Grading Fall TV’s Biggest Stars
Grading Fall TV’s Biggest Stars
Things used to be so easy for big names: Movie stars who switched from movies to TV used to dominate their new medium like a fighter punching below his weight. Kiefer Sutherland got eight seasons of “24″ and won an Emmy for his performance. James Spader got three Emmys and solid ratings for “Bostin Legal” and “The Practice.” Glenn Close won back-to-back Emmys for “Damages.”
Thanks in part to an influx of movie stars, TV has more prestige than ever. Stars we never expected on TV — including Meg Ryan, Susan Sarandon and Robert De Niro – are signing up for small-screen projects. But as several shows this season once again prove, no one is guaranteed a smooth ride.
It’s a lesson Dustin Hoffman learned when even his undeniable talent couldn’t save HBO’s “Luck.” And A-listers may be starting to crowd each other out. Kevin Spacey’s move to Netflix generated lots of hype and Emmy nominations for “House of Cards,” he didn’t score a win for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series. It went to another movie-turned-TV star, Jeff Daniels.
So who are the new Spaders and Hoffmans? Four weeks into the new season, we looked at the biggest names on TV’s biggest shows to see whose have had the best debuts.
Clark Gregg, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Gregg isn’t a household name, but he had a pivotal role in “The Avengers” and other Marvel films. The box-office success of those films has helped make “S.H.I.E.L.D.” the biggest new show of the season in Live + 7 numbers measuring a week of viewing: It has a 4.5 rating in the key 18-49 demographic. Of course, not all of that is because of Gregg: “S.H.I.E.L.D.” is a true ensemble. But Gregg is the bridge between the blockbuster films and the TV show, and he’s as affable a lead as he was a supporting character. ABC has not surprisingly ordered a full season.
Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison, “Sleepy Hollow”
Neither of the “Sleepy Hollow” leads are huge stars – yet. But both were TheWrap‘s list of 17 Breakout Stars of the Fall Season, and their show ties “The Blacklist” with a 4.3 rating. Beharie — who was great in “Shame” and as Mrs. Jackie Robinson in “42″ — anchors “Sleepy Hollow” as the only person who takes Mison’s Ichabod Crane seriously. Fox has already renewed the show for a second season.
James Spader, “The Blacklist”
James Spader remains the James Spader of television: a guy who still shines in big screen films (he was a highlight of “Lincoln”) but lately has been at his best on TV. “The Blacklist” is averaging a 4.3, and has held its audience consistently. It’s helped NBC lock up Monday nights and become the top-rated network of the season-to-date. It also scored a full-season order.
Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar, “Crazy Ones”
Williams and Michael J. Fox are arguably the biggest movie stars turning to TV this season. Williams boasts a string of hits and an Oscar for “Good Will Hunting” in the three decades since “Mork & Mindy.” Gellar may always be best known as TV’s “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” but she was fairly successful with the “Scooby-Doo” and “Grudge” films, as well as “Cruel Intentions.” Together, they lead a show averaging a 3.5. That makes it the best-rated new sitcom of the season, and the fourth highest-rated new show overall. That’s not embarrassing, but it’s not jaw-dropping, either, considering all the movies Williams has toplined. The show has gotten a full season order, along with “The Millers” and “Mom.”