15th May2013

Farewell to Friends & Foes: The TV Cancellations of 2013

by Will

I love television. Not only do I love watching it, but I love the behind the scenes action even more. Every now and then, I do these “inside baseball” posts about TV, and it seems a few people have come to love them. So, this is for you, @trooperlite and @crookedninja! So, we’re currently in the middle of Upfronts Week in NYC, where the major networks debut their schedules for the next TV season. NBC was on Monday, while ABC was yesterday. While they’re scrambling to publicize their new shows, they spent last weekend shuffling some old shows out to the dumpster. Today, we’ll talk about those shows that are no longer with us.

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NBC

I’ve already discussed NBC’s prospects at length, and I decided that I felt it was time for them to “go scorched Earth” on their comedy slate. For the most part, I was right. Whitney, Guys With Kids, The New Normal, Go On, 1600 Penn, Up All Night – all cancelled. I was wrong about Parks & Rec and Community, but the renewal of the latter makes sense. I still feel like Parks & Rec‘s story arc is done, even if I love all the characters. Still, Community was the one everyone had their eye on.

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As lackluster as this season had been, the final 2 episodes were actually really strong, and in the vein of the Community we all remember and love. Plus, as a feather in its cap, the season finale beat American Idol in ratings for the coveted 18-34 demographic. When you beat Idol, you ain’t going anywhere. Over on Twitter a few weeks back, I compared the renewal chances of Community against those of ABC’s Happy Endings. I argued that, out of the two critically acclaimed shows, Community actually had the best chance at renewal because of syndication. It already had the low 88, but one more season would put it over 100, which is the number studios like to have before a show’s reruns go five nights a week. Happy Endings‘s episode count is too low (57), and another season still wouldn’t put it in the sights of weekday strip syndication. So, at the end of the day, Community‘s 11th hour renewal isn’t really much of a surprise. Studios make their money back from syndication, and there’s no way a studio wouldn’t fight for another season when a show is that close to making its money back.

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An NBC cancellation that came as no surprise in recent weeks was Whitney. I’ve admitted that I loved the show once it was retooled in its second season. I argued that a renewal wouldn’t do much for NBC’s identity, and that’s pretty true from the shows they revealed on Monday (which I’ll probably discuss in another post). The problem with Whitney was logistics: the costar of the show was comedian Chris D’elia, who was also in second position for an NBC pilot called Undateable, which had tons of buzz around it. Let’s discuss that phrase “second position” – when an actor is on a show that he/she believes might get cancelled, they go out to auditions during pilot season in order to cover their asses. If they happen to get the job, they’re put in “second position”, meaning they only get the job should their current show end up cancelled (after all, they’re under contract to the first show). So, if NBC saw a hit on its hands with Undateable, Whitney had to die. I think Whitney could’ve lived on the New NBC, but it was simply a matter of logistics.

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I also changed my mind on Go On after writing that last post. While it could also have survived on New NBC, it, like Parks & Rec, completed its story arc by the season finale. I’m not sure if they knew it would be the end or what. The show was about Perry’s character trying to get over his wife’s death through the help of a support group. He played the same misanthropic character we saw in Mr. Sunshine , Studio 60, and other Perry non-Chandler roles, set against the backdrop of what was essentially Dear, John. By the season finale, he had successfully learned to move on. Case closed, right?

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ABC

Ugh. Happy Endings. It KILLS me this show got the axe, but the numbers don’t lie. It was such a clever show, almost like Friends meets Community, but ABC didn’t exactly support it. There’s still a chance that it’ll live on as either a show on USA or TBS, but only time will tell. It worked for Cougar Town, so I’ve certainly got my fingers crossed.

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ABC, like Fox, didn’t really nurse shows that were ailing. Where NBC had little choice, most other networks cut their ailing shows rather early. On ABC’s front, we lost Don’t Trust the B—- In Apt 23, Family Tools, How to Live with Your Parents For the Rest of Your Life, Body of Proof, Malibu Country, Red Widow, and a slew of shows they’d already cut loose this season (Last Resort, 666 Park Avenue, Private Practice, and Zero Hour). I only really watch ABC’s comedies, so that’s what I’ll focus on here.

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I was sad to see Don’t Trust the B go, but I understand it. It was another show that just couldn’t survive against Fox’s New Girl (which is pretty bad, considering New Girl lost about 20% of its audience between seasons; theses aren’t stellar numbers). At first, I thought it would be a cute romantic comedy, but I didn’t see how they’d eke a whole series out of it. As it went on, though, I really grew to like it, even throughout the haphazard product placement of the People‘s Sexiest Man Alive episode. If nothing else, it served as a platform for the adorable Dreama Walker, who’ll definitely bounce back somewhere soon.

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The cancellation of Family Tools and How To Live With Your Parents should surprise no one. I mean, they didn’t debut until May. Clearly ABC didn’t have any faith in them. I just feel bad for Kyle Bornheimer, who adds another cancellation to his belt, along with Perfect Couples and Worst Week. As much as we all love Sarah Chalke and, to some extent, Brad Garrett, How to Live With Your Parents was horrible. I didn’t like Chalke as ditzy, as I felt her Dr. Elliot days were behind her, plus I couldn’t watch without asking “What the Hell happened to Elizabeth Perkins?” Anyway, networks don’t debut shows they like in May. That’s a burn-off.

