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Swingtown: CBS (Finally) Officially Cancels the 1970s TV Show

Grant Show in SwingtownAt the start of today’s television press tour session, CBS president Nina Tassler announced something that we’ve all known for months. Swingtown isn’t coming back for a second season.

Swingtown follows three Chicago families in 1970s era suburbia as they explore new freedoms and shifting moral values. The series stars performers like Molly Parker, Jack Davenport, Grant Show, Lana Parrilla, Josh Hopkins, Miriam Shor, Shanna Collins, Aaron Christian Howles, Brittany Robertson, Michael Rady, Nick Benson, and Kate Norby.

The series was initially scheduled to debut during the regular 2007-08 season but the premiere was delayed until Summer 2008. 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. Subsequent episodes’ ratings dropped from there. After seven episodes, CBS moved Swingtown to Friday nights where viewership plunged to a low of 2.82 million.

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Though the series’ ratings were too low to warrant a season two renewal on the network, the CBS studio tried to find another home for Swingtown. In the end, the best they could do was to make a deal with Bravo to rerun the first season. Execs for the cable net made it clear however that they weren’t interested in funding a second season.

In November, Show told TV Guide, “Yeah, unfortunately [it's over]. I mean, they haven’t released me and they haven’t made any official statements yet, but our contracts are all up in December. They’d have to have us back working before then, and I don’t think it’s possible to do that.”

Tassler has long been an advocate for the series and initially gave Swingtown a greenlight. Today, she made the show’s fate official when she announced, “No, we’re not going back to Swingtown. We were extremely proud of the execution — [it] ended up on a half dozen top 10 lists in 2008.”

She continued, “At the end of the day the show was well executed, it was well received, the performances were great, the writing was great. It was a risk, we took it, and we’re proud of it.” The exec blamed the show’s performance, at least in part, to the writers strike.

Unfortunately, there’s been no talk of giving the series an ending of some kind. Does the show need one?

 

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{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandi February 4, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Man, this is a shame, CBS was just getting back to having good shows again. Its going to be a real loss to see this one go. CBS needs to rethink this move. We need more shows like this. They remind us of better times, when things were not to stressful, it was a nice hr long escape.

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Swingtowner February 4, 2009 at 5:58 am

I probably haven’t watched CBS for the past 12 years.

Flipping through the channels one night I saw a promo for SWINGTOWN, I was hooked INSTANTLY. The music, the fashions, the interiors, the hairstyles…. it was wonderful.

I planned my week around it and I didn’t miss an episode and if I did, I watched on CBS.com the following night. It was phenomenal!!

At least one of the writers HAD to have lived the story in “real life”, there’s no way in Hell the writers could pull this out of thin air.

The overall look, feel and quality of the show reminded me of the shows on CBS in the 60s and 70s when they were Number 1 (maybe 2). It’s a shame that the execs from the 60s and 70s can’t come out of retirement (or brought back from the dead) and slap CBS back into shape.

I just purchased the DVD on amazon.com (in another browser window), while I was writing this…. I’m looking to the future when I have Alzheimer’s, so that I can watch the DVD again with fresh eyes and say “Boy, they sure don’t make them like that anymore!”….

Cancellation? I could have understood if the “religious right” put pressure on CBS to cancel the show for displaying the eating of “pot brownies” or the popping of “Quaaludes” like they were tic-tacs or casually have more than two people having sex in the same room at the same time (and not with their spouse) or wife swapping or a key party or that gay sex was accepted…. but as far as I know I hadn’t heard the “religious right” make any fuss (oh, wait, maybe they were too busy doing these things themselves and they didn’t have time to watch).

Hey, CBS, here’s a few ideas for some new quality programming:

The New Misadventures of the Old CBS
Without a Brain
Two and a Half Idiots

SOAPS:
The Old and the Pitiful
The Dumb and the Clueless

REALITY SHOWS:
How to Kill a Network
Execs Gone Wild!
The Amazing White Race

SPIN OFFS:
CSI: Chinatown, NY
CSI: Little Italy, NY
CSI: Boise
CSI: North Miami
CSI: Punxsutawney – Animal Addition
CSI: Chalk Line – Kindergarten Addition
Criminal Minds – Programming Addition
The Mentalist – Brainless Addition

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Andy February 3, 2009 at 8:16 pm

A real shame CBS didn’t stick with this one for at least another season. I sympathize with fellow boomers sick of mindless violence and crappy reality shows. No wonder most of us “adults” are devoting more time to DVDs and ever less to network TV.

