Join Date: Jan 09, 2001
Shows that ABC "screwed"
- Better Off Ted. The critically acclaimed sitcom quickly grew a Firefly-level intense fanbase, and to ABC's credit was given a second season despite low ratings, but then screwing truly began with the network providing minimal promotion, launching the season in December (exceptionally late for a returning show on the network), airing episodes during the holiday season (even though by 2009 most US viewers had been conditioned to expect new shows to be on mid-season break and so likely didn't expect the series to be on at that time), and when the ratings weren't stellar began burning off the episodes two at a time in January, cancelling the series, thus giving the show a Season 2 that ran for less than two months with the last two episodes not being aired in the U.S.(they did air in Australia later that summer, and both are availible on Netflix) due to the network's plan of airing them as Filler if the NBA Finals ended early wasn't needed due to that year's series going a full seven games.
- ABC's apparent reaction to Commander In Chief winning rave reviews and Emmys for its acting was to kill the show. They put it on hold during the Winter Olympics, then moved it to a different timeslot afterwards without properly announcing this. Ratings suffered, as tends to happen when one moves a show to a new timeslot without announcing it, so they canned it.
There's a bit more to that story. Showrunner/Director Rod Lurie took too long to produce episodes for the network, since he wanted to write and direct everything himself. ABC was understandably upset, but their unwise next move hurt the show beyond repair. Instead of giving Rod Lurie a scriptwriter to help him out, ABC instead fired Lurie and brought in Steven Bochco as the new showrunner mid-season. Then came the way-too-long delays and schedule shifts that followed, which further destroyed the show, one season in.
- Covington Cross (1992) aired only six episodes over eight weeks, being constantly preempted and/or moved due to sports programming. It didn't help that the show was expensive to produce (shot on location in England) and had been a prime target for Moral Guardians due to its violent content. Regardless, after the show's "dismal" ratings, it was canned.
- One of Litton's Weekend Adventure shows, Culture Click (an educational clone of The Soup), got screwed in Atlanta when their ABC station aired it at 4:00 AM Eastern. To be fair, it was the dud show in the Litton lineup and the first canceled program.
- Cupid was bounced around from the Friday Night Death Slot to Saturday (the two nights nobody is ever home to watch a romantic dramedy) to Thursday against NBC's Must-See TV, justifying its cancellation before the end of the season. The show was Un-Cancelled years later, as ABC has gave its creator permission to try again...but the revival didn't get much better treatment, and after ratings slipped it was quickly canned once again.
- Fridays was a Saturday Night Live knock-off that aired on ABC from 1980 to 1982. Despite clashes with the censors and a bad first season, it did win over fans who were disillusioned over SNL's decline in quality at the time and cited by most critics as the only sketch show that was worthy of replacing SNL. However, ABC was wary about the show's content, and, during the second season, moved the show from its cushy 11:30 PM timeslot to midnight and extended it from 70 to 90 minutes to make room for Nightline. When the ratings suffered because of this, ABC had the brilliant idea to air the show in primetime on April 23, 1982 — where it got its ass kicked by Dallas (like so many other shows from the early- to mid-1980s). Also not helping was the fact that NBC had gotten rid of Jean Doumanian and most of her SNL cast (Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo were the only survivors of Season 6), with the show more-or-less recovering from its Seasonal Rot with Dick Ebersol at the helm.
- Hope and Faith was still getting decent ratings in Season 3 despite being scheduled opposite American Idol, but ABC cancelled it anyways so they could make room for an expanded Dancing with the Stars.
- ABC screwed over Jake In Progress after its Season 2 premiere by replacing its timeslot with The Bachelor and cancelling the show a few short months afterwards (they screwed over Emily's Reasons Why Not in a similar manner), leaving eight episodes unaired, ABC cited lackluster ratings in the premiere as its reason; it seems more like ABC just wanted an excuse to cancel the show so it could fill another time slot with more of their Lowest Common Denominator reality shows.
- Just the Ten of Us, a spin-off of Growing Pains, was screwed because of politics. Although Just the Ten of Us did well in the ratings on Friday nights (and frequently won its 9:30 PM timeslot), ABC wanted all shows in the TGIF block to be produced by Miller-Boyett Productions (as was the case with Full House, Family Matters, and Perfect Strangers). Ultimately, after finding no other suitable timeslot for Just the Ten of Us in time for the 1990-91 season, the series was canceled outright and replaced by Going Places (which lasted only one season of 19 episodes, changing its premise on #13).
