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1984-85 Season Nielsens -- NBC Breaks its 8-Year Curse and Shoves Into 2nd Place as ABC and CBS Continue to Bank on Soap Prominence



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Written in the Ratings Library by Bridger Cunningham

Behold the 1984-85 season.  NBC fiercely clawed their way into 2nd Place due to Cosby's prominence, while ABC fell flat into 3rd.  Sitcoms made a valiant comeback, while several shows which debuted in the 1970's said goodbye.


Trending Hot: NBC was the hit factor this season.  They used Cosby to not only bolster its establishing sitcoms, but also to cement the leading scheduling block on Thursdays.  Family-based sitcoms were in demand as The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Who's the Boss and Kate and Allie portrayed idealized families viewers wished they could join.  NBC also cornered the market with upscale fares either depicting affluent characters, or characters which spoke to the power-hungry yuppies of the 80's.  The primetime soaps continued to cater to this demographic, as did new romance-piece Moonlighting.  Cosby ignited a trend for portraying upscale Black Americans vs. stereotypical colorful representation or pieces of cop-based ensembles.

Trending Tepid:  CBS continued to reign in 1st place since 1982, but their network peaked.  Action-Adventure Dramas also plateaued as the trend was all the rage of the early 80's.  Soaps continued to reign, but the established primetime soaps failed to launch new pieces post 1981.  ABC and CBS' soaps dominated the top-12 range, yet newbies such ad Berrenger's and Paper Dolls were lathered and rinsed inside a season.  Mid-season shows exhibited some signs of longevity, yet were not a surefire win.  Shows featuring mixed ensembles such as Benson, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, The Facts of Life and Gimme a Break! all landed in the middle of the ratings game.

Trending Cold:  ABC lost its creative thunder from the late 70's/early 80's escapism era.  They trailed as they scrambled to re-establish voids left by Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Three's Company, Taxi and Barney Miller.  Anything which was a hit in the 70's seemed to be an out trend this season, particularly spinoffs.  After-MASH ended 11 years of the franchise from MASH, Three's a Crowd ended 9 years of Three's Company, and All In the Family spinoff The Jeffersons ended a tired run after 11 years, bringing 15 years of Norman Lear delight to an end.  Social relevance of the 70's also became a faux-pas, as most CBS sitcoms of this brand ended, and NBC cancelled Diff'rent Strokes. Even their spinoff, Facts of Life, took a less-topical approach to survive. And of course, silliness went out of style, ending Dukes of Hazzard.