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Baby February 2, 2009 at 6:12 pm

They left the show up in the air. It needs to be finished up!! What happens with Susan and her husband. I loved this show!! What a disappointment!!

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Brendan & Jess January 30, 2009 at 7:24 pm

As we recall there were a lot of lose ends to this show that had not been tied up. How do you just cancel a show such as Swingtown without slowly letting down its audience.
My wife and I fell ” cut off at the legs ” about this show. I didn’t recall anyone ever saying anything negative about any of the episodes, and as for us… well, we couldn’t get enough. I was born in the 70’s and can recall so many of the props the show uses, along with the characters hair styles, cloths, and hideous choices of wallpaper for homes. This show really took me back. I mean as If that all weren’t enough, Swingtown had one awesome cast lined up. I really don’t know what CBS was thinking. I guess the show really never got a fair shot, but hey… it’s CBS.

BRING BACK THE GOODS!

Brendan & Jess

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lynn January 29, 2009 at 11:09 pm

BRING IT BACK……GAVE US A PLACE TO ESCAPE TO FOR AN HOUR A WEEK

Bored Housewife

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L.S. January 27, 2009 at 8:15 pm

I miss Swingtown soooo much. I’ve never looked forward to a t.v. show in my entire life, but this one was enlightening. At the ending of every show I was squirming about the next episode, I couldn’t wait. I was like a kid on Space Mountain at Disney every Friday night or Sat. (tivo) .
I was completely heartbroken when I found out it was over. They should have at least finished the season, reguardless, I feel it was a terrible move to cancel.

Please bring back Swingtown!!!!!!

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Trina January 27, 2009 at 1:19 pm

This is a great show. Fun to watch. I looked forward to this show. Friday was a bad time slot for a show like this. It is an adult show that should have been put on at 10:00 pm on another week day. Great acting and writing.

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Skip January 25, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Crying shame to see this cancelled. Interesting, well-written, with complex characters. CBS, you buried this on Friday night. What did you expect the ratings to do? A great show for babyboomers. Should have given it a better chance. No wonder cable is kicking your butt.

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C.S. January 23, 2009 at 11:41 pm

I got rid of my TV a few years back and have not regretted it. However, I will still occasionally check out shows that I’ve heard good things about via Netflix or BitTorrent. This show is pretty awesome so far, with a great soundtrack to boot. Seriously, WTF is CBS thinking? This seems to be just another nail in the coffin for network television. I don’t understand why a show can’t be on for at least a full season before being canceled, especially if the marketing for it stinks. You CBS execs are a bunch of idiots.

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Miranda January 23, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Grieving the death of another favorite pastime…

While many people wonder how someone could become so involved in the unfolding drama of fictional characters, I ask, how could you not?

Swingtown, the 70’s set drama that was plump with nostalgia, captivating story lines, sublime acting and exquisite character development has been cancelled.

In the past CBS seems to have been willing to take a chance on several new series with fresh perspective and original ideas, yet time and again, at the first display of resistance or hurdle they cower and surrender faith.

Like so many series before it, CBS pulled the plug on what has and could continue blooming into greatness. I ask what would have happened if networks had cancelled all series that failed (at first) to live up to expectations? Seinfeld, (and ironically Melrose Place), where both extremely close to being cancelled after their first seasons, but they continued, and now appear on almost all “Greatest Television Shows of All Time” lists. The public should have been given more time to catch up to the insight this network had initially shown with this Swingtown project.

I am not a fan of the CSI franchise, and this definitely limits my options where CBS is concerned. What’s next… CSI Chicago? I say this patronizingly, yet the comedy is it could happen.

CBS makes no apologies, but perhaps they should. I believe that they know there were many external factors that influenced viewer ratings, and it had nothing to do with the quality of this show.

I believe that because of CBS’s actions the series seemed to be doomed to fail from its creation. With a lack of advertising and less that desired timeslot I’m amazed that the ratings began as strongly as they did.

Some might argue that the downfall was due to it being sent to summer scheduling (when most people are vacationing outside away from their televisions), but I enjoyed the parallel between its hot season and the actual temperature outside.
I think the problem stems mostly from a sudden switch in weekly scheduling (originally the show aired on Thursday nights but was moved to Friday). I was witness to only one, 10-second clip announcing the change…once it had already been made. If it hadn’t been for my PVR I would not have known where it had gone.
Another way to quickly lose an audience is to, without notice, stray from sequential order. There seems to be nothing worse than being inconvenienced with a repeat only four episodes into a new series. Even an overly acted, completely formulized show like 90210 at least has the courtesy to advise their viewers of when they can expect a new episode at the end of each credit.

