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April 28, 2009

'Heroes,' 'Chuck': Dramatic seasons, typical finales

Funeral heroes UPDATED: NBC's sci-fi duo of Chuck and Heroes concluded their seasons with on-par performances Monday night, with both shows in line with their recent airings and placing last in their respective hours.

The two dramas have had a heavily publicized rough time this year. The third round of Heroes starting strong, then dropped alarmingly. Season two of Chuck has been a more steady performer, but it started its run with unremarkable numbers. Both shows enjoyed ratings spikes after they returned from their midseason breaks only to fall into series lows (see Heroes and Chuck full-season charts below).

NBC has said Heroes will return next fall and has not yet announced a decision on Chuck. During the past four weeks going into the finale, however, Chuck has seen a modest rise.

Fox won Monday with on-par House (11.7 million viewers, 4.6  adults 18-49 rating, winning its hour) and 24 (10.4 million, 3.4).

CBS comedies and a series-low CSI Miami (12.1 million, 3.3) all declined from their last all-original airings two weeks ago, down 7% on average, but the network still topped the 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. hours: Big Bang Theory (9.2 million, 3.4), How I Met Your Mother (8.9 million, 3.7), Two and a Half Men (14.1 million, 4.9) and Rules of Engagement (11.3 million, 3.9).

ABC was third in the demo yet first among total viewers. The network experienced similar slight drops to CBS, with Dancing With the Stars (19.3 million, 4.3) and Surviving Suburbia (9.0 million, 2.2) falling, though Castle (8.2 million, 2.0) was up a tenths. NBC was in fourth place with Chuck (6.2 million, 2.4), Heroes (6.5 million, 3.0) and Medium (6.7 million, 2.2). The CW's Gossip Girl (2 million, 1.0) and One Tree Hill (2.3 million, 1.1) fell. 

Below are live-plus-same-day ratings charts for Heroes and Chuck. Note all these numbers climb significantly when DVR data is added, though the overall season trend should look about the same. Also, the final number for Chuck shifted up a tenth in the nationals to a 2.4.

Here's the Heroes season three chart, which seems to be somehow tied to the S&P 500...

And below is Chuck season two, which is more like a modestly performing treasury bond...

Last night's Heroes finale felt oddly parallel to the first season's finale. The episode was firmly stronger than the hours that opened the season -- solid pacing, coherent, some neat twists, stylishly shot. Yet, once again, the gang is trying to stop Sylar from destroying the world. Once again, the climatic showdown is a low-fx letdown (Claire gets to watch the battle; we watch a door shake). And (spoiler), despite reassurances from producers that characters will stay dead this time, and even Noah in the finale promises Claire that Sylar is really truly gone-finally-done-dead-over ... the Heroes team did the 'ol "but is he REALLY dead?" ending -- just like the first season. It's as if Heroes writers are addicts incapable of breaking their patterns. You tell them their narrative problems, they swear to you they understand. They make efforts to get help (interventionist Bryan Fuller). But next thing you know, they've passed out drunk on top of your cat again.

Heroes - Season Three on Amazon

Chuck: The Complete Second Season on Amazon


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