The Slap US debuts in tough timeslot

15 February, 2015 by Don Groves

Thomas Sadoski and Peter Sarsgaard in NBC's The Slap.

NBC’s remake of Matchbox Pictures’ The Slap premiered in the US last week, drawing positive reviews but a relatively modest audience in a fiercely competitive timeslot.


Launched at 8pm Thursday, the drama starring Uma Thurman, Peter Sarsgaard, Brian Cox, Melissa George and Zachary Quinto pulled in 5.1 million viewers, equivalent to a 3.9 rating/6 share.

Scripted by playwright Jon Robin Baitz and directed by Lisa Cholodenko (whose Olive Kitteridge screened here on showcase), the show finished fourth behind a repeat of CBS’s The Big Bang Theory, Fox’s sitcom Mom and ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy.

However US commentators were sure The Slap’s audience would swell thanks to DVR and binge-viewing and they noted the show rated 11% higher than the program it replaced, the finale of The Biggest Loser.

Matchbox Pictures executives are hoping the remake’s performance in the US will encourage an Australian broadcaster to pick up the series.

Matchbox MD Chris Oliver-Taylor tells IF, "I think  Australian audiences would be very interested to see how an Australian-authored book has been translated to the US. With Melissa George reprising her role and having such a stellar cast, the showrunner and production team should make this series pretty appealing to local audiences."

The Los Angeles Times observed, “The Slap features the kind of intimate psychology and character deep-dive more reminiscent of an HBO show like In Treatment than most offerings on a major network.

“Despite the timeliness, the show remains a chancy proposition for NBC. The network is asking viewers to invest deeply in characters they'd never met, shift their interest every week and generally pay attention to a lighting-rod topic.

"The Slap isn't just a gamble for the network, which is looking for event series to complement its live musicals and Olympic telecasts–it's also a roll of the dice for Baitz, a Tony nominee and Pulitzer finalist.“

Variety reviewer Brian Lowry wrote, “Adapted from a novel turned into a compelling Australian series that received sparse US exposure via DirecTV, The Slap arrives on NBC with a sensational cast and ambitious premise, following the repercussions of one impulsive act from multiple perspectives as it reverberates through numerous lives.

"Novelistic in its approach — with a sober narration that brings to mind the movie Little Children — it’s the kind of admirable experiment that, for broadcasters, has seldom paid off. Hewing closely to the earlier program at the outset, The Slap will need good fortune to make a mark in this inhospitable Thursday timeslot.”