Late today, ABC released their mid-season 2011-12 schedule and it contained a few surprises. For one thing, Cougar Town was completely MIA. Has the Courteney Cox sitcom been cancelled?
Last January, Cougar Town was one of six shows that were given very early renewals by ABC. Season three was initially expected to debut sometime this fall but ABC decided to hold it until late November. The programmers planned to air it Tuesdays at 9pm, once Dancing with the Stars had finished in the fall and before the new spring season had begun. It was to be paired with Apartment 23 (now called Don’t Trust the B– in Apartment 23).
Creator Bill Lawrence has said that he hounded ABC head Paul Lee to give the show the chance to lead-off an hour rather than rely on Modern Family’s coattails. He was happy to be paired with Apartment 23, the network’s favorite new sitcom of the season.
The schedule change meant however that Cougar Town’s 22 new episodes might not air during the regular season, simply because the network might not have enough slots left in the schedule. Lawrence said that he was fine with a few episodes airing during the spring or summer.
Cougar Town’s return was then pushed to later in the season and was expected to kick off in early 2012, still paired with Apartment 23.
Flash forward to today’s announcement and the Tuesday night schedule is very different than expected. Neither Apartment 23 nor Cougar Town are on it. ABC initially maintained that both would air sometime in the Spring.
Now, Deadline reports that ABC has cut the show’s order from 22 installments down to 15. The sitcom’s expected to return in March, once Work It completes its Tuesdays at 8:30pm run. (If that show tanks, it seems very possible that Cougar Town could return sooner.)
Lawrence, who’s expected to leave the show after this season, has been tweeting since the announcement and he doesn’t seem all that happy. He wrote, “Look, ABC put this show on for three years, and it’ll be on for at least three more. I’d bet on it. Really? Yes, and I’m sober. Sort of.” Lawrence followed that up with, “Will vent later. Must go edit episode that will be on in… sometime. Enjoy Celebrity Wife Swap on ABC. Your kids should watch.” Then, “6 seasons and a movie…? please…” and finally, “I’m not embarrassed to be proud of… #cougartown”
What do you think? Is this a bad sign or a REALLY bad sign? Will this move end up getting Cougar Town cancelled?
Image courtesy ABC.