In spite of star Hank Azaria’s best tweeting efforts, his new NBC sitcom “Free Agents” finished in a dead heat with CW’s new reality series, “H8R” as to which would be the second new broadcast series to be pulled from the air.
NBC pulled the plug on his new sitcom “Free Agents” after taking a gander at Wednesday night’s numbers for Episode 3. CW did same on “H8R” after looking at its latest numbers the same night.
Meanwhile, Azaria appears to have been given a deadline of today – Friday -- to choose whether to accept a 45 percent pay cut on the next season of voice work for Fox’s animated “The Simpsons” or call it a wrap at the end of this season.
Not a good week for Azaria.
Wednesday’s “Free Agents” episode clocked about 3.3 million viewers; that’s 200,000 more people than watched Episode 2.
(It’s also, BTW, just 700,000 shy of the crowd that watched NBC’s “Community” last week and that comedy series is in its third season trying to attract viewers. Nobody said TV is fair.).
Also Wednesday, the third episode of “Free Agents” held on to all Week 2’s 18-49 year old viewers – the age bracket NBC targets. This, in theory, is a good Week 2 vs Week 3 stat – for fourth-placed NBC.
And, “Free Agents’ accomplished these numbers in the teeth of the second half hour of Simon Cowell’s new singing competition “X Factor,” the second half hour of CBS’s “Survivor” and ABC’s new sitcom “Suburgatory.” ABC has an established comedy block on the night that includes ratings monster “Modern Family.” NBC does not.
So, NBC could have spun “Free Agents’” ratings the next morning as encouraging, or at least not lethal. NBC did not. And, after opening the network’s ratings email Thursday morning, The Reporters Who Cover Television began to prepare their “Free Agents” obits.
Word of “H8R’s” fate got out later in the day Thursday. Only around 1 million people bothered to watch its latest episode, in which Mario Lopez takes some D-list celebrity to confront some John or Jane Doe who hates them, and demanded that they turn their hate to love. “H8R’s” makes “Free Agents” look like “Dr. Zhivago.”
In CW’s defense, it only ordered a very limited number of “H8R” episodes. Also, important to know, CW never actually “cancels” anything – Ashton Kutcher’s “Beautiful Life’ could return at any moment. Yeah, right. Anyway, four episodes aired and footage has been shot for more “H8R’s” so it might rear its ugly head in the summer or something.
CW will rerun its Tuesday episodes of “Ringer” in “H8R’s” Wednesday hour. “Ringer,” starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, is a priority over at CW.