When the broadcast networks announced their fall schedules for 2012, they set Tuesday night aside for a mad scramble over the piece of the ratings pie that won’t be gobbled up by The Voice or CBS’ unkillable NCIS franchise. In particular, the 9 p.m. hour—where Fox’s New Girl and The Mindy Project would tangle with Happy Endings and Don’t Trust The B—— In Apartment 23 on ABC and Go On and The New Normal on NBC—seemed like it could be anyone’s game, provided “anyone” didn’t bench two of its contenders until late October.
Audiences may continue to fragment when Happy Endings and Apartment 23 return next month, but Tuesday’s War for the Rest stands at a draw following its initial skirmish. Early reports from the networks have New Girl and Go On both earning a 2.7 rating among adults 18-49, a drop from 4.8 for the Fox sitcom’s series première. Of the two, Go On boasted the most overall viewers, its 7.27 million group-therapy attendees nonetheless paling in comparison to the 16.72 million people wrapped up in the vast conspiracy that keeps LL Cool J out of a recording studio and on NCIS: Los Angeles. A New Girl lead-in helped The Mindy Project’s debut to a decent 2.4 18-49 rating, proving that comedy fans prefer their social commentary laced into rom-com parody/wish-fulfillment, and not shouted at them over dinner by Ellen Barkin (The New Normal’s rating in the demo was an even 2.0).
The patented A.V. Club bump was not enough to push Ben And Kate (2.0 18-49 rating; 4.19 million viewers) out of the combined shadow of NCIS, The Voice, and Dancing With The Stars—though our cautious optimism surely boosted Vegas to a victory at 10 p.m. Vulture’s Joe Adalian reports that the slow-simmering cowboys-and-mobsters pilot lost a significant number of eyeballs at the halfway mark, departures likely due to viewers upset that the episode didn’t deliver on the “bringing a stack of money to a rifle fight” face-off between Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis promised by the show’s advertising.