Last Friday the only original drama on television was the Season 2 finale of NBC’s Hannibal. Last night, the only original drama on television was also on NBC and it was the debut of Crossbones (1.1/4). Originally intended to premiere midseason and be paired with Grimm, the lush action-adventure pirate series from Luther creator Neil Cross and toplined by John Malkovich was plunked over to the summer in February and Hannibal’s second season got the spot. Now it is Crossbones’ time to have Fridays at 10PM, though on the surface the once 10, now 9-episode show’s comparisons to Hannibal are apparent. For one, both are bloody and beautiful to look at, though the Bryan Fuller-created show is more textured in both regards. From a numbers POV, the Blackbeard re-telling debuted with exactly the same ratings as the Season 2 premiere of Hannibal did back on February 28 in the 10 PM slot. In fact, last night’s result was the best NBC has done in the slot since the debut of Hannibal’s latest cycle and saw a 38% rise from Hannibal’s S2 ender last week. It was also better than Fox’s recent debut of Gang Related on May 22. Crossbones’ start was however down from the now cancelled Dracula which opened in the same slot on NBC on October 25 last year with a 1.8 rating among Adults 18-49.
This being pre-summer, of course Friday nights are news mag night and on that high sea, swords were drawn. Leading in to Crossbones, NBC’s 2-hour Dateline (1.3/5) bopped up 8% from last week and hit a two-month high which likely gave the pirate drama some wind in its sails. With 7.07 million viewers, Dateline was also the most watched show of the night. Over on ABC at 9 PM hidden camera series Primetime: What Would You Do? (1.1/4) tumbled 15% from its latest premiere last week. Lead-out 20/20 (1.4/5) was even with its May 23 show making it the top rated show of the night for the second week in a row.