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1991-92 Ratings History -- Political Controversy Catapults CBS Back to 1st After 7-Year Absence, NBC Fortunes Plummet to 3rd


Written Astounded by Political Dumpster Fires by Bridger Cunningham

Nielsen ratings are not immune to power plays and shifts, just like the political election years.  CBS' Murphy Brown became the center of controversy as Vice President Dan Quayle lambasted the principle for being an unwed mother.  Ultra-liberal writers utilized every sound byte and soared to 3rd place, culminating in the political birth of Murphy's baby.  60 Minutes again reigned front and center to cover the first election featuring common political families from the Bush and Clinton dynasties duking it out.  Representing the lower-income front, Roseanne reclaimed 2nd Place as financial downfalls from the recession affected the characters and presented much of the plot fuel.

Elsewhere, NBC parted with two of its shows which launched its 80's success, The Cosby Show and Golden Girls.  Both experienced softer ratings fro their norm, yet went out class acts.  Cheers also held steady, despite the network remains going into a quiet slumber after a long thrill ride hinged on Cosby's success.  And FOX experienced its own growth due to Married... With Children the center of headlines yet again as Katey Sagal suffered a tragic loss of a child.


Trending Hot -- Controversy!  As mentioned in the front of the article, Murphy Brown, Roseanne and MWC enjoyed headline-grabbing ratings.  Relevance became a welcome staple of the 90's.  ABC sitcoms remained red-hot on Tuesdays and Fridays as newfound Home Improvement gave a great spin on family life, while TGIF transplant Full House peaked in 8th Place.  News Magazines also found a niche as NBC formed the ever-enduring Dateline NBC to join CBS' 60 Minutes and 48 Hours, and ABC's Primetime and 20/20.

Trending Tepid -- Comedy Dramas, along with Wednesday sitcoms, lost momentum this season.  The Wonder Years aged, and Doogie Howser collapsed during its third season.  FOX soaps became a 90's sensation as Beverly Hills, 90210 cracked the top-50, warranting the launch of spinoff Melrose Place for older 20-somethings.  NBC canned "old hat" fares Matlock and In The Heat of The Night, yet competitors ABC and CBS gave them a facelift and enjoyed three seasons each.  NBC was not quite cold, yet no longer burned fuego.

Trending Cold -- CBS soap.  Sign, only one existed as Knots Landing tumbled out of the top 40.  Saturday evenings saw their last top-20 hits in the last season due to Golden Girls aging faster than the principles.  ABC drilled aged sitcoms Who's The Boss, Growing Pains and Perfect Strangers into ground by relegating them to Saturday evenings, starting a trend as a dumping ground.