Cancellation Watch: Person of Interest Was Close to Getting Axed, Constantine Could Show Up on Arrow, Agents of SHIELD Spin-off Not Dead Yet

By | May 14, 2015

person-of-interest-cancelledSo from what I am hearing, CBS’ Person of Interest was closer to getting cancelled than I thought, though not because the numbers justified it (which they didn’t).  Apparently that show was a large part of the holdup that led to the delayed announcements for its network’s renewals and cancellations as they wrangled with the show’s studio Warner Bros. to decide its fate.  WB wanted at least one more season to give it a better episode count for syndication and to give it a chance to wrap up its storylines.  CBS apparently wasn’t so keen on the idea because they wanted to stick with mostly shows they produce in house as those will be more profitable to the network in the long run.  If the show is produced by the network’s own studio, then CBS keeps a large chunk of the profits from syndication.  If it is owned by another studio, then the network gets little or no money from the syndication run.  In cases where a show’s numbers are dwindling but the outside studio wants to keep it going to pad out its episode count, they generally reduce the licensing fee that the network has to pay to make it worth their while to keep the show on the air (the studio will recoup that once the syndication run starts).  WB did that with Fringe a few years back, practically giving the show to FOX for nothing its last few season in order to extend its syndication package and give it the chance to resolve its story arcs.  CBS and WB apparently went to the eleventh hour in negotiations over PoI, finally agreeing to a thirteen episode season.  There has been no confirmation that will be the show’s last, but the same situation occurred last year with procedural The Mentalist, and the thirteen episode order it received proved to be its final season (which the producers knew about and were able to cap it off with a series finale).

The important takeaway from this is the fact that CBS was willing to let Person of Interest go which meant that it would have ended without a satisfying resolution.  And they also would have cancelled it despite the fact that it has performed better than plenty of other shows currently on the network.  While PoI has seen its numbers drop this season, that is in a large part because the network regularly preempted the show or ran repeats, frustrating viewers who were trying to keep up with it.  It has regularly landed in the Top 25 based on total viewers, though we did see the network previously cancel a show that ended the year in the Top 25 when 2008’s Eleventh Hour got the ax after its first season.  This network continues to be tough on shows that don’t fall into the old school procedural class, and I’m not liking the chances of either Supergirl or Limitless next season (more on that in my upcoming look at next season’s schedule).  But despite all that, as a fan of Person of Interest, I’m not sad to see it heading into what looks like its final season.  I’m hoping they go arc heavy for those last thirteen eps and give us the final battle between the Machine and Samaritan that we have been waiting for.  And with just over one hundred total episodes, that will give the show a decent run and an extended life in syndication.  You can’t ask for much more than that and we have seen shows like The X-Files and Supernatural take a dramatic drop in quality when their networks decided to stretch out their runs.  So let PoI go out while it is still a good show and can do so with a bang.

As for NBC’s cancelled Constantine (also from Warner Bros.), its studio is currently trying to shop it around to other venues but has another option for the character if it has no buyers.  Arrow‘s showrunner Marc Guggenheim has indicated that he would love to bring the character to his show if everything could be worked out (and Stephen Amell previously indicated that he would guest star if another network picked up Constantine).  Since these are all DC characters and WB produces both shows, the cross-overs are possible.  But it gets dicey when different networks are involved.  A Supergirl cross-over with into the Arrow-verse is possible because CBS and Warner Bros. both own The CW, but if Constantine were to land at a network like Syfy (though from what I have heard, it will not go there), then it is much less likely because the nets are separate entities.  However, if Constantine does not get picked up, then the character should be available to Arrow because they both come from the same company (though there could be some small print from the contract with NBC that could cause snags).  Or if Netflix or Amazon were to pick up Constantine, I could see some synergies with linking it to The CW shows.  In any case, I could definitely see where a story arc bringing the Constantine character over to Arrow holds plenty of potential and would love to see it happen if we can’t get the show proper back on the air.  You may also wonder why The CW isn’t being considered as a good landing spot for the Constantine series, but budget-wise it would be a stretch for the fifth place network.  Still, maybe they could work something out because of the strong Warner Bros. connection (though The CW’s president has claimed it will not happen).

As for the Agents of SHIELD spin-off that didn’t make it to ABC’s schedule next season, I hear that it is not completely dead yet.  On a call with ABC president Paul Lee at the upfronts, he claimed that they “absolutely love” the characters of Lance Hunter and Bobbi Morse (who would have headlined the spin-off) and that there is still “certainly a possibility of spinning them off. We thought the right time now is to leave them on SHIELD because we think it’s so strong at the moment and then to bring in Agent Carter in the midseason.”  Reading between the lines: ABC is leaving all options open to keep parent company Disney happy.  Agents of SHIELD is definitely not performing strong in the ratings right now (its season finale hit a series low 1.3 rating while fifth place network’s The Flash bested it with a 1.5 score).  And Agent Carter delivered tepid numbers during its first season run (though it was lauded with praise from fans and critics).  Still the Mouse-House apparently wants both of these shows to remain on the network they own because they are part of its flagship Avengers movie franchise.  But if the numbers for AoS remain low next season, they will have a hard time justifying keeping it on the air, especially considering its high production costs.  So ABC may be thinking of the spin-off as a less costly back up plan.  It would be a leaner, meaner version of the parent series and characters from AoS could cross-over from time to time.  And they could bundle AoS, Agent Carter, and the spin-off into one package for syndication.  I have a hard time seeing Agents of SHIELD remaining on television past next season at its current ratings levels, but a reduced cost spin-off may be a way to keep the franchise alive on the small screen and keep the bosses at the Disney happy as well.  It’s just speculation, but worth keeping in mind as we head into next year.

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