It turns out The Game isn’t over yet. It just took a timeout, albeit a long one. The sitcom originally ran on The CW network for three seasons, with the last of the first-run episodes appearing in May of 2009. BET has announced it’s bringing the series back on January 11, 2011. The hope is to build on fan interest that began even before the original series cancellation was announced.
The Game is a comedy/drama produced by Kelsey Grammer and is a spin-off of the series Girlfriends. Tia Mowry stars as a first-year med student who ignores being accepted into Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, preferring instead to follow her boyfriend (Pooch Hall) to San Diego. He’s been tapped by a professional football team as a promising new rookie. Other castmembers include Brittany Daniel, Coby Bell, Hosea Chanchez and Wendy Raquel Robinson.
Even before The Game was cancelled by The CW, BET began syndicating reruns of the series, with some of the episodes garnering higher numbers than they did when they originally aired on The CW. Now the cable channel is looking to expand on its original programming to get more money from their advertisers, money that only high-end scripted series can bring in. With The Game bringing a large fan response in syndication, BET execs were convinced that new episodes would be a viable option to anchor their other new programming.
BET’s senior vice president of original programming, Charlie Jordan Brookins, said, “This is the beginning of building what scripted programming means to BET.” They have a selection of drama projects in development at the cable outlet, yet are deciding to start this new programming with comedies, because they can get them on the air more quickly.
With the new production of the Game series, they’ll need to downscale from what the show was used to on The CW. To start, they’ll save on the costs and will also take advantage of some tax incentives by moving the series from Los Angeles to Atlanta, where the series is now in production at the EUE/Screen Gems studio.
Stars Mowry and Hall were eager to pick up where they left off, as were many from the writing staff. Some of the scribes who couldn’t return to the writers room are submitting freelance scripts.
Executive producer Mara Brock Akil claims, “Everyone on our team wants to just shock everybody and make it even better than it was on the CW. How do you do that with less money? You have to be more creative. There’s definitely a bigger rock to push up the hill, but we want it to be a huge success not only for us but for the network.”
Brock Akil is willing to work hard to make The Game a success on BET, feeling the show never had the attention it deserved on the old network. “What we never had before was the marketing component to support the show.” Yet as a new flagship series for original BET programming, “they know what they have, and they want us to help grow their audience. That’s exciting for us.”
What do you think? Are you looking forward to seeing new episodes of The Game? How long do you think it will continue this time? One season, two or ?