Thursdays take back the weekend

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By BJ Laudermilk | Sports Editor

In 1982, a show called Cheers premiered on NBC, and though it did horribly in the ratings, finishing 74th out of 77 shows, network executives decided to give the show a renewal, as it received critical acclaim that year, but mostly because they felt they had nothing better to replace it with.

That decision in the early 1980’s led to an unprecedented run for the network, finding magic in a bottle with Cheers, which increased its ratings during summer re-runs and would go on to air for 11 seasons, but also setting the stage for the network to move itself out of third place in the ratings, and leap to the top, spinning hit after hit sitcom for almost 30 years.

The success of shows such as The Cosby Show, Seinfeld, Cheers and its spinoffs Wings and Frasier, which ran 11 seasons on its own, Will & Grace, and Friends led to a huge marketing campaign for the network, first labeling it as “The Best Night of Television on Television” which lasted for a few years, before marketing the phrase “Must See TV”, which stuck and continued to be part of the country’s lingo until the mid-2000s.

35 years after it all started, the network has tried to revive the branding once again, calling its Thursday night of sitcoms “Must See TV” in its second era. But Thursday night is no longer NBC’s domain to conquer. The other networks have programmed their shows to draw as much competition away from NBC, and thus every network now has content that is “must see” worthy.

Starting this season, and continuing next year, there might not be a better night for television all across the board. With great programming on every network, viewers can’t go wrong leaving it on any network for the entire evening. Sports fans will have Thursday Night Football in the fall, moving to Fox this year after splitting time on CBS and NBC last fall. Fox then will showcase two of its more popular shows after football season, Gotham, currently in its fourth season and based on the world of Batman, as well as The Orville, a dramedy from Seth MacFarlane in its rookie season that serves as his own version of Star Trek.

NBC will bring back its comedic lineup, including the Will & Grace revival and hits such as The Good Place. CBS also competes with a night of comedy, as mainstays The Big Bang Theory and its spinoff Young Sheldon are joined by shows like Mom and Life in Pieces, successes for the network in the past few years.

If a viewer is looking for more serious shows, ABC offers up a night of dramas that will probably leave them with their jaws dropped, as Shonda Rhimes continues to wow and shock viewers, almost to the point of madness, with hits Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal (in its final season), and How to Get Away with Murder.

Even The CW puts its best foot forward to steal viewers away on Thursday nights. With cult-favorite Supernatural and superhero action in Arrow, a younger skewed audience heads towards The CW many nights a week, and the network is playing the game with the big boys by putting some of its best shows on Thursday nights.

It will be interesting to see by the end of the season who will come out on top in the dog-eat-dog world of television ratings. Advertisers will pay big money to be featured on the network with the most viewership, and whoever comes out on top on Thursdays may just take the cake.