NBC is back in the game!
The 2012-13 TV season officially kicked off Monday, and NBC — armed this time with “The Voice” — more than doubled its performance, causing its competition to take some major hits.
NBC, which has been mired in fourth place for the past eight seasons, averaged more than 11 million viewers Monday night.
On the first night of last season, the network limped in with 5.2 million.
Last season, of course, NBC’s Monday lineup included a fall version of its underperforming holiday singing competition, “The Sing-Off,” and new drama “The Playboy Club” — a.k.a. Last Season’s First Cancellation.
So, yes, the bar was set pretty low.
Anyway, NBC — which had introduced its new prime-time lineup early, to take advantage of in-Olympics promotions — clobbered the competition on the season’s first night among the 18- to 49-year-old viewers who are the currency of prime-time TV. And not just when “The Voice” aired, but also from 10 to 11 p.m., when the network broadcast the second episode of its post-apocalyptic kudzu-takeover drama, “Revolution,” from J.J. Abrams.
Against “Revolution,” ABC’s season debut of “Castle” fell 34 percent in the 18-to-49 age bracket, compared with the launch of last season, and CBS’s “Hawaii Five-O” suffered its worst ratings ever.
Any way you slice it, CBS had a tough night because the bar for this network was set so high. Remember on the first night of the 2011-12 TV season, when CBS introduced Ashton Kutcher as Charlie Sheen’s replacement on “Two and a Half Men,” and that show copped a whopping 30 million viewers — after which the network’s unveiling of “2 Broke Girls” bagged the biggest crowd for a new comedy since 2001, and “Hawaii Five-O” scored its biggest audience of the entire TV season?
Well, this past Monday was nothing like that.
CBS may have been hardest hit by the nearly 16 million viewers who watched Monday’s ESPN coverage of that wild Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks game, with its controversial “replacement ref” call in the final seconds that gave the Seahawks a 14-12 win.
And the much-ballyhooed return of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” got banged up badly by NBC’s singing show, although it did wind up with 14 million viewers, compared with 11 million for “The Voice.”
But “Dancing” plunged 32 percent in the key age bracket year to year, even after bracing itself against the coming singing-competition storm with an all-star edition this time around.
And Tuesday afternoon, when the Monday ratings came in, ABC announced that it had purchased . . . a singing competition series!
But not just any singing competition series.
A military singing competition series!
Yes, current and former members of the armed forces will show off their singing chops, reported Entertainment Weekly, which was given the scoop. Think “Stars Earn Stripes” in a head-on collision with “The Voice.”
We regret to report that it’s called “Troupe Stars.”
Not willing to have the spotlight taken off of itself, NBC announced Tuesday that it had picked up “The Voice” for the spring and fall of 2013!
Of course, NBC already announced last week that Usher and Shakira were going to fill in for Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera on the spring 2013 edition of “The Voice.” And, at that time, NBC said Aguilera and Green would be back for the edition after that.
So, it’s not really “news.”
President Obama brought a birthday basket of White House goodies for Barbara Walters when he and Michelle Obama made their first joint visit to ABC’s “The View” on Tuesday. The first couple preempted the Romneys, who have said they can squeeze the show into their schedule next month.
Barbara, the president noted, “pilfers” things when she’s made her many visits to the White House. “So we decided that, for her birthday, rather than her having to steal matches, we would just go ahead and bring the stuff to her.”
Yes, Tuesday was also Barbara’s birthday. How does it always wind up being about Babs on “The View”? In addition to the White House paper napkins — “which she usually takes,” he said — the president brought cloth White House napkins, White House M&M’s, playing cards, a bottle of White House beer and a White House golf ball.
Just last week, one day after GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s camp issued a statement saying that he and wife Ann would love to visit the daytime talk show in October, the show announced that the Obamas had agreed to stop by and chat Tuesday, beating the Romneys to the punch.
Last week, a tape surfaced that captured Romney calling “The View” a “high-risk” proposition because four of its co-hosts are “sharp-tongued” non-conservatives. One week later, the first couple sat on The Couch, with The Ladies of “The View,” in an interview taped Monday. The ladies came dressed in their Sunday finest — Babs in a black suit with some sort of distracting starburst-y brooch, Whoopi Goldberg struggling with black and orange short boots with eight-inch heels.
The Ladies started with softball questions. Whoopi was caught eating the White House M&M’s. The president told a cute story about how the first daughters told Dad — as he was backstage, getting ready to give his keynote speech at the DNC — that it was “just like in the Hannah Montana movie when she’s about to go out onstage and Billy Ray says, ‘Go get ‘em, baby!’ ” So when we saw him walk out on that stage, he was “thinking about Hannah Montana,” he joked.
Then Babs took the wheel, and the questioning got more serious. “This is a very close race still. What would be so terrible if Mitt Romney were elected?” Babs asked the president. “Well, you know I think America is so strong, and we’ve got so much going for us that we can survive a lot,” Obama responded. Kapow! “But the American people don’t want to just survive, we want everyone to thrive,” he added.
Wild applause from the studio audience. Obama acknowledged that both men want people in the country to succeed, “and so the question then just becomes, whose policies are more likely to lead us to where we want to go?” He outlined differences between his economic strategy and Romney’s. “I’m voting for him!” raved the first lady, indicating her husband.
For more columns by Lisa de Moraes, visit washingtonpost.com/tvcolumn.