‘Fire Country’ Becomes Most-Watched New Series This Season

Fire Country Jules Latimer Jordan Calloway Max Thieriot
Bettina Strauss/CBS
Jules Latimer as Eve Edwards, Jordan Calloway as Jake Crawford, and Max Thieriot as Bode Donovan in ‘Fire Country’

Friday night might not be the broadcast TV graveyard it once was. With its premiere on Friday, October 7, Fire Country became the 2022–2023 season’s most-watched new series to date.

The new CBS firefighter drama landed the No. 1 spot after pulling in 5.74 million viewers on Friday, according to Deadline. It beat its closest competitor in the 9/8c time slot, ABC’s 20/20 by more than 3 million viewers. Fox’s Friday Night Smackdown, meanwhile, came in third place for the time slot but came out ahead in the 18–49 ratings, with an 0.5 score compared to Fire Country’s 0.4, per SpoilerTV.

In terms of total viewers, CBS won all three primetime time slots on Friday, with the premiere of S.W.A.T. bringing in 4.63 million viewers at 8/7c and the premiere of Blue Bloods attracting 6.11 million at 10/9c.

And in other good news for CBS, the Paramount-owned network now holds the top three freshman broadcast series so far, with the police procedural East New York and the legal drama So Help Me Todd joining Fire Country in the pantheon.

Fire Country, which actor Max Thieriot created alongside former Grey’s Anatomy EPs Tony Phelan and Joan Rater, follows a team of convicts who battle wildfires in exchange for reduced sentences as part of an unconventional prison-release program. Thieriot plays Bade Donovan, whose shot at redemption through the program is threatened when he’s assigned to the hometown where his troubles began.

Max Thieriot as Bode Donovan in 'Fire Country'

Bettina Strauss/CBS

“A lot of personal drama led him down this dark path,” Thieriot explains in TV Guide Magazine’s 2022 Fall Preview issue. “And when he came to the fork in the road, he chose the bad [route].”

The actor, who remains a cast member of the Paramount+ series SEAL Team, says he based Fire Country on his experience growing up in Northern California. “Most of my friends joined the military or went to work for Cal Fire out of high school,” he said. “A lot of times you go on a call … it could be [someone you know]. The incidents are that much more personal.”

In a recent interview, CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl rationalized Fire Country’s Friday-night assignment. “To be honest, it felt like a Friday show, in a good way,” Kahl told TVLine. “It’s not ‘blue sky,’ it’s got a smoky sky, but it’s outdoor, and it’s big, and it just kind of feels like an end-of-week, Friday-night show.”

Fire Country, Fridays, 9/8c, CBS