The Fall season can be particularly brutal for new series on network television– especially those with quirky or highly ambitious premises. If an untested show does not quickly secure a sizable and consistent audience, the Big Three broadcasters have a habit of passing on a full-season order of episodes.
Such, it seems, is the fate of two of the current television season's most interesting (though not necessarily successful) new offerings: Last Resort and 666 Park Avenue. As of yesterday, both series have been officially cancelled by ABC.
EW conveyed the news that odd-duck shows 666 Park Avenue and Last Resort will not receive full-season orders from ABC. Each show will finish out its current run of 13 episodes, but will not return after the midseason break. Though it is possible that either series could see a late-in-the-day order (dependent on the success of ABC's midseason pilots), it is rather unlikely. Few shows ever return from such an initial cancellation.
Both 666 Park Avenue and Last Resort struggled to retain an audience, despite heavy critical buzz. While the Terry O'Quinn-starring 666 was noted largely for its apparent cheese factor, Last Resort was a critical darling that many in the press wanted to receive a full-season pickup. Alas, neither show could hold onto the audience ABC wanted; 666 saw diminishing viewership with each progressive episode and Last Resort never kept up with the stiff Thursday-night competition from other broadcast networks.
In hindsight, these cancellations are probably not at all surprising. 666 Park Avenue billed itself as a horror-drama revolving around a demonically influenced apartment building, but failed to acknowledge its own inherent goofiness. Last Resort's tale of a submarine commander in open rebellion against a corrupt US military establishment was probably too heady for network audiences (not to mention its odd, affected pace). In both cases, the combination of oddness and ambition probably doomed both shows from their inception.
While the news of 666 and Last Resort's cancellations is no doubt rather dismaying for their fans, its solidifies the notion that broadcast networks may no longer be the space for innovative television drama. While the audience numbers for both shows were low for ABC, they're not objectively awful overall. Had either show been hosted by a cable network such as AMC, FX, or USA, they almost certainly would have received the full-season order based on those numbers. Granted, neither of the cancelled series quite match the programming tone of any of those networks, but they would have at least had a chance on a smaller venue. The higher audience expectations of a large broadcaster like ABC likely sank the shows before they had any ability to hit their stride.
Last Resort and 666 Park Avenue will finish airing their finished episodes on Thursday and Sunday nights, respectively.
Source: Entertainment Weekly