Saturday, November 17, 2012

In network cancellation news...

A number of shows have been cancelled over the last few days. None of them are a surprise. CBS axed PARTNERS (the blatant rip off of the 1995 series, PARTNERS). This series comes from the same writer/producers who created WILL & GRACE. So which was a fluke? W&G or PARTNERS?

Other series produced by this team: $#*! MY DAD SAYS, FOUR KINGS, TWINS, THE STONES, GOOD MORNING MIAMI, and BOSTON COMMONS.

LAST RESORT was dropped by ABC. This was the show about the nuclear submarine that docks on the LOST island. I must say I loved the pilot. My one question when it was over was how are they going to keep this going week after week? By week three when the sub was sneaking through a government blockade to get drugs for the island drug lord who had kidnapped three crew members I stopped asking.

Interestingly, ABC has not officially cancelled LAST RESORT. There’s a slim chance they could bring it back next season. Yeah, right. It’s not good enough to get a back nine but it is good enough to return for a second season? Mayday, captain!!!

My suggestion: take the pilot, slap a real ending on it and sell it as a movie.

666 PARK AVENUE was also yanked off the schedule by ABC, and like LAST RESORT is a candidate to return next season. So start that letter writing campaign now, 666 fanboys!

Not cancelled but premiering with a resounding thud this week was WHITNEY. Why NBC loves this show I do not know. Ms. Cummings must have compromising photos of the peacock in bed with 4-star generals. 

And of course, a few weeks ago NBC cancelled NEXT CALLER before it had even aired. Stephen Falk, the creator of that show wrote a cool article about what it’s like to be in that situation. You can read it here.

It used to be that networks would order 13 episodes of a new Fall series from the studio producing the show. If it got okay numbers they ordered a back nine. Networks eventually tried to hedge their bets, ordered only six episodes. The studios balked. Six episodes were not enough to establish an audience and if there were overages in production costs the studios would never recoup them. Networks backed off. They needed the studios to continue feeding them product.

But now that the networks own the studios they can do any damn thing they want. And we’re seeing that. They’re adding two episodes to an order. They’re shaving one or two episodes off an order. They’re ordering four script but not episodes. So anything is possible these days including putting a nuclear submarine in dry dock for a year.

Maybe the strangest example of this new practice was last season when ABC cancelled PAN AM but ordered one additional episode. Huh???  Hey, don't ask me.  I’m still trying to figure out WHITNEY.

24 comments:

Lynn MacDonald said...

Wow...my daughter is getting ready to move to LA and hopefully become a sitcom writer. Kind of makes me wonder if the highs are worth the lows.

BTW...I totally enjoy your blog. In fact, it's the only one I read daily and I'm a blogger myself and I'm supposed to read a ton!

Terrence Moss said...

The way the networks are doing business now is horrible. "Partners" wasn't the best show but it was getting better and was one of those that needed to be nurtured into a hit.

From a creative and audience-building standpoint, these incremental orders are very problematic -- not that these number-crunching executives give a crap about that. They still think all you need promos and billboards to break through the clutter.

unkystan said...

Variety has an interesting take on why serialized shows sometimes get cancelled so quickly. They call it "binge viewing" where viewers stockpile episodes and watch them straight though later on. You can read the story here: http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118062345

Anonymous said...

I really like 666, do they even give these show's a chance? That sucks

Mr. First Nighter said...

666 is still scheduled through Nov. 25. It's off this Sunday for American Music Awards

Jim said...

It seems as if "Partners" was a show that CBS tried to "hammock" with "HIMYM" and "Two Broke Girls." In other words, two strong shows in the Monday night lineup propping up an unknown.

I seriously hope that CBS doesn't throw "Two and a Half Men" or "Rules of Engagement" to fill the void.

The Tiffany Network (ahem) needs to take a good look at their sitcoms and decide to pull the plug on some of them.

The following should just be put out of their miseries in May:

-How I Met Your Mother (MEET HER ALREADY)
-Two and a Half Me (Ashton Kutcher adds nothing to this mess)
-Rules of Engagement (I want a plot, not 22 minutes of David Spade being snarky.)

Just my opinion. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Whitney is by far the worst show on that TV thing! The 'jokes' are either predictable or shouldn't be jokes to begin with. Not sure how much involvement Cummings has with 2 Broke Girls but that show is highlarious. So I'm guessing Whitney doesn't write for it. The cast on Whitney is horrible as well. Especially Chris D'loser. On twitter he just tries to copy other comics' tweets. Maybe he should copy their acting style too.

Emily Blake said...

I don't know if this affects comedy as much, but can you talk about how constantly not knowing how many episodes you'll get affects your story telling?

Last year the Canadian series Lost Girl was upgraded from 13 episodes to 22 after they already started shooting, and as a result the story suffered because they were forced to fill time they hadn't anticipated. They'd already set up a story arc that was only supposed to take 13 episodes to resolve.

What do you about your overall story when you suddenly find your season order changing?

Anonymous said...

Critics called Will and Grace Dharma and Greg with a gay male lead, I think that explains a lot.

pumpkinhead said...

