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"Dexter" killed here in ratings; Wilbon off mark on Sabre brawl

By Alan Pergament

This is what I'm thinking:

On Monday, I told you about the Buffalo Bills game with the New York Jets and the Emmys getting their best ratings in several years on Sunday.

It didn't appear to hurt the local ratings for the semifinal episode of "Breaking Bad," which won the Emmy as best drama for its previous season.

But somebody has to lose and that apparently was the series finale of Showtime's "Dexter," which ran opposite AMC's "Breaking Bad."

It wasn't a fair fight, since AMC is a basic cable network and Showtime is a pay-cable network that doesn't have close to the number of subscribers that HBO has here or anywhere.

I haven't watched the "Dexter" finale yet, which gives me something in common with most WNYers.

The Sunday episode had a .5 rating -- that's right a point 5 -- equivalent to about 3,200 households here. That's about 15 percent of the live "Breaking Bad" audience. The ratings for both undoubtedly will increase when DVR and On Demand viewing is added this week.

Nationally, the series finale of "Dexter" was the the show's highest-rated telecast ever and had the biggest audience ever -- 2.8 million -- for an original episode in Showtime history.

The season finale of "Ray Donovan" had a .8 -- that's a point 8 -- equivalent to about 5,000 households here at 10 p.m. Sunday here and nationally delivered 1.4 million viewers.

Of course, the low ratings for "Dexter" and "Ray" also could be because some WNYers haven't caught up yet with episodes of the series they missed when Showtime was off the air due to CBS' battle with Time Warner Cable.

I was at the Bills-Jets game in New Jersey Sunday but DVRed Channel 2's "Sports Extra" and heard host Adam Benigni say that the first battle of rookie quarterbacks goes to the Jets' Geno Smith over the Bills' EJ Manuel.

No argument here. But that is a little like comparing the ratings for "Breaking Bad" to those of "Dexter." It wasn't a fair competition.

Smith hit three long bombs to receivers after getting great protection from his offensive line and throwing against the Bills' depleted secondary.

Manuel was under constant pressure, was sacked eight times and rarely saw a receiver with any separation, which led him to hold the ball too long on occasion.

If Manuel had the same amount of time as Smith and open receivers, he might have done as well. From the stands, Smith's passes seemed to be jump balls that could have been intercepted if the Bills had their regular cornerbacks playing.

I also had to laugh when former Buffalo Sabre Andrew Peters said that Sabre goaltender Ryan Miller's fight with Toronto goaltender Jonathan Bernier Sunday during the brawl between the teams in the preseason game showed that he wants to stay in Buffalo.

Miller has to play somewhere and if he declined to fight he might have lost respect from any future teammates who would have known he backed down. Miller might want to stay here, but I doubt the fight proved anything.

The big hockey brawl got the NHL some preseason time on ESPN, notably on "Pardon the Interruption."

I couldn't believe the take of co-host Michael Wilbon, who suggested that Toronto star Phil Kessel's stick swinging "against a 6-8 goon" (he didn't name the Sabres' John Scott) only deserved a suspension of one period of a game.

Co-host Tony Kornheiser, who grew up on Long Island and apparently knows the code of hockey, suggested that Kessel's stick was a weapon and that he has got to be suspended for weeks.

This is the NHL, a Mickey Mouse league at times when it comes to discipline so you don't know what is going to happen to Kessel after his meeting with the league this afternoon.

But if league officials look at the tape of the incident, they will see that Kessel's second swing of the stick at Scott wasn't a defensive act. It came when the Sabre was being engaged with other Leaf players and his back was to Kessel.

If the league treats Kessel the way Wilbon suggests, it would almost be an open invitation for stick swinging in the NHL and at every level of hockey.

I really admire Wilbon's work, but that might have been the most ridiculous comment he's ever made on "PTI."

THIS JUST IN: But Wilbon's comment wasn't as ridiculous as the NHL's ruling this afternoon to suspend Kessel for three meaningless preseason games. They don't call the NHL a Mickey Mouse league for nothing. The league gave Kessel the light penalty because he has been a good boy during his seven-year career and because Scott supposedly wasn't injured. In other words, the league is saying you can swing your stick wildly as long as no one gets injured. Ridiculous.


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