I’ve grown up as a voyeur to groundbreaking series that have pushed the envelope, especially in demonstrating sexuality – Sex and the City immediately comes to mind. That being said, I feel that there’s no reason that Swingtown’s modesty affected the series. I found the absence of delivery forced a coy visualization that can be just as effective. However, if resurrection or continuation would have depended on a shift to a more non-controlled cable group (such as Showtime) I’d be all for it.

I sit among the demographic that apparently wasn’t watching Swingtown – yet my group of girlfriends, mother, in-laws and half of my office are self-pronounced addicts of this show.

I wonder if network executives (even the smaller ones) take the time to look beyond the Neilson ratings to count their audience.

Throughout December when researching whether Swingtown would be renewed (before the official announcement) I would scower the Internet for information. The amount of posts articulating concern for the shows future are staggering. Many sites claim a daily post (dating since November) of over 300, while columnists such as Tom Jicha writes “For a show with the low ratings Swingtown had, I’ve gotten an uncommon amount of correspondence about its future”. I even went as far as to listen to the interviews included in the DVD release to get a hint at its future…while Nina Tassler’s (CBS Entertainment President) interview contained many past tense statements – with left me uneasy, the fact that the title of this boxed set was “The Complete First Season” instead of “The Complete Series” left me with a shred of hope for it’s continuation.

This season was prominently displayed on many top ten lists of 2008 (People’s Best of TV 2008 being one) and its re-runs are continually aired on Bravo. The pre-holiday release on DVD was a smart move and for these reasons alone, I’m astounded that CBS seemed to lack the common sense to realize that this new notoriety, airtime, and publicity would only benefit the ratings for the better, hence given this series a second chance.

It’s unfortunate that networks such as CBS seemed to have, over the last ten years, developed a new way of creating excess broadcasting, only to pull the plug on all but a few that don’t in their eyes measure up. It used to be that dedication was attached to the FEW shows they’d develop (full seasons of 20+ episodes filmed, as opposed to a disposal 13 half season). Nurturing a fan base, and their much beloved characters were important. Now it feels to me as though they dangle a promise of something great, then take it away.

Of all of the disappointment I feel none top the inconsideration CBS has shown to its faithful viewers. If mid-way CBS realized that Swingtown was not going to carry on for a second season why wouldn’t they have shot a more tied up finale? The lives of Swingtown will now sit for eternity beside such unanswered questions as, “Did Keith Mars ever win the elusive job of Sheriff”? Or “Will Kevin Girardi regain the use of his legs while Joan tackles the Devil in Arcadia”?

So I appeal to CBS, and all the fans that disagree with the choice of cancelling this amazing show. I ask that CBS please re-consider and attempt to somehow make this right. I’m not sure if my voice will make one bit of difference, but I have to try, and I appeal that you do the same. Please write CBS…hopefully if anything it will help them be more aware of the voices that don’t own a Neilson Ratings Box when making future decisions.

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DallasDavid January 22, 2009 at 12:53 pm

WHEN WILL THEY LEARN?

1. STOP putting on, moving, preempting, putting back on shows and expecting them to develop a following. WE DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO CHASE A SHOW WE LIKE.
PUT IT ON, LEAVE IT ON, AND GIVE IT A MINIMUM OF 10-13 UNINTERRUPTED WEEKS, OR DON’T BOTHER

2. give us a minimum of 26 brand new episodes EVER SINGLE YEAR. We don’t like seeing 13 episodes 4 freakin’ times before we get new ones, AND we don’t like watching 13 episodes twice and then WAITING 6 FREAKIN MONTHS EITHER!

3. CONTINUE NOT GIVING US WHAT WE WANT & WE WILL CONTINUE TO DRIFT AWAY FROM YOU. You WANT our viewership? EARN our viewership.

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Judy January 21, 2009 at 5:20 pm

My heart just broke as I looked to see when Swingtown was going to return and seen it had been canceled. I looked forward each week to watch it. Please CBS finish it out even with a movie ,although I would rather the series.

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firecat January 20, 2009 at 5:42 pm

U BUNCH OF IDIOTS!!!!!!!, BEST DAMN SHOW IN 20 YEARS. U CAN TAKE UR MILLOINS AND SHUV UP UR #$%. CBS SUCKS ANYWAYS GET A BRAIN!!!

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Lisa January 20, 2009 at 9:54 am

Just like everyone else, I was looking forward to season 2 of Swingtown. I fell in love with the characters of this show over the summer, and really wanted to see what was going to happen next after the finally. I truly believe that the execs at CBS are making a big mistake by cancelling this wonderfully unique and well made show.

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