Murphy Brown returned to TV after 20 years off the air only to rank as CBS’ lowest-rated Thursday night comedy.
The newsroom sitcom starring Candice Bergen premiered to considerably softer numbers than similarly hyped yesteryear sitcom revivals in recent seasons — such as NBC’s Will & Grace and ABC’s Roseanne.
The heavily buzzed 9:30 p.m. premiere (which included a surprise Hillary Clinton cameo) was watched by 7.4 million viewers and had a 1.1 rating among adults 18-49 — the softest of the network’s two-hour comedy block. Murphy Brown fell 15 percent from its Mom lead in.
The performance is despite Murphy Brown arguably having the highest name recognition among viewers of any “new” show this fall (along with CBS’ revamp of Magnum P.I.), so one would have expected to see far more sampling for its premiere episode.
By comparison, 2017’s return of Will & Grace on NBC after 11 years off the air had more than 10 million viewers and a strong 3.0 rating in the demo. Earlier this year, Roseanne stunned with a massive 18 million viewers and a 5.1 rating in the demo after 20 years off the air.
Reviews were rather mixed, with the return only averaging 53 out of 100 on review aggregation site Metacritic (here is EW’s take).
Murphy Brown returned following a dramatic day of live Senate Judiciary Committee hearing testimony from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexual assault. The hearings might have resulted in some fans of Murphy Brown‘s topical progressive humor watching primetime cable news coverage instead (or, perhaps, switching off to give themselves a political break).
Tonight marks the premiere of another politically minded sitcom with an unusual path to getting on the air, Last Man Standing (read our review) which debuts on Fox after being canceled by ABC last year.