Bruce Fretts lauds ''Ed,'' pans ''Geena,'' and offers a few surprises, too

By Bruce Fretts
Updated October 12, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT
Advertisement rates the best and worst of the new TV season

The new TV season is less than two weeks old, but winners and losers are already starting to emerge. And overall, the viewing public is showing remarkably good taste. Here’s a night by night breakdown of the results so far.

SUNDAY The fall’s happiest news is the first week success of NBC’s ”Ed.” Justifiably hailed by many critics as the best new show of the season, the David Letterman produced dramedy drew 16.5 million viewers in its first airing. That number may drop once ”Ed” faces new episodes of Fox’s ”The Simpsons” and ”Malcolm in the Middle” and CBS’ ”Touched by an Angel” (which were preempted by baseball and football), but ”Ed” is off to a terrific start.

MONDAY More great news: CBS’ ”Everybody Loves Raymond” (also produced by Letterman’s Worldwide Pants) is attracting its biggest audiences ever — beating Dennis Miller’s ”Monday Night Football” as well as Oliver Platt’s disappointing new NBC drama ”Deadline.” Shockingly, Ray Romano’s new lead in, ”Yes, Dear,” survived savage reviews and performed impressively in its first two outings, which means next week it will have run longer than star Mike O’Malley’s self titled NBC sitcom did last season.

TUESDAY After a boffo top 10 debut against the first presidential debate, James Cameron’s overblown sci-fi drama ”Dark Angel” fell to earth in its second airing. Does the same fate await Geena Davis’ godawful self titled ABC sitcom and Andre Braugher’s promising ABC doc drama ”Gideon’s Crossing,” both of which bowed strongly? Stay tuned (or in the case of ”Geena,” don’t).

WEDNESDAY ”The West Wing” shot out of the gate with a two hour season premiere that riveted more than 25 million viewers, making it the No. 1 program of the week. A combination of the Emmys, an attention grabbing assassination attempt cliff-hanger, and perfect election year timing have set up ”Wing” for a breakout ratings season. (And having previewed Charlie Sheen’s stultifying first episode as the new star of ABC competitor ”Spin City,” I can assure you that his dad Martin has nothing to worry about.)

THURSDAY As I write this, NBC’s Must See lineup hasn’t yet debuted, but one of the season’s few new bright spots, The WB’s engaging family dramedy ”Gilmore Girls,” has premiered with encouraging ratings. While finishing 63rd with 5 million viewers might not sound impressive, the show set a record for its slot and dwarfed the numbers for its predecessor, the inaccurately titled ”Popular.”

FRIDAY CBS breathlessly hyped its remake of ”The Fugitive,” but it was the less heralded (but superior) cop show ”C.S.I.” that ran away with the ratings, finishing ninth for the week. Tim Daly’s Dr. Richard Kimble lagged behind in 26th. Meanwhile, ABC’s post TGIF lineup was all but DOA, with only Gabriel Byrne’s ”Madigan Men” (a watchable sitcom stranded amidst the crap of ”Two Guys and a Girl,” ”The Trouble with Normal,” and ”Norm”) showing any signs of life, placing 43rd.

SATURDAY ”Coach” star Craig T. Nelson’s return to series TV in the ludicrous cop show ”The District” was the night’s highest rated show, debuting in 17th place. Okay, so the American viewing public doesn’t ALWAYS show good taste.

The West Wing

  • TV Show
  • Off Air
  • NBC