TVRG’s Best and Worst of 2020 -- The Freshman Scripted Series You’re Not Watching

FOX pulled the rug out from underneath its fans in 2018 and shifted its priorities to dramas and unscripted series, and soaring into 1st Place this year was its coveted prize.  Along with this resurgence came tougher competition for its new series, which FOX seems heavily vested in developing.  Prodigal Son debuted on Mondays in the plum timeslot following 9-1-1's tsunami arc, and at the least has delivered 60-percent of its lead-in with ratings ranging from 0.7-1.0.  Solid indeed for 2020, but that is also bolstered and stacked against 9-1-1's 1.2-1.7 episode deliveries.

FOX went big at the risk of going broke with its pilots, choosing controversial choices such as Almost Family as well as Prodigal Son's icky concept of the son of a serial killer solving cases.  While less controversial than Almost Family, Prodigal Son pushes the envelope with violence, demonstrated when the lead Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne) chopped off a victim's arm in the pilot to save him from an explosion.  Where Prodigal Son moves past its controversies is its sympathetic lead Malcolm, a mentally fractured man scarred at his serial killer father Dr. Martin Whitly's (Michael Sheen) hands.  Now incarcerated, the sociopathic doctor manipulates and worms his way into his son's life by offering insight to help him solve current murders he is investigating.  The cast is appealing, and the chemistry is impeccable along with plot pacing.  The only element missing is stronger ratings.

Payne's performance is worthy of notice as he delivers sympathetic qualities to Malcolm while undermining it with his mental sabotage from the traumas.  It is unclear where FOX plans on scheduling Prodigal Son in the next season as it appears 9-1-1: Lonestar makes an ultra-compatible fit with its parent series.  Part of the appeal and charm of Prodigal Son being scheduled on Mondays was it made two sympathetic, flawed leads carrying procedurals as ABC has housed The Good Doctor with Freddie Highmore offering a similar performance.  Let's hope FOX offers Prodigal Son a decent timeslot so it can continue to develop.  But if The Resident was offered a renewal, perhaps Prodigal Son will continue to be developed by FOX and viewers may enjoy season 3.

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