Monday, August 9, 2021

The Breakdown: NBC Thursday in 2020-21 (Manifest, Superstore, Law and Order: SVU and more!)

It's time for a journey through the NBC Thursday schedule in 2020-21...

NOTE: In addition to classic A18-49+, Breakdown posts with 2019-20 ratings also use CVPlus, comparing spring ratings against a higher league average due to viewership inflation from COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. See here for more. Also see here for information on the 2020-21 league average.


2019-20SuperstorePerfect HarmonyThe Good PlaceWill and GraceLaw and Order: SVU79
2020-21SuperstoreConnecting...Law and Order: SVUDateline72 (-8%)
85 (-13%)43 (-27%)88 (+23%)64 (-26%)
64 (-18%)


With most of last year's comedies off the schedule, only Superstore (returned late October) and Law and Order: SVU (mid-November) remained, and neither one looked particularly good in the fall episodes. COVID-themed comedy Connecting... was a disaster everywhere it aired in October, while Dateline was filler for the 10/9c hour.


2019-20SuperstoreBrooklyn Nine-NineWill and GraceIndebtedLaw and Order: SVU72
2020-21Mr. MayorSuperstoreLaw and Order: SVUDateline77 (+8%)
80 (-4%)66 (-9%)104 (+101%)54 (-36%)
73 (-7%)


NBC finally had a new comedy ready for the winter, as Ted Danson returned to the network a year after The Good Place's end with Mr. Mayor. It was actually not that far off of the normal Superstore/Good Place type levels, which is not bad by NBC comedy newbie standards. Meanwhile, Law and Order: SVU started to look a lot stronger in the 9/8c hour after the new year, even before the arrival of Organized Crime in April.


2019-20SuperstoreBrooklyn Nine-NineWill and GraceIndebtedLaw and Order: SVU66
2020-21ManifestLaw and Order: SVULaw and Order: Organized Crime119 (+79%)
76 (+1%)148 (+196%)132 (+81%)


The spring brought an almost Must See TV-esque ratings explosion to NBC Thursday, as Christopher Meloni returned to the L&O universe. Both shows were at megahit levels on Organized Crime's premiere night, then dropped about half of that audience the next week and a little more as the spring wore on. Meanwhile, third-year genre drama Manifest had a fairly unassuming run in the 8/7c hour.

Rating the Ratings

Mr. Mayor0.40.520.6
Law and Order: SVU*0.50.761.7+15%118solid+46%detail
Law and Order: Organized Crime0.60.791.6

Connecting...: Throw this in with the Filthy Riches and NEXTs of the world as the kind of show that wouldn't see the light of day under "normal" circumstances. Its four episodes had quite a variety of timeslots, but it looked staggeringly atrocious in all of them, including just 41% retention of a Superstore episode in the last week before getting pulled. Grade: F.

Mr. Mayor: It was a short run, but I was actually a little surprised at how little it dropped post-premiere, from a 0.60/0.55 premiere night to a 0.45 low for the finale. It was not a hit but when you line it up with the beauties on this night last year (Perfect Harmony, Sunnyside, Indebted) and so many others in previous years, you can definitely see why they'd renew it. Grade: C+.

Manifest: It looks like it held up OK considering it had pretty big lead-ins in its first two seasons on Monday, but moving from 10/9c to 8/7c is always a bit of an illusion. As with other shows that have made this move, it had way less delayed viewing this season. Apparently it's done quite well on streaming, but the delayed drops were not pretty, and NBC did away with it after thinking on it for awhile. Grade: C-.

Superstore: This is another one of those veteran shows that felt like a disaster in real time, but in the big-picture analysis was not quite as bad as I was expecting, especially since it had a worse timeslot airing at 8:30 in the winter. But it also missed out on the spring completely, which helped the average some. For a show with a long history of consistency, it was a disappointing way to go out. Grade: C-.

Law and Order: SVU: It's a weird one to grade because, considering the timeslot upgrade from 10/9c to 9/8c, it actually looked kinda meh in the fall (C+ or so?), quite solid in the winter (B+), and then truly amazing in the spring (A or A+), which should outweigh the other periods to some extent. SVU's final average narrowly outrated the best of its nine seasons on Wednesday, but still behind a lot of the early SVU seasons on Friday/Tuesday. If it had caught all the way up to the historical highs I'd be even kinder, but I'll hesitantly stick with merely a Grade: A-.

Law and Order: Organized Crime: In an eight-episode season, the megahit premiere looms large in the final average, but it ended up settling basically at or a teeny bit above the league average; it actually looked kinda comparable to the fall/winter episodes of Big Sky (another 10/9c newbie success this season). It didn't fall apart like Big Sky, so we have to call this the bigger success of the two at least for now, but not the phenomenon that appeared possible on premiere night. Grade: B+.

The names in this last table link to the shows' War of 18-49 pages. Links with an asterisk(*) have been updated with the new info. Updates to younger shows will come later in the summer.

Previous Breakdowns for NBC Thursday: 2015-16 | 2016-17 | 2017-18 | 2018-19 | 2019-20

Here's the now updated Schedules Plus for NBC Thursday.

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