Cable channel Bravo has purchased the exclusive rights to air CBS’ summer drama, Swingtown. Does this mean there will be a second season?
Swingtown debuted on Thursday, June 5, 2008 on CBS. The series was executive produced by show creator Mike Kelley and Jericho’s Carol Barbee. Set in the summer of 1976, Swingtown follows three families as they explore new freedoms and shifting moral values in Chicago suburbia. The series stars veterans of cancelled shows like Molly Parker (Six Feet Under), Grant Show (Melrose Place), Lana Parrilla (Spin City), Josh Hopkins (Pepper Dennis), Miriam Shor (Big Day), and Shanna Collins (Wildfire).
CBS’ President of Entertainment, Nina Tassler, gave the drama a greenlight in May 2007 after HBO had passed on the project. It was expected to air during the regular 2007-08 season but CBS decided to delay the series until Summer, typically a time used to burn off less desirable programming. Critical and viewer reception for Swingtown was mixed and the pilot debuted to fewer than 8.6 million viewers and a 2.5/7 rating/share in the 18-49 demographic. The ratings for subsequent episodes dropped from there.
After seven episodes, CBS moved Swingtown to Friday nights and gave Flashpoint its place on Thursdays. In its new timeslot, the viewership plunged to a low of 2.82 million.
Despite the disappointing numbers, Swingtown has attracted media interest and a devoted group of viewers. The series also still must have some supporters at CBS because the network execs opted to air all 13 episodes rather than pull it.
Though the series’ ratings are too low to warrant a season two renewal on the network, the CBS studio tried to find another home for Swingtown. They focused their efforts on cable channels which aren’t under strict FCC regulations. On cable, the writers could presumably take the show’s risque exploits even further and possibly attract additional media attention. Unfortunately, there’s been no takers.
Bravo recently made a deal for the cable rights to air Swingtown’s first season in the next few months. The cable station has made it clear that they are merely purchasing the pre-existing 13 episodes and have no intention of producing a second season. The deal effectively closes the door on the series’ future. With Bravo having the air rights for the first season, another cable channel would have little reason to produce season two.
On a positive note, the first (and only) season of Swingtown will be released on DVD in December. With any luck, the executive producers will use this opportunity to answer outstanding questions and to tell us what might have happened if the series had continued. Stay tuned!