Like its namesake, NBC’s newest high-adventure series has had a rocky journey. The network believed in the Crusoe TV show enough to give it lots of promotion — airing dozens of commercials during its Summer Olympics coverage and erecting a “treehouse” in the middle of New York City for a publicity stunt. At the same time, they saddled it with a Friday night timeslot, one of the least-watched nights of television. Did the series ever have a chance for survival?
Crusoe is based on the Robinson Crusoe novel by Daniel Defoe, first published in 1719. The series follows the adventures of a young man, Robinson Crusoe (Philip Winchester), who leaves his wife, Susannah (Anna Walton), and children to embark on a high-seas adventure. He hopes to find enough riches to settle his impending debts. Crusoe ends up stranded on a remote tropical island where he rescues and befriends a native named Friday (Tongayi Chirisa). While trying to find a way off the remote island, the two must battle the elements and intruders for survival. Crusoe also features Sam Neill, Sean Bean, Mia Maestro, Mark Dexter, Emma Barnett, Jake Curran, James Lauren, James Middlemarch, and Lorcan O’Toole. Featuring lots of special effects and costumes, the series was filmed in South Africa.
The TV show debuted on October 17th on NBC. The Crusoe two-hour premiere attracted a modest 7.38 million viewers. It placed second in total viewers for the first hour and for the second hour, it moved up to first place. Unfortunately, the show was third in the all-important 19-49 demographic with a 1.6/5 rating/share. That means that, overall, it drew an older audience which isn’t what the network needs or wants. Taking into account all of NBC’s promotion, this wasn’t a very good start for the historical drama.
The following weeks’ ratings didn’t bring better news. The second episode dropped to 6.09 million viewers and a 1.3/4. The third week’s episode dropped almost a third of its viewers and brought in just 4.09 million and a dismal 0.8/3 rating/share. The TV show’s ratings hit a slight upturn for two weeks but last week’s episode hit an all-time low of 3.56 million viewers. That’s less than half of the premiere’s total audience.
After seven episodes (five hours plus the two-hour premiere), NBC has decided to relocate Crusoe to Saturday nights beginning December 5th. This move will cause viewership to drop even further and it’s a sure sign that the network has given up on Crusoe.
So, is Crusoe a regular TV show or a mini-series? Most of the network’s press materials have treated it like a regular TV series but, on NBC’s website, Crusoe is referred to as a “high-action, fast-paced, thirteen-part series.” (A representative for the network declined to clarify.) With a mini-series, viewers could be assured of a conclusion to the storyline. In the case of a regular series, closure is less likely. Either way, Crusoe is coming to an end.
Unfortunately for the show’s loyal audience, it’s nearly impossible to think that NBC will renew the costly series or produce any additional episodes. In terms of viewer demographics, it’s been a disappointment from the start. On the positive side, the network will very likely finish airing all 13 episodes. For now, it looks like the remaining six episodes will air on December 6th, December 20th December 27th, January 10th, January 17th and, as a finale, January 31st.
Image courtesy NBC.