TERMINATED TV: SUDDEN DEATHS AND LONG GOODBYES
From May 16-20, many broadcast networks published their Fall 2016 lineups, which also meant they’d decided which of this past season’s shows to cancel.
In the best cancellation scenario, writers are notified well in advance, allowing the shows to flow smoothly into their farewells. This was the case for CBS’s THE GOOD WIFE and PERSON OF INTEREST. Also, a few weeks after my previous column was published speculating on the future of Fox’s BONES, the show was renewed for a final season of twelve episodes.
Conversely, the worst cancellation scenario is being notified only days before the season finale that your show isn’t coming back, as happened to ABC’s CASTLE this season. Admittedly, the show had been “on the bubble” the past few seasons and had declined in the ratings since new showrunners decided to break up mystery writer Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) and NYPD Det. Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) for dramatic purposes. However, while we learned a few months earlier that Stanic Katic and Tamala Jones (who played M.E. Lainie Parrish) had been let go, Fillion and the other key players had signed contracts to return for a ninth season.
So the cancellation surprised fans and objective industry watchers alike. I’m a Fillion fan from FIREFLY and have been a crime fiction fan since 1993, so you’d think Castle would be in my wheelhouse. I enjoyed similar shows—MONK, BONES, PSYCH —but for me CASTLE started on too light a note to become very serious. And some episodes wanted to get dead serious. The longer series go, the less I expect them to maintain a single tone. Part of longevity is changing with the times. If a show’s tone changes, though, I’m more willing to watch a serious show become lighter than a light show become more serious.
In case CASTLE was canceled, an extra scene was filmed to provide closure. The finale goes from Castle and Beckett holding hands after being shot to seven years later having happy family time. The abrupt shift couldn’t be helped with the timing of ABC’s decision, but it leaves me with the mixed feelings I’ve always had about the series.
As highly as I think of FIREFLY, CASTLE proved Nathan Fillion could lead a show for years. Meanwhile, Stana Katic’s Beckett was the core of the show, the character who most influenced the audience’s feelings about events and other characters. She would have been difficult to replace.
Speaking of “difficult to replace”, last column I also speculated on how NCIS’s Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) would exit the show after thirteen seasons. Weatherly notified fans in January this would be his final season. I thought simply retiring and going off with Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) would be a good ending for Tony. The good news? Tony wasn’t killed off. The bad news? Ziva was, in a hit arranged by old nemesis rogue CIA agent Trent Kort (David Dayan Fisher). This left Tony feeling unmoored, but he found purpose when Mossad revealed he and Ziva had a daughter, Tali.
While Tony took the rest of the day off, the others, aided by FBI agent Tess Monroe (Sarah Clarke) and British agent Clayton Reeves (Duane Henry), tracked down Kort. Another case in the books, Tony, realizing he had to focus on raising Tali, told Gibbs it would be his last.
I liked that the end of Ziva’s arc tied into Tony’s. Initially, I didn’t believe she hadn’t told Tony about Tali. It sounded like an excuse for the revelation’s timing, but in de Pablo’s Season 11 departure episode, Ziva did rebuff Tony’s willingness to leave NCIS to be with her.
I like Monroe and Reeves as potential new team members, but it’s hard to imagine Tony won’t be stepping off that elevator next season.
Michael Weatherly will be staying on CBS, though, leading the now show BULL. Based on the earlier career of Dr. Phil McGraw, BULL has Weatherly playing Dr. Jason Bull, a charismatic jury consultant. CBS has given BULL the plum, post-NCIS Tuesday 9:00 P.M. timeslot and moved NCIS: NEW ORLEANS to 10:00 P.M.
Meanwhile, ABC picked up NOTORIOUS (Thursdays, 9:00 P.M.), based on cable news producer Wendy Walker and criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos’s real relationship, starring alumni of USA’s COVERT AFFAIRS and GRACELAND Piper Perabo and Daniel Sunjata respectively. And despite cancelling MARVEL’S AGENT CARTER after two seasons, ABC retained star Hayley Atwell for the new show CONVICTION (Mondays, 10:00 P.M.), in which she’ll play the former First Daughter of the United States, working to turn her life around as part of team that looks to overturn unjust verdicts.
Finally, two shows that count on nostalgic fans like me: a CBS reimagining of MACGYVER (Fridays, 8:00 P.M.), starring Lucas Till and George Eads, and a LETHAL WEAPON TV show on FOX (Wednesdays, 8:00 P.M.), starring Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans as Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh respectively. I wasn’t too impressed by the show trailers released online, but I’m curious enough to give them a try on the chance they won’t end up like this season’s RUSH HOUR show, cancelled.