Event TV is a term typically referring to live specials or sporting events, but there are a few heavyweights in the narrative TV world who still demand appointment viewing for their programs. One such name is Shonda Rhimes, the successful producer behind "How To Get Away With Murder" and the creator of "Grey’s Anatomy" and "Scandal." Rhimes has built her reputation on quality as well as quantity — of twists, that is. Few shows sport as many reliably juicy surprises as ABC’s Thursday night lineup, making each entry appointment viewing for fans wary of having that week’s events spoiled before they have time to watch.
And up until last week, most of Rhimes’ work was treated as such, with viewers in the tens of millions tuning in from start to finish. (Well, we assume they’ll be around at the end, presuming these series ever end). More than 16 million watched the premiere of "Grey’s Anatomy" back in 2005. Fourteen million tried out "Private Practice" when it first aired in 2007. Only 7 million caught the "Scandal" premiere in 2012, but that show proved so enticing it helped launch "How to Get Away With Murder" with 14 million in 2014. Pulling in nearly 6 million viewers might be good enough for a new comedy or a cable network, but the total viewership of "The Catch" premiere was much lower than anyone anticipated — and the lowest in Shondaland’s history.
This begs the question: Is Shondaland still must-see TV? All three of Rhimes’ established programs remain ratings powerhouses, but why didn’t the interest in those drive audiences to another new entry? Reviews were in line with past offerings, and, let’s face it, critical say has never driven the success of these shows. ABC made a big marketing push for "The Catch," and its two stars are likable and recognizable, if not quite as A-list as, say, Viola Davis.
We’ll find out in the coming weeks if viewers are watching at their own speed, via DVR or VOD, but the inconspicuous opening begged the above question, and Indiewire’s TV Team decided to respond. In the latest edition of Very Good TV Podcast, Indiewire TV Editor Liz Shannon Miller and TV Critic Ben Travers debate the merits of "The Catch," as well as whether or not it signals a shift in devotion to its brand. Plus, the two TV watchers look back on their history with Shondaland shows and debate which premiere was the best and which was the most disappointing.
Don’t forget to subscribe to Very Good TV Podcast via Soundcloud or iTunes. Follow Indiewire on Twitter and Facebook for all your pertinent TV news, and check out Liz and Ben’s Twitter feeds for more, more, more. Plus, don’t forget to listen to Indiewire’s other podcasts, Screen Talk with Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson, as well as Indiewire Influencers, hosted by Editor-in-Chief Dana Harris and featuring various guests relevant to anyone tracking independent film or the entertainment industry in general.
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– Read Ben’s conflicted review of "The Catch" for more of why he’s not totally sold on the show, but is ready to commit to Krause and Enos forever.
– Curious about "Underground"? Learn a bit more about the buzzy new WGN drama in Liz’s essay on its awards odds.
– Speaking of awards, who thinks Michael Kelly deserves some love for "House of Cards"? Anne Thompson has a say in this exclusive video interview with the man behind Doug.
– In case you missed it, we have some bad news: "Togetherness" has been canceled. We know. It sucks.
– Get ready for more from Shondaland star Kerry Washington in the upcoming HBO film, "Confirmation," coming this April to the premium cable giant. Watch the trailer below.