I thought Will and Grace was Ned and Stacey with a gay male lead.

Mike Bell said...

The couple of times I've caught "Partners" I've hoped for the scene where they catch Brandon Routh heating up a casserole with his heat vision.

D. McEwan said...

I was watching 666, but I will not miss it. It was fun but silly.

I had stopped watching Partners already. The gay character on it was beyond annoying.

Anonymous said...

Rules of Engagement was canceled after last season.

Oliver said...

ABC ordered an additional episode of Pan Am for scheduling reasons: they wanted to air an evening of originals before an awards show, so they needed one additional episode to plug the gap. As a pleasant side-effect, it also meant that they wrap-up the show.

I think we're going to see more and more serialised dramas get definitive final episodes, effectively turning them into miniseries. This is good for viewers, and makes the shows much more valuable on Netflix.

I think it also earn audience goodwill. People will be more willing to start watching serialised shows if they know they are going to get a definitive ending, whether it takes 5 seasons or 13 episodes.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

The show I'm really liking among this year's crop of new ones is NASHVILLE - love the music and the leads' performances (Hayden Panettiere is particularly surprising as a young crossover pop/country star with aspirations to be a real musician).

Most of the rest I find unwatchable.

wg

Johnny Walker said...

Seriously, what's the deal with PARTNERS (2012) and PARTNERS (1995)?

From the IMDB, here are the two synopses (I won't tell you which is which):

"Although they could not be more different, XXX and XXX are lifelong friends and partners in an architecture firm. Their friendship is tested when XXX gets engaged to Ali."

and

"Best friends XXX and XXX work together as aspiring young architects on the rise, their relationship complicated by XXX's recent engagement to Alicia."

I don't see any mention of Jeff Greenstein or Jeff Strauss (creators of PARTNERS (1995)) in the new show's credits...

How are CBS not being sued by somebody?

Oliver said...

Related to Whitney...

NBC execs Bob Greenblatt/Jennifer Salke/Tal Rabinowitz have been going around and just stopping short of bad-mouthing their existing comedy lineup, calling them "too niche" and they are in a "transition" into "broader shows". (e.g. TV Guide - NBC Boss: Why We're Tweaking Our Comedy Brand)

I think this is a huge mistake.

30 Rock/Community/Parks and Recreation/The Office are the network's relative hits, which is the reason they are still on the air. They may not get the ratings NBC wants, but that's no reason to blame those shows. Instead, NBC should be looking at their network's failures instead. If the network had developed more successful shows, then their "niche" shows would have been cancelled already.

NBC execs seem to be under the impression they will get people to watch their new shows by saying things like this, but instead they are simply pissing off a whole bunch of the network's most dedicated and enthusiastic viewers. Good luck convincing the vocal and Internet-savvy Community and Parks viewers to watch your new comedies, because they now actively hate the network and want to see you fail.

Besides, are the shows really that "niche"? Sure, Community has become weird but it started from a very broad base. There's nothing inherent about Parks that prevents it from becoming a giant hit. 30 Rock got decent ratings for a long, long time. The Office was a hit for several seasons until Carrell left and the writing got weaker after Daniels/Schur left for Parks.

I think NBC's idea of "broad comedy" is shows like Animal Practice, Up All Night or Whitney. But they aren't "broad", they are dumb and bad, and the execs can't seem to identify the difference between the two. I'd also argue that shows like Up All Night, The New Normal and Whitney are just as niche as Community, just for different niches.

And the existence of Save Me is just inexplicable. WTF, NBC?

RCP said...

What with Stephen Falk's article and recently reading the autobiography of Alan Shayne (President of Warner Brothers Television during the 70s/80s - his descriptions of network executive meetings may make you laugh and shake your head in disbelief) I have to conclude it's a ka-razy business - and yet...

I also enjoyed 666, but the real terror resides with American Horror Story: Asylum.

Mr. First Nighter said...

Am I the only one who sees "Hayden Panettiere" but reads "Hayden Planetarium"?

Mark said...

Hopefully the cast of HIMYM are telling CBS in no uncertain terms that they wish to move on to bigger and better things like they've stated in interviews. It's clear the cast want out, but CBS is obviously going to try to rope them back in, which is going to lead to an even bigger quality drop than what it's experiencing now when the writers have to throw continuity out the window to keep the show going.

Lionel said...

Where do you think I can attain show bibles for sitcoms and where do you think I can get them from?

Johnny Walker said...

@Mark, I stopped watching HIMYM part way through Season 7 -- when it started getting depressing after Marshall and Lily moved out of Manhattan. I intend to finish it one day, but I'm sad to hear it's gone hugely downhill. I hope this is its last Season.

cadavra said...

I think the connection between the two PARTNERS is James Burrows.

PARTNERS was the one new show this season that I really loved. So naturally, not only did they cancel it but they won't even air the remaining episodes. Sheesh--doesn't TWO AND A HALF MEN air like 60 times a week already?

jeff said...

Pizza.

It's just such a go-to food. Even frozen.

And your blog, just to kiss up to you and maybe you'll take a look at mine.