When “Family Guy” made the controversial move earlier this season and killed off one of their most-iconic characters in Brian Griffin, it was pretty easy to form a conspiracy theory that this was all a massive ratings ploy to get people interested in a show more than a decade old.
While we still do believe that the family dog is going to somehow magically resurface on the show by the end of the season (heck, it could even happen this coming weekend), this has proven itself to be somewhat of a ratings winner for Fox. The new episode on Sunday drew a 2.6 rating in the 18-49 demographic (what matters more to advertisers than total viewer counts), which is an increase of .4 from the last new episode two weeks ago featuring Brian’s death.
Now, you could make the argument here that it was the lack of a new “Walking Dead” episode tonight, which shares some audience with “Family Guy,” that played a role more so than the Brian buzz; but, this is the sort of thing that is really hard to measure one way or another. “Revenge” fans, for example, were blaming zombies for their lack of good ratings this year, and they stayed steady at a 1.5 even without “The Walking Dead” on the air.
What we are probably the most impressed about right now is the steady performance of “The Mentalist” on CBS, despite being saddled with probably the worst timeslot on TV right now. While a 1.7 rating isn’t great, remember that the Red John case is over, and that this show has been bumped as late as 10:50 p.m. Eastern on some nights. It’s kind of a marvel that the show’s ratings have not deteriorated more than they have over the past several months; they’re just as good as they were during the Red John case itself.
Also worth noting is that “Once Upon a Time” (2.2) recovered from some of its recent ratings woes on Sunday night, and nobody is still watching “Betrayal” (0.8). ABC is just letting that show wrap its 13 episodes before kicking it to the curb.