Okay, we’re gonna say what everybody else has been thinking in the wake of SOUTHLAND’s shocking cancellation: Jay Leno is a showkiller.
Let’s face it, so far, nobody at NBC has offered up anything even close to a rational explanation for why they would renew the brilliant-but-controversial series, pony up the cash for numerous episodes and then pull the plug before a single season-two outing could air. But it doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots and realize that upon looking at the episodes — which star Michael Cudlitz told Mike Ausiello were deemed “too dark” by the network — NBC realized they were in a no-win situation.
SOUTHLAND — with its gritty storylines and bleeped dialogue — is a 10 p.m. show.
Thanks to Leno, NBC doesn’t have a 10 p.m. timeslot available.
Ergo, SOUTHLAND is homeless.
In a way, this may be the best thing that could ever happen to SOUTHLAND, which, frankly, was too good for network television. Here’s hoping that in the next few weeks, word will come down that Showtime or HBO is picking up the series, dropping the bleeps and letting SOUTHLAND blossom into the cable hit it was always meant to be.
Meanwhile, the folks at NBC need to reconcile themselves to the fact that they’ve chosen quantity over quality by offering up the cheap-to-produce Leno in primetime. If they can live with that — along with defecting viewers, sacrificing such long-running hits as LAW & ORDER SVU (which is hemorrhaging viewers in its earlier timeslot) and having burned their bridges with John Wells, whose ER was a network staple for years — more power to them. But in the meantime, they might want to think about the vicious cycle they’ve set in motion: Viewer viewers during the 10 p.m. hour means viewer people at whom to pitch the rest of your line-up. Wise up, guys. Before it’s too late.