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?

Canceled and renewed TV show

59 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. Donna says

    My husband told me he read about the show in the paper the other day and it said its supposed to return BUT only on a cable network/channel. For some reason the article said it was too “racey/dirty” for NBC….which does NOT make any sense to me BUT this is what I heard.

  2. Mymm says

    Are you F*&%#!ing kidding me? Cancel “Southland”?! NO!!!! I am giving up on NBC. That was the best show I have seen on network TV in years. The acting was spectacular, the writing was fresh, and the story lines were riveting and cutting-edge. I was sooo looking forward to this season. I am blown away by the idiocy of this television network and their short-sightness in programming. I will never watch Jay Leno 5 nights a week – and to cancel such great scripted programming for him is absurd. I will follow “Southland” where ever it ends up – I just hope it gets picked up by someone…anyone..

  3. PDiddy says

    Having Jay Leno dominate 33% of the prime-time viewing slots, leaves little hope for Southland, or any other show for that matter, to succeed. Not sure the rational behind that. Maybe I’m in the minority who doesn’t enjoy Leno that much, but well done NBC on your modest variety of programming.

  4. Roxanne says

    So here I am looking on to see when they will air the second season of Southland so I can set my DVR. So I see it on their line-up but I don’t see a return date so of course I go to Google and ask for the return date I get the response that the show has been canceled much to my surpise I was so looking forward to this show coming on I hv been checking each week to se when it will air again I so hope that they find a new network or at least NBC can give us some closure they can’t leave us hanging with the way it ended they should try to shop it to TNT they show incredible shows and they are not afraid of the dark stuff thats what made that show so good. I must say that NBC made a mistake having Jay Leno on in this timeslot is horrible the other newtworks are going to blow NBC out his season

  5. Dave says

    With the demise (apparently) of ‘Southland’ before its second season opener, I now have no reason to watch NBC. They botched it several years by not giving ‘Boomtown’ a chance, they flubbed by giving us then taking away ‘Raines’, they screwed up by not giving ‘Life’ a decent chance at success, and they even cancel of of the funniest shows I have ever had the honor of watching-‘My Name is Earl”. At the rate NBC is going, they’ll being back ‘Manimal’. I used to like NBC for its programming and willingness to take a chance (‘Hill Street Blues’) but now the network is run by short-sighted bean counters that do not have a clue. I refuse to watch ‘Dateline’ multiple times a week. I also (even though I like him as a car enthusiast) will not watch the Leno Show. I used to be loyal to NBC. Not anymore….

  6. Justin says

    It was a shame to cancel this show, but it makes sense with their supposed “blame game” to try and pass Leno’s bad ratings off on the shows leading up to Leno. I would also agree that moving an expensive to make show to a “dead” weeknight wouldn’t have helped the show’s plight.

    Here’s to hoping SouthLAnd will find a new home, as I will buy the show as soon as it hits the iTunes store.

  7. onenonlii says

    maybe CBS can take it since it looks like everything they have is gold. I love NCIS, NCIS LA, The Good Wife, All three of the CSI,etc. Most of my shows are on CBS and I really enjoyed Southland it would have been the only show I would have watched on NBC.

  8. says

    Wow, this is really disappointing – you just get to like a show and they rip it off the air and put nothing on in its place – I have nothing against Dateline, but how many nights a week can that air? I was really looking forward to the new season – I guess this is why all my favorite shows are on CBS – they are not afraid of grittier programming???

  9. Kevin says

    One of the few shows I was looking forward to this year. NBC is really making some questionable decisions lately. The Leno show is a ratings failure. Southland was a well written, well acted, well produced show. Now we have shows like Trauma, while I will admit was a bit better last week than the first week, but still not good. I am hopeful someone picks up Southlands. This is probably one of the worst TV seasons so far this year. Nothing is really a must watch. FlashForward is decent and the mystery will keep me watching, but I was really looking forward to Southland.

  10. sl says

    Write Warner Bros. TV, the producers of Southland, to show your support for the show.

    Peter Roth
    Warner Brothers Television
    4000 Warner Blvd.
    Burbank CA 91522
    Tel. 818 -954-6000
    Fax 212-954-7667

    Bruce Rosenblum
    President, Warner Bros. Television Group
    Warner Bros. Entertainment
    4000 Warner Blvd.
    Burbank, CA 91522
    Phone 818.954.6000
    Fax 212-954-7667

    Ken Werner
    Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution
    Warner Bros. Entertainment
    4000 Warner Blvd.
    Burbank, CA 91522
    Phone 818.954.6000
    Fax 212-954-7667

  11. Michael says

    I too loved Southland. If I could not watch it when it was on I would tape it and watch it later. Old school I know. Southlad is a show worth watching. I have called NBC and sent them an email. If NBC does not have the courage to continue airing Southland I hope another network has the sense to pick it up. The actors, plots, and everything else are fantastic. Let’s take this into our own hands and call NBC and the other networks and ask that Southland can still be aired. Only as citizens can we achive our goal and keep Southland on the air.

  12. Jason says

    Dear National Broadcasting Company,

    I got sick last night. High fever, uncontrollable chills, heavy chest, wretched cough. It was nasty. I was miserable. In fact I was so miserable, I would have ripped open my veins and injected some heroin just to feel at ease with my sickness.

    But now, not even heroin could ease my pain.

    This morning, my physical sickness could not match the emotional ill I felt when I learned you canceled “Southland.” I kept thinking to myself that it doesn’t make sense. I mean, it was clear you weren’t open to giving the show much of a chance with the Friday night “death slot”, but at least THAT was a chance. Now — nothing.

    In the days of a financial recession, a war that has become so old that even the media avoids talking about it, and when American’s are questioning their own purpose — we look to entertainment to pull us out of these holes. For thirty minutes or two hours, we can escape. We can be entertained and laugh, or cry, or scream or hide behind the pillows.

    My dear NBC, I used to turn to your network for these moments. Now, I am afraid I no longer have a reason to stay.

    When I look at a show like “Southland,” that was so much more than the critically acclaimed cop drama, but was a show that felt real. A show that transported it’s viewers to a world that was unashamed, unadulterated, and right outside their front door. It was a show that even with its realism, provided the genuine escapism we all love in the compelling and beautiful characters contained within. Because even though they were cops, we could relate to who they were, and what they were going through.

    Yes, I just do not understand NBC. I do not understand how a show like “Heroes” gets to stick around, and a veteran master producer in John Wells does not. Don’t get me wrong, I was one of the millions who fell in love with “Heroes.” The first season moved me in every episode. It was exciting and unique. But now it is formulaic. Re-inventing itself every season, and losing viewers rapidly as it goes.

    I have heard the rumors that Tim Kring has kept it alive based on the internet following. “Heroes” is the most illegally downloaded show. It is one of the most popular shows on and — but is that REALLY a show worth keeping around?

    Remember that the best shows are the ones you request time off from work for. The ones you plan dinner around. The shows that you are too scared to go to the bathroom during the commercials, in fear you may miss seconds upon its return.

    That show was “Southland.” That show is “Lost.” That show was “ER.” That show is “Grey’s Anatomy” and was “Friends.” “Seinfeld.” “The Simpsons.”

    I am one man my friends, but I am a man that knows good television. I was anticipating “Southland” more than any other show this year, and am asking you to resurrect this series. To give this show the shot it deserves, and can the ones that need to go.

    Because let’s be honest,

    The only reality show anyone really cares about is “American Idol.”

    Not “So You Think You Can Dance.”


    Jason M. Landers

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