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Southland: NBC Drama Cancelled But Could Return

SouthlandThe speed with which TV networks cancel new shows these days can make your head spin. If a show doesn’t perform within one or two episodes, it just disappears from the schedule. They traditionally give a bit more time to renewed shows. That’s not the case with Southland. It’s been cancelled before its second season debut.

From executive producer John Wells, Southland follows a group of police officers on the tough streets of Los Angeles. Having debuted last April, the ensemble cast includes Benjamin McKenzie, Kevin Alejandro, Arija Bareikis, Michael Cudlitz, Shawn Hatosy, Regina King, Michael McGrady, and Tom Everett Scott.

The series began airing in the former timeslot of ER, another show that was executive produced by Wells. It initially looked like NBC had the makings of a hit with 9.86 million viewers and a 3.2/9 in the demo. Unfortunately, the numbers started to seriously decline after week two.

Surprisingly, amidst the decline, NBC decided to give the series a 13 episode renewal at the beginning of May. Southland’s numbers kept going down and hit an abysmal low of 4.64 million viewers and a 1.6/4 on May 14th.

With the network’s plan to air The Jay Leno Show at 10pm, five nights a week, the network had few Fall timeslots available for the gritty cop drama. Execs settled it on Friday nights, a little-watched night for network television.

Should Southland have been cancelled?

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Southland was initially scheduled to return on September 25th but was later rescheduled until October 23rd. The spin was that this would allow the network to give the show some more promotion time, after all of the other new and returning shows had debuted. Episodes of Dateline have been airing in the meantime.

Now, the peacock network has decided to drop Southland altogether. The Hollywood Reporter reports that NBC executives felt that the second season episodes were too dark for network television, especially in a 9pm timeslot. Dateline, which is much less expensive to produce, is more in line with the amount of revenue that can be gleaned from a low viewership night.

This cancellation marks the end of a 15 year relationship between NBC and Wells who has been an executive producer on some of the network’s biggest shows; ER and The West Wing.

For his part, Wells isn’t throwing in the towel on Southland just yet. Production on the series has been shut down after six episodes but the cop show will be actively shopped to other broadcast and cable outlets.

He said, “I’m disappointed that NBC no longer has the time periods available to support the kind of critically-acclaimed series that was for so many years, a hallmark of their success. We remain extremely proud of Southland and are actively looking for another home for the series.”

There’s no word on when or if the peacock network will air the six completed episodes of season two.

What do you think? Did NBC make a mistake in cancelling Southland? Was their real mistake renewing it when they knew they weren’t going to have a 10pm timeslot for it?


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{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Cindy October 2, 2013 at 8:28 pm

They could at least have decentsy of a finale it sucks


JP April 11, 2013 at 2:45 am

I hope this season is t the end but…. No looking good.


Sue Merzanis July 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Southland is one of the best shows I have ever watched. NBC is making a big mistake. The characters are well developed. and the show is amazing.


frani hicks June 19, 2012 at 5:21 pm

my son husband and i love southland and can never figure out why , it was off then on
then off please bring it back,a show we watched no matter what time it was on, do you think there is any possibility,that it will brought back ,and if so when?

fran june18, 2012


mon562 January 29, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Southland was such a good show. It was real and interesting i hope it gets picked up on a another network. i reallly want to see the second season!


sue December 23, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Sooooo sick of Jay Leno-and NBC is really losing it they had the best 10 pm line up until the put him in it !


brad December 10, 2009 at 2:53 pm

The writers strike showed the industry that many people will watch ANYTHING they’re told to regardless of quality. Sadly people will watch it.

Unfortunately network TV stations are getting away from good programming and going to cheaper programming. I’m done with network television. Southland was one of my last loves in the broadcast realm (except for PBS). If I can’t get it online or Netflix then I don’t need to watch it.

The network and ad folks will make more money… by providing programming that will continue decline.


Anonymous November 27, 2009 at 9:13 pm



brian November 2, 2009 at 11:02 am

N.B.C. goes from lame to dead as far as I am concerned. Southland was about the only reason I tuned into the Peacock. Nightly News and Sunday Night Football are now the only reason to tune them in. I loved Southland and could care less about Dateline and Jay Leno, they each may be cheaper to produce than Southland and its genre but as they say you get what you pay for. So enj0y your dwindling share of the pie.


NoBodyCares November 1, 2009 at 8:21 pm

NBC canceling “Southland” is just another another step in the continued dumbing-down of a broadcast tv medium that is awash with crappy, cheap “reality” shows and recycled, moronic sit-coms. Thankfully, aficionados of well-written scripted dramas can turn to the likes of AMC and FX if they have cable, a dish, or the internet. With this decision– not even giving the show a chance to air once this fall– NBC execs. clearly think that their viewers are all brain-dead imbeciles that need to have sunshine pumped up their asses 24/7. I, for one, don’t want some snotty-nosed bean-counting desk jockey that farts into a seat-cushion 10 hours a day deciding whether or not I can handle a “dark and gritty” show at 9 o’clock in the evening. Put the damn thing on for a few weeks and let’s see what happens. Here’s hoping that “Southland” gets picked up by another network and ultimately fulfills the promise that it showed last fall. As for “Dateline”, I’d rather sit in a dark room and repeatedly hit myself in the head with claw hammer than watch that dreck.


Marisa October 30, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Hey NBC… are you kidding me. get this clown Leno off your prized time slot and bring back a quality show like Southland. What a joke!!!


Sonya October 30, 2009 at 5:33 am

typical NBC – Nothing But Crap!!!


Brian October 29, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Big surprise….NBC cans another great program. Did we all not learn our lesson when they did the same thing to a similar program “Third Watch” a couple of years back? Another great show that not a few sort seasons previously was the staple for the network of all things. It too had legs in it for a least another couple of season, but as predicted….great programming gets the Ax in favor of cheap to produce, forgettable garbage. Have these people never heard of syndication? I


Kerry October 29, 2009 at 7:28 pm

A terrific show, dumped….. That’s just great NBC. You goofs !!!


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