Summer TV Wrapup: Most Mistreated Show – “Traveler”

In a perfect world, Traveler would be airing its 11th episode tonight on ABC.

However, ironically, ABC is instead airing one of the shelved episodes of another drama it ended before its time, The Nine, in the timeslot. Traveler, meanwhile, concluded its season after its eight episode. This was a shortened order from its original 13 episodes, and the series ended on a ridiculous cliffhanger having resolved none of its storylines.

And the show didn’t deserve that kind of treatment: it was summer popcorn fun, a constantly moving show that was never quite great but also declined the invitation to fall into ridiculousness. And yet, ABC refused to give it a decent shot at succeeding, and its failure is entirely the fault of the network. Traveler was not the best new show of the summer, but it is without question the most mistreated show of the season.

First, as mentioned above, ABC cut the initial episode order for the midseason series from 13 to 8. This was essentially ABC throwing in the towel…before the series had even aired. It wasn’t just a bad sign for the series’ future, it was also a bad sign for the show creatively. Eight episodes wasn’t nearly enough time to resolve the storylines set forward in the pilot, and it showed: when the finale aired, it failed to wrap up anything worthwhile, and left an audience waiting for a resolution that will never come.

Second, ABC gave the series what can only be called a half-assed launch. The show was “previewed” behind Grey’s Anatomy in early May, ahead of its late May premiere, but that has never worked. People operate on a consistent TV cycle, and they like to know when something is on. If they wanted to use Grey’s to launch Traveler, they needed to treat it like they did October Road, which stayed in the timeslot full time. And got renewed. That’s not a coincidence.

This didn’t create a whole lot of faith in the series: ABC wasn’t willing to launch it at midseason, choosing to hold it until the summer, and they reduced its episode order before it even aired. For casual TV viewers, it was some random show after Grey’s Anatomy that disappeared. For critics and more dilligent viewers, it was a show doomed to be canceled and unlikely to provide a resolution.

And, unsurprisingly, it proved a self-fulfilling prophecy: Traveler debuted to weak ratings in its timeslot premiere, continued to struggle, and unceremoniously left the airwaves in July have resolved none of its storyline and guaranteed to never return to answer the questions left unanswered. The show wasn’t poetry, but its viewers and those who worked on the series deserved better than this.

They didn’t give it enough time, they didn’t give it a decent debut and they didn’t give it a fighting chance. ABC failed to create a single summer hit this year while other networks paraded out major success. They could have done it with Traveler, but their mistreatment of the series kept it from overcoming the obstacles the network itself placed in front of it.

Cultural Learnings’ Summer “Traveler” Coverage


Filed under ABC, Television, Traveler

9 responses to “Summer TV Wrapup: Most Mistreated Show – “Traveler”

  1. Kristin

    Well said. Thank you.

  2. Connie

    I hope TNT reads this and realizes that they could have a hit show

  3. sue

    I can’t believe you are not going to bring back The Traveler this season. This show was one of the best shows that I have watched in a long time. I looked forward to the following weeks episode even before the one I was watching was over. It was the talk of most of our coffee breaks at work the next moring after it aired. What a big mistake you will be making in letting such a great show end before you have given it a chance to be as big as shows like NYPD Blue, Dallas, Knots Landing, Greys Anatomy, Er etc………Do I need to go on? It is like taking off the evening news. In fact I would rather watch The Traveler than the news most nights. PLease reconsider, we need to have some good shows back on, there are too few as it is.

  4. Sandra

    Thank you – its nice to know that we as fans are not the only ones to see how badly ABC treated this series and its fans. If they were throwing it under the bus before ever even airing it then why did they air it ? By airing it they allowed us as fans to become attached to the show only to pull the rug out from under us. I no longer have any respect for a network that doesnt have respect for its viewers. Nor would they even stand up and address the fans of Traveler instead they blew us off and ignored us completely. Personally I hope they experience a severe decline in viewer-ship in general. This show was brilliantly written as well as brilliantly cast. I for one pray TNT cares enough to give it a shot. I truly believe this show would be a huge hit to any network given the proper chance.

  5. wait, i’m still kinda confused…is the traveler cancelled? or just not on abc anymore, but possibly tnt might run it? would they run repeats or another season? i dont get why its all kept in the dark and not even on the abc website

  6. someone

    i’m getting sick of these networks cutting off new shows before they get a chance to show what they have to offer.

    i liked traveler, it was getting interesting. They shouldn’t use summertime to gauge popularity of a show. everyone is very busy and with the nice weather generally not at home to watch tv. besides, we all grew up knowing summertime was reruns and so we got into the habit of not watching tv during those months.

    seriously, they need to get their collective heads out of their asses and give this show a decent run in the fall months.

    of course none of this will make a difference as they always go with what they ‘know’. the only network that brought back dead shows that i know of was Fox.

    i’m seriously giving up on new shows now because i’m not investing the time to get into characters just so they can axe them a few months later.

  7. theorist

    I was enjoying the show, not for the quality, but for the message. It was a show about corruption in the security departments that have recently formed in this country, all in the name of more security. While watching it I couldn’t help but think that the storyline was too close for comfort for the powers that be. It very much seemed headed for a parallel story to 9-11’s real events. People in power making big money and strengthening government by using false flag terrorist events. That’s why I thought it was cut short. But who knows. Maybe it was just not popular enough.

  8. Ali

    I know i am late at realizing that traveler is not returning but i was use to the network having a series then not showing it for awhile like they did with October Road yet it eventually came back on and it is great. I am very disappointed that they are not even giving traveler a chance it was definitely one of my favorites as well as all my friends who watched it every week! In my opinion shows like this need to be brought back in place of the all too many reality shows!

  9. Sherri

    I am so upset that they will not be airing this show anymore. I really enjoyed watching it and wanted to see what was going to happen in the next season. You are right when you said that they did not give it enough time for people to pick up on and build up the ratings. I spread the word and had a lot of my friends watching and we were all wondering what happened, was it coming back on, What??? I hope they sell this show to another station and they take it to the hieghts that this show had the potential to go to or they read what the fans want and decide to give it a second try.

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