Viewers Are Scanty for 'Victoria's Secret Fashion Show'

By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, December 8, 2005

The triumphant return of "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" to the airwaves?

Not so much.

All but about 8.9 million Americans found themselves able to resist the lure of pouty girls in candy-coated and crystal-caked undies, prancing between two of Paul Bunyan's albino teddy bears to strains of "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" and possibly "Song of the Volga Boatmen," though it's been years since we took that Music Appreciation class so don't hold us to that.

And, although CBS ran a parental warning in large letters across the screen no fewer than four times at the start of the skivvies show, a mere half-million teenagers and only about 350,000 children watched the one-hour holiday special, which was taped last month at the Lexington Armory in Manhattan.

That's about the same number of kids 2 to 11 who were over at NBC enjoying Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni as they investigated the case of the bruised, bloodied and severely injured 12-year-old boy who'd been dumped outside a hospital -- but that's another story.

It was the first "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" broadcast in two years. CBS suits took a breather last year, rightly figuring it would be hard to top the national TV debut of Janet Jackson's right breast on their own air in February '04.

After such a long dry spell, you'd think a boatload of those 2 billion people who, according to chatty model Heidi Klum, have seen the runway show since its inception a decade ago would have been glued to the CBS broadcast. Not so. The event's return to broadcast TV fell short of even '03's disappointing 9.4 million, and was laps behind the 12.3 million who'd caught its television debut on ABC. (Note to self: Find out where on Earth Heidi got those stats.)

And this is sad because history was made Tuesday night when Tyra Banks performed her very last march down a fashion show runway. And Klum's bod just two months after giving birth to a baby Seal is nothing short of a Christmas miracle.

(Fortunately you're going to be given a second chance. UPN, which is headed by the same guy who runs CBS, announced yesterday it will rerun the fashion show on Tuesday at 9.)

It's hard to know why the show failed to cop a bigger crowd. Yes, it's true that when the models were out there giving a hard sales pitch on the crystal-caked ensembles, to Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot," they were wearing a shocking amount of clothing.

Perhaps there was also just a wee bit too much time spent backstage as girls in very high heels stomped clumsily down a set of stairs to the dressing room, looking like knock-kneed giraffes in pushups and thongs. Kind of killed the mood, you know what I mean?

And there's no denying that there was way too much blah, blah, blah from models, who, sadly, appear to have IQs even teensier than their dress sizes -- excepting the fabulous Banks, of course. "Look at their butts!" is not the kind of trash talk you want to hear from the mouth of your come-hither holiday fantasy.

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