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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 }

NBCsucks October 28, 2009 at 7:41 pm

This show was awesome and helped convince me to enroll in the police academy in my city. I was very much looking forward to watching one of the only shows that I like on any network, and definitely the only one I liked on NBC. Which, by the way, I won’t be watching anymore. Leno can suck my balls!


Larry October 27, 2009 at 10:57 am

I was really looking forward to this show. I will follow it to whichever network picks it up. I loved the drama of the show.


Mrs. Leiws October 26, 2009 at 10:29 am

We NEVER watch NBC. We did – just for this show!. Awesome actors , storyline, etc. Now it’s gone! blah! NBC sucks!


Mike October 25, 2009 at 9:04 pm

With all the other “cop” dramas on network television Southland was a brisk welcome with its grittiness and true-to-life performance. With that said, I don’t think a series of this caliber would be a fit on the NBC network. In the 8 weeks Southland ran not one episode disappointed; each episode was better than the last. It is a great disappointment to see it lose its home on NBC, but I think if it stayed on network television perhaps FOX should look into it. This show would fit cozily on their network.


Patrick October 25, 2009 at 2:31 am

What a crock. Finally, a show comes on air that actually is a drama, but accurately shows what the personal lives are like of the police who do the job, and is gripping and keeps your attention. I think the real reason they cancelled the show is because NBC is f’d up, and in the show (which was based in Los Angeles) they actually portrayed the Hollywood people to be very misguided and out of their heads (like an NBA star, and Tom Sizemore as a producer, etc). I think for these reasons, they literally got politically shunned from going on the air with it. As realistic as it could have been, they got fucked. Fuck NBC, and fuck GE. More corporate control of media and political influence = more bullshit with real television. Whatever.


Brooke October 24, 2009 at 12:24 am

I am p-d off! I have been searching my tivo and waiting and waiting and waiting and for what? My god you even gave that stupid Kath and Kim which NO one watched a chance. Why even lead me to believe it was coming back? No wonder why ABC gets all of the good shows like Greys, Private Practice, because they know quality. You know stupid Jay Leno and that won’t get me to tivo anything any time soon and dateline are you serious?!?! Get a clue NBC because you are losing touch with what your customers want to see!


Joe October 23, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Man that sucks, I was looking forward to the new season, That was really the only show I liked watching on NBC..Im sure another network will pick it up. Ill wait….


Janelle October 23, 2009 at 8:08 pm

This sucks. I was totally excited to watch it tonight only to find out the best show in AGES has been cancelled. What a crock! I hope some other network gets hip to the game and picks it up.


Lincoln October 23, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Surprise, surprise! NBC finally creates something worth watching, then they go and cancel it.. I suppose it’s all in how you deal with disappointment. I’ve been waiting since May for the return of Southland. Thanks alot! Is Urkel still on ABC on Friday nights? I’d take that over Leno.


Melissa October 23, 2009 at 9:14 am

I can’t believe that NBC cancelled this show – it was a show that I enjoyed watching and was excited for the new season to begin. What is up with NBC? Such a bad decision…hopefully another channel will pick up the show – I will definitely watch it!


Cecilia October 20, 2009 at 7:11 pm

I think it was stupid of NBC to keep giving the fans of Southland false hope that they were going to bring it back. I do think it was a dumb move to cancel yje show and I hope another network, a better network picks it up.


Lyla October 19, 2009 at 9:42 pm

I am so upset to hear that Southland has been cancelled! I just came to the website to check when the 1st show of season 2 would start…and I find this shocking news! I feel in love with this show-it was truly the best thing I had seen in ages. The writing, direction, editing, and momentum were fabulous…not to mention the acting!
Please reconsider this terrible decision!


Margaret Jenkins October 19, 2009 at 11:28 am

I found Southland to be one of the best cop shows on television this year. The acting is good and the actors seem well suited for their roles. Jay Leno’s mindless show is a drag-down slop of a show to say the least. Southland is more than worthy of several more seasons on NBC. I hope NBC has the foresight to return Southland so it’s fans can watch a sensible intelligent series.


kimberly huling October 15, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Now a days televison has been ran over by simple minded reality show. Every once and awhile we luck out and get some good action, brain twisting drama shows thats keep our brains spinning and our body on the edge of our couchs. Southland was one of these shows. Every week I looked forward to this show, I was actually pleased with the script, drama line and choice of actors, which is something that seems all to rare on t.v now a days. To hear that something this critically acclaimed as be bumped of for yet another talk show that does exactly te same as all the rest is truly upsetting. That season was out of control and to leave the 10 million plus fans in suspense is just ridiculous and if NBC cannot see what a HUGE mistake it is making than hopefully another network like TNT of FX can pick up this beautifully scripted drama. Both networks are known for their execellent dramas like Dark Blue and Nip Tuck and I feel tat a show like Southland would only add to their every raising popularity. To let a show like this one fall in between the cracks would be a huge mistake and a horrible stab in the hearts of those who truly love drama television with well played characters and great story lines. This show belongs in the lines of the great Law and Order Series.


Maggie October 15, 2009 at 11:38 am

I am stunned. Been waiting all summer and fall for Southland to begin and my son just now informed me that it’s been cancelled. I literally felt nauseated…my stomach just dropped. Yes, I miss ER and was not happy when it left the airwaves, but 15 years of any show is probably too much and I was ready for something new. Southland filled that void to a “T”. The story lines were compelling, the acting some of the best I’ve ever seen on TV. Even my husband, who never watches network shows, commented on how superior the acting was and that the show had an addictive quality to it. The new Jay Leno show is nothing but drivel and bad drivel at that. They shouldn’t have taken the occasional funny bits from The Late Show and try to make an hour-long show out of them…it’s not working. They were funny because they were occasional. I’ve been an avid NBC watcher for decades, but now I’ll only watch the Thursday evening line-up and a few Dateline shows. I’ll tune my TV to any non-NBC channel just to register my disgust at the cancelling of the wonderful Southland. Fingers crossed that another network/channel will pick it up before people forget about it entirely. This is awful.


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