As TV audiences become more and more fragmented, it's always amusing to go back and look at perceived failures from two or three years ago and muse on how grateful the networks work be to have those numbers now. 

It's a bit less common to go back only a year and look at the numbers a show was doing and go, "GOOD LORD. WHAT HAPPENED?!?" But it occurs.

Case in point: More than a few ratings observers have glanced at this morning's premiere ratings for "New Girl" and then looked back at last year's premiere ratings and gone, "GOOD LORD. WHAT HAPPENED?!?"

Last September, "New Girl" premiered with a 2.9 rating among adults 18-49 and 5.53 million viewers. By its finale in May, "New Girl" was down to under 2.4 million viewers and a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49.

Before going any further, it always has to be repeated: Few shows on TV get a larger Live+3 and Live+7 DVR bump than "New Girl." There. Acknowledged. 

And last year's "New Girl" premiere was also a reasonably big bump from where the numbers ended the spring before. 

But still... Mere justifications like "Well, the Nick-Jess relationship really wasn't clicking" don't quite do that sort of in-season viewer attrition justice.

We've already reported on Tuesday's (September 16) Fast National numbers for the "New Girl" premiere, but now let's look a bit deeper...

*** In Final Live+Same Day numbers, the "New Girl" premiere rose to a 1.7 rating among adults 18-49 and to 3.04 million viewers and guess what? FOX is comparing those numbers to the finale numbers and there's cause for enthusiasm. Among adults 18-49, "New Girl was up from a 1.2 rating to a 1.5 rating. And among adults 25-54, "New Girl" was up from a 1.3 rating to a 1.8 rating. And even among viewers 12-34, "New Girl" was up from a 1.0 rating to a 1.2 rating. But goodness... "New Girl" drew 5.53 million viewers and did a 2.9 rating among adults 18-49 last September? Against basically the identical competition? Crazy.

*** Returning to things that seem implausible in retrospect, "The Mindy Project" drew 3.83 million viewers and did a 1.9 rating among adults 18-49 when it premiered last September, but was down to 2.48 million viewers and a 1.3 key demo rating last spring for its finale. Yes, "The Mindy Project" was periodically edging out "New Girl" last spring. No, there's no reasonable explanation for it (other than "quality," which isn't an explanation for anything when it comes to ratings), And yes, "Mindy Project" isn't anywhere near the DVR juggernaut "New Girl" is. So while "New Girl" got to be excited on Tuesday morning, "The Mindy Project" was a little more tempered with 2.68 million viewers and a 1.3 rating among adults 18-49 for its third season premiere. The gap between "Mindy" and "New Girl" appears to be among young male viewers, especially 18-34, where "New Girl" did a 1.2 rating and "Mindy Project" did a 0.6 rating (compared to a 1.9 versus a 1.6 among women 18-34). That gap wasn't there in May when the finales saw "New Girl" do a 0.9 among men 18-34 and "Mindy Project" do a 0.8. [Want proof ratings make no sense? You saw the Men 18-34 gap. Among male viewers 12-17, "Mindy" had a small advantage over "New Girl." It's not notable, but it also isn't logical.]

*** Want the real sign of happiness at FOX today? "Utopia" held onto its 1.0 rating among adults 18-49, up from last week's 0.9 key demo rating. The 2.42 million viewers was off a hair from last week, but nobody cares. "Utopia" was up from a 0.9 to a 1.1 rating among women 18-49, which made up from a drop from 1.0 to 0.9 among men 18-49. Several other age ranges also saw very small drops among male viewers and very small gains among female viewers. It's somewhat spinning in circles and it's still not very good and it still isn't likely to improve next week when "The Voice" and "NCIS" show up, but anything that isn't a drop is kinda like a gain, especially since...

*** FOX announced on Monday that last Tuesday's premiere got a 56 percent bump to a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49 in Live+3 Day figures. That's a much larger percentage bump than most unscripted shows get. As has been mentioned frequently, FOX took a big gamble with "Utopia," which is slated to be a year-long program. Neither week-to-week stability nor that big DVR leap constitute "success," but they may rise to the level of "amelioration of failure," at least in the short-term.

*** Beyond that, Live+SD ratings offered only tiny changes. "Dancing with the Stars" rose a hair to a 2.2 rating among adults 18-49 and 12.68 million viewers. "America's Got Talent" stayed steady with a 2.5 rating among adults 18-49, which is up from last year's comparable "Talent" episode, which drew a 2.4 key demo rating. Year to year growth is rare. All hail "America's Got Talent."

A long-time member of the TCA Board and a longer-time blogger of "American Idol," Dan Fienberg writes about TV, except for when he writes about movies or sometimes writes about the Red Sox. But never music. He would sound stupid talking about music.