It’s no secret that NBC’s Life has been struggling in the ratings this year. What happened? And, did we just see the season or series finale?
Life follows the days of Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis), a detective who was released from prison after serving 12 years of a life sentence for murders that he didn’t commit. Crews has lost everything dear to him but survives thanks to his studies of Zen philosophy. He sues to get his job back and rejoins the LAPD a very different man. Others in the cast include Sarah Shahi, Adam Arkin, Brent Sexton, Donal Logue, Brooke Langton, Robin Weigert, Jennifer Siebel, Victor Rivers, and Jessy Schram.
The NBC drama debuted on September 26, 2007 to 10.15 million viewers and a 4.1/11 rating/share of the 18-49 demographic. The second episode slipped to 8.8 million and a 3/10 rating/share. Later episodes sank to a low of 5.72 million and a 2/6.
In a typical year, NBC very likely would have cancelled Life but, thanks to the crazy writers strike, the year wasn’t typical. The season was cut short to 11 episodes and, based on limited pilot prospects, the execs decided to take a roll of the dice and give Life another chance.
That strategy didn’t work out for ABC shows like Dirty Sexy Money and Eli Stone and it didn’t work for Life either. NBC didn’t help matters by scheduling Life in a little-watched Friday night timeslot.
Life’s season two premiere was given a special Monday night timeslot and it attracted 6.94 million people and a 2.7/7 rating/share in the demo. When it moved to Friday nights, it sank to 5.54 million and a 1.7/5. Strangely enough, the following Monday night, the numbers were about the same.
Lipstick Jungle, which was occupying Life’s old Wednesday timeslot, wasn’t doing very well either. So, after six episodes, NBC moved Life back to Wednesdays, hoping that its performance would improve. That didn’t really happened and, with the exception of one ratings spike in December, Life averaged just 5.3 million and a 1.7 rating in the demo.
Sadly, with ratings like these and NBC’s need for far fewer shows next season, Life has very little chance of returning for a third season.
Thankfully, after tonight, NBC has aired all 32 episodes of the series. Had Life been on ABC and gotten these numbers, it probably would have only received a 13 episode order and we’d have to wait until Summer to see the final installments.
Tonight’s episode, “One,” gave us a bunch of answers to the conspiracy that put Crews behind bars. Obviously there a plenty of more stories to be told but at least we have some answers.
If this turns out to be the last episode, do you find it satisfying enough?
Image courtesy NBC.