- Feeling that ABC wasn't promoting it enough, Stephen King spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money to buy print ads for Kingdom Hospital. The network then decided to change the timeslot to compete with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, meaning all the ads King bought gave the wrong time. King was probably pissed-off at this.
- Less Than Perfect was royally screwed by ABC during its final year, first by shortening its Season 4 order from 22 episodes to 13 despite solid ratings for the previous season, then the season was delayed until April. Then only 5 out of 13 episodes were aired; the next two episodes scheduled to air were pre-empted by NBA games and ABC unceremoniously cancelled the show without giving any explanation whatsoever.
- Fans of Lois and Clark had no reason to suspect Season 4 would be its last, as 4-5 had been confirmed for some time as part of a single contract deal. Then ABC got both new Disney ownership and leadership who wanted the timeslot for a revival of The Wonderful World of Disney and the contract was reneged on, leaving the cliffhanger unresolved and the hasty removal of "To be continued..." over the last scene.
America's Funniest Home Videos may have suffered for this too, given that its 7 pm Sunday timeslot was the first half of the two-hour timeslot Disney wanted for the Wonderful World revival. That Videos was already facing trouble, with a weary Bob Saget leaving at the end of the 1996-97 season, couldn't have helped. In any case, the Retooled show was treated poorly (start at 3.2 at the linked page) from that point on, with three timeslot changes — ending up on Saturdays. From there, it was demoted to occasional specials. In the end, however, it survived the screwing; once it relaunched as a series with Tom Bergeron as host in 2001, it gradually clawed its way back to being a network fixture and returned to its old Sunday at 7 timeslot.
- Max Headroom: Give it promotion no series could live up to (come on, a Newsweek cover?) and then drop it opposite the wildly-successful Miami Vice. This is somewhat different, though, as the reason it was screwed was not due to incompetence or office politics so much as the content of the show, which pretty much did everything it could to spit in the face of the execs and their way of life. The fact it was ever greenlit at all is a miracle.
ABC screwed over My Wife and Kids by cancelling it after the creators had already been promised another season, thus ending the series on a cliffhanger as a result (though Word of God's explanation for what would've happened next season lessens the blow somewhat).
- The Partridge Family was a modest ratings success its first three years, debuting at #26 and breaking the Top 20 in Seasons 2-3. Then ABC moved it to Saturday nights opposite All in the Family, which was in the middle of five consecutive seasons at #1. Ratings tanked, and the show was canned.
- The Practice was having great success for six seasons. Then ABC decided to move it from Sunday nights to Monday, supposedly to get out of the way of the similar and strongly-casted NBC show The Lyons Den (which ended up being canned in less than a year). The Practice suffered a huge drop in ratings during that year. At the end of Season 7, ABC refused to renew the show unless its budget was severely cut, citing "poor ratings". As a result, six of the main cast members were fired. Ironically, the show was put back on Sunday nights for the final season...and to show that David E. Kelley can make lemons into lemonade, he introduced a new character: Alan Shore, played by James Spader. The final season mostly dealt with Shore being wooed by a rival law firm led by Denny Crane, portrayed by special guest star William Shatner. Spader and Shatner both won Emmys later that year for their performances, and both characters and actors were spun off onto a new show, Boston Legal, which lasted for several years.
- For some reason, ABC decided to screw Samantha Who?, which was undoubtedly one of their most successful shows with high ratings and an award-winning cast. The deathblow? The network decided to move the show from its popular Monday timeslot (right after Dancing With the Stars) to a Thursday timeslot right after In The Motherhood, a complete flop that turned off most viewers.
- Tales of the Gold Monkey. Cast and crew members cited a lot of hostility by ABC at the tone of the show (the network wanted Lighter and Softer), the high budget, and "culture clash" (the South Seas Retro setting of the show didn't mesh with ABC's at-the-time "modern urban" sensibilities). It experienced Executive Meddling in scripting from the start and was canned after a single season even with growing ratings and the rival networks certain it would be ABC's flagship.
- ABC originally slotted Twin Peaks against Cheers, against which it actually performed admirably...then shifted the show's timeslot repeatedly. And then they forced David Lynch to reveal who killed Laura Palmer long before he wanted to.
