Canceled shows are my top TV pet-peeve (my thoughts on NBC's Timeless is clear) because we've lost so many high quality shows over the years, all of which had a loyal and growing fanbase. It is incredibly frustrating to see networks value quantity over quality. In many cases, networks doom shows by airing them in poor time slots and then state low ratings as the reason for canceling. Well I'm here to call BS on those network shenanigans. This meltdown has been brewing for years. Consider yourselves warned and feel free to chime in with your frustrations.
The ratings game started to change as the birth of binge-watching and streaming platforms began breathing life into shows that hovered under the weekly ratings radar. But my beef precedes that…
We lost beloved shows like Freaks and Geeks, My So-Called Life, and Firefly – one season wonders which became cult classics. These shows featured rare ensembles that went on to become award-winning stars and TV staples in their own right.
I remember marveling over Jason Ritter, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jon Bernthal, Lizzy Caplan, and Sean Maguire in The Class, CBS' incredibly underrated sitcom that made me belly laugh each week. But why should that surprise me when stellar shows starring established actors?
NBC's delightful sitcom Go On was a much better vehicle for Matthew Perry's talents than the underwhelming The Odd Couple. Dennis Quaid, Jason O'Mara, and Michael Chiklis showcased their charisma and chemistry on CBS' always engaging period drama Vegas. Why cast such high quality stars and build a set the size of a neighborhood only to shut it down a few months later?!?
Some under appreciated shows were ahead of their time. Pushing Daisies delivered whimsy, a sense of innocence and magical musical numbers before Glee took TV by storm. I was baffled when Harper's Island didn't become a regular summer series with a new murder mystery and cast each season. It had the makings of a Netflix hit before binge-watching became the norm. The ever enchanting Moonlight came along just before the vampire craze kicked in and it would've probably succeeded if it aired on The CW instead of CBS.
Speaking of which, I have to give props to CW Seed for streaming a few of my favorite one season wonders: Moonlight, Forever, and Alcatraz. At the time of their cancellation, I campaigned for The CW to save these niche dramas that would be certain hits on a network that caters to Supernatural fans.
What pisses me off most is that some networks just don't set these shows up for success. They don't give them enough (or any) publicity, put them in dead end time slots, and won't air encores on sister stations. NBC's Timeless made TV history when the fan outcry inspired Sony and Universal to renegotiate for a second season.
If NBC promoted the show and aired the first season on SYFY and USA, then more viewers would have tuned into Season 2. Instead, fans like Kelly Clarkson didn't even realize Timeless was coming back- and she's on the same damn network! After another cancellation, fans once again stepped in. Diehard "Clockblockers" paid for publicity stunts until we got a miraculous "series finale" (I still haven't given up hope).
ABC has a long running streak of setting brilliant shows up for failure, simply by shoving them in the dreaded time slot where shows go to die. Galavant, Kevin Probably Saves the World, Downward Dog, and Forever all would have excelled if given the correct circumstances.
Instead, ABC gives us a million versions of The Bachelor because it is cheap, lazy, mindless programming that attracts more viewers than it deserves – wasting prime-time real estate.
The moral of out story? While 25 wannabe celebrities make fools of themselves vying for the superficial affections of one person, hundreds of people who tirelessly work to create thoughtful and thought-provoking art find themselves out of a job.
Because the passionate voice of a few million – especially when it comes to the broadcast networks – doesn't compare to the casual, fly-by spectatorship of a few million more.