Fox rolled out its second big new midseason drama series Thursday night, this one starring Rainn Wilson as a brilliant detective who is also total jerk (or, if you live in the Los Angeles area, a “total dick,” per Fox’s marketing team). Backstrom delivered 8 million viewers and a 2.0 rating among adults 18-49. Nowadays, broadcasters are relieved by any ratings with a least a “2” in front of it, so this one squeaks over the bar by that measure. Backstrom also out-performed the premiere of Fox’s last “brilliant professional who’s not a nice person” Thursday drama—last year’s short-lived Rake—by 18 percent.
Yet when Backstrom‘s American Idol opener is a 2.7 rating, rival NBC is airing dead sitcoms and ABC is running The Taste instead of Shonda Rhimes’ monsters, you hope for a stronger opener. Also, the show dipped 14 percent from its first half hour to its second, which isn’t great. Overall Backstrom ranked second at 9 p.m. behind CBS, a position that Fox will definitely accept. But when Scandal returns, it might take more than Det. Backstrom’s rebellious stubble to retain this performance.
Also Thursday: NBC’s Bad Judge (0.8) and A to Z (0.6) finally spasmed, gasped, and lay still in the 9 p.m. hour.