Fox Cancels ‘Alcatraz’, ‘Finder’ and ‘Breaking In’ (Again), While ‘Touch’ Survives

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So goes another J.J. Abrams show and the Bones spinoff. While Fox spared Fringe fans grief by giving them a baker’s dozen for a fifth and final season, Fox was not so kind with the supernatural procedural, Alcatraz. It was an average, but not spectacular show that simply took too long to get to the interesting part of its story. Had it launched on cable, maybe it would have survived but there are no major organized online campaigns fighting for Alcatraz because it simply wasn’t special enough. Fox’s Finder too got the pink slip and viewers had to see that coming once they got the reassigned to Friday nights. It was a brutal year for Fox’s freshman dramas. Terra Nova was also axed in the winter despite reasonable ratings. They weren’t high enough though for the network to justify it’s costs. Fox already admitted to losing money on Fringe and likely didn’t want to tread in the same water with others in the similar genres. Does this mean Fox is done with launching sci-fi series? It sure seems that way, for the fall anyway.

Without much fan fare, Breaking In and I Hate My Teenage Daughter were also sent home packing as they were unceremoniously replaced by reruns of Raising Hope and New Girl on Tuesday nights. Breaking In was pulled completely out of May sweeps (never a good sign) after just airing five episodes. Both shows were completely mismanaged from the beginning; Fox never knew where to place them or how much support to give. Let’s not forget that Breaking In was averaging around 7 million viewers before Fox decided to pull its Season One finale and then air it on a completely different day. That’s about as dumb as it gets.

Season 2 was just as harsh as fans failed to recognize the show’s return midseason with an overhaul to the entire makeup of the show. Megan Mullally and Erin Richards were brought onto the show but Season One regulars Michael Rosenbaum and Odette Annable were taken off. That turned out to be a big mistake. The chemistry was completely thrown off and viewers were force-fed the new characters for the sake of what made the show work in the first place: Christian Slater acting geeky, while young attractive cast members acted even geekier. Why resurrect a show twice, only to give it minimal advertising and marketing support?

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I Hate My Teenage Daughter had a similar fate, where a two-month break came between episode four and five and then was pulled after episode seven. It was rumored to return in the summer, then on Sundays, now it’s canceled.

Who knows if Fox will air the remaining episodes of either show? More than likely they won’t see the light until the summer when Fox needs to something new to air.

But not all is doom and gloom at the house that Bart Simpson built. Keifer Sutherland’s Touch got renewed, but that was probably due to how well the series is received internationally, airing in 40 other countries. Ratings have steadily dropped since its pilot, plummeting from 12 million viewers to just over half of that last week. The addition of Maria Bello as a recurring character could have helped too. So yes, we will get to hear Sutherland yell, “Jake” for at least another season. No word yet on if it will return in the fall for a full season or in the winter as a mid-season show.

Is NBC The Right Place For J.J. Abrams’ Next Sci-Fi ‘Revolution’?

jj abrams revolutionJ.J. Abrams is at it again. As if he wasn’t busy enough launching television series at every television network, Abrams sold another pilot called Revolution, this time at NBC. Revolution follows a family trying to reunite in a post-apocalyptic world where technology and energy has blacked out. Sounds like your average Abrams pitch mixed with post-apocalyptic elements from comic books The Walking Dead and Y: The Last Man mixed in with it. Supernatural head writer Eric Kripke will write pilot and Bryan Burk (Super 8) will executive produce. Abrams also sold a hotel management dramedy pilot to the CW earlier this week called Shelter (formerly titled Maine).

Editor’s Pick: See Who’s Joining The Cast of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek 2

Abrams is one of the busiest men in the business as filming has begun on the Untitled Star Trek Sequel and he currently has three television series airing on two of the four major networks: Fringe and Alcatraz on Fox and Person of Interest on CBS. While not a constant presence on either show, Abrams does serve as executive producer on each project and has served as a writer and music composer on many of his shows as well. If Revolution successfully launches on NBC, that would give him a stake in three of the four major networks. (Let’s also remember that Abrams had a long standing relationship with ABC including five seasons of Alias, two seasons of What about Brian?, and six with Lost.) That is dependent of course if Fringe sees a fifth season.

