In the past week, 15 shows have met the chopping block.
The week before the network upfront presentations is usually filled with flowers and love as shows pick up renewals for the coming season. This year, the axe has swung hard and 15 shows met an early demise. By comparison, last year only three shows went out to pasture the week before the uppresentations.
What in the world happened?
To be fair, a couple of the shows – Pan Am for instance – were a foregone conclusion, but that still didn’t stop this week from looking like a massacre. Shows that met their demise just this week include:
- Alcatraz (Fox)
- Are You There, Chelsea? (NBC)
- Awake (NBC)
- Bent (NBC)
- Best Friends Forever (NBC)
- Breaking In (Fox)
- The Finder (Fox)
- GCB (ABC)
- Harry’s Law (NBC)
- I Hate My Teenage Daughter (Fox)
- Missing (ABC)
- Pan Am (ABC)
- Ringer (CW)
- The River (ABC)
- The Secret Circle (CW)
The scary thing is, more cancellations are expected in the coming days. CSI: Miami and CSI: NY are both on the edge with the latter looking like a given at this point. Although, it was revealed last week that all three versions of the show are the most watched shows in the world, so who knows what will happen.
What’s worth noting here is that only two of the shows that got chopped were older than a season (Breaking In and Harry’s Law), all the rest were freshman series. And a lot of them share some common problems. Going back to my breakdown of the new shows from last May, here is what I had to say about Missing:
Sean’s take: I like Ashley Judd, but this, like so many shows last season, sounds like the plot of a limited series or a movie, not a full-blown series. They will keep it interesting by just teasing the heck out of the audience, and that quickly get boring.
And The River:
Sean’s take: Wow … I think I fell asleep reading the description.
The networks are so desperate for anything to hit in this age of hundreds of channels that they are throwing everything at the wall that they can to see what sticks. They are taking concepts that are at best a six to 12 episode limited run and attempting to stretch them into 22 episodes just to get them through one season let alone multiple ones.
With this many shows having gone off the air, we are going to be faced with a ton of new programming. ABC has already picked up at least six new shows, and the early breakdowns don’t sound promising to me.
Network television needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed quickly. Chuck the 22 episode season and go with shorter, more focused ideas. It works pretty much everywhere else in the world, and it works for a slew of cable shows. Break the year into three segments (fall, spring and summer) with 13 episode runs per time area. Yes, this equals 39 weeks, but it gives you breathing room for holidays, and the winter is pretty much a wasteland of reruns anyway.
Perhaps if the networks would go with something like this, we wouldn’t see another block of 15 shows get killed off in the span of five days.