Atlanta-based TNT’s most anticipated drama series in years is a return of the legendary soap “Dallas.” The network announced its release date: Wednesday June 13 at 9 p.m. for a 10-episode opening salvo.
The series will try to draw younger viewers with a bevy of new generation Ewings while giving nostalgia buffs three hold-overs from the original, which ended its run more than two decades ago: Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing) and Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing).
With trailers already teasing the show out for months, TNT is set to unleash a heavy fusillade of ads in the coming months to promote it. It doesn’t take an oil tycoon to tell you this is a big bet for TNT and a heavy entree into the woolly world of prime-time soaps. Believe me, TNT is hopin’ for a ratings gusher!
This summer, in fact, will be TNT’s busiest yet for new programming with four nights of TNT-originated shows. It features four new programs, including one crucial spin-off of its signature show “The Closer.” Here’s a take on the rest of the lineup:
- Season three of “Rizzoli & Isles” has been de-coupled from “The Closer” for the first time and moved into the 9 p.m. Tuesday slot June 5. An hour later, the sophomore season of legal drama “Franklin & Bash” begins.
“Rizzoli & Isles” is the biggest ratings success for TNT since “The Closer,” averaging around 8 million viewers, including DVR use for up to a week but not repeats. “Franklin & Bash,” in the meantime, was a steady performer last season, averaging 2.5 million in same-day viewers. Counting DVR+7, that number jumps to 4 million.
- Season two of its first sci-fi success “Falling Skies” starts Sunday, June 17 at 9 p.m. with a two-hour return. It averaged 4.5 million viewers in same-day viewership, an even more robust 6.9 million counting DVR usage up to a week.
- A week later at 10 p.m. Sunday after “Falling Skies,” TNT introduces its biggest effort into reality programming to date: “The Great Escape.” In it, Rich Eisen (”NFL Total Access”) hosts teams who are placed in seemingly impossible situations and have to figure their way out. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are working with the creators of “The Amazing Race.”
- In its usual anchor spot of Monday at 9 p.m., “The Closer” returns for its final stretch of six episodes. The show has shown impressive resiliency over the years and continues to average 8 million viewers a week, DVR up to a week included.
This is followed at 10 p.m. by TNT’s third new program of the summer “Perception,” an eccentric neuroscience professor (played by Emmy winner Eric McCormack) who is recruited by the FBI to help solve complex cases. It sounds a bit like “The Mentalist,” eh? The show is in the spot that helped propel “Rizzoli & Isles” into prominence in 2010.
- On Sunday, 8 p.m. at July 15, the fifth season of “Leverage” begins. The lighthearted Robin Hood-like drama led by Timothy Hutton averages more than 3 million viewers for same-day ratings and about 4.5 million counting DVR usage up to a week.
- And after the series finale of “The Closer,” the spinoff “Major Crimes” without Kyra Sedgwick debuts at 10 p.m. August 13 for the start of 10 episodes.
Last year, TNT went through some churn, as shows “Men of a Certain Age,” “HawhtoRNe” and “Memphis Beat” disappeared.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk