TV column: ‘X Factor’ debut can’t steal spotlight from ‘Modern Family’

September 22, 2011

An average of 12.5 million people caught Wednesday night’s unveiling of Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor.”

That’s only about 700,000 more viewers than watched the unveiling of NBC’s singing competition, “The Voice,” back in April.

True, “The Voice” — which featured mentor-judges Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Gnarls Barkley’s Cee Lo Green and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine — did not launch during the ultra-competitive Premiere Week.

On the other hand, in honor of “The Voice’s” premiere, Fox that night stretched “Glee” by 30 minutes so the hit show would overlap with the start of NBC’s new show. And CBS brought over a repeat of “The Mentalist” to the time slot, replacing a “Good Wife” rerun (because “Good Wife” does not repeat well).

“The X Factor” launched Wednesday night in the thick of Premiere Week against the season debuts of “Modern Family,” “The Middle,” “Criminal Minds,” et al.

But “The X Factor” stars Cowell — who, we learned on last night’s show, is the most successful talent scout “on the planet.” And he was reunited with Paula Abdul — a.k.a. another third of the judging panel from the original “American Idol.” And let’s not forget that $5 million prize — which, we learned, is the biggest TV prize in the history of the universe. With all that, you maybe expected “X Factor” to have mowed down all comers in its 8 to 10 p.m. time slot without breaking a sweat, right?

But “X Factor” got whomped from 9 to 10 p.m. Wednesday by the season debut of the ABC comedy “Modern Family.”

About 14.5 million people — a series high for “Modern Family” — caught the return of the Emmy-winning sitcom. Meanwhile, 12.9 million were tuned to Simon’s show at that hour.

Oh, and the most recent “American Idol” debut (last January in the same time period) logged more than 26 million viewers. Without Simon Cowell or Paula Abdul. Or a $5 million prize.

But, those glass-half-full guys over at Fox were having none of this Debbie Downer talk.

Thursday morning, they celebrated “X Factor” as having coughed up their most watched fall series debut in five years.

They reveled that the singing-palooza achieved their network’s highest-rated Premiere Week Wednesday night in 16 years.

Sixteen years ago, Fox aired the soap operas “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Melrose Place” on Wednesday nights. And we’re not talking about those cheap CW knockoffs — we’re talking about the Aaron Spelling originals.

So where did viewers go to unwind after the “X Factor” premiere was over at 10?

Well, just shy of 13 million of them caught the unveiling of Ted Danson — in the role of Better Than Laurence Fishburne — on “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”

About 10 million opted for ABC’s new “Revenge” in the final hour of prime time — the net’s best series-premiere performance there in four years.

“Revenge” is ABC’s new rich-people-have-problems-too drama about a young chick named Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp), whose family was driven out of the Hamptons in disgrace many years ago. Emily is now “empowered” to come back to exact revenge, by bumping off the rich denizens of the Hamptons (you go, Emily!).

An additional 7.6 million people watched the season debut of “Law & Order: SVU.”

It was a rough night for NBC — the network finished a distant fourth — what with all the “Ooh, it’s Simon Cowell!” and “Can’t wait for ‘Modern Family’!” and “I love Ted Danson!” going on elsewhere.

We’ll let it go at that — NBC is going to have a tough 2011-12 season.

Attack of the after-show

What do the zombie drama “Walking Dead” and the docu-soap franchise “Real Housewives” have in common?

Their own, live, let’s-talk-about-it shows!

AMC announced Thursday that it will launch a live “after” show for “The Walking Dead.” The discussion series, “Talking Dead,” will be produced by Michael Davies — the same guy who exec-produces the “Housewives” after-show, “Watch What Happens: Live,” which is hosted by Bravo programming chief Andy Cohen.

AMC’s chatfest will be hosted by Chris Hardwick, an on-air personality at G4 network. G4 and Bravo are properties of Comcast.

“Talking Dead” debuts Oct. 16, immediately after a repeat of “The Walking Dead’s” 90-minute season premiere. Starting Nov. 4, “TD” will follow “Walking Dead’s” Friday-night encores at 11 p.m.

More ‘Touch’

Fox shot out an e-mail announcing that it has ordered 13 episodes of its new drama series “Touch,” created and written by Tim Kring (”Heroes”). Fox had already announced the show starring Kiefer Sutherland; the news here is the size of the order.

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