Prognosis: Well-Rated

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Despite a falloff for The Shield, FX executives are confident that the sophomore season of Nip/Tuck will stitch together another impressive ratings run.

The plastic-surgeon skein premieres this week with high expectations, after averaging a 3.0 household rating during its first season.

FX president of entertainment John Landgraf said he’s “optimistic” that the series can match or surpass last year’s performance.

“The show is better than ever creatively, and it’s getting a lot of positive buzz,” he said. “Hopefully, that will translate into viewers.”

The series begins one week after the third-season finale of FX’s other original series staple on June 15. The Shield, the gritty cop series starring Emmy Award-winner Michael Chiklis, averaged a 2.2 household rating through the first 14 of the season’s 15 episodes. Although that performance fell well short of last season’s 2.8 average, FX has already greenlighted a fourth season.

FX senior vice president of planning and research Steve Leblang said the series continued to draw more 18-to-49-year-old men than any cable show on Tuesday nights, but fell victim to a more competitive landscape from the broadcast networks. Of late, the show faced competition from NBC’s Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and ABC’s coverage of the National Basketball Association Finals.

“On any individual week we faced a different rate of competition, and the last couple of weeks when we expected to see a nice uptick, we were 'Lakered,’ ” Leblang said. “But the core audience of men 18 to 49 is as passionate and as loyal as it has ever been.”

On July 21, the network will launch Rescue Me, to air Wednesday nights. The Denis Leary-produced drama about members of a New York City firehouse is one of more than 25 programming projects the network already has in development or under consideration.

Set to film in July is Thief, a pilot starring Andre Braugher, said Landgraf.

“These projects not only encompass drama scripts, but also comedy and alternative shows that we’ll attempt to build out the emerging FX brand.” Landgraf said.

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