It was announced today that NBC has canceled the police drama Southland two weeks before its scheduled Season Two premiere.
The show was well received by critics and did reasonably well in the ratings for a mid season replacement during its shortened first season earlier this year. The program was seen by many as offering a very realistic view of police work as seen through the eyes of rookie cop Ben Sherman (played by former OC star Ben McKenzie). It also featured a gay character as his partner, giving a different view of the world behind the badge.
For me the show was quite entertaining, giving a look at both the world of the police officer on the streets as well as the complex problems this profession can create in their personal lives. While many think of Mr. McKenzie as being just a pretty boy actor I found him to be quite talented and with a strong stage presence. You wanted him to succeed and felt yourself rooting for him.
His partner (played by Michael Cudlitz) presented a different angle on this theme, with his street image as an experienced ‘tough guy’ cop contrasting with his personal life as a semi-closeted gay man. Other characters gave us a look at a variety of personal and professional situations.
Having conceded to being a big fan of the show so my view is somewhat biased but I think (and others seem to agree) that this could be a sign of problems at NBC with Jay Leno holding the 10pm slot.
The issue with Southland was that it is (or was) a gritty drama with situations that might not be appropriate for the family viewing time. Since NBC can’t air any one hour show later than 9pm/8pm this becomes a problem and prevents them from keeping shows like Southland on the air.
In addition the Leno show has not been doing that well in the ratings and often loses to more traditional programming on the other networks. I am not sure what deal NBC has with Leno but if this keeps up they may need to look into changing his schedule.
Perhaps putting him in three days a week and leaving two slots open for shows like Southland.
Given the quality of the show I expect someone like USA to pick it up, but NBC may have bigger problems if they can’t air anything with serious drama