Keep Your 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Love in Check: 9 Lessons Learned From Fall TV's Premiere Week

Joal Ryan
Fall TV

Broadcast network TV's premiere week is in the history books. And since it was not unlike past premiere weeks — some shows got off to fast starts (see: "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."), some shows didn't (you didn't see: "Lucky 7" and "Betrayal") — here's what we learned, or rather relearned:

1. When you're in the moment, you're in the moment.

"The Voice" won the reality-competition Emmy on Sunday and won huge on Monday night. It was significantly up over last fall's opener and was one of only two nonfootball shows that cracked a 5.0 rating among the 18-to-49-year-old-viewer demographic. "The Big Bang Theory," which likewise came up with big Emmy wins for Jim Parsons and Bob Newhart, was the other show in the 5.0-and-above stratosphere.

[Related: Bob Newhart Funny as Ever on 'The Big Bang Theory']

You could argue that "Modern Family," which came up with its fourth comedy-series Emmy in a row, much to the dismay of many on Twitter, is the exception to this rule, but you would be wrong. True, the sitcom was down (and out of the 5.0-and-above club), but it still packed a powerful 4.2 demo rating, and with significantly less help from its lead-in show, which brings us to...

Watch Mitch and Cam's proposal from the Season 5 premiere of "Modern Family":

2. Lead-ins still matter! The old model still holds!

Who knew? Even though we are a long way from having to watch "Modern Family" on TV when it's on TV, a good number of us do anyway. And so when James Caan's "Back in the Game" (a 2.2 demo rating, down nearly one-third from what "The Middle" delivered in ABC's 8:30 p.m. Wednesday premiere-night time slot last fall) helped vacate the premises, "Modern Family" had to work harder to get audiences back.

Conversely, NBC's "The Blacklist" (3.8 demo) and "Chicago Fire" (2.7 demo) got fat in NBC's 10 p.m. hour after Monday's "The Voice" and Tuesday's "The Voice," respectively.

[Video: 'The Blacklist' Sneak Peek: Meet More of Red's 'Associates']

And if you were surprised Robin Williams blew away Michael J. Fox in Thursday's battle of the returning-to-TV veterans, then you forgot "The Big Bang Theory," which aired before Williams's "The Crazy Ones" (3.9 demo rating). 

Check out this preview for "The Crazy Ones," which touts its Week 1 ratings:

Fox's self-titled NBC show, meanwhile, aired after a weak "Parks and Recreation" (1.3 demo). All things considered, "The Michael J. Fox Show" (2.2 demo) was an arguable success, outdueling a forgotten "Glee," and improving on last year's combo of "The Office" and "Parks and Rec." The word "arguable" here is a nod to the fact that some are arguing Fox's show fell "flat" — as if NBC had recently demonstrated a knack for producing big new comedies.

3. Lead-ins have never mattered!

On Sunday, the never-ending "The Simpsons" enjoyed a football-boosted premiere (2.8 preliminary demo), while "Family Guy" was solid enough (2.6 preliminary demo). In between these two Fox animated series was the perennial afterthought, "Bob's Burgers" (2.1 preliminary demo).

[Photos: Kang and Kodos Invade 'Simpsons' Theme Park, Completing Town of Springfield at Universal Orlando]

4. Off to a good start? Great! Now, let's wait and see.

"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (4.7 demo), as has been much noted, was broadcast-network TV's biggest-premiering drama series in four years. And there is nothing not great about that. Except for maybe the fact that TV's last biggest-premiere drama series was "V," which lasted all of 22 episodes. So, the reminder: It's not always about where you start; it's more about where you are after week three or four and more.  

Here's a sneak peek from Episode 2 of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.":

This is why "The Michael J. Fox Show," which made something out of nothing, could be the better bet than "The Crazy Ones." This is why "Sleepy Hollow" (3.1 demo in its second week) could be the real deal. And this is why "Revolution" (1.8 demo in its new, non-"Voice"-protected time slot) and the critically reviled "Dads" (1.5 rating, down a lot from its premiere) could be in trouble.

[Related: Is Samuel L. Jackson Making an 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Cameo?]

5. Off to a bad start? So sorry.

In the 21st century as in the 20th century, bad starts are bad starts, and the ABC dead-pool candidate "Lucky 7" (1.3 demo) is off to a bad start. So is the network's latest one-word-titled drama, "Betrayal" (1.5 preliminary demo). 

The cast of "Betrayal" describes what "betrayal" means to them:

[Related: Speed Date With 'Betrayal' Star Hannah Ware]

6. Familiarity breeds popularity.

Outside of "S.H.I.E.L.D.," "The Crazy Ones," and "The Blacklist," the biggest hits, as is usually the case, were the veteran hits: "The Voice," "The Big Bang Theory," "Modern Family," "NCIS," "Grey's Anatomy," "NCIS: Los Angeles," a revved-up "Law & Order: SVU," etc. True, most of these shows were down from last fall's premieres, but they're still the biggest games around.

[Related: Where in the World Is Ziva David? Cote de Pablo MIA From 'NCIS' Premiere]

7. ...Except when familiarity breeds indifference. "Glee" (2.0 demo) turned an awfully quiet five seasons old, as did "Parenthood" (1.6 demo). "Elementary" (2.1 demo) suffered the sophomore slump. 

Watch a scene from the "Elementary" premiere:

8. Patience is a virtue that is not necessarily repaid with Nielsen numbers.

Fox is now three seasons in with Simon Cowell's "The X Factor," and, ratings-wise, it's further than ever from being the fall version of "American Idol" or "America's Got Talent."

[Related: 'X Factor,' The Day After: Season 3, Episode 6 Dish With Special Guest Lyric Da Queen]

9. Melissa McCarthy, come home.

"Mike & Molly" is being saved for a midseason launch. In its place, "Mom" opened with a 2.5 demo that Mindy Kaling's returning "The Mindy Project" (1.5 demo), for instance, would kill for, but that CBS presumably won't stomach for long, especially with its new 10 p.m. Monday show ("Hostages," 1.8 demo) off to a little-watched start.  

Watch a clip from Season 2 of "The Mindy Project":