The Ax Man Cometh
Networks cut losses
With only a couple of sign-offs left to go, the fall/spring 2013/2014 TV season is more or less over. The broadcast networks celebrated the finale week by killing off a whole bunch of not-very-beloved shows. And “Community.”
“The Assets”—based on the true story of convicted spy Aldrich Ames—was designed as an eight-part miniseries, but it debuted as the lowest-rated drama ever on the Big Three networks. Within a week, ABC canceled the remaining episodes. James Caan wasn’t enough to lure viewers to the divorced mom sitcom “Back in the Game.” “Betrayal,” the TV show that everybody thought was “Revenge” but wasn’t, disappeared after a single, lackluster season. Campy crime saga “Killer Women” was shot in New Mexico—before it was shot by the network. Forgettable lottery drama “Lucky 7” was actually the first show of the season to be canceled for record-setting bad ratings. The crime-comedy “Mind Games” became Christian Slater’s fourth series in a row to tank in its first season. The drunk-dating sitcom “Mixology” took much longer to drop than expected. Aliens-in-suburbia laugher “The Neighbors” couldn’t land enough laughs for another season. ABC wished its spinoff of “Once Upon a Time,” “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland,” was more successful. But it wasn’t. Despite its solid cast, “Suburgatory” bowed out in its third season. Bridesmaids star Rebel Wilson couldn’t secure a second season for her vehicle “Super Fun Night.” The network also divorced itself from “Trophy Wife.”
Alfonso Cuarón and J.J. Abrams’ expensive sci-fi/supernatural series “Believe” couldn’t find itself any believers. The epically silly “Dracula” got a stake through its heart. Dan Harmon’s cult fave “Community” survived five rocky seasons at the Peacock Network. It could still be revived by Netflix or some other sympathetic, non-net outlet. There’s no way the poorly conceived “Crisis”—about evil kidnappers who have taken the children of Washington’s elite—was going to survive more than a season. Despite premiering in a cushy, post-Olympics timeslot, “Growing Up Fisher” didn’t last. The doomed reboot of “Ironside” was one of the first new shows to bow out last fall. Star power alone couldn’t save the affable-but-generic “The Michael J. Fox Show.” J.J. Abrams’ post-apocalyptic series “Revolution” had its plug pulled after two seasons. “Will & Grace” alum Sean Hayes couldn’t save “Sean Saves the World.” “Welcome to the Family” was simply unwelcome, getting yanked after three episodes—and yet somehow it continues to air on STAR World India.
Ratings juggernaut CBS actually had a few stumbles this season. It shed four lame sitcoms (movie spinoff “Bad Teacher,” expensive Robin Williams vehicle “The Crazy Ones,” forgettable “Friends With Better Lives” and risible “We Are Men”) and two dramas (the sci-fi tinged cop series “Intelligence” and the increasingly ridiculous “assassinating the president” drama “Hostages.”
Fans had a lot of hope for cyborg cop drama “Almost Human,” but ratings weren’t good enough to justify a second season. Freshmen sitcoms “Dads,” “Surviving Jack” and “Enlisted” stalled out, while “Raising Hope” closed up shop after four credible seasons. Greg Kinnear’s lawyer dramedy “Rake” got cut loose after one season, while Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor” got the hook after three.
“The Carrie Diaries” couldn’t lure teens the way “Sex and the City” lured thirtysomethings. Spy saga “Nikita” retired after a respectable four seasons. Teen-based sci-fi dramas “Star-Crossed” and “The Tomorrow People” vanished mysteriously.