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Manifest on the Bubble: Should NBC Keep or Cut Its No. 1 New Drama?

Manifest Cancelled or Renewed

By mid-May, the broadcast networks will need to make some tough calls as to which series will return for the 2019-20 TV season, and which… won’t.

As that deadline inches closer, TVLine is singling out several “bubble” shows and sizing up their prospects — based in large part on their creative strides (and stumbles) and future potential, but also with a requisite nod to the cold, hard Nielsen numbers.

Next up in this year’s KEEP OR CUT series is a freshman hit that is not without its storytelling misses….

THE SHOW | NBC’s Manifest (the Season 1 finale aired Feb. 18)

THE CASE FOR KEEPING | Manifest took flight with a provocative, summer promo-friendly concept — “What if an airplane full of passengers resurfaced, un-aged, five years after being presumed dead?” Having spent 16 episodes wondering about the why and how, it’d be great to get some hard (if not fast) answers. And though the show has (maddeningly) refused to dwell on the inexplicable science behind Flight 828’s travels, the reveal that other, random individuals have jumped through weeks or hours of time and in turn also experienced “callings” re-sparked our interest late into the season.

Ratings-wise, Manifest — like many an aprés-Voice launch — opened big (with 10.4 million viewers and a 2.2 demo rating), only to end Season 1 with about half that. Among NBC dramas, it’s in a three-way tie for second (with the already renewed Chicago Med and Fire) in the demo, while placing fifth in total audience (ahead of already renewed fellow freshman New Amsterdam).

Manifest 1x05 SpoilersTHE CASE FOR CUTTING | Choosing to focus on the interpersonal ramifications of Flight 828’s return has at times proved emotionally resonant — it’s sad for a lad to have his twin sister now be older! — but the more soap-tastic aspects have dominated screen time, with very mixed results. Ben’s wife Grace, as with many characters, has not been sufficiently gobsmacked by/sympathetic to his “resurrection”/lost time, and instead first came off as selfishly fixated on her squashed new romance. Michaela’s similarly complicated sitch with almost-fiancé Jared was a bit more compelling, though third-party Lourdes proved to be the most paper of tigers. Lastly on the creative front, medical genius Saanvi was set up in the pilot as a character as major as the Stones, but the writers have yet to give her her due.

Vote below, then state your own case for keeping or cutting Manifest.