Even High Viewership Can't Save Harry's Law
This week my mortal enemy, NBC, is deciding if they are going to cancel or keep the David E Kelley show, Harry's Law. Last year, it was a ratings dud after becoming a mid season replacement. They rolled the dice and picked it up for a full season. This season, they have moved it all over the schedule and refused to put episodes ANYWHERE online: not Hulu, not NBC.com, not iTunes. They didn't even release the first season on DVD. In other words you either watch Harry's Law Sunday's at 8 or you don't watch it. It reminds me of Sunday dinners at my Grandparent's house. You either show up when they say or you are out of the will. Guess what? Viewers showed up. Harry's Law is NBC's second most watched scripted show. Smash comes in at number 1. My guess is those numbers have been dwindling but Smash had a huge premiere, so it retains the title of number 1. Harry's Law on the other hand, has had rising numbers. So one would think renewing the show is a no brainer for NBC. Unfortunately the executives who chose Leno over Letterman and Conan have no brains. All they have are dollar signs. The viewership for Harry's Law is old. So NBC doesn't want the old people. Hmm, that was the exact opposite for the Conan decision. Recently I watched the movie Dave. It had Kevin Kline, Charles Grodin and Sigourney Weaver. I thought, why aren't these actors in movies any more? They are all so great. Then I remembered, studios only make movies about teenagers, vampires and super heroes. Isn't television supposed to be the place where grown up stories can be told? And Harry's Law is not Murder She Wrote or Matlock. They are dealing with the effects of the Iraq War, homosexuality and the mortgage crisis. Jessica Fletcher never tackled the topic of how cyber bullying of young homosexuals can lead to suicide. Isn't this what NBC should want to show? There was a time when they wanted "ripped from the headlines" television. I know I am being very naive.
Personally I hate that I have to watch the show when it is aired but it must be working because people are tuning in to watch. When that isn't enough to keep a show on the air, what is the point? We have been told for years: well we loved Twin Peaks, Arrested Development, Pushing Daisies but not enough people watched it, so it's cancelled. I guess that was crap, too. Seriously, I don't know why anyone would try any new show on any network. The only safe way to experience a show is to wait until the complete series is out on DVD. Sometimes I feel bad that Community and Harry's Law are the only two shows I am watching that are actually airing on TV now, but then I remember why. TV is based on creating a relationship with main characters that we want to see every week. It is our love for Archie Bunker, Fox Mulder, George Constanza and even Screech that brings us back week after week. Once Networks remove this basic emotional feeling away from their viewers, all we will be left with is reality TV. They will make a ton of money not having to pay the salary of a legendary writers like David E. Kelley or Oscar winning actresses like Kathy Bates and they won't have to worry about a Gene-Siskel-snobbby-podcast-producing-Scott. I will just rewatch West Wing, Moonlighting and Everybody Loves Raymond all over again on DVD.
UPDATED: May 14th, NBC Cancels Harry's Law. It was their Second largest audience share for a scripted show on their entire network and they cancelled it. I suggest that everyone thinks about that when you are deciding whether or not to watch a new Drama next fall on NBC. Even if people watch the show they may cancel it.
Read my Blog about David E Kelley
Read my Review of the Wonder Woman Episode of Harry's Law