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Posted at 5:40 PM ET, 01/18/2011

'Harry's Law' grabs big ratings for NBC; 'The Cape,' not so much

By Lisa de Moraes

Kathy Bates on "Harry's Law." (NBC)

About 11 million people watched the debut of Kathy Bates' new David E. Kelley dramedy "Harry's Law" on NBC Monday at 10. That's 116 percent more viewers than had watched NBC at 10 p.m. Mondays during the 2009-10 TV season, aka "The Jay Leno Nightmare."

NBC boasted that it's the network's biggest overall audience in the timeslot, excluding Olympics, in 16 months.

NBC also noted the show -- in which Bates plays a sacked curmudgeonly copyright lawyer who sets up a storefront office in a former high-end shoe store that some rocket scientist had thought would work in a dicey neighborhood in Cincinnati (hey, it's David E. Kelley, okay?) -- finished second among the 18-49 year old viewers who are the network's bread and butter.

NBC did not waste any time noting that the show's biggest crowd, by far, was the 50-and-older set. To be fair, viewers aged 50 and older also made up the biggest rating for NBC's 8 p.m. show, "Chuck," though not by nearly so large a margin. That's because viewers aged 50 and older watch a lot of TV. A really, really lot. It's why no broadcast network and almost no cable network for that matter, programs to them. They don't have to bother.

Anyway, at the just-wrapped Winter TV Press Tour 2011, Kelley spoke with candor about the challenges of launching a new drama series with a 60-year-old star. And now we have seen, ratings-wise, what he was talking about.

On the bright side, networks tend to tolerate older skewing audiences at 10. That's because older viewers - though, ideally ones aged under 54 years - are the currency of local newscasters who immediately follow NBC's 10 o'clock offerings. And, of course, when all those additional "Harry's Law" viewers stick around through the local TV news, they will give a ratings boost to Jay Leno's "The Tonight Show" at 11:30 p.m.

Earlier in the evening, NBC's unveiling of "The Cape" -- a drama about a guy with this cape trying to clean up his fictional California town to impress his son (you had to be there) -- attracted just 6.2 million viewers. It finished well behind ABC's super-emotional episode of "The Bachelor" (9 million viewers) and CBS's comedies, "Mike & Molly" (13 million) as well as "Two and a Half Men" -- which, as the press predicted, has really been hurt by star Charlie Sheen's fascination with hookers and hotel rooms, posting its biggest audience this season, about 16 million viewers.

By Lisa de Moraes  | January 18, 2011; 5:40 PM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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I really liked this program. I could have done without the Rush Limbaugh about one for Bill Clinton (I never inhaled...yea right) or Barack Obama that admitted he did... both could have been arrested instead of elected... I may watch this program again and maybe I won't. I should have figured there would be some left attack of the right...I for one am sick to death of the rhetoric

Posted by: pawanna | January 18, 2011 9:12 PM | Report abuse

"Harry's Law" is the latest instalment from the hate-filled liberals who brought you "Boston Legal." Kathy Bates, who gave up men in 1997, delivers anti-male and anti-conservatism lines throughout. The "Boston Legal" crew could not make it through the first episode before attacking Rush Limbaugh by name. IF YOU ARE NOT A HATE-FILLED LIBERAL YOU WILL NOT ENJOY THIS LATEST HATE-FILLED DIATRIBE.

Posted by: darncer | January 18, 2011 9:33 PM | Report abuse

We were really enjoing Harrys Law until the slap at consertives and the promoting of drugs took over what we thought would be a good show.
It seems that none of the major Net Works can have a good series without promotin their political agenda.
We have seen this show twice-our first and last.
Ga Ga

Posted by: gagareece | January 18, 2011 9:53 PM | Report abuse

We liked Harrys Law until the slap at consertivies , and the promoting of drugs started.
Major Net Works cant seem to have a good series without promoting their liberial bias.
We have seen this show twice-first and last!

Posted by: gagareece | January 18, 2011 10:01 PM | Report abuse

wow now that I know hatey conservatives don't like it, I'll check it out! Sounds like a Great show!

Posted by: Bear4 | January 19, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, can't you people leave your politics at the door for anything? The show takes place in a high end shoe store in the crappy part of Cincinnati. And if you're so sensitive that you only want to watch things that kiss conservative butt (bet you had no problem with non fictional commentators on Fox spewing the 'freedom fries, if you're not with us you're against us, if you question the President you're with the Taliban') then you should've known to avoid a Kelley show.

If it makes you feel better, DEK usually manages to annoy everyone by the time he gets to year 3 or so in his shows.

Posted by: onlytheshadowknows1 | January 19, 2011 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I tried watching Harry's Law again last night. Give me a break - an 87 year old black woman who whines that she can't afford food and medical care? What happened to Medicare and food stamps?? And it's ok to put a gun at a guy's head in order to rob him when you're 87? The jury rules "Not Guilty." Yet, the audience who will continue to watch this series will believe every word of this hate filled show against conservatives and people with real values because they are completely ignorant of what is right and what is wrong. And shame on Kathy Bates for lowering her standards to act in this series. NBC just keeps getting worse and worse. I will be watching Castle from now on.

Posted by: FLGirl2 | January 25, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

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