Editor’s Pick: Lessons Alcatraz Should Take From Other J.J. Abrams Shows

After the winter session of the TCAs, Fox left fans dangling and waiting for the future of Abrams’ Fringe despite its imaginative storytelling and ability to fill the science fiction network void sufficiently. Fringe has a loyal following but in four seasons it has not grown that base to a point where it is profitable. If we’re being honest, its days are numbered. It’s marketed poorly. Fox would rather put its energy towards more reliable horses like American Idol and Kiefer Sutherland’s Touch, understandably. So once again we circle around the old issue of science fiction and genre television and their lack of support on major networks. It’s not unreasonable to achieve numbers that any cable network would be proud to have for multiple seasons. But to be kept on the air at Fox, ABC, NBC or CBS, shows need to shoot for and bring in total audiences of eight figures on a weekly basis.

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Editor’s Pick: 5 Thinks Fringe Must Do To Get Back On Track

One wonders whether or not NBC of all places can sustain a high concept series in the sci-fi genre, much less another Abrams-produced show. His first run with NBC was with Undercovers, which only got to air 11 of the 13 episodes made before getting the ax in November 2010 and that was a spy show. The reality-based alien dramaThe Event was a drawn-out exercise in futility, trying to capture the legions of Lost fans still wandering in the wake of losing their favorite show. Unlike Fringe, The Event‘s relatively loyal though continually dwindling fan base could not pull it through to the 2011-2012 TV season. We recently put to rest Chuck, a geek-friendly spy series where NBC tortured its fans for the last three seasons. If that wasn’t enough to build a case against NBC’s handling of genre material, I’ll briefly utter the words Heroes and Wonder Woman pilot. I think I made a few people shudder on that last sentence. Really, J.J., this network has as much hospitality towards sci-fi as much as a Howard Johnson hotel in the middle of Gary, Indiana.

This season Grimm was launched late in the fall season and has somehow survived despite bombarding viewers with modern fairy tale genre, newly established on TV by ABC’s Once Upon A Time, while adding to the endless chain of weekly procedurals at the same time. Genre fans are already fearing NBC’s other promising new sci-fi show, the Inception-esque crime show Awake, which will debut in March 1. Response from the pilot has been superb, but let’s be honest, we’re going to be watching halfheartedly knowing that it will likely struggle in the ratings too. How much faith can you put in a show when the first thing you ask is, ‘How long a leash will NBC give it?’ Will we be asking the same thing about Revolution? Unfortunately, this is how we’ve become primed with NBC dramas. It’s a rarity when something isn’t canceled or is on the bubble, especially if it falls outside the law and order classifications. The network is a farm for half-hour comedies and talent shows.

fringe promoNeedless to say I am less than enamored that Revolution landed at NBC. They are a struggling network that is trying to redefine itself and because of that uncertainty, who knows if they’re the best place to land Abrams’ latest pilot? Revolution sounds as interesting as any other Abrams project, though not so special that I can’t wait. I’m sure it will have that promise of many years of stories and the sci-fi elements will be subtle in the beginning to lure as big a crowd as possible before it gets too nerdy and scare the mainstream away. NBC will likely stop promoting the show after its premiere and will hope and pray as it does so often with its marginal performers–praising it but not offering any creative way to really feature the show on a consistent basis. I hope I’m proven wrong, I’d be glad to see a TV “Revolution” begin at NBC. If not, maybe the CW will give you a nice deal for two pilots. At least we know it’ll last six or seven seasons there. In fact, I’ll take bets on which lasts longer, Shelter or Revolution? Trust me, you’ll get better odds on this Sunday’s Super Bowl.

