TV in the 2000s: 15 Shows Canceled After Appearing in Bullz-Eye’s TV Power Rankings*

*Probably Coincidentally

Back in 2005, Bullz-Eye kicked off a regularly-recurring feature that’s become a staple of our site: the TV Power Rankings, which gives us a chance to offer up our opinions once every six months on the best that television has to offer. Now that we’re looking back at the entire decade in our TV in the 2000s feature, however, it gave us an opportunity to look back at all of the shows that have appeared within the Rankings over the course of its history, and when we did, it was a little eyebrow-raising to see how many of our favorite programs bit the dust almost immediately after receiving accolades from us. We’re pretty sure their cancellations weren’t our fault…or, at least, not entirely. Anyway, take a look back through the list with us, won’t you? If nothing else, it shows that we’ve got good taste, even if the average viewer doesn’t always share our opinions.

1. Arrested Development (Fox, 2003 – 2006) – “Even if this is indeed the end for one of Fox’s all time greatest shows, it is better to have loved and lost…oh, the hell with that, Fox is freaking nuts if they cancel this show.” So said David Medsker in February 2006. But did they listen to him? They did not. “We’re not ones to buy into the whole dumbing-down-of-society thing,” Medsker added, “but if this show gets canned while ‘According to Jim’ lives on, maybe there’s something to it after all.” Oh, yeah, there’s definitely something to it: “According to Jim” stayed on the air until June 2009.

2. Deadwood (HBO, 2004 – 2006) – When it was announced that Season 3 would be the last for the semi-historical look at the wild west, there was really only one name that John Paulsen could call the folks at HBO. We probably shouldn’t use it here, but if you need a hint, it starts with a “C” and rhymes with “sock pluckers.” “Everything about the show – the language, the acting, the story, the sets and the costumes – is colorful,” Paulsen observed in February 2007, “and whether or not HBO wants to admit it, they’re going to miss ‘Deadwood’ once it’s gone for good.” They must’ve been in some serious denial, then: creator David Milch reportedly agreed to do a proper wrap-up of the series through a pair of “Deadwood” movies” for the network, but things never really got beyond the discussion stage.

3. Invasion (ABC, 2005 – 2006) – The fall of 2005 was a good time in prime time for sci-fi fans, with each of the big three networks offering up an entry from the genre, but by the spring of 2006, their cheers had turned to tears. NBC’s “Surface” was permanently submerged after 15 episodes, while CBS’s “Threshold” crossed the point of no return after only nine episodes had aired. Give ABC some credit, however, for at least sticking with their entry for the full 22. “’Invasion’ started slowly, but has steadily ramped up the creepiness,” said John Paulsen in February ’06, acknowledging that, although it gave its audience lots of questions, at least it was providing them with more answers than “Lost” was. Unfortunately, there was still plenty to be answered when the show was canceled, and things got even more depressing when Tyler Labine talked to Bullz-Eye about what might’ve been. “(Creator Shaun Cassidy) had written this bible for the show, and he had written this amazing five-season arc,” said Labine. “We were just floored. Our jaws were literally on the floor after he explained it to us. We were, like, ‘Wow, we’re on for a really great ride!’” What a shame for us all that the ride ended as quickly as it did.

4. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC, 2005 – 2006) – Well, you can’t say that we weren’t honest about offering up both the pros and the cons of Aaron Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes look into a late-night comedy series. “The show is pompous, unrealistic and ridiculously left-wing,” admitted Jason Zingale in February 2007, “but it also makes for some damn good television.” Unfortunately, with an awful lead-in – seriously, who thought that pairing the show with “Heroes” was a good idea? – “Studio 60” didn’t develop enough of a following to earn a second season.

