2021 Drama Scorecard (3/11-3/25): Reboots like MacGyver Are Paving The Way Past Dated CBS Procedurals

Friday television has surprisingly emerged as an opportune space for television.  Networks like FOX, CW and ABC have steered to Reality TV, but CBS corners a steady market with standalone procedurals (who have not duplicated or triplicated with tired spinoffs).  Both Magnum PI and MacGyver owe their existence to the reboot trend made popular in recent years which cooled down.  Both are reboots of popular 80's procedurals, and never quite lit the ratings on fire.  However, both perform steady and strong for Fridays, having filled the void Hawaii Five-O (itself a revival of the 1968-80 series) left on the schedule one year ago.  And given Blue Bloods is deep into its 11th season, CBS will need to fill an hour of its schedule if the series ends.  All three Friday shows deliver steady without a standout player rating higher than the other, only occasional bumps for Magnum PI being in the 8:00 hour.

Where these reboots (along with sturdy Sunday player The Equalizer) are helping CBS update their tired schedule is they fulfill the longstanding need of procedurals without spawning another boiler plate procedural off of an existing show.  Most shows which multiply from these franchises (such as NCIS, CSI and most recently FBI) is the reboots are energetic.  They have appealing stars, the settings are aesthetically pleasing and they provide compatible space for new pilots to be nestled next door to.  MacGyver or Magnum PI fit best on Fridays and are best not moved (Magnum PI didn't shine as well on Mondays).  But rather, let's hope CBS takes a cue with their success as well as The Equalizer revamping Sundays and steers in this direction vs a slew of tired spinoffs.  Viewers would rather they dip in the historic well instead of delivering NCIS: The Freeways or some overdone cliche.

With This Is Us losing steam on NBC, the race is on for 1st Place and The Equalizer will likely take this crown thanks to a bump from Superbowl.  If it matches its last 0.75 rating over the next 6 episodes, it will still remain one of the top 10 performers of the season (This is Us and Grey's Anatomy have already fallen out of the Top 10).  If it took a hit and delivered 0.65 for the next 6 episodes, it would indeed fall out of the top 10, but would still rank higher than This Is Us and Grey's Anatomy who would need a resurgence.

On the flip side, some shows are now evidently at risk for the chopping block:

ABC: The network gave For Life ample opportunities to grow and it could not make the cut.  Despite having a weakened sitcom block leading into it, the drops were noticeable and ABC clearly has a space for marketing next season.

SWAT and All Rise were eyed as the weakest members on the schedule.  However, All Rise narrowly clipped past lead-out Bull this week, and SWAT soared with an absence of Chicago PD.  Both could benefit from a timeslot move.  The weakest link lies in Clarice which has not located its plateau and didn't benefit from the sitcom block's evenings with rating surges.  A pity as it delivered some originality to CBS despite the dark tone of the series.
FOX: Prodigal Son has nowhere to hide nor any excuses for scheduling for its shortcomings.  The gap has grown wider between neighbor The Resident, and FOX needs scheduling space.  If FOX is committed, they could allow it to take on the earlier portions of the schedule, but Prodigal Son shows little signs of contributions to building the lineup.

NBC: Debris has weighted Mondays down like an albatross.  With so many shows renewed, something has to go.  Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist will need to meet the bar for Sunday evening but has more marketability and buzz to have it lean toward renewal.


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