Despite Positive Reviews, Lone Star CanceledBy James Beale
October 16, 2010
The cancellation season has started early this year. Fox's "Lone Star," critically praised but troubled with a small audience, was cancelled after just its second episode. It's unknown whether Fox will air three other finished episodes.
What immediately comes to mind is Fox's record with canceling promising shows: "Firefly" and "Arrested Development" are the best examples. Part of the reason why Fox cancels fan favorites is because they take bigger risks on programming than ABC, CBS and NBC do. When audiences don't respond immediately, it's not commercially viable to continue.
As much as critics like a fresh new show, it doesn't mean the audience is ready for one yet. This is particularly true with "Arrested Development." Even four years after its cancellation, it is still the smartest show to ever air on television. Some shows are simply ahead of their time.
"Lone Star" certainly reflects that. In tone, it's most similar to AMC's acclaimed "Mad Men," but it's difficult to find any comparisons on network television. It's no coincidence that AMC's two shows, "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men," have started to sweep the Emmys in the last few years.
The contract between the networks and the Emmys is over, and there was a mention that the networks may split up the Emmys into two shows because they're losing too many awards to cable networks. If the networks want to start winning awards, they're going to have to air shows that don't draw 15 million viewers a night.
The best "Lone Star" could have done at this point is to have been placed in a bad time-slot, probably Friday night, and made do with critical acclaim and good DVD sales. Instead, it got the shaft after only two episodes, and that's not enough to make a decision about a series. Some shows simply need a little longer to blossom.
Still, it's tough to blame Fox. "Lone Star" drew 4.1 and 3.7 million viewers for the two episodes, and these abysmal numbers are certainly more important to them than Emmy wins. The show is in a stacked timeslot, opposite "Dancing With The Stars" and "The Event," and it already had all of the spotlight it would ever get in newspapers and online. Fox even gave a good promotional campaign.
Series creator, Kyle Killen, knew it was almost the end. Describing the uphill battle his show faced in a blog post, he wrote that it's like "a blind basketball team facing the 95 Bulls."
As much as this may hurt now, this is where television is going. Shows like "Mad Men" prove audiences like subtlety sometime, and eventually, that will begin to creep into mainstream television. The endless, brainless, soul-crushing procedurals will give way. Audiences simply need time to change and see that television can create art just as much as movies can.
That change is already beginning. "Lone Star" is just one casualty of many.