- Ugly Betty was screwed over by ABC. Its first three seasons aired consistently on Thursday nights at 8:00 PM, but a slight drop in ratings resulted in the show being shunned to the Friday Night Death Slot at 9:00 PM in favor of Flash Forward taking its place (which ended up being canceled). Betty's ratings were cut in half after the night and time switch, and its fans spoke out...so at midseason it was moved to Wednesdays at 10:00 PM with other comedy shows. Even though the ratings improved, it was too late. The show officially ended at the end of Season 4, not finishing its original ordered run. The show did get a story sendoff, but it was rushed, and many plot points were never explained.
- ABC doesn't have a Friday Night Death Slot, it has Thursday Night Death Slot. The network has tried and failed to get a successful show going at 8:00 PM (Ugly Betty was the only scripted exception, although Whose Line Is It Anyway? and more recently Wipeout have both managed to run a few years by being low-cost filler) for over 30 years. So, naturally, in 2012 the geopolitical/military thriller Last Resort was aired Thursdays at eight. The ratings started as bad as you'd expect from a show that had to compete directly against (among other things) The Big Bang Theory and The X Factor, and got worse to the point where it finished last in its timeslot twice in a row, after which ABC killed it. Mildly subverted in that ABC is airing the remaining episodes and allowing its studio to give the series an actual ending.
Of course, with Grey's Anatomy being such a runaway hit in the hour afterwards, does ABC really need to worry too much about that?
In all honesty, ABC did try to subvert this with FlashForward (2009), where the show debuted to a promising ratings, and looked to be successful. And then the show went on hiatus, which the second part had half the ratings that Part 1 had. By the time the show was cancelled, the show was performing in last place, being beaten by The CW of all channels. It was cancelled, without resolving any questions the last episode made.
Actually, FlashForward's ratings declined steadily going into the hiatus, yet it was brought back afterwards at the same time slot. They gave the show every chance to succeed, but it just didn't take with enough people to become the Spiritual Successor to Series/Lost that ABC desperately wanted.
If it was screwed in any way, it was by putting it on at 8 rather than 9, where violence that didn't hurt Lost was perhaps a little off-putting at the earlier hour, and certainly didn't make any of the Grey's Anatomy fans watch it.
- While 666 Park Avenue received modest ratings by Nielsen standards, it was later revealed that 77% of it's viewings came from DVR recordings. However, ABC ignored this, and the show was canceled anyway. Fortunately, this announcement came early enough for the final episodes to be re-written and re-shot to give the series closure. Unfortunately, the show was pulled off the schedule before they could actually air that finale. It finally did over the summer, only to see another screwing with the literal last minute of the show's finale being pre-empted for the George Zimmerman trial verdict in the East.
- Masters of Science Fiction was an anthology series with plenty of promise (adaptations of stories by popular science fiction writers with a wraparound sequence hosted by none other than Stephen Hawking) but ABC sat on the show for a year, dumped it to Saturday nights and didn't air two episodes as the studio head felt the show was "too intelligent". And you wonder why there hasn't been a successful anthology show since Tales from the Crypt.
- My So-Called Life. Among other factors, it was in the Thursday Night Curse Slot, and up against Friends and Mad About You. And unlike, say, Last Resort, it ended on a huge, unresolved cliffhanger.
- ABC started airing season 2 of Dont Trust The B In Apartment 23 and Season 3 of Happy Endings on Tuesdays on October 23, a month after the start of the season, and more importantly after the start of popular Tuesday comedies New Girl and Raising Hope and new comedies Go On, The New Normal, The Mindy Project and Ben And Kate, all of which share the same time slot as the B and HE. Then they began seriously effing with Apt. 23 airing unaired episodes from Season 1 while airing episodes from Season 2 at random, resulting in serious discontinuities between episodes (like June working on Wall Street and then not, then doing it again the next episode; the entire "James on Dancing with the Stars" plot via airing order was scrambled beyond belief to the point a Dub-Induced Plot Hole had to be created to scrub a DWTS mention). Then, on January 22, 2013, they cancelled the show and announced they were not going to air the remaining 8 episodes on the network. After the end of the 2013 broadcast season the missing eight episodes were placed online and Hulu, allowing some kind of closure.
This was actually a result of being screwed in Season 1 when, after a positive response at upfronts, ABC had ordered 13 episodes and scheduled it as an actual midseason replacement with a premiere date in February. But then...perhaps ABC got cold feet about the title, not least because they were taking similar heat over Good Christian Bitches, which became Good Christian Belles and finally just GCB. After putting Apt. 23 through the same rollercoaster, they rescheduled its premiere date to the end of April, allowing just 6 episodes or so and forcing the mixed-up order in Season 2.