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I’m a bit surprised by the end of Malibu Country. I mean, Reba had a series that lasted 6 seasons and 126 episodes just a few years ago. I thought, for sure, that audience would follow her to her new show. With Reba, it’s less about the writing and plot, and more about her down-home delivery. Her fans ain’t coming for the story, so where did they go? Especially when she was paired with “Home Improvement 2.0” (Last Man Standing). Friday night is a horrible night for anything other than wedding shows, but I thought ABC was on the road to rebuilding it as a family night. LMS got renewed, so what’ll be paired with it now?

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Fox

No real surprises here, as they’ve been cutting throughout the year. We lost Ben & Kate, The Mob Doctor, Touch, Fringe, The Cleveland Show, and Goodwin Games still hasn’t aired, despite a lot of buzz surrounding it. Ben & Kate seemed like it could’ve been cute, but I still question whether or not Nat Faxon is a leading man. It just didn’t feel right. The Mob Doctor was clearly DOA when they didn’t care enough to even give it a good title. “What’s this show about? Oh, a mob doctor? Fine. Use it.” There’s something about Mondays that Fox can’t get right – from Terra Nova to Alcatraz to Lonestar, they just can’t program that night properly. Touch was really just Fox’s way of saying “C’mon, Kiefer – just let us pay you til we figure out what to do with you.” It was always said that Touch would’ve made a decent movie, but even the studio was struggling to figure out how to make a series out of it. Looks like they failed to figure it out. Fringe was always living on borrowed time, but you’ve gotta give Fox credit – they give shows a chance that would never be given the same chance elsewhere. Letting Fringe live out its life was Fox’s way of making amends for Firefly, even if folks don’t want to acknowledge that. I really hate to see Cleveland go, but I guess it just wasn’t working. Plus, it’s never good when Fox gives you the “may be preempted by NASCAR or baseball” timeslot. Goodwin Games has had a ton of buzz on it for the past year, but it sounds like one of those shows starring Tyler Labine that’s just destined for cancellation. Turns out it doesn’t star Labine, but does have Scott Foley. Considering Fox cut the initial order from 13 to 7, they’re clearly just doing some studio head a favor by airing it.

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CBS

With CBS, we lost Partners, CSI: NY, Golden Boy, Rules of Engagement, and Vegas. Partners was HORRIBLE, and it only got on the schedule because it had the Will & Grace team behind it. CSI: NY had been living on borrowed time, just like previously cancelled CSI: Miami had been. Golden Boy had the Chi McBride Curse going for it. I swear, that man is the Black Summer Glau! Great actor, but the last thing he was in that made it more than 3 seasons was Boston Public. Rules of Engagement made it to 100 episodes, so its mission is done. It’s already in syndication, but I wouldn’t count it out, as it has served valiantly as a CBS fill-in for the past 4 years of its existence. It could easily come back, ’cause I think it’s pretty cheap to produce. I could never wrap my head around Vegas because its premise was one lawman against the mob. Um…the mob wins. Everyone knows that. So, were we just supposed to watch this dude prolong the inevitable? Was this an alternate dimension? Did they ever have an episode where Dennis Quaid screamed “Yo, Joe!” after Chiklis yelled “It’s Clobberin’ Time!”? Oh well, a boy can dream…

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So, there you have it. No, I’m not doing The CW. That thing is just an experiment that CBS plays around with. It’s not a real network, and the only thing notable they lost was 90210, which ended 13 years to the week of the original.

Welp, those are my thoughts. How did you all feel? Which shows are you sad/glad to see gone?

6 Responses to “Farewell to Friends & Foes: The TV Cancellations of 2013”

  • Lamar the Revenger

    Great article Will! The Chi McBride Curse AND the Male Friends Curse was in action this year. I expect an Office Curse to follow

  • Sad to see The Cleveland Show gone, but maybe that means more actual screen time for Sanaa Lathan and Reagan Gomez-Preston. Because I need to see these womens to appreciate ’em.

    Now that Community’s returning, will it have Chevy Chase involved? Things got ugly behind the scenes with him, wonder if they’ll keep him around next season.

  • I was mostly upset that Rules got the axe. It was pretty much inevitable, but Rules was always a solid performer for CBS and is actually a pretty funny show. It’s not groundbreaking or anything, but it’s just you know, a decent sitcom. Nothing more, nothing less. Plus Warburton is gold.

    Unfortunately for Rules, CBS basically wanted to kill it last season, but strung it along as a midseason show and then moved it around however they wanted. So despite outperforming expectations last season, it was hard for it to get much traction this season. Would have been nice to give it a little “last season” push, IMO and try to milk it for all it’s worth.

    On the plus side, you’re right. CBS could bring it back as a midseason replacement again. Even though it’s officially canceled, if some stuff tanks, they could scramble and put the show back together in some capacity.

  • Michael Johnson

    I’m glad Community made it. I still enjoy watching it and I think it’s got another season of material.

  • Will

    Lamar – LeBlanc’s doing OK. I think the Friends bounce back on TV, but never really did great things cinematically.

    Classick – you know, I never realized Regan was on that show. She was the only reason to watch The Parent’hood

    Newt – I really like ROE, and I wouldn’t count it out yet.

    Mike – Agreed. I wouldn’t have said that two weeks ago, but it went out strong.

Trackbacks & Pings

  • 10 Television Shows that Outgrew Their Premise says:

    […] With “upfronts week” upon us, the major television networks are trimming the fat (rightly so or otherwise) and foisting new (and revived) shows upon us for next season. If you’re interested in TV cancellations and new show announcements, read more about it here. […]

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