Archive for Monday, February 20, 2012

Quiet hit won’t quit

February 20, 2012

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Some hits are more expected than others. Everybody knew the Super Bowl would attract a monster audience. The audience for last Sunday’s Grammy Awards shocked everybody. Just under 40 million tuned in to see their favorites perform and to see how the music industry would react to the sudden death of Whitney Houston. (The show must go on; and it did.) Ratings-wise, it was like a lightning strike.

But “NCIS” (7 p.m., CBS) never needs a tragedy to generate ratings. Last Tuesday it attracted just under 20 million viewers for an ordinary episode. Something that this show, which has been on for years and frequently repeats on cable, does every week.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve been writing the same article about “NCIS” for years. Because I have. Early in its run, I was struck by the popularity of the show as a summer rerun. While many shows went on hiatus for the summer, “NCIS” attracted a big audience and was frequently No. 1 on its nights. To me, this indicated that some fans of other shows were tuning into watch “NCIS” episodes for the first time, while hard-core fans were going for second helpings. Nine years running, the audience for “NCIS” shows no signs of flagging. That’s rare for any show in any TV era.

• “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” (9 p.m., HBO) looks at the 2011 crash that claimed Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, one of Russia’s most popular hockey teams. “Sports” also looks at a case of college hazing among members of predominantly black marching bands.

• Some take comfort that some elements of the segregation era are behind us. So it’s disturbing to learn when they are not. “The Injustice Files: At the End of a Rope” (7 p.m., ID) looks at two reported suicides of young black men in Mississippi. Both were found hanging from trees, and in both cases the local police were quick to label the cases suicides and to dismantle the crime scenes.

Tonight’s other highlights

• The Dalton gang proves to be a worthy rival on the winter finale of “Glee” (7 p.m., Fox).

• Jess confronts a troubled student on “New Girl” (8 p.m., Fox).

• A crew member shows signs of possession on “The River” (8 p.m., ABC).

• “Clinton: American Experience” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings, part two of two) concludes.

• Sabrina confronts her fears on “Raising Hope” (8:30 p.m., Fox).

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