic director’s TV projects.

Over on The CW, Penn & Teller: Fool Us continued to quietly impress—by CW summer standards, at least. The fun UK import, in which magicians perform their best acts in hopes of stumping Las Vegas legends Penn & Teller, has performed surprisingly well throughout its run, and I hear the network is looking into the viability of an original U.S. version.