The new fall season is upon us. There are a few breakout hits thus far. NBC’s mysterious “Manifest” isn’t nearly as well constructed as its predecessors (“Lost,” for example), but it busted out of the gate with 10.4 million viewers, making it the most popular new show of the fall. CBS’ “God Friended Me” is mighty silly feel-good fodder, but it fits in perfectly with the network’s AARP-friendly lineup and lured 10.14 million viewers to its pilot. CBS’ generic crime drama “FBI” and NBC’s generic hospital drama “New Amsterdam” also premiered strong, indicating that network viewer prefer the same-old, same-old. But what in the new season is stinking up the airwaves? What could the first casualty of fall 2018 be? Let’s look at the numbers.
CBS’ “The Neighborhood,” a throwback ’70s sitcom premise about a black family (led by Cedric the Entertainer) shocked to find out the new family next door is white, did surprisingly well in the ratings (8.1 million viewers on its debut). But the follow-up, “Happy Together” (CBS), tanked with 5.9 million viewers. The premise, about a middle-aged accountant (Damon Wayans Jr.) who inexplicably finds himself sharing his house with America’s most popular teen pop singer (Felix Mallard), reads like “ALF” but with Justin Bieber. Granted, 5.9 million viewers is not bad. But it’s a big drop off from 8.1 million and not likely to build any as the season wears on.
Paired with FOX’s bring-back of the Tim Allen sitcom “Last Man Standing,” which is doing very well (a little over 6 million viewers, great for a Friday night), “The Cool Kids” (FOX) might stand a chance. But the dull sitcom about wacky senior citizens in a retirement community is losing more than a million viewers from “Last Man Standing.” Given the amount of money FOX undoubtedly dumped into Tim Allen’s wallet, it wouldn’t be too surprising if FOX started airing reruns of something else in the follow-up timeslot by midseason.
The alphabet net had high hopes for “A Million Little Things” (ABC). But the weepy drama about some middle-age friends united by the suicide of their pal comes off as a rather calculated mash-up of NBC’s “This Is Us” and “The Big Chill.” The pilot retained most of its lead-in from “Modern Family,” attracting 4.9 million viewers. But that past-its-prime sitcom lost 20 percent of its viewers from last season, and viewership on “This Is Us” is only likely to drop. Week two of “A Million Little Things” lured well under 4 million viewers. That’s not a very auspicious start.
Coming off a standout cameo in the hit horror flick Get Out, comedian Lil Rel Howery was poised for breakout stardom. Sadly, the eponymous sitcom “Rel” (FOX) isn’t likely to be the vehicle that gets him there. The Sunday night show dropped 63 percent after its premiere and is now pulling in the lowest ratings of the new season with just under 2 million sets of eyeballs per week. Right now, Lil Rel looks like a man living on borrowed time.