The 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.
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?