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Final 2014-2015 NBC series body count includes ‘Constantine’

Written By | May 10, 2015

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2015 – Since what seems like Week 2 of the 2014-2015 network TV season, the Net-heads have been nervously but steadily yanking TV series both new and old. If a show isn’t hitting that “coveted” age 18-49 demographic within an episode or three, it either goes to the penalty box, gets its episode order cut or, in the worst case scenario, gets an early and permanent axing.

It’s all shortsighted, impatient and stupid, of course, based on the dubious premise that no TV viewers exist below the age of 18 or above the age of 49. It’s particularly insulting for Boomer TV fans, who are, for better or worse, pretty much the only adults left in the U.S. who actually have any appreciable money left to spend on advertised products.

But in TV land, it’s the blind leading the blind, and that’s the way it is. These network dinosaurs never change. You’re not alive if you haven’t reached the age of 18. And if you’re 50 or older, you’re dead to them.

Meanwhile, the major TV networks began to finalize their 2015-2016 TV schedules Thursday by announcing their more or less final list of the current season’s officially canceled series. This, of course, opens up plenty of spots for new shows where hope will spring once again eternal.

To bring you up to date on the current series casualties, we’ve combed through all the articles, rumors and lists available, and we now will pronounce our final rites for the shows and series that have been terminated.

Some of these cancellation notices simply put a formal stamp on shows that looked—or in fact were—DOA last fall. Other cancellations confirm recently gathering rumors. And oh, yes, other shows could still get the ax, depending on, whatever…

We’ll start our official Dead Zone Listings with NBC, which, with Fox, seems to have hit the failure jackpot this year. In successive articles, we’ll look next at Fox, followed by ABC and finally by the considerably shorter list of fails on CBS and the CW. We regard our information to be accurate as of May 10, 2015.

Okay, NBC, you’re up:

The 2014-2015 TV season seems to have become Fail City for the Peacock network. The big bird is already reeling from its current, negative numbers from affiliate network hackery MSNB, along with dwindling numbers at family members CNBC, CNN and nearly everywhere else. Since NBC’s tycoons have apparently learned nothing from their past litanies of failure, we expect an equal list of failures in next season’s lineup.

As of today, the current NBC’s casualty list includes:

“About a Boy”: In its second season at NBC, this somewhat strange series is being terminated without the benefit of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Series star Minnie Driver announced this past February that the season would come to an end on Feb. 17, 2015, and indeed that appears to have been the case, even though iMBD lists six episodes that were filmed but not aired. Will we see them? Who knows? Likely NBC doesn’t care. The series premise—a single mom and a neighboring bachelor end up sharing the upbringing of her fatherless son—is typical of the networks’ ongoing fascination with any kind of broken family relationship. Perhaps both the format and the premise are getting a bit tired.

“Marry Me”: This sitcom once again tried to have fun with an ongoing but thus far failed marital arrangement based on—who knew?—the fear of commitment. After launching in October 2014, the series limped along until it was pre-empted for new episodes of “The Voice” followed by new episodes of “Undateable.” Four episodes remained to be aired from the original package, but NBC pronounced the formal death sentence this week.

“One Big Happy”: Yet another “sitcom” whose main goal was once again redefining what a “family” really means, no doubt with the intent to re-educate those bitter dead-ender Neanderthals who still go to church on Sunday and cling to their guns.

“Big Happy” chronicled the life and fun times of a lesbian named Lizzy (har, har, har, get it?). It happens she’s pregnant with her best pal Luke’s kid, even though Luke is in love with another woman, heterosexual Prudence. (Cue the next laugh track.) Or should we now more properly regard Luke and Prudence as “cisgendered?” Just a barrel of laughs.

At any rate, this stinker was, perhaps unsurprisingly, produced by preacher Ellen DeGeneres. With regard to this kind of propaganda masked as entertainment, dare we observe that America’s massively cisgendered TV audience is likely getting tired of being lectured on its sexual abnormality? The low ratings accorded to this midseason replacement, which was put out of its misery Thursday, would tend to confirm that notion.

And don’t get us started on the fact that, except for Tom Selleck, all TV police commissioners and precinct captains are now of the female gender. This is reflective of exactly what?

“Allegiance”: A U.S. adaptation of an Israeli spy show, this midseason replacement debuted on Feb. 5, but was pulled after just five episodes when the show demonstrated zero ratings improvement. NBC formally axed it this week, but has also teamed with Hulu, which has streamed at least one new episode. This show’s future in that medium is uncertain. But its future on NBC TV is DOA. Similar in many ways to FX’s popular spy series “The Americans,” this one might simply have been a case of “same old, same old.”

“A to Z”: This romantic sitcom is another one that never gained much traction. The premise was reasonably interesting: charting the gradual arc of a budding romance from its earliest beginnings to (presumably) a trip to the altar, with deadline unknown. Now we’ll never find out, since NBC pronounced this show’s death sentence on Friday. Thirteen episodes were originally ordered, but only some have aired. The rest may end up in that great sitcom black hole in the sky.

Question: Why don’t average Americans have this kind of money to burn? Oh, right, we can’t write this off the way Hollywood tycoons can.

“Bad Judge” has just suffered the same fate as “A to Z,” canned after a few episodes, with the bulk of its 13- episode order still in the can. This one starred Kate Walsh as what the PR hacks described as a “tough, party-loving judge.” This would seem to be a contradiction in terms. But then again, this is La-La Land. Our favorite online comment on this one: “‘Bad Judge’ has been disbarred.”

“State of Affairs”: Still another sitcom that’s formally bitten the dust. According to one source, “That leaves ‘Undateable’ as the only NBC comedy still standing.”

“Constantine”: The DC comics-owned character Constantine has been described as a “demon hunter” and a budding “master of the occult.” Keanu Reeves starred as the character in the eponymous 2005 film, which received mixed reviews. But with Fox and the CW now attempting to cash in on the megabucks being generated by Marvel Comics characters via good-to-great DC-based series like “Arrow,” “The Flash” and “Gotham,” NBC apparently wanted a piece of the action. Hence, the TV version of “Constantine,” starring Matt Ryan.

The new series debuted on Oct. 24, 2014 and ran through its 13 episodes as of Feb. 13. Ratings were actually okay, but apparently not good enough for NBC, which delivered the death blow to “Constantine” Friday. Incensed fans have mobbed the Twitterverse since then, with the cancellation and associated speculation going viral.

There had been talk that the TV “Constantine” might migrate onto SyFy, a cable network also owned by NBC. But Thursday’s pink slipping would seem to put an end to that speculation. That said, further rumors continue to pop up, most having to do with a possible streaming video production pickup. You never know.

What may have really killed this series off that it was produced by Warner and not directly owned by NBC, something all the networks seem increasingly eager to avoid. Had Comcast not failed in its attempt to buy the Time Warner stable, perhaps things would have turned out differently.

But perhaps the biggest culprit of all behind this cancellation was slotting the new show on Friday evening, usually a death sentence for series both new and old. Given the mayhem in the Twitterverse, perhaps “Constantine” could still come back to life somewhere else. But, as “Constantine” fans are well aware, the devil is in the details.

The sum total of this season’s series failures/erasures marks yet another low-water mark for NBC’s programming gurus. We’ll just have to wait and see if they come up with yet another set of derivative losers for their 2015-2016 season. Or if they all get fired before they do more harm.

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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 Senior 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