Nine seasons, 240 episodes
For years, The FBI was ABC’s longest running crime drama. Despite the fact that NYPD Blue has since overtaken the 1965-74 crime drama’s record, The FBI remained a Sunday night institution.
When The FBI begain airing on 19 September 1965, ABC was last place in the ratings. Pitted against The Ed Sullivan Show and Bonanza, The FBI should have failed like so many of ABC’s other new programs. By the time the network’s “Second Season” of programming began in January 1966, the series had survived. The featured TV series from that “Second Season” by the way, was Batman. Later, on 28 March 1966, The Avengers began its three-year run on ABC.
The FBI never enjoyed spectacular ratings, but it always managed to hold its own.
The series scored its best ratings in 1970-71, when it reached the No. 10 position. Perhaps Inspector Lewis Erskine never wore a cowl and a cape, nor wore a bowler hat and drove a vintage Engish car. However, many Americans—and television viewers overseas—made it their habit to tune in to see what the Feds would do to apprehend their criminal.
A note about our data
We would like to take this opportunity to issue an apology to all of you. Our information on the different episodes is less than complete. American Life TV only airs the first six seasons (1965-71), and information on the other three seasons seems to be scant. We hope to rectify this situation when we compile a book on this legendary television series.