Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer Week 8 Sitcom Ratings; Blog DVD Review Special: American Gladiators - The Battle Begins

Summer continues and everything is still pretty light. We will be back with our normal weekly report with the first four nights numbers and analysis in the fall, but we still will have our regular how the sitcoms did all summer long, along with last year's summer favorite, the coming week preview! Here are our summer ratings:

Last Sunday Sitcoms (counts for week of July 6-12)

  • Til Death (Fox) - A repeat at 7pm only mustered 1.41 million...even lower than the previous week's 1.53 million
  • The Simpsons (Fox) 2 episodes - 3.72 million for a repeat in its regular 8pm slot and 4.01 million for a special 9:30pm repeat. Both episodes were a bit off from previous week's repeats.
  • King of the Hill (Fox) - The 8:30 repeat did only 3.15 million, but down the same as the lead-in really.
  • Family Guy (Fox) - 4.22 million for a repeat is OK for summer, again the pattern of being down a bit.
  • American Dad! (Fox) - Only 1.8 million for a repeat at 7:30...lower than the previous week by yes...a bit.

Summer Week 8 (July 13-19)

Monday Sitcoms

  • How I Met Your Mother (CBS) - 5.0 million for a repeat airing, down from previous week. 1.8 A18-49 rating again though, is decent for summer.
  • Rules of Engagement (CBS) - 5.22 million for a repeat airing, lower than previous week when again but built from the lead-in. It did do a 1.9 A18-49 rating again.
  • Two and a Half Men (CBS) - 9.12 million for a repeat, down a bit from previous week. 2.7 A18-49 rating is good for summer.
  • The Big Bang Theory (CBS) - 8.23 million for a repeat is also down a bit from previous week, following the pattern from its lead-ins. 2.7 18-49 rating is excellent, holding 100% from the lead-in again.
Tuesday Sitcoms

  • Better Off Ted (ABC) - 2.5 million for an all-new hilarious episode. That is the best it has done this summer, maybe it needs to air in a sitcom block or hour for it to do well? 1.0 18-49 rating is also way better than what it was doing in recent weeks.
  • Scrubs (ABC) -A repeat at 9:30pm did 2.12 million. Not much can be expected against Got Talent, Big Brother and the MLB All-Star Game.
Wednesday Sitcoms

  • Old Christine (CBS) - Just 4.0 million for a repeat...but ever so slightly from the previous weeks... only a 1.1 A18-49 rating.
  • Gary Unmarried (CBS) - Just 4.07million for a repeat and only a 1.2 A18-49 rating...but up from previous week in both measures slightly.
Thursday Sitcoms

  • The Office (NBC) 2 episodes - Only 2.99 and 3.04 million for repeats at 8:30 and 9...both up slightly from previous week.
  • 30 Rock (NBC) 2 episodes - Only 3.33 and 2.8 million for repeats at 8 and 9:30pm, and only a 1.1 and 1.2 A18-49 rating for each. But both up slightly from previous week in viewers.
  • Samantha Who? (ABC) - preempted....season finale this week.

Friday Sitcoms

  • Everybody Hates Chris (The CW) - A repeat at 9pm did a prelim 1.09 million. That was up from previous week, but let's see if it holds up in the final ratings.
  • The Game (The CW) - A repeat did 1.06 million prelim viewers for this canceled sitcom as well...also up from previous week...again let's see it holds up.
  • Surviving Suburbia (ABC) - Prelim numbers show only 2.62 million for an all-new episode at 8pm, but up from previous week's prelim numbers.
  • The Goode Family (ABC) - Prelim numbers were even worse for an all-new episode of this show with 1.63 million, but still up some from previous week's prelim numbers. This is a decent show you guys.
  • According to Jim (ABC) 2 episodes - 2 repeats did a prelim 1.92 million average, lower than previous week's prelim average. As always, check out final numbers for Friday for these shows and all the Friday shows on our message board tomorrow.
Saturday Sitcoms

  • None.
Tonight you can catch encores of Fox's 'Til Death and animated comedies from 7-10 tonight. Elsewhere CBS has special 60 Minutes at 7pm honoring Walter Conkrite. NBC will have a new Dateline in the 7pm hour, leading into Merlin at 8, and part two of the mini-series Meteor at 9.

Coming Week Preview (July 20-26):

We are preempting this week's preview so we can you bring you another special blog DVD review on a special day! So enjoy that below.

