Our ongoing look back at sci fi / fantasy TV shows that were cancelled way too soon or pilots that never made it to series.
This series bowed on The CW in April 2016 and focused on the outbreak of a deadly virus in Atlanta that leads to the cordoning off of one section of the city. Nobody is allowed to go in or out of the cordon and the people inside must fight for survival while those outside must decide how to keep the virus contained and what to do with those potentially infected. The first episode of this series started out like many CW entries with an attractive, young(-ish) cast intertwined in soap opera side stories and plenty of copy-and-paste dialogue. But interestingly, the show managed to shrug much of that off after a couple of episodes and found its stride telling a decent story about a viral outbreak and its implications (as well as the conspiracy of its origins). While not a great series through its first season, it proved to be a very good one that switched from its early soap opera leanings to straight drama with some challenging moral quandaries thrown in. It never achieved the more hard-hitting level of something like The Walking Dead, but it proved more thought-provoking than you would expect for a broadcast network entry. Unfortunately, this show apparently got shuffled into the expendable category when The CW renewed all of its other shows before Containment had its series debut. The fact that it had been moved to a late-season start already suggested that the network had lost their commitment to the series (similar to The Messengers in 2015). The ratings were actually not bad when it debuted, coming in at about the same level as iZombie‘s performance in the same timeslot and that one had already been renewed. But The CW is a joint venture between CBS and Warner Bros. and the network already had a heaping helping of WB offerings with all of their DC Comics shows. Containment was also a WB entry and it likely got pushed out in order for CBS to keep some shows on the schedule (none of which have been performing as well as those from the WB). The network tried to play Containment as a “limited run” series, and it did resolve many of its storylines by the end of its thirteen episode run. But the producers were likely given advance notice which gave them the chance to wrap things up as tidy as possible. The fact is that the show still had plenty of story to tell and it could have developed into a stand-out genre entry if allowed to continue. But it was squeezed out due to network politics and cut short from a potentially great run. At least it doesn’t leave you hanging at the end like other “limited run” have done, but you will find yourself wanting more of the story by the time you get to the thirteenth episode. This one was actually based on the Belgian series Cordon, and fans of Containment may want to seek out a sub-titled version of that European show to see how the story played out in that version.
Aired: The CW, 2016, 1 Season Totaling 13 Episodes
Developed By: Julie Plec
Starring: David Gyasi, Christina Moses, Chris Wood, Kristen Gutoskie, Claudia Black