The old stalwart is back, and no one saw a thing
Procedurals have ruled the television landscape for decades. Pretty much since television became a thing, it’s been defined by the case-of-the-week format, with police, lawyers and doctors solving, saving, and then starting over again each episode.
At some point, however – probably around the mid-2000s – they became decidedly unsexy. There are still a huge number of standard procedurals, of course, including the highest-rated show on TV (NCIS, as well as CSI, Bones, Law & Order: SVU, all the Chicago shows), but they’re mostly ignored by critics, and they sure as hell aren’t in any awards conversation. They’re the meat-and-potatoes of network and basic cable: reliable, older-skewing, dull.
And so it is that ‘procedural’ became a kind of dirty word.