NBC had pushed its premiere back a month to October 23 to allow more time for promotion of the new season and to get it out of the way of the crowded premiere week debuts of other series, fearing Southland would get lost in the shuffle. This also comes after this summer at the Press Tour when NBC exec Angela Bromstad told critics the show was being retooled, shifting focus to the characters of Ben McKenzie and Regina King and that the series tried to do too much in its six episode first season run. The show didn’t need any tweaking in the first place, but several articles are saying NBC feels the show is too dark and gritty for broadcast TV.
Executive producer John Wells released this statement: “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.”
Well, yes the series was very gritty for broadcast TV. Probably no series has been this gritty on broadcast since NYPD Blue still showed naked butts. But that grittiness and realism was what made Southland different. Well written, well produced, and carried by an excellent ensemble, if NBC were looking for a John Wells drama to fill in for ER, this was a perfect show to do that.
But the ratings for the series tumbled after a very promising start. Week to week, the series lost viewers, which is alarming for any network. And this new Friday night timeslot probably would not have helped matters, but would it hurt NBC to have given it a shot?
Well, in a business sense, an hour of Dateline is probably much cheaper to produce than Southland, and it is sure to draw in more viewers than Southland‘s numbers toward the end of its run last season. So easy decision there for NBC. Put the blame on Jay Leno for taking away timeslots? Maybe. But put some blame on America as well for not watching (as is always the case for any canceled show right?)
So another NBC series dies just because it’s on NBC. Any guesses as to who’s next?