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Lower the lights 
for NBC's 'The Office' 

Finale of Brit import sitcom in a ratings tumble

   NBC had high hopes for its comedy “The Office.” The British version had become hugely popular, even here in the States, and NBC’s American version received decent reviews before it launched.
The network’s one worry was whether the show would connect with viewers used to broad humor and a predictable laugh-tracked pace.
   In place of canned laughter, "The Office" provided awkward pauses and the sort of one-liners that sink in slowly and sometimes not at all.    
   NBC's one worry was a big one. The show did not connect with viewers, and it connected less and less over its short lifespan.
   NBC aired the season finale of “Office” on Tuesday night at 9:30, and it delivered a series low 2.2 rating among viewers 18-49, according to Nielsen overnights, all but assuring the episode was also the series finale. The 2.2 is 27.2 percent lower than the already-low 3.1 rating the show had averaged in its previous five episodes.
   That came against relatively weak competition. Fox’s “House” was a rerun last night at 9 p.m., and “The Office” fumbled 19 percent of lead-in “Scrubs.”

   The show started off with promise, premiering on a Thursday with a 5.0 rating, equaling its “Apprentice” lead-in. But the following week “The Office” moved to its regular night, Tuesdays, and began to falter.

   The show dipped to a 2.7 in its second week, jumped back to a 2.9 in week three, then leveled off at a 2.4 in weeks four and five. Than came Tuesday night’s series-low 2.2.

   Though NBC is desperate for comedies, “The Office” just hasn’t shown enough signs of life to return.

   As it always is on Tuesday nights during spring, Fox’s “American Idol” was the highest-rated show among 18-49s, averaging a 10.4 rating in its 8 p.m. timeslot. Fox ended first for the night rather comfortably, averaging an 8.4 rating and claiming a 22 share. CBS finished second at 3.8/10, ABC and NBC tied for third at 2.6/7, the WB fifth at 2.1/5 and UPN sixth at 1.0/3.

   Fox led easily at 8 p.m. with its 10.4 for “Idol.” CBS was second during the hour with a 2.9 for “NCIS” and the WB third with a 2.4 for “Gilmore Girls.”

   Fox led again at 9 p.m., this time with an impressive 6.3 average for a rerun of “House.” CBS was second with a 5.1 for “The Amazing Race” and ABC third with a 3.3 for a repeat of “According to Jim” (3.2) and a new episode of “Rodney” (3.3). NBC was fourth, averaging a 2.4 for “Scrubs” (2.7) and “The Office” (2.2).

   NBC did take the lead at 10 p.m. with a 3.7 average for a “Law & Order: SVU” repeat. CBS was second with a 3.4 for “Judging Amy” and ABC third with a 2.8 for “Blind Justice.”

   Fox also led the night among households, averaging a 12.7 rating and grabbing a 19 share. CBS was second at 8.3/13, NBC third at 5.0/8, ABC fourth at 4.7/7, the WB fifth at 3.1/5 and UPN sixth at 1.8/3.

April 27, 2005 © 2004 Media Life


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