After only two episodes, Fox has cancelled Lone Star, making it the official first casualty of the fall 2010 season. It's a sad, but unsurprising move on Fox's part, considering the obvious fact that Lone Star -- a slow, more-intelligent-than-Glee (not that there's anything wrong with Glee) adult drama -- belonged anywhere but on network television. But let's buck up and move on to the important question: who should be next? What else is just so terrible, or so poorly scheduled, or just plain misplaced that it should be put out of its misery next? In ascending order, here are the new shows that most need to be cancelled, and the alternate networks where they could have lived long, happy, minimum-ratings-pressure lives.
After NBC's failure to do gangbusters with Southland, I don't know why ABC would break from soaps to try to get network-sized ratings out of a "gritty" (over-used word, but it's apt), competently-written cop drama. Or a cop drama at all, after how well The Unusuals and Life on Mars did over there. If the argument is, "Well, Christophuh's character is unconventional, like The Mentalist!", that's absurd -- CBS plays by its own weird rules and everyone knows it. I understand that ABC's trying to break away from "women" shows to retain male-targeted ad dollars in the wake of Lost's departure, but Detroit 1-8-7 is not a mass appeal show, and it belongs on a network like FX, where smaller numbers are worth more, and where they can be as bloody-disgusting as they wanna be, plain and simple.
This was ABC's biggest disappointment of the season, and yet again, it's not terribly surprising. The show is not only objectively good, it's also awfully hard to explain to people who don't want to take more than 10 seconds to be pitched a premise. Which is... the majority of the viewing public. IFC could have folded the documentary-style show into their experimental slots of scripted shows and probably made it work. And it wouldn't have even mattered if they cut the budget in half and filmed it with a Flip Cam -- it still would have lasted longer than it will on ABC.
Oof, Undercovers. The Event, for the most part, showed first week numbers that correlated with NBC's enormous marketing push for it. Undercovers, on the other hand, pulled in eight million viewers despite the network's all-out, all-summer advertising assault. And why shouldn't it? It's an unnecessary, more expensive duplicate of another failure -- Chuck -- and it's not like either NBC or J.J. Abrams' names are worth what they used to be. But if this silly, sappy, bloodless spy show had been on subsidiary network USA, taking over for mega-hit Covert Affairs in its off-season instead? That's a profit-churning hit that's fun for the whole family.
I'm willing to give Mitch Hurwitz and James Vallely the benefit of the doubt and guess that Fox's meddling is the reason this show is so bad. I have no idea if that's the case, but something tells me that if Starz had let them go crazy it could have been a decent contender for Party Down: The Non-Cancelled Version. It also would have been a nice midseason replacement for Better With You on ABC's Wednesday nights, had it been funnier. Too bad it's just going to die quietly on Fox in a couple weeks.
The Whole Truth
If only Lifetime had scooped it up before ABC did, they'd have finally had their skinny, serious flip-side to Drop Dead Diva.
By all accounts, Outlaw looks to be on life support already, and the most likely candidate for "Second Casualty of the Fall 2010 Season." But at least with this, I can see what NBC was thinking. It's a mediocre legal drama starring a slightly aging, yet familiar face; that's a formula that's worked for the networks in the past. What I wish they had also thought was "This would get great numbers on TNT, where they already have an audience for this and know how to market it... and where five million viewers is a hit."
Middling, straightforward procedural with Texas Marshals catching bad guys at 10 PM? Why, that's a CBS show millions of Americans can fall asleep to. So what is it doing drowning on NBC?
Outsourced had a strong premiere (seven million), but we'll have to wait until Friday morning to find out if that was just because of all the divisive hoopla surrounding it. But if the week two numbers decline down to Parks & Recreation-level averages, should NBC cancel it? (Because they absolutely won't, there's no doubt about that.) It generated a lot of press, which is almost always good, but does the show fit with who they want to be? It's brazenly Fox-like in how un-P.C. it is, but the real problem, at least in the long-term, is that it's yet another office comedy that tries to recapture the rag-tag-crew magic of The Office. And since NBC needs static creative strategies about as much as it needs another Jay Leno Show, they should cancel it and move on. (But, again, it's crazy to think that they will.)
Better With You
This multi-camera, laugh-tracked, "differences between men and women" show straight out of the '90s should not be defacing ABC's Wednesday night comedy block of Modern Family and Cougar Town. If it belongs anywhere, it's CBS, where they manage to turn outdated lead into ratings gold all the time. But mostly it really shouldn't exist at all.
What do you think should be canceled next? Leave your bids in the comments, then see what the cast of Lone Star should do next!
Watch TWoP's editors discuss the new fall shows that should be cancelled in this segment airing on the New York Nonstop cable news channel:
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