- Houston Medical was a well-received 2002 documentary series about the inner workings of a hospital in Houston (it also received praise for its tasteful handling of one of the series' subjects, a doctor dying of brain cancer). So what did ABC do? Dumped it into the Summer 2002 scheduling with no advertising or awareness whatsoever. After ABC burned off the series, the series was never re-run.
- Late in the run of Power Rangers Jungle Fury and continuing for Power Rangers RPM and the subsequent Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers reversioning, Disney took PR off cable and made it exclusively an ABC Kids series, despite having just opened up the boys-targeted Disney XD. This would have been borderline tolerable if it aired at, oh, a sensible time. Instead, Power Rangers RPM and the reversioning were not aired as part of the ABC Kids block in most top markets. And where it was aired, it was often given a time slot before sunrise. Both seasons were barely promoted by the network.
- ABC is pretty much the Fox of the 2010s. Pan Am, Missing, Body of Proof, Zero Hour, No Ordinary Family, Better with You, How to Live with Your Parents (for the Rest of Your Life), Red Widow, and countless other series have gotten yanked off the air pretty quickly, some as a result even ending on cliffhangers!
- In 2005, ESPN opted not to continue its relationship with the National Hockey League (fresh out of the lockout that canceled the entire 2004-05 season), and the cable rights were taken over by OLN (which then became Versus), a channel dedicated to outdoor sports with distribution not as wide as ESPN's. When NBC finally offered to air the 2007 NHL playoffs, they cut away from a series-clinching playoff game IN OVERTIME to show 90 minutes of pre-race coverage of the Preakness Stakes, knocking the remainder of the game over to Versus (except in Buffalo, one of the NHL's smallest markets, and Ottawa, where the CBC knows better). Though thankfully, they've learned their lesson (and Versus, now known as the NBC Sports Network following Comcast's acquisition of NBC, has become a lot more established since.) The Preakness Stakes incident was Executive Meddling of its own, as NBC's contract with the race (negotiated years before, mind you) had advertising commitments.
ESPN and ABC aren't exactly blameless for losing their NHL TV rights, though. Once they pulled some duplicitous tactics to yank broadcast rights away from FOX, both ESPN and ABC proceeded to ignore the league, giving it absolutely no advertising time on ABC and the bare minimum on ESPN. This behavior accelerated when ESPN and ABC got the rights to broadcast NBA games (coincidentally, the NHL's direct competitor for the winter months), with both networks making it clear they were prioritizing basketball over hockey. Then right as the 2004-05 NHL lockout started, ESPN canceled their NHL recap show NHL2night and refused to revive the show when the League approached them for a new cable deal after the labor dispute ended. With this kind of network screwing over a 6-7 year period, you cannot possibly blame the NHL for jumping to a more caring TV partner in Versus (although going with NBC is still inexcusable, as shown above). This blog entry goes into more detail about how Disney's networks screwed over the NHL, as well as the aforementioned dirty tactics used to screw FOX out of any TV rights.
- Of the six episodes of Clerks: The Animated Series that were actually made, only episodes four and two were actually aired, in that order. This despite the number of running gags and ongoing plotlines that the series had, and the fact that the second episode makes sense only if you have seen the first (it's a parody of clip shows, because they only have one episode to mine for clips). All six episodes — with vitriolic commentaries — were later released on DVD.
Comedy Central later showed all six episodes in 2002, before also shoving the series aside. [adult swim] picked it up in November 2008, airing one episode every Friday night for about six months straight.
- Recess was once Adored by the Network. But Walt Disney Television decided to end the series in 2001, not for any issue with ratings (actually, the ratings for the show were higher than any other Saturday Morning Cartoon at the time, and for a while, the highest rated Saturday morning cartoon), but because there was a policy to end a show once it reached 65 episodes. And it doesn't matter how popular it was, it had to end with 65.
- Sonic the Hedgehog suffered this badly. It's entire first season was plauged by preempts from college football. Then, when the second season hit, it turned out that it was a major contender against Fox's Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Then, a new head honcho came in, actually declared that he was sweeping out everything connected to the old guy... and did so. Sonic would be driven out in favor of those within "One Saturday Morning" and Power Rangers would begin its 10-year romp on Fox.