TV Bulletin Board (Wed., March 7) -- tale of two Foxies; Terra Nova axed, Justified renewed
Terra Nova no longer a big shot, but Justified will keep shooting. Fox/FX photos
By ED BARK
The dino-powered Terra Nova is looking for a new stomping ground while Justified will live on through at least a Season 4.
Or to put it another way, the majority of new series on Fox (and most other broadcast networks) never see a second season. But a clear majority of newcomers live longer and prosper on cable cousin FX.
Fox's official cancellation of its costly Terra Nova, whose executive producers included Steven Spielberg, came without further comment Tuesday. FX's pickup of Justified, which still has five episodes remaining in its ongoing third season, came with effusive praise for the modern-day western.
Filmed abroad and waylaid from a scheduled sneak-preview last spring because of production delays, Terra Nova's 13 episodes averaged 10.1 million viewers, with 4.6 million in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 age group, according to data from Nielsen Media Research that also includes delayed DVR viewing.
Justified so far is drawing an average of 7 million viewers for its weekly multi-runs, with 3.4 million in the 18-to-49 age range, says an FX publicity release. It also has a season order of 13 episodes.
The producers of Terra Nova say they're looking for a new home because the series has performed very well internationally. But its average price tag of $4 million an episode apparently made it too rich for Fox's broadcast network bloodlines. Cable networks on the other hand have both commercial and subscriber revenue streams, although Terra Nova may still be too costly for the likes of Syfy or TNT, which has renewed another special effects-laden futuristic Spielberg series, Falling Skies, for a second season.
Addressing TV critics in January at the winter network "press tour," Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said the network "made money" on Terra Nova, but the show "was hunting for itself creatively through the season . . . If we had more holes on our network, we'd be thrilled to just lock it right in."
But the production costs and logistics weighed heavily against making more than 13 episodes of Terra Nova per season, Reilly acknowledged. The usual full-season order for a scripted drama series is 22 episodes. So in the end Fox backed away, even though it certainly will have some holes next season with the announced cancellation of House, the likely dropping of Fringe (which Reilly said was losing money) and the failure of freshman series such as The Finder, which has been exiled to Friday nights to finish out its run.
On FX and other basic cable networks such as TNT and AMC, it's comparatively rare for a series to fall by the wayside after just one season. Besides Justified, FX currently has fellow multi-year series such as Sons of Anarchy, Archer, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Louie, Wilfred and The League. FX also has renewed American Horror Story for a second season.
In that context, it was an aberration when FX's critically praised boxing series Lights Out, got punched out after Season 1. But on Fox and its three main broadcast network rivals -- ABC, NBC, CBS -- this season's official list of freshman dropouts already includes Fox's Terra Nova and Allen Gregory; ABC's Charlie's Angels, Man Up!, Work It and Pan Am; NBC's The Playboy Club, Prime Suspect and Free Agents; and CBS' How To Be A Gentleman.
That first-year casualty list will only grow later this spring, with ABC virtually certain to ax The River while NBC assuredly will part ways with The Firm, Are You There, Chelsea? and quite possibly, Whitney.