Fox pulls anemic ‘Red Band Society’ from TV lineup

Fox pulls anemic ‘Red Band Society’ from TV lineup

Promo shot,
This screen grab of a promo shot for Fox's now-canceled "Red Band Society" seems to ask the right question.

WASHINGTON, November 28, 2014 – Fall 2014 season cancellations are picking up steam again, as Fox announced it’s pulling the plug on “Red Band Society,” its new drama focused on really sick kids. A great deal of PR was dished out on this unusual show in its late summer advertising run-up. But this writer, at least, was dubious about the show’s possibilities.

After all, having a chronically or perhaps terminally ill kid is every conscientious parent’s worst nightmare. It happened to us all the way back in 1990 and we still can’t quite shake off the experience, which comes back to haunt us every year around the October time frame.

Likewise, even for parents who haven’t gone through a prolonged sickness or loss of a child, the subject is so inherently depressing, even in the case where the ailing youngster displays extraordinary courage and wisdom beyond his or her allotted years, that it’s hard to imagine why Fox or anyone else would actually take a chance on something like this.

As one commentator on another site wryly observed, “Sorry, but even I know a sick kids drama wouldn’t do well!” He’s got that right. But now, this scenario has played itself out pretty much the way it was likely to from the start. The show’s young stars really gave it a go, but the final result was definitively no-go.

Meanwhile, a tiresomely tried-and-true annual holiday favorite like “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” now an amazing 41 years young, still managed to grab top audience share this Thanksgiving week, tying even perennial “reality” fave “Survivor” for first place in its time slot on Wednesday evening.

Familiar kids working out familiar childhood social and family issues—but not fatal tumors—are obviously what viewers still want to see, particularly in a year that’s not been particularly kind to the middle class families where Charlie & Friends still find their greatest appeal.

As the holiday season inches closer to our next big holiday, the atrociously over-commercialized American Christmas, it will be interesting to see if NBC turns out to be a winner for its second (maybe) annual live-on-TV musical.

Last year’s offering was the peacock network’s surprisingly successful broadcast of its TV production of “Sound of Music.” It garnered audience raves in spite of, or perhaps because of Carrie Underwood’s underwhelming acting chops in her first-ever musical theater appearance.

This year’s live musical, scheduled to air next week, will be a new production of the venerable “Peter Pan.” We’ll have a bit more on this when we return to this space on Sunday.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17