I will give Abrams plenty of credit for getting the networks to buy into his shows–no doubt a difficult feat–but I’ll be honest. Before launching all of these other series, it would have been nice to see Abrams focus a majority of his mojo into getting Fringe to stick around long enough to leave on its own terms. Star Trek 2 isn’t even on anyone’s radar yet and won’t hit theaters until 2013, yet there he is. And let’s say that NBC picks up Revolution for the fall or the 2013 mid-season schedule, and the unavoidable you-know-what hits the fan, will Abrams be around to make sure it defies NBC’s genre curse or will he be selling his next sci-fi pitch to the network who bids the highest? Either way, let’s just save fans the trouble and see if another network is interested, otherwise I’ll be practicing “Taps” in the corner.

‘Locke & Key’ is Another Casualty of Fox Tuesday Slaying–Picks Up ‘Alcatraz’ and ‘Finder’ Instead

locke & key comicJust when you thought that there were no more shows to cancel, Fox cut the head off another eagerly anticipated pilot, Locke & Key based off the gritty Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez IDW horror comic of the same name.

Fox instead decided to pool their resources on pitches with established relationships/proven track records. The J.J. Abrams-produced science fiction procedural Alcatraz got the green light as did Bones spinoff Finder. Tim Kring will also get another shot to erase the bad taste of Heroes with 24 frontman Keifer Sutherland in Touch.

Then came the move to pick up two comedies, The New Girl with Zooey Deschanel and I Hate My Teenage Daughter with Jaime Pressly and Katie Finneran. Fox’s preference to feature Deschanel and Pressly was a transparent move to grow female viewers and they’ll likely position these shows with Raising Hope or Glee or either of the talent shows American Idol and X Factor like they did with Breaking In. At least we know either show needs to hold an audience of 8 million or more when considering the decent numbers Breaking In brought in with Idol as a lead-in. Nellie Andreeva of Deadline came up with her theories as to what Fox was thinking with the drastic moves.

When one looks at what is left behind from the bloody slaughtering Tuesday night, Fox’s new shows for the fall have logical pairings with existing shows. Alcatraz could start beside Fringe on Friday nights or be paired up with House or expensive dinosaur adventure Terra Nova. Finder will likely be paired with parent Bones. What days these shows will air has yet to be determined and after the Lone Star debacle last fall, nothing announced should be set in cement. The cancellation of Human Target, Lie to Me, Chicago Code, and Breaking In has left many in the industry angry. Relationships with Sony Pictures TV were burned when Breaking In (which had the best numbers of all of the casualties) was cancelled along with other two more Sony TV comedy pilots Council of Dads and Ireland.

Locke & Key would have starred Miranda Otto (Lord of the Rings Trilogy), pop star Jesse McCartney, Sarah Bolger and Skylar Gaertner as a family looking for a new beginning after a violent event took daddy Locke away. They relocate to Lovecraft, MA only to find their house is inhabited by a dangerous spirit and their father’s murderer escapes the detention center on the hunt for the Locke family.

The comic is an indie success having just been nominated for multiple Eisner Awards and recently was pushed as IDW’s offering on Free Comic Book Day this past weekend. Whatever the Fox execs saw of the pilot did not impress them and now its future is in limbo. The show would have been expensive to produce but certainly no more than Terra Nova which is already at $10 million and counting. Perhaps the tone didn’t come across well as it’s a dark tale with very little room for any levity while the foundation is laid for the supernatural elements. The only hope for Locke & Key is that it could be picked up by another network, cable more than likely, and that might be a good thing, if it is eventually made.

J.J. Abrams' Alcatraz Picked Up By Fox

Get ready to see another take on the infamous prison island Alcatraz.

After other networks expressed interest, Fox has reportedly picked up the pilot to the J.J. Abrams’ produced project Alcatraz. Also on board for the new show is former Lost writer Elizabeth Sarnoff, who wrote the finalized script for the pilot.The show is being produced by Abrams Bad Robot with Warner Bros TV serving as the studio. Bad Robot’s has two other series on television currently: Fox’s Fringe and NBC’s Undercovers, which will premiere next week.

Alcatraz will be a crime thriller set at the San Francisco Bay prison island that has been shut down since 1963. Further details are being kept under wraps, of course.

Source: Deadline