By: CT

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.

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  • Southland is a show for cable anyway. Or do you think that it would really fit ANYwhere on TV right now?

    I mean when I watched Southland I saw The Shield or The Wire, not “Life”.

  • Josh Emerson

    One explanation I read is that the current execs in charge of NBC are trying to clean up the mess Ben Silverman left at the network. One of those things is that he renewed Southland too early. The show started well but quickly dropped off a cliff and probably shouldn’t have been brought back.

    Personally, I don’t believe Leno is responsible for the Southland death. NBC has a number of failing shows and nothing to replace them with, so the problem isn’t that they don’t have the space for Southland.

  • Neal

    I didn’t like Southland. It was too nerve-wracking to watch. If you want drama, there’s plenty of other choices, especially on cable (in US anyway). But for relaxation after a long day, I’ll take Leno 5 days a week.

  • drgpshr1

    “You took the words right out of my mouth.” I said the exact statement to my wife! I even referenced the three shows you mentioned.

  • ggny

    Jay Leno killed NBC not just Southland…NBC had a shot this year to develop some drama at the 10pm hour that could get them back into the rating game but instead they decide to give Jay Leno 5 hours…Hey NBC NO ONE WATCHES COMEDY AT 10

  • John

    I think Dateline is just as much to blame. Right now it’s getting around 7 million in that 9pm block on Fridays. If you put Southland there, I guarantee within three weeks it will drop below 5 million. All of NBC is in trouble because Sunday Night Football is the network’s only show over 10 million viewers. They can’t afford to drop 7 million viewers for Southland.

    However, Leno is certainly a co-conspirator.

  • Ace

    I think Leno had a big part of why it was canceled. Hard to make a 10 PM show happen at 9 PM. BUT NBC could have moved it to Sunday at 10 once the NFL ended. I think really it was a big budget show that was getting low ratings and they decided to cut their losses. Hopefully for those who liked the show (sorry, just not one of them…I don’t dig shaky camera work and The Wire it was not), it will be picked up by TNT.

  • C.T.

    ACE: I definitely don’t think Southland is a Sunday show. Not exactly a “feel good, ready to go back to work tomorrow” show ala Desperate Housewives, etc. Even Dexter is lighter in tone!

    JOHN: I sort of classify Leno and Dateline as the same basic thing: Very cheap to produce, lazy television.

    NEAL: It is definitely “nerve-wracking” but I don’t think everything on television has to be “comfort food.” In fact, I think that’s a BIG problem with the networks in general and NBC in particular. Unfortunately there’s an ever-growing audience for “edgy” shows and if the networks don’t jump on that bandwagon, they’ll be run over by it.

    SEBASTIAN: I definitely do think that, given tweaks, the show could find a very good audience. I suspect that some of the things people didn’t necessarily like about the show might have been network dictated. I know that the “bleeping” of obscenities always served to take me right out of the drama. Now truth be told, I think any writer worth their salt should be able to write adult dialogue without obscenities and make it sound good. That said, if you’re going to write adult dialogue WITH obscenities, you sure as BLEEP shouldnt’ be bleeping it out.

  • Jen

    Southland was my absolute favorite show of 2009, as I was greatly looking forward to it’s return. NBC officially bites.

  • My two cents: In truth I was not a fan of SOUTHLAND. Realistic and grit aside, my God it was a downer. Plus the shaky cam had me ready to loose my lunch. That said, I do think that SOUTHLAND’s cancellation sends a very dangerous message to the creative community. If I’m a showrunner, NBC has now become a last resort. In this competitive landscape, it’s hard enough to survive as it is in prime-time. Who wants to have to do so with five less hours of real estate to move around in and the constant threat of Leno above your time-slot?

  • I really enjoyed the show, it had an excellent cast, I mean who give C. Thomas Howell another shot?!? I hope that NBC would consider putting it on one of its cable stations like USA or something.