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Return of TV's old reliables

Grey’s Anatomy recently decided that after a year of running a lot of repeat episodes, now was the time to bring out the big guns.  So they dug into their archives and aired the two-hour episode in which a patient comes in with an undetonated explosive embedded in his chest that’s being stabilized by an EMT whose hand is also in said chest.  In the end, the bomb tech blew up and the world was introduced to Bailey’s “vajayjay.”

Both were shocking events back in the day.  But what surprised me this time was how young all the characters looked.  After all, the episode was 15 years old.  And the show has just been renewed for season 18.  Eighteen!

It’s not the only long-running series to be recently been renewed.  In the past, five to seven seasons was considered a solid lifespan for most shows.  Given the struggles with production and changing viewing styles amid COVID, I have a sneaking suspicion that the networks have loosened up the ratings required for their shows to earn that all-important renewal.  So some are sticking around a lot longer – and showing their age.

NCIS will be back for season 19 thanks to Mark Harmon’s decision to stick around.  It’s one of the few episodic series that still has several of its original (or nearly-so) cast.  But this year, the original young “probie,” McGee, has taken charge of the team.  Yes, our little boy has truly grown up.

Meanwhile, the show’s cousin, NCIS: Los Angeles will officially become a teenager, renewed for a mind-boggling thirteenth season this fall.  Despite their years starring in the show, Chris O’Donnell and L.L. Cool J will forever be Batman’s Robin and the rapper to me.

Young Sheldon hasn’t been around that long but it’s managed to solidify its own post-Big Bang Theory following.  And while it’s only been renewed for seasons five through seven, the show’s life-cycle is more like dog years.  By season seven, the titular character will be 16 years old.  Is he really “Young” at that point?

The Chicago franchise of Fire, P.D. and Med are all renewed for an additional two seasons on NBC.  But after a decade on-screen, some of the hot, young firefighters are starting to look like someone’s dad.  (Sorry dads.)  And at what point can a firefighter no longer safely run into a burning building?  Several of the members of the firehouse are played by nearly 60-year-old actors.

On the unscripted side, Survivor will see a season 41.  Who knew that a primetime reality show that featured an obnoxious nude competitor in the first go-around would still be gracing the TV schedule today?  Or that he would be one of the lesser annoyances over the years?

And Wheel of Fortune has been renewed through 2022 – at which point, host Pat Sajak will still resemble an overgrown teenager going to prom.

Is it time for some of these shows to retire?  Maybe.  Regardless, we’ve got a lot of old friends returning this fall.  Very old friends.