5. Rome (HBO, 2005 – 2007) – In its first season, “Rome” turned up at #18 in the Power Rankings, but by the time Season 2 aired, it had leapt to #6. Not that such success earned the show a third season (it was apparently ridiculously expensive to produce, which you can absolutely believe if you’ve ever seen it, but at least the news of its cancellation came in time for John Paulsen to register his annoyance within the February 2007 Rankings. “As it turns out, ‘Rome’ isn’t the heir to the throne of ‘The Sopranos,’” he wrote. “Instead, sadly, it’s a bastard stepchild, just like ‘Deadwood.’” Creator Bruno Heller was probably even more pissed than Paulsen, having mapped out his vision of the series all the way through its fifth season, but as recently as December 2008, Heller was still sounding optimistic about the chances for a “Rome” movie. “I would love to round that show off,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. Hey, we’re behind you 100%, Bruno.

6. Four Kings (NBC, 2006) – If you don’t remember this sitcom, you’re forgiven, as it premiered in January 2006 and was gone by March. Still, it made enough of an impression to earn Honorable Mention status in the February 2006 rankings. “Four Kings” was created by David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, the duo behind “Will and Grace,” and featured Seth Green as one of its cast members, so you might think it surprising that it was off the air within seven episodes (and with a remaining six episodes still unaired). Looking back, however, the fact that the greatest praise Jason Zingale could heap upon the show in his write-up was that “it’s a worthy quick-fix until NBC finds a better alternative” should’ve given us a clue that it wasn’t long for this world.

7. Jericho (CBS, 2006 – 2008) – It was the little show that could, our “Jericho.” It started with an awesomely dark premise – a nuclear bomb goes off in the U.S., and we view the repercussions through the eyes of a small town in Kansas – and, after figuring out its direction (the attempts to meld some “Little House on the Prairie” aspects to the show were soon phased out), the series found its footing, kicked some creative ass, and was promptly canceled. But what’s this…? The show’s diehard fanbase made enough noise (and sent enough nuts) to get the show a 7-episode second season which lived up to everyone’s expectations and then some. Too bad the same couldn’t be said for the ratings, but those who actually tuned in for Season 2 know how many twists, turns, and outright shocks it included. There’s still talk of a possible “Jericho” movie. We can only hope.

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Discussing the “Life On Mars” finale

Ted Anthony of the AP wrote a good article about how (and why) the finale for “Life On Mars” rubbed some people the wrong way. AP is tightening its restrictions on blogs quoting their content, so I’ll just link to the piece and move on. (It’s a good read.) By the way, there are “Life On Mars” spoilers ahead.

Anthony compares the “LOM” finale to that of “The Sopranos” and describes both as the kind of open-ended television that American audiences don’t like. This is one point I don’t necessarily agree with. The ending from “LOM” did come from out of nowhere, but I thought it buttoned things up pretty well. It explained why he was back in 1973 and why all those weird things were happening around him. Throughout the season, I was hoping that the creators would find a way for Sam and Annie to be together in the future, in the past, whatever, but I wasn’t expecting it to be in the year 2035.

Sure, Annie isn’t really Annie, but in the final scene it was obvious that there was (or there will be) something going on between the two astronauts. Maybe she didn’t know it yet, but he clearly developed feelings for 1973 Annie and I think that relationship will progress in 2035. The astronauts aren’t exactly the same as their characters in 1973, but that final scene proved that their personalities are similar, which is why I believe that “Sam” and “Annie” will eventually be together.

I did some research about the UK version of the show and discovered that the US ending was a big departure. Had our version ended the same way, I think there would be more of an uproar about how the conclusion wasn’t satisfying enough.

Again, I applaud ABC and the “LOM” creators for coming to a quick decision about the fate of the series and giving the loyal viewers a sense of closure. Some were unhappy to discover that the 1973 characters were just that — characters. But this is television, people. Aside from reality TV (or at least some of it), these are all characters. I’m just happy that Annie, Gene, Ray and Chris exist in some form in Sam’s present.

It was a fun ride while it lasted.

  

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“Life On Mars” producers explain what happened

In an interview with TV.com, Scott Rosenburg and Josh Applebaum talk about tonight’s series finale and why the show didn’t work on a major network.

