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With the initial booming successes of revived sitcoms Will & Grace on NBC and Roseanne (temporarily) on ABC, it's logical that CBS looked to the past for a classic series to bring back for the fall season. As it happens, though, Murphy Brown might not have been the best choice. The network may have quietly sealed the sitcom's Season 2 fate in revealing its 2019 midseason schedule, and Murphy Brown is nowhere to be found.
Here are the specifics. On Thursday, January 10, Murphy Brown's Thursday night 9:30 p.m. time slot is being taken over by the temporarily troubled new sitcom FAM, which stars The Vampire Diaries vet Nina Dobrev. The way it's worded in the announcement is that the change will happen "after Murphy Brown completes its season order."
That means the politically driven comedy won't be getting any further episodes ordered for its revival season. Most new fall shows have, by this point, gotten orders for a back nine episodes to follow up the initial 13-ep deals. It's not always nine episodes that get called for -- NBC's hugely popular Manifest had its season filled out to just 16 episodes -- but it's almost always a bad sign when no additional episodes are ordered.
dA bad sign as in: don't hang any hopes up on a Season 2 renewal, because it probably isn't happening. CBS hasn't made any official calls one way or the other at the time of this writing, but the chances of Murphy Brown returning for a second batch of episodes already seemed like a long shot before CBS' schedule went public.
For one, Murphy Brown hasn't been as universally acclaimed as many may have thought it would be after a 20-year absence. Many have said the show's overtly one-sided politics jam up the comedy, though opinions about the cast's performances themselves are generally agreed to be on par with expectations.
Of course, critical takes mean nothing if the audiences are tuning in consistently and plentifully. Unfortunately for CBS, the revival's track record is lacking. After premiering to an impressive-enough 7.5 million viewers, the ratings have mostly dipped since, with only a slight uptick along the way. The most recent episode, tied to Thanksgiving, was watched by just 4.75 million. If things don't go up from there, then Season 2 is definitely doomed.
Maybe if Fam doesn't work out either, CBS will order up a full TV series based on the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special that airs ever year. Or maybe not.