/// Dwight Schrute Buys the Farm

March 15, 2013  |  Media Week

After a three-week hiatus, NBC’s The Office returned last night in the form of the backdoor pilot to the stillborn Dwight Schrute spinoff, The Farm. If the preliminary ratings are anything to go by, NBC was wise to pass on the project. According to Nielsen overnights, last night’s special episode was the least-watched in the nine-season history of The Office, drawing a mere 3.55 million total viewers. Having averaged a 1.9 in the adults 18-49 demo, the Schrute-centric installment tied three other 2012-13 broadcasts as the lowest-rated shows since The Office bowed as a midseason replacement in 2005. Roughly half of last night’s episode took place at Schrute Farms, where Dwight retreated to attend his Aunt Shirley’s funeral. In a video message from the Great Beyond, Shirley announced that she would leave her own farm to Dwight and his brother and sister. NBC officially passed on The Farm last fall. In a tweet dated Oct. 29 , actor Rainn Wilson said that while he “had a blast making the pilot,” the network decided not to go forward with the spinoff. While it was another dismal Thursday night at NBC, with Community posting a series-low 1.0 in the demo—a number matched by the freshman comedy 1600 Penn—things were tough all over the broadcast dial. On CBS, The Big Bang Theory tied its Season 6 low with a 4.5 in the demo, down 17 percent from last week’s 5.4 overnight, while Fox’s American Idol fell to an all-time low 3.0 rating. (As overruns of ACC and SEC basketball tournament games impacted approximately 3 percent of CBS’ national footprint, the overnights are more provisional than usual. Final live-plus-same-day ratings will reflect the adjustments.) Declines aside, those numbers are the stuff of dreams for NBC and ABC. The Alphabet Net last night aired a single hour of new content; at 9 p.m., Grey’s Anatomy served up a series-low 2.6 in the dollar demo. Among the few original episodes that demonstrated week-over-week growth were CBS’ Person of Interest, which drew a 4.3 among adults 25-54, up one-tenth of a point from March 7, and Elementary , which delivered a 3.5 in the demo, up two-tenths of point from its most recent first-run installment (Feb. 21). Despite the poor lead-in provided by Community, NBC’s Parks and Recreation grew 14 percent versus its most recent premiere outing, drawing a 1.6 rating.

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Dwight Schrute Buys the Farm

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