Welcome to a special edition of the Blog DVD Review. Today we take a look at Shout! Factory's American Gladiators: The Battle Begins. American Gladiators is the classic '90s syndicated series that was shown on weekends across the country. Let the battle begin! See Seth's Blog DVD Review of American Gladiators: The Battle Begins:

American Gladiators: The Battle Begins (Shout!, $29.99) brings us classic episodes of the absolutely wonderful original version of American Gladiators onto DVD for the first time!
The first release for the set is slightly odd, as Shout! has made the decision to *not* release, at least for now, the first half of the first season. Before anyone gets out their pitchforks and torches, there's a very good reason for this. Those 13 shows bare only moderate resemblance to the show that would remain on the air for years to come. That first half-season the show took the whole "gladiator" concept a little more seriously, with a roman-themed set and gladiators who were characters just as much as they were athletes. Nevermind the off-beat announcing style of Joe "visibly interesting" Theismann. Joe's style, while well-suited for a sport such as football, was very out of place those initial episodes and if you catch the episodes on their next airplays on ESPN Classic you'll quickly come to realize that omitting all but one of these episodes is probably for the best.

They did, however, leave in one: The 1st half recap show, which serves as a highlight/clip compilation for the first half-season. In the length of a normal full episode, you're given the rundown on what occurred in the first half of the first season, with clips and analysis from Theismann and the host all Gladiators fans have come to know and love, Mike Adamle. (This clip show IS from the normal package of episodes, and does feature Joe Theismann's strange episode intro -- to understand the whole "visually interesting" comment, you should sit through the first minute of this show. It's also important to catch this episode so you know who the 1st half champions are, as despite its fractured nature the season does still feature the two sets of half-season winners facing off in the Grand Championship at the end of the set.

The remaining 13 shows (the 5 preliminaries, the four quarterfinals, the two semi-finals, the finals, and the Grand Championship) feel a *lot* more like what you'd expect American Gladiators to feel like, though there is still *one* difference. While these shows feature all the original classic games, and the first of the normal graphics packages, and that classic theme music -- Mike Adamle's best-remembered co-host (sorry, Nitro, but you're more well remembered as a gladiator and not as a co-presenter) Larry Csonka isn't present. He didn't join the show until the 2nd year. In these 13 "normal" shows Mike Adamle is joined by Todd Christensen as co-presenters, with Adamle now considered the main host after Theismann's departure. For those of you who don't follow football, Todd Christensen spent just over a decade in the league with two Super Bowl rings to his credit as well as *five* trips to the Pro Bowl. Unfortunately, the show would need to take one more trip through the ranks of retired football players to find the right co-host for Adamle as Mike and Todd just don't have terribly great chemistry on-air, in my opinion.

As the show is two parts athletic competition, one part game show, I really can't point out any particular "memorable episodes," as one of the fun things about athletic competitions, in my opinion, is watching them unfold. In terms of guests, the only real one of note is contestant Billy Wirth, who shows up in the first episode on set, the first half recap show. Billy appeared in the movie "The Lost Boys" a couple of years prior. Considering the episodes included and excluded, I found it a bit interesting that a whole special feature -- and the only contestant interview -- was devoted to someone who appeared in the episodes not included.

It's been months since I've gotten to write a review, either for the main site or blog, where I *didn't* have to complain about packaging. I'm strangely thrilled to report that Shout! used a quality packaging type for this set -- slimcases. I love slimcases. They're small, but they're tough as nails. And with slimcases you have the ability to have more, and more differentiated, artwork. As someone who tends to focus in on the graphical quality of these DVD sets, that's an important feature. The front cover, baffling again, features five of the six original *first half-season* gladiators. The missing gladiator is Zap, while Malibu and Sunny, who only appeared in those initial shows, appear in the cover art alongside Gemini, Nitro, and Lace. A giant version of the logo takes up the top half of the artwork, with the aforementioned five appearing in front of a dark smoke-filled background. Rear artwork features the usual sales pitch text, a photo of Nitro on the top-right corner, and some photos below. One photo is interesting as it shows a contestant and Zap playing the game Hang Tough, the aerial rings game that didn't debut until later in the show's run. Yes, I know this show *so* well I can pinpoint a photograph error from 50 paces. Perhaps I should invest in this "life" thing that I keep hearing people promoting so much. One other little note from the resident graphics guy: The set takes the red, white and blue motif and runs with it. Everything from the package art to the colors of the three discs to the color schemes used on the menu follow this format. That, my friends, is visual consistency!

