Animated dark fantasy Gargoyles is a fond memory of many children of the ‘90s (this one included), with many more people discovering the series after its addition to Disney+. The combination of several separate issues led to the show’s initial cancellation and subsequent pickup by ABC for a much-maligned third season, but one curious aspect was O. J. Simpson.
After the success of both the show’s 13-episode first season and the accompanying toy line, Disney wanted as much of the series as possible, with the episode count ballooning into a whopping 52 for the second run and a new episode planned to air five times a week. According to series creator Greg Weisman in a new interview, as well as the nigh-impossible timeframe the creatives were given to produce such a huge volume of content, after they had largely managed to do so, the furor surrounding the trial of the former NFL star turned actor, accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman, played havoc with the scheduling of the show’s sprawling second season that debuted in the fall of 1995.
“The O. J. Simpson trial meant we were constantly being preempted for trial coverage, because we were on syndicated stations, and syndicated stations still primarily lived off local news in the 1990s,” said Weisman. “Every day it ran, we were being preempted, and in any given city, people were missing episodes of Gargoyles, and falling out of the habit of watching it.”
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In case you’re not aware, a TV show being preempted refers to an episode being shunted off the schedule in place of something deemed more important or in the public interest, and a children’s TV series has no chance when weighed against a high profile murder case and its accompanying media storm.
Weisman’s interview lays out several other contributory factors to the cancellation of Gargoyles, but real life preventing people from actually being able to watch the series in the first place is quite a significant one.