The sophomore behind-the-scenes Broadway drama returned with a two-hour premiere Tuesday night — and its reception fell way short of a standing ovation, averaging 4.5 million viewers and a 1.1 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic.
It took a 71 percent dive from its debut last year, which fetched a 3.8 rating (to be fair, it had made its bow with a strong lead-in from “The Voice”). The dip was less drastic — but still significant — when compared to its May season finale, down 39 percent. For even more context: its lead-in, “Betty White’s Second Annual 90th Birthday Special,” outperformed the heavily promoted drama, drawing 6 million viewers and a 1.5 rating in the demographic.
The series underwent a major overhaul following a shaky first season filled with over-the-top side plots and odd singing breaks. Showrunner Theresa Rebeck exited, replaced by former “Gossip Girl” executive producer Josh Safran. And a number of characters — along with scarves worn by Debra Messing’s character — were dropped.
In a Los Angeles Times review, TV critic Robert Lloyd said not much had changed with the Steven Spielberg-produced series: “It has been an excessive show to my taste: too many affairs, too many relationships on the rocks, too much drama. Even after Safran’s cuts, nearly every relationship in the series remains fraught, with new ones just as fraught coming to join them.”
After an impressive fall, NBC has seen its numbers fall as of late. Another cycle of its ratings hit — and go-to springboard — “The Voice” won’t come for another month.
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