TV.com: When did you find out that Life on Mars was not going to get picked up, and how did that change the production process for you?

Scott Rosenburg: We were crafting the 17th episode, and we always knew what it was going to be. It was a big culmination episode for us in a lot of ways. We knew the ratings were grim, and we went to ABC and we said, “Look, we know the ratings were grim.” We always knew what our end point was for a season finale and for a series finale, and we basically said, “Listen, we have this thing, and we’d love to be able to shoot two Act Six’s, you know, one for a series finale and one for a season finale.” And they came back to us and they said, “You can do the series finale.” We were like, “Okay, but what about the season finale?” And they were like, “Just do the series finale,” and that was a pretty good indication right there.

But it’s not something that [networks] often do. They usually wait ’til May, but it was a general true affection for the show in the executive’s suites at ABC, and because of that they let us actually wrap it up–because it just would have sucked to be cancelled and to have the 17th episode and all these cliff hangers. And now it exists as a complete thought. It’s got a beginning, middle, and an end.

TV.com: So the finale does have a full resolution. We will see exactly what’s going on with Sam.

Scott Rosenburg: Yes. Yes.

The duo go on to discuss the series finale.

While it will be sad to see the show go, this is soooooooo much better than ending the season with a bunch of cliffhangers and holding out hope that the show gets picked up for another season. I applaud the producers for confronting the network about the show’s future and the network for making a quick decision and allowing the creators to properly bring the season to a close.

  

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ABC cancels “Life On Mars”

Another good show bites the dust.

Granted, I wouldn’t put “Life On Mars” on the same level as last season’s time-traveling seriees, “Journeyman,” but “Life On Mars” has (had) a stellar cast — Harvey Keitel, Jason O’Mara, Gretchen Mol, Michael Imperioli — and a great premise. It debuted to strong ratings (8.2) but in recent weeks, ratings fell to the 3.0-3.7 range, which simply aren’t good enough to justify the expensive cast and production. (Coincidentally, “Journeyman” had similar ratings at the end of its run.)

The show will complete its 17-episode freshman-season order with an episode written as a series finale, wrapping the loose story ends, explaining how Tyler was transported back in time and perhaps bringing him back to his own time.

The show was a remake of a popular U.K. series that ran just 16 episodes (as planned). U.S. networks tend to try to bleed a hit for all its worth instead of getting in and getting out. Sometimes it works (“The Office”) and in the case of “Life On Mars,” sometimes it doesn’t. It turns out that the U.S. version will run one more episode than the U.K. version, so let’s hope that the creators have ample time to wrap things up. It looks like they do.

  

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New York Comic-Con 2009: The Wrap-Up

You know you’re on the right bus for Comic-Con when a guy comes aboard wearing a Flash t-shirt…and he’s followed a guy toting two enormous bags in which to carry swag…and then that guy is followed by Darth Vader.

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe Lord Vader wasn’t actually on the bus with me, but he was most certainly present – and in various heights, weights, shapes, and sizes, no less – during the course of the New York Comic-Con, which took place at New York’s Javitz Center from February 6th through the 8th.

Our man Jason Zingale has been our resident San Diego Comic-Con attendee for the past couple of years, but Bullz-Eye was also in the house for last year’s NYCC, thanks to our man in New York, Jonathan Flax. (Granted, he’s often a quiet man, but he’s still there for us when we need him.) This year, however, I couldn’t resist the chance to take in Comic-Con for myself. The San Diego event takes place immediately after I’ve already spent two-and-a-half weeks in L.A. for the July TCA Press Tour, and by that point, I just can’t be away from my wife and daughter any longer; fortunately, the NYCC takes place long enough after the January TCA tour that I was able to feel comfortable heading out of town to attend. It was disappointing that I had to take in all of the sights, sounds, and events all by my lonesome, but lord knows there were plenty of other people with whom I was sharing the experience. I might’ve come by myself, but I was in no way alone.

Day 1:

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