A month into the new fall season, you -- the viewers -- have spoken.
Or watched, anyway.
A tattoo thriller on NBC is the standout. Medical dramas are still a draw. Comedies are struggling (although there were only a few newcomers to choose from).
This list is compiled from live, same-day ratings, based on the idea that if people care enough about a show, they'll still tune in, rather than consign it to the DVR for later consumption. Yes, many shows see sizable boosts in playback, but these tend to get even bigger bumps. "Quantico" and "Blindspot," in fact, have huge bumps.
To the list:
The most-viewed of all newcomers -- even though it slipped a bit Monday -- "Blindspot" does appear to be the most successful of all new dramas (about 8 million viewers). The show also adds millions more viewers in other platforms in the seven days following the original telecast.
Reason: Lead-in ("The Voice") hasn't hurt, but this is still a fairly propulsive thriller, from a subgenre once reliably upheld by shows like "The X-Files" and, later, "24." The truth is not just out there, but inked on Jane Doe's back, front, legs and neck, and all signs lead to terrorists or the U.S. government, probably both. Bonus points for genuine chemistry between Jane (Jaimie Alexander) and Kurt (Sullivan Stapleton).
LIFE IN PIECES (CBS)
Surprise! "Life" didn't feel like a newcomer with big ambitions, but it has achieved some -- as the most-viewed new comedy of the season (around 9 million viewers).
Reason: Again, lead-in, which happens to be "The Big Bang Theory." But I would submit that this is still a good comedy, with a "Modern Family"- like appeal/vibe, and a very good cast in support of the genial little idea at work here -- that life is a series of memorable scenes, or "pieces."
The Sunday thriller has done well in the "live" ratings column (around 5 million viewers) but particularly well in the live-plus-seven column -- the metric that determines how many viewers watch later, on other platforms, like Hulu.
Reason: Priyanka Chopra. One of the world's biggest stars wasn't about to bomb on a U.S. TV series, and she hasn't. I've struggled with this show otherwise: Too implausible while the fictional bombing of a real New York landmark (Grand Central Terminal) in the service of prime-time fluff just seemed wrong. But at least "Quantico" has a very good music track every week: Cat Power, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Charli XCX, Beck. (Is this show a thriller or a playlist?)
Another surprise. Critics (not me, I might add) blasted this, and expectations were not particularly high, but this is Fox's single biggest success of the new season, with nearly
6 million viewers.
Reason: Simple ones, all.
The cast (Morris Chestnut, Lorraine Toussaint and the others) have jelled as a unit; the show is a straight-ahead procedural; and the visuals are pleasing. But Chestnut is the key reason. He's done a lot of TV, and odds were that a hit would arrive one of these days. It has.
The drama based on the movie has done well (about 8 million viewers) and was expected to, landing on "NCIS"-powered Tuesday. But it doesn't appear to be doing even remotely as well as "Blindspot" in the seven-day-plus ratings category, when playback is factored in.
Reason: My pet theory -- yet to be disproved -- is that showrunner Craig Sweeny and CBS finally cracked what I have called the Jake McDorman nut. He simply wasn't particularly likable in many other TV roles. He is here.
CODE BLACK (CBS)
Another critical dud, but viewers have spoken otherwise.
Reasons: CBS never got in the habit of programming for critics, but for viewers -- specifically the type of viewer that likes CBS shows (older, typically; less likely to stuff their DVRs; more likely to sit and watch an entire night's lineup than channel-hop). "Black" has a terrific cast, too.