While TNT dithers about renewing what’s arguably one of the best shows on TV, Men Of A Certain Age, it’s already given another season to Falling Skies, its highly rated alien invasion drama. The 10-episode renewal, which was announced Thursday, comes after the show averaged 6.4 million viewers for its first three airings. That’s a huge number for cable, but it comes from “a blend of live and time-shifted viewing,” according to a network press release. In terms of live viewers, the show fell sharply from the two-hour premiere (which garnered 5.91 million viewers) to the second airing (which pulled only 4.2 million). On the other hand, it held up well in week three (with 4.07 million viewers), with an episode that aired the night before Independence Day (traditionally a very low-rated night). So the show’s a success, especially by cable standards, which makes its renewal a no-brainer.
The network also announced a series pickup for its reboot of perhaps the most famous primetime soap ever made, Dallas. The show, originally pitched as a remake, will star several actors from the original series, including Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy, but will also feature its own cast of attractive young people, most of whom will be shot at, thrown from balconies, and punched in the face (ideally by Hagman). Those younguns will include Jordana Brewster, Josh Henderson, Jesse Metcalfe, and Julie Gonzalo. Brenda Strong will also appear, though she’ll most likely not be narrating things from beyond the grave this time around. The show won’t appear until next summer, but you can already pretend to be excited about it at TNT’s official Web site for the program.
Of the two pieces of news, it’s the latter that bodes most poorly for Men Of A Certain Age, which has huge critical respect but very low ratings, mostly because it doesn’t fit with, well, anything else on the network (or television, really). TNT only has room for so many shows, and so long as they remain dedicated to keeping around such sterling works as Memphis Beat and Franklin & Bash (or, rather, so long as the viewing audience remains dedicated to such shows), there’s going to be little room for a show too far off-format. They’ve already got one low-rated critical darling in Southland. There’s probably not room for two, particularly when Larry Hagman’s jowls need the work.