There’s an episode of the original series of ‘Skins’ in which, during a school trip to Russia, Anwar discovers that a beautiful local girl he’s been pursuing speaks fluent English, due to being an avid fan of ‘Friends’. If that doesn’t speak volumes as to the overabundance of America’s cultural exports, I’m not sure what does. From ‘24’ to ‘Two And A Half Men’, if it’s been on US tellies it’s a near-guarantee that it will be on screens everywhere else. A sad by-product of this is that whenever a particular show gets cancelled or passed on by the network powers that be these days, there tends to be a substantial international ripple effect that never seems to be taken into consideration. And so, as cherry blossoms herald a return to springtime, for telly fanatics the season now comes with a bittersweet touch, a notorious time of year where many a favourite show finds itself in the firing line. Here are just ten of the titles that have taken their last bow this year:
First sci-fi western ‘Firefly’, now crime drama ‘Castle’, Nathan Fillion really can’t seem to escape the Curse of the Cancellation, though at least the latter has had more staying power. After eight seasons since its 2009 debut, and despite strong signs of renewal for a ninth, it’s pens down for mystery novelist Richard Castle and his escapades shadowing Detective Kate Beckitt (Stana Katic, whose lack of contract renewal was the first warning sign). We can only hope that now Fillion may finally have time to reteam with Joss Whedon on a sequel to the cult classic short film ‘Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog’.
The Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere-starring musical drama under the ABC network was another somewhat surprising blow, for whilst it may not have had the highest audience at broadcast, it frequently saw a boost from catch-up viewings, enjoyed critical praise and even reaped ancillary profits via concert tours and soundtracks. Complicating matters recently however was Tennessee’s passing of anti-LGBT legislation (where the show was filmed), which many of the cast had spoken out against. Lionsgate Television nonetheless remains hopeful that this one has more life in it yet, and is currently shopping it around to other networks.
Marvel Entertainment has become a practically unstoppable beast of film and television for close to a decade now, but whilst its main expansion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the small screen, ‘Agents of SHIELD’, can be expected to return in September, its period-set sister show ‘Agent Carter’ has not been so lucky. Following the career in espionage of Peggy Carter, Captain America’s wartime heartthrob, its first season received high critical praise and was instantly embraced by fans for the depth it brought to her character. Considering the unresolved plot threads leftover from Season 2, and Marvel’s track record for fan-service and doing right by its heroes, it would be very surprising if they don’t afford Peggy one last hurrah of some description, be it a Netflix revival or another of their ‘One-Shot’ short films. After all, we didn’t get to see her found SHIELD itself yet!
After 16 years, the CSI franchise has officially become a cold case with the cancellation of its last spinoff, a brief foray into cyber crime. It may have never enjoyed the highest ratings and received mixed reviews at best, but kudos for its continuous effort to keep with the times, and it deserves at least a salute as the CSI era draws to a close.
Even the most highly praised of shows can’t escape the jaws of low ratings (I’m still not fully recovered from the loss of ‘Hannibal’ last year). Despite a 93% Rotten Tomatoes rating, and the star power of Rob Lowe and Fred Savage, this legal comedy (as opposed to all the other illegal comedies?) witnessed a gradual decline in ratings, and now the sentence has been issued. The show followed Dean Sanderson Jr. (Lowe), an actor who decides to play at being a real lawyer to the chagrin of his actual-lawyer brother Stewart (Savage).
Jim Henson’s iconic mob of madness may have enjoyed a seismic comeback with ‘The Muppets’ film in 2011, but already it seems its rainbow connection to audiences is receding. Following the disappointing sequel ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ in 2014, the decision was made to put the gang back on their home turf of television in a mockumentary-style a la ‘Modern Family’ and ‘The Office’, but despite a promising start the joke seems to have been lost on ABC decision-makers. Still, we’ll always have ‘Muppets Christmas Carol’.
Superhero drama ‘Heroes’ had phenomenally successful beginnings, but the Writer’s Guild of America Strike dealt a heavy blow to the show going forwards that was never fully recovered from. When it was announced the series was to be revived, unsurprisingly it created a lot of buzz, but in retrospect anything even slightly inferior to that first season would more than likely be dubbed a continuation of that decline. Featuring cameos from many fan favourite characters, including voice-like-soft-butter Professor Mohinder Suresh, telepath Matt Parkman and of course the great time/space jumper Hiro Nakamura, they may have saved the cheerleader, and they may have saved the world, but they couldn’t save this series.
Ant & Dec are a uniquely successful piece of British entertainment and popular culture, so when it was announced that the format of their flagship family show ‘Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway’ was to be adapted for American TV, hosted solely by Neil Patrick Harris, understandably it raised a sceptical eyebrow. Clearly, the scepticism was justified, as after just one season consisting of eight episodes, NBC has pulled the plug and banished the show to the Tower of Ill-Conceived Transatlantic Adaptations (other occupants including ‘The Inbetweeners’, ‘Skins’ and ‘Life on Mars’).
Ok so technically it hasn’t been cancelled but the acclaimed legal/political drama that ran for seven seasons has officially come to its end, the finale having aired on 8th May. Starring Julianna Margulies, the show was frequently commended for its exploration of politics, law, society and even social media and the internet, and stands out especially considering its serial structure despite its home network being CBS, traditionally a home for procedural programmes. In this age of the sheer excess of reality television, every farewell bid to a show like this feels all the more aggrieved.
But that’s not to say reality TV isn’t also taking some knocks, this being easily the most prominent. It had a good run with fifteen seasons since 2002, and featured judges from Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson to Ellen DeGeneres, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban and more besides. But now that the format has diversified across the medium into shows like the ‘Got Talent’ format and ‘The X Factor’, the springboard of music stars like Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert has had its swansong.