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‘Life’ support from the network, Los Angeles Times, November 16, 2008

‘Life’ support from the network

NBC is being loyal to its cop show. But ratings are low. And you can’t survive simply on strong characters and stories.

by Maria Elena Fernandez, Los Angeles Times, November 16, 2008,
Charlie Crews is a patient man. But how much longer is this Zen-striving Los Angeles police detective supposed to wait for TV viewers to discover that they can’t live without his quick wit, astute observations or sparkling red hair?

Even a man seeking to have no worldly attachments would find it difficult to ignore the sophomore slump that afflicts not only his show, NBC’s critically acclaimed “Life,” but all prime-time television this season as well. No show that had its first season truncated by the writers strike last year has yet bounced back in the ratings.

But “Life” did receive a double-boost this month when NBC moved it back to Wednesdays from the dark hole of Fridays and gave it a full-season order. The drama, which stars Damian Lewis as the police detective who wrongfully spent 12 years in prison, registered 8 million viewers per show last year and has averaged just 6 million this season. Despite the ratings dip, NBC, much as it has done with critically acclaimed, low-rated shows such as “Friday Night Lights” and “30 Rock,” is sticking by “Life.”

“We’re trying to get ‘Desperate Housewives’ or ‘House’ to be our lead-in,” joked creator Rand Ravich, wishing that he could steal those shows from ABC or Fox.

“It’s a confusing time in network television. But to the network’s credit, so far, they’re not equating the numbers to the show. They’re saying it’s got to do with where we’re putting you or promoting you and what your lead-in is. They love the show.”

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