Two hotly anticipated dramas turned out to be one-and-dones this season for CBS, with word that the network has pulled the plug on Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad follow-up Battle Creek and The Vampire Diaries super-producer Kevin Williamson’s dark procedural Stalker. Freshman comedy The McCarthys, which had already been mourned by viewers, is also officially dead.
CBS was clearly disappointed in the performance of Battle Creek, a conventional police procedural that starred Josh Duhamel and Dean Winters as mismatched partners in a Michigan town. Though it came in hot from the minds of Gilligan and House creator David Shore, who served as showrunner, the series flopped in its premiere, drawing just a 1.0 rating in the adults 18-49 demo that CBS so richly craves. It’s approaching the end of its original order and CBS is silent on its future, but there’s really no doubt that Battle Creek is done.
Stalker was another big get for CBS, given that Williamson had two big shows on the air – including The CW’s The Vampire Diaries and Fox’s The Following, since canceled – but the end product was an inescapably ugly, unlikable cop show. Critics detested the violence against women that seemed almost glorified in early episodes, and though it wasn’t a ratings dud, Stalker also never caught on with a larger crowd. It’s been an unfortunate few days for Williamson – he’s gone from having three network series to just one, and even that CW series appears to be on its last legs with the upcoming exit of its star.
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Looking at the failures of both shows, network brass will no doubt be scrutinizing future programs based more on quality and less on pedigree. CBS was clearly taken in by wanting to work with Gilligan, Shore and Williamson, and it paid the price with two shows no one’s going to remember in just a few weeks.
As for The McCarthys, the Boston-set family sitcom seemed right at home on CBS’ lineup, but it debuted low and never proved itself a show worthy of a long-time commitment. The network, which previously aired Two and Half Men and Rules of Engagement, looks for endurance in its half-hours, and it clearly didn’t see that in the Laurie Metcalf and Jack McGee-led show.
With all three shows in the ground, CBS can look toward a promising fall lineup led by DC Comics adaptation Supergirl and also boasting TV takes on Rush Hour and Limitless. With big-deal programs like that waiting in the wings, it’s no wonder the network decided to pass on more from its disappointing class of freshmen.