The menus are fantastic, by the way. Each menu features the show logo and episode options in solid-color metal panels in the top-left and bottom-right corners, respectively. The rest of the space is occupied by clips from the show, while the amazing Bill Conti theme plays on a loop in the background. From the main menu you can select any of the stages of the competition from the tournament available on the disc. In an interesting deviation from most episodic DVD releases, each tournament tier is initially clustered together in the menus. The recap show (disc 1) as well as the 2nd half finals and Grand Championship (disc 3) are individually. The rest are grouped under the main menu by the tournament level. The semi-finals (disc 3) are grouped together. The quarter-finals (disc 2) are grouped together. Most of the preliminaries are grouped together too on disc 1. Only the 5th and final prelim, which couldn't fit on the first disc, is held separate. From each "tier," you can then access each individual episode.

Chapter stops occur with the placement of each commercial break, resulting in approximately 5 per show. Running times play for approximately 44 minutes per episode. This seems short at first, but you need to keep in mind that this was a first-run syndication series, meaning more commercial time. Lower run-times are common on shows whose first runs were in syndication, and is not indicative of edits. Video quality isn't A+, and the video does have some minor issues with noise, interlacing issues around edges, and other minor glitches. But if you're actually a fan of the show, you're not going to care.

But wait, there's more! There are special features -- well, two of them anyway. As mentioned earlier, there is an interview with first-half contestant Billy Wirth. Featuring clips and a new interview, the bit lasts 10 minutes and *is* an interesting thing to watch. The other, far more interesting feature is *commentary* by Nitro (Dan Clark), Zap (Raye Hollitt), and Laser (Jim Starr) -- who are the three longest-tenured, and probably most famous, gladiators. You could make an argument for one or two others, but these three are easily at the top of the heap, particularly Nitro and Zap. The commentaries flow from one to another, and to get the entire picture you have to listen to them *all*.
A bit of a warning -- special features are unrated, and for example, Nitro upon seeing one contestant goes "THERE'S that b*****d!," before explaining how said person was probably the dirtiest (in terms of game play) of any contender in the show's history. It's multiple enjoyable episodes worth of commentary. A final note in the commentary track is an explanation of what happened to Sunny and Malibu. As the three explained: In Sunny's case, she legitimately got hurt -- blew out her knee -- and as a result that was it. Malibu...he had difficulty taking the bumps, and overall just didn't fit into the show. Most of the male gladiators had football backgrounds, and as a result at least had *some* experiences taking the hard hits. He wasn't a square peg in a round hole...really, he was a square peg in a rectangular hole.

I've loved this show since I first caught reruns on USA in the early 1990s, and to not only be able to see it again on ESPN Classic but now be able to enjoy it any time thanks to the magic of DVD is a genuine treat. This was, unquestionably, one of my favorite series growing up, and I really would like to see future seasons on DVD. I wasn't particularly a fan of the 2008 revival, but for hours of quality entertainment you genuinely can't go wrong with this show. It's in stores now -- as is a book by Nitro (Dan Clark) -- for that matter, and I highly recommend both.

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher
(4.5/5 stars)

To purchase this DVD, click below and help support

Also, you can buy the Nitro's book (Gladiator: A True Story of 'Roids, Rage, and Redemption) on

Related links: Full DVD Reviews Page
American Gladiators Page

New on DVD/Blu-ray (September)

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season Modern Family - The Complete Season 7

09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest

Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, October 28

Bunk'd - "Treehouse of Terror" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Zuri, Jorge and Tiffany enlist the support of an unexpected camper to help restore an abandoned treehouse, so they can use it as a new hangout; Emma and Lou and Ravi and Xander get competitive during a friendly game of billiards.

Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse - "Do What You Gotta Do" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Joseph experiences an episode of sexual frustration due to Leslie's vow of chastity.

Complete TV Listings

Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 24)

Friday, October 28

  • John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun/Twenty Good Years) - Watch John on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Drew Carey (The Drew Carey Show/The Good Life) - Drew visits on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also talks about The Price is Right on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Kevin Hart (The Big House/Undeclared) - Kevin appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine?/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry is a guest on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Ricky Gervais (The Office) - Ricky stops by LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Colin Hanks (Life in Pieces) - Colin joins the Chew Crew on ABC's The Chew at 1pm ET/12pm PT/CT.
  • Melissa Joan Hart (Melissa & Joey/Sabrina, the Teenage Witch/Clarissa Explains It All) - Melissa looks back at her earliest memories on Clarissa Explains It All – and says she was really bossy on People Now at 8:30am.
  • Damon Wayans (My Wife and Kids) - Damon is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.