Fall has barely begun, yet there’s a familiar chill in the air. Halloween is still a couple of weeks away, but there’s a certain group of people out in Hollywood already shivering in fright. Less than a month into the new fall TV season and the television dead pool has claimed its first victim.
Last week, after only two low-rated episodes, ABC dropped the executioner’s ax on its lotto-winning drama “Lucky 7.” The series was supposed to follow the life-changing adventures of a group of seven gas station employees in Queens, NY, who hit the jackpot. Theoretically the cast was going to learn that “money may solve some problems, but creates new ones.” We’ll never know how that played out exactly because the show got dumped before anyone had a decent opportunity to spend any of that sweet lottery dough.
The show, based rather lazily on some British show called “The Syndicate,” debuted on Tuesday, Sept. 24. The pilot lured 4.4 million viewers, landing a 1.3 rating among adults 18-49. Up against high-profile Tuesday night shows like CBS’ “Person of Interest” and NBC’s “Chicago Fire,” it had little chance of success. No surprise then that it dipped to a meager 2.6 million viewers and a 0.7 rating for its second week. That’s the lowest in-season rating for a first-run drama ever on ABC. Ignominiously the show has been replaced with reruns of ABC’s Thursday night hit “Scandal” for the time being.
So what made “Lucky 7” the first show of the new fall season to face cancellation? Well, the subject matter should have given programmers some pause. In 2006 NBC aired “Windfall,” an ensemble drama with a near-identical setup. It got canceled after two months. And it had Luke Perry in it. “Lucky 7” had ... some girl named Summer Bishil. The network obviously had grand, soap opera plans for the series. But all viewers got was a random collection of cliché characters (the cash-strapped father-to-be, the overweight gal with the cheating husband, the questionable ex-con, the hardworking Hispanic, the attractive Pakistani girl about to get an arranged marriage). Did we really need to know what they did with their cut of the lottery winnings? Probably not.
So if it was no surprise to see the lifeless body of “Lucky 7” tumble off the chopping block, what network shows could be standing in line behind awaiting the black hood and the sharp blade? FOX’s “Dads”—a cliché-riddled sitcom penned by Seth MacFarlane—has been one of the critics’ favorite whipping boys this season. And the ratings don’t paint a very different picture. ABC’s “Betrayal”—about a married woman having an affair—wants to be some sort of complicated erotic thriller, but it scored the network’s lowest premiere ratings ever. NBC’s attempts to rebuild its Thursday night comedy block aren’t being helped by the laughless, forgettable, utterly generic sitcom “Welcome to the Family.” Speaking of generic sitcoms, CBS’ “We Are Men” is now that network’s lowest-rated comedy debut ever. CBS’ preposterous “Hostages” is billed as a “limited series.” But the story—about a doctor blackmailed into killing the President of the United States on the operating table—seems too thin to even stretch out over its proposed 15 episodes. Euthanasia could come soon.
So rest assured, “Lucky 7.” One way or another, you’ll soon have company.