Acclaimed new TV shows perform below expectations

HIGH PRAISE, LOW RATINGS

October 03, 1990|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

Viewers are rejecting some of the most critically acclaimed shows of the new season.

That's one pattern of the Nielsen returns for the first two weeks of Television '90. While it's way too early to write off any new shows, some of the most praised programs from Hollywood's biggest producers are struggling to find an audience. According to national Nielsen ratings released yesterday:

*CBS' "Evening Shade," which stars Burt Reynolds and is produced by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason of "Designing Women," finished 61st out of 95 shows with an audience of about 9 million television households. By way of comparison, the competition on ABC -- "Full House" and "Family Matters" -- were seen in more than 13 million households. They finished 26th and 30th respectively.

*"Parenthood," from executive producer Ron Howard, finished 71st with an audience of about 8 million television households.

*Fox Broadcasting's "American Chronicles," from David Lynch and Mark Frost, finished 94th out of 95 shows with an audience of only about 2.7 million television homes.

(More bad news for Lynch and Frost on the premiere of "Twin Peaks" Sunday night on ABC. Not only was it edged out by Perry Mason on NBC, as overnight ratings indicated, but the national Nielsen figures show it was also beaten by "Face of Fear," a made-for-TV movie on CBS starring Pam Dawber and Lee Horsley.)

*ABC's "Cop Rock," from Steven Bochco, finished 56th for the week with an audience of less than 10 million households. Like "Twin Peaks," It also finished third in its time period. NBC's "Hunter" topped it by about 2 million homes.

*"Working it Out," the Jane Curtin show produced by Bill Persky of "Kate and Allie," finished 64th with an audience of about 9 million.

Other shows off to very bad starts include "Babes," which finished 82nd, and "True Colors," the interracial sitcom, finished 87th.

Interestingly, the universally panned CBS comedy "Uncle Buck" did relatively well, drawing 12 million viewing households and finishing in 37th place. NBC's "Ferris Bueller," also reviled by critics, finished 48th with an audience of 10.6 million.

The highest rated new shows so far are ABC's "America's Funniest People," which finished 13th with an audience of about 16 million TV homes," and NBC's "Fresh Prince of Bel Air," which finished 26th with about 13.5 million TV homes.

Overall, NBC finished first, with CBS second, ABC third and Fox a deep fourth.

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