First impressions of the new fall TV season

Photo: YouTube/Will & Grace
Photo: YouTube/Will & Grace

Early signs indicate the broadcast networks are still the best venue to attract the most number of viewers.

The 2017-18 season officially kicked off last Monday, and if these early signs are any indication, there is still no better venue to attract the most number of viewers than the broadcast networks—ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox—in primetime.

After expressing concern of yet another revival, particularly for a sitcom like "Will & Grace" that never really progressed in character development in those first eight seasons, I admit I might have made an error in judgment. Eleven years later and this amusing quartet (particularly Mullally as screeching Donald Trump supporting socialite Karen Walker) now seems like a great escape. My only regret is the absence of Shelley Morrison as Karen’s tell-it-like-it-is maid Rosario.

Of the newbies, CBS’ "Young Sheldon" had the largest sampling at 17.2 million viewers (based on the Live + Same Day data from Nielsen) out of parent "The Big Bang Theory," which resulted in a full season renewal. We all, after all, wanted a glimpse of the early originals of this oddball (and anything out of adult Sheldon and company will certainly get seen). But even more impressive on Monday was new ABC medical drama "The Good Doctor," which out of "Dancing with the Stars" could very well be the bona fide new hit drama this season. My only obstacle is remembering that Highmore is no longer Norman Bates!

Kudos, meanwhile, to NBC’s now sophomore "This Is Us" for already avoiding what is commonly known as a "sophomore slump," when the "too much, too soon" syndrome takes its toll. There is just something about the characters and how they interact with each other. And that conclusion in the season opener on Tuesday, where the assumption is that Milo Ventimiglia as Jack died in that house fire left this viewer gasping and hungry for more.

My only concern is potential burnout after the official reveal of how Jack died after Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4. And I still think the network could have put the Tuesday 10 p.m. hour to better use than "Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers." Lead-in still matters, and NBC missed a golden opportunity.

In the world of reality, congrats go to Mark Burnett and company for, once again, introducing a new season of veteran "Survivor" that is an immediate addiction. Before the first commercial break, I was already happily sucked in once again. And a "thumbs up" to CBS for knowing who its audience is and positioning new older male targeted military drama "SEAL Team" out of "Survivor" and into the 13th season of "Criminal Minds." If it works (and the sampling was positive), I would not worry about the critics who will dismiss this (and newbie "S.W.A.T.," which premieres on Thursday, Nov. 2) as nothing more than standard Eye net fare.

Fox also had some positive news on Wednesday, with a relocated "Empire" into sophomore drama "Star" a very compatible fit.

Friday, unfortunately, continues to diminish by the tradition Nielsen ratings. Even veteran CBS crime drama "Blue Bloods" opened on the downside. But what should be interesting this week is Comic Con at the Jacob Javits Center in New York (beginning this Thursday) and the expected interest in ABC’s new "Marvel’s Inhumans," despite the modest 3.78 million viewers who tuned in for its two-hour opener. There are so many other benchmarks to now determine the success or failure of any series.

Sunday, finally, will remain in NBC’s corner in all of the fourth quarter thanks to the NFL. And there is every reason to believe "Shark Tank" will end up back on Friday after the revival of "American Idol" opens on ABC. Although the debut of Fox sitcom "Ghosted" did not exactly set the ratings on fire out of veteran "The Simpsons" (which really does at some point need to end already), the biggest new miss by the traditional ratings for any new show is ABC drama "Ten Days in the Valley," which is nothing to make note of in the quality department either.

While most new series decline in the vicinity of 10 to 20 percent in week two (and another 5 to 10 percent in week three), what I see is life, and plenty of it, on the broadcast networks in primetime. As the business we call consumption continues to evolve outside of the traditional way of watching television, there are still millions, no doubt, who still like experiencing it the old-fashioned way.

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