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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 }

Darren October 9, 2009 at 11:07 pm

They made a huge mistake…this was the best, most realisitic cop show ever produced. I like Leno’s show but don’t need to see it every night. I hope FOX picks this show up.

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Retired LAPD Detective October 9, 2009 at 9:45 pm

What a tragedy! This is one of the few cop shows that REALLY tells it like it is! It’s a very strong competitor with the likes of The Closer and Saving Grace. I do hope that the fantastic and realistic stories of LA’s crime fiighters can be picked up by another network. I felt that this series was a great replacement for the thrilling ER series, but looks like the big boys and girls at NBC can’t agree. I’m looking forward to seeing more somewhere out there in television land!

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sean October 9, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Personally, I don’t follow too many series, but I actually liked Southland and was looking forward to the new season. I hope another network or cable station picks it up and continues to develop the storyline and the characters. It was well acted and didn’t try to varnish over alot of what many of us see in our local papers regarding crime and community based law enforcement. Too bad NBC chose to offer up fluff when it could have stood by a damm good show that really left many of us thinking about the world in which we live.

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Anonymous October 9, 2009 at 9:27 pm

no room for original ideas. make it into a singing reality crime scene drama, and someone will definitely pick it up

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Soraia October 9, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Yes, they made quite a HUGE mistake in canceling this show. It was excellent, gritty and dark. The characters were well written and I thought the season finale had impressive action without having explosions and other eye catching tricks. In other words, realistic. It was a great show and now I no longer have a reason to even think about checking out the NBC channel. I’m positive another network will pick up the show because unlike people at NBC, there are execs who will appreciate and provide viewers with quality television.

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A.E. October 9, 2009 at 12:53 pm

I am so glad to see the other comments sharing the same views I have about this program. I have to admit that I was late to start watching Southland but once I started, I was hooked. This is the only show that I will stop everything to watch and this is the only network show that does not make me feel like my IQ is going down as I watch it. I hope that Mr. Wells makes a sincere effort to find it a new home on another network where it can flourish. Typcially I do not get this worked up about a television program but that is how strongly I feel about it.

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Joel October 9, 2009 at 11:39 am

I loved this show!! Really NBC… really? Replaced with Dateline?
This is another show that I really liked which they decided to cancel… I’m running out of shows that I actually watch on NBC.. Do they take into account that many of us can’t watch them at their scheduled time and we watch them on the Internet later? That’s what I do… I watch them at lunch or whenever I can but most of the time I don’t have the time to watch them at their scheduled time. I know that Ad revenue is how they support these things, but they run adds on the Internet as well.
I think TV ratings needs to upgrade to the 21st century and realize that watching shows on the Internet is the future and if their ratings aren’t calculating those numbers, then they aren’t getting accurate ratings and are canceling shows that many people really do watch.
I hope Southland finds a new home.

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Val October 9, 2009 at 10:17 am

I have watched the Jay Leno show a few times now and I would prefer to keep SOUTHLAND which is extremely well written, directed and acted. The networks are cancelling shows that should be kept and are keeping shows that should be cancelled. Would love to meet the people in charge and view the brains they are sitting on.

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Denise Buurman October 9, 2009 at 8:28 am

Southland is an excellent drama show. I hope it does not get cancelled altogether. Another network hopefully will pick up this excellent ensemble cast to continue – their storylines were superb – action, human drama. I am tired of all the so-called “reality” shows filling up the networks – not to mention enough talk-shows as well. Bring back more TV dramas, as well as good sitcoms. Whatever happened to “Made for TV movies” of the week??? If more drama shows, such as Southland, are cancelled – what direction is TV going in?

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christina October 9, 2009 at 7:17 am

I think NBC made a big mistake. I really hope Southland finds a home somewhere else.

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Vivian October 9, 2009 at 6:59 am

Nobody I know watched Leno…I think NBC made a big mistake commiting their 10 o’clock time slot to him.

I *love* Southland and hope like hell it gets picked up somewhere…preferably some network with the balls to let it play out like the creators want.

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Jonathan October 9, 2009 at 12:26 am

I have no idea why the ratings are so low. I love the show. I think NBC is making a big mistake canceling the show. I also think it was going to be a terrible idea to move it to a night that has poor viewership to begin with. I hope they find another network that will air the episodes and continue this fantastic show.

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Pete October 9, 2009 at 12:16 am

The “mistake” the Peacock nework made was giving THE Chin another show,and leaving well done,acted series such as Southland out in the cold
I Liked the series,was looking foward to learning more about Officer Ben Sherman.
A Shame,i just started becoming a fan of Ben McKenzie through this series-thanks NBC-For NOTHING!!

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crzy8zn October 8, 2009 at 11:12 pm

this is a dumb move. i really enjoyed this show. all well, hopefully another network picks it up and hopefully the show becomes more successful than it is now. the people at nbc don’t know what a great show is and it seems that they don’t care anymore. no wonder no one watches their station, hence the name my uncle gave them “NoBody Cares”.

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John October 8, 2009 at 8:30 pm

I could see them renewing it to hold on to it, because why would someone drop a gem like that? That Leno used all the timeslots is unfortunate and I hope the show finds a new home, maybe on a competitor in the 10 p.m. slot, or on a cable network (FX). Seems like a good fit for FX. They could jump ship like Scrubs and wind up on ABC, too.

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