Thursday, December 4, 2008

Update: "The Unit" TV Ratings

For all you fans who enjoy your Sunday night dose of watching "The Unit" on CBS, here's an update on our favorite snake eaters:

Four seasons later, The Unit is still The Unit. It is not a big hit (although it averaged at #14 on the ratings during its first season), but it isn’t an embarrassing failure either. It’s just there, cruising along, although the change of time slot for the current season put some viewers in a little panic frenzy about its future. It’s doing what it does best, and the expectations aren’t really pitted against them.

But the show’s got a dedicated following, and the move to its current Sunday night time slot hasn’t made much of a dent on the ratings. It’s in a pretty comfy position—nobody really worries about it, and nobody bothers about it. (But don’t take me wrong: the fans care, of course.) The question is pretty simple: is The Unit underappreciated?

Hell, yes! I'm sure the vast majority of "The Unit" fans are ones with military experience. I also bet there's a 10-15% of viewers of this show that are just patriotic Americans who can accept and understand the real threat to our nation posed by terrorists. But a much larger percentage of Sunday viewers would rather skip the military realism and combat depiction in favor of comedy or sports.

"The Unit" is not family hour and finding a better time slot might be difficult. I know the producers of this show are trying to get more female viewers and are using "The Unit" wives in more episodes (but in very unplausible situations I might add). While NYPD Blue and ER prove that realism and hard-core scenes can lead to blockbuster ratings, both those shows focussed more and more on the relationships between the main characters and new cast members. This is where I think "The Unit" needs to move.

The article picks up on a few land mines the show still needs to navigate:

Is it the realism? Maybe some people who aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of the military are a little hesitant to touch it. Maybe some have been turned away, but it isn’t much of a worry. With people sticking, there’s definitely some people who appreciate the approach—perhaps subdued, but it’s hard to explain—and are sticking to it every night.

Maybe it’s just the circumstances. There is such a thing as the darling of the press, after all, and you can’t help but think that too much attention is given to some, and too little attention on others. Or they just don’t notice it. (I’ll hint at football again.)

And there's this eye poke deservedly at CBS:

It’s hard to find updates on the show, and the little information for a certain episode that you’re getting isn’t enough to fill a couple of paragraphs.

Nail, meet head of the hammer.

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