Don’t leave me this way: Tears in TV’s cancellation graveyard
“Heroes was huge, possibly the biggest TV hit since Lost; yet only three seasons later it would be cancelled despite a vastly improved final season”
While perhaps not surprising given the quality plummet in season 2 and 3, it is still a little hard to believe that NBC has actually cancelled Heroes. Remember in season 1 when it was pretty much taking over the world and has its eyes on galactic dominance? It was huge, possibly the biggest TV hit since Lost, yet only three seasons later it would be cancelled despite a vastly improved final season. Unfortunately for Heroes, it was just too little too late, and season 4 actually did a good job or redeeming the series from the cesspool it had become, but it became apparent all too quickly how the show would descend into mediocrity again once season 5 had been renewed – but that never happened. The cliff-hanger of Claire exposing her ability to the mass media and therefore the world would have had certain repercussions, but really, would it have lead to anything we hadn’t seen before? It seems doubtful.
FlashForward meanwhile was a show that lost me around mid-season with it’s endless list of characters and boring protagonists. Seriously did anyone actually like Joseph Fiennes in that show? A classic example of bad casting – if they’d got the right man for the job, I might have just stuck around, but between his shouting and general douche-bag behaviour, I just couldn’t stomach it anymore. From what I’ve heard from others who persevered, things did improve and were given a huge boost by the guest appearance of James Callis as a Rainman-esque brainbox. Ultimately though, neither this nor anything else could stop ABC from cancelling the show they so desperately wanted to make the next Lost.
And let us not forget Veronica Mars, the star-making vehicle for Kristen Bell. To this day, Bell asserts that if she had the funds to do it, she would fund a Veronicas Mars movie herself. That’s some devotion.
Amid this graveyard of cancelled TV shows past present and future, is there a common thread to be found? As far as I can tell, the answer is decidedly no. Different problems plague different productions. For Deadwood and Rome, it was the cost of producing the show balanced against the ratings and the sales figures. For Heroes, it was a decline in ratings due to shockingly poor writing at a crucial point in the show’s history. For Veronica Mars, it was simply that the show appealed to a select, dedicated audience, but with its extensive geek in-jokes and winks, it would have been extremely difficult for it to break into the mainstream. FlashForward, plain and simply, suffered from ludicrous expectations, but the bottom line is ABC have no one to blame but themselves. Pitching a show as the next big thing before it even airs is a hell of a standard to set yourself and it was therefore inevitable that FlashForward collapsed under its own weight.