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The Trends Part 5: High Profile Revivals

Every year, networks either revive old TV shows and turn movies into TV shows. This season is no different except for the caliber of the revivals. This season, NBC is bringing back Will & Grace, The CW is bringing back Dynasty, and ABC is bringing back both American Idol and Roseanne. These are four of the most successful shows in television. Let's take a look at these revivals and what they may mean for broadcast television both now and in the coming years.


NBC has already started advertising the return of Will & Grace, a show that aired in the 90s and early 2000s as part of their "Must See TV" Thursday night lineup. While the show's ratings were not the same after it lost its Friends lead-in, it is still a widely-loved sitcom that will likely have the power to bring in both new and some old viewers in its return this fall. It should be noted that NBC hasn't revived a comedy in recent years, and the only comedy they've aired in the post-Office years with a familiar name was the short-lived About a Boy. Last season, NBC trusted Superstore to start off Thursday nights, and while it didn't do terrible, there was clearly room for improvement. At this point, if NBC were to ask a comedy to start off Thursdays, a revival would be necessary. Time will tell if this Will & Grace revival will last, but even by bringing it back for a short season should be enough to put some new life into their Thursday nights.


On a similar note, ABC, the network who has held back the most on revivals and adaptations, is brining back hit sitcom Roseanne. About a working class family, Roseanne spent its first six seasons as a top four show on all of television, and even tied for #1 once. The show was so popular that 20 years after its final season, it's still airing in syndication. The question here is if viewers are willing to accept more new episodes of Roseanne, and even more importantly where it fits in on the schedule now that there is no multi-cam comedy block. Its most compatible partner would be The Middle. Assuming it airs in-season, this will be the first time ABC has revived a sitcom that aired in-season since before the beginning of the era that brought in Modern Family and The Middle, as far as I can tell. It seems that an eye should be kept on ABC to see if they continue this trend of reviving shows, as they rarely did it before these last few seasons. There also hasn't been word on what happens if Roseanne does well; does it make the fall schedule? Is that bad news for another comedy airing on ABC's schedule?

A third high-profile revival is Dynasty on The CW. Although it kind of faltered towards the end of its run, it spent four seasons in the top 5 shows and spent one season at #1--kind of like Roseanne. Also, when it did a two-episode reunion, its ratings were higher than they had been in the final two seasons. It's hard to expect this to stay a top 10 or 20 show given it will be airing on The CW, but chances are the version that will air in the fall will still pull in solid numbers for the network. The other show The CW has revived in recent years was The Flash, and that has done some record-breaking numbers for it that is even competitive with many shows on the Big 4 networks. The one problem could be that The CW's audience and Dynasty's audience may not seem to be a perfect match, but if promoted enough viewers will probably make their way to see their favorite show 30 years later.


While all of these revivals are high-profile, there is none quite as big as American Idol. American Idol had a whole farewell season in 2015, when in reality it would only take one season off before ABC decided to bring it back (yes, ABC, not FOX). The show has already been the center of attention in the media; most notably Katy Perry's $25 million contract and how that is reportedly almost 2/3rds of the talent budget. ABC reportedly plans on airing 40 hours on the once-monster-hit singing competition, which means it will have to do some shuffling on its schedule to accommodate it. If it flops, ABC may have a huge problem on their hands. If it hits, though, ABC will have a huge success. It's a high risk, and ones that networks seemingly don't take all that often out of fear of its costing them too much money. Some say it's too soon for American Idol to return since the nostalgia factor is not there; others say there were still a lot of people watching the show when it finished its final season, and therefore is an audience there for the revival. Regardless of who is right, the return of American Idol will most likely be the biggest ratings story of the season.

What do you think about this trend? Let me know in the comments below!