Upfronts Analysis – CBS Cancels ‘Moonlight’

Ladies and gentlemen, Les Moonves has a death wish.

There is no question that there is justifiable reason to cancel Moonlight, just as there was justifiable reason to cancel Jericho – they both suffered from low ratings, and in Moonlight’s case it never reached the early highs of Jericho’s run. The show was in creative turmoil from day one, barely settled on a cast in time to start shooting, and never became a buzzworthy drama (Something that CBS attributes to the show’s lack of creative vision). Plus, CBS set a high standard for Fridays last year when they canceled the fairly highly-rated “Close to Home” in favour of the vampire drama.

And yet, I don’t think they seem to understand how these shows, shows with passionate fan bases as opposed to broad ratings success, work. You would think that 10,000 lbs of peanuts would have taught them a lesson that a show with organized fans is probably not the kind of show you want to cancel, and definitely not the kind of show that you want to cancel in a strike-addled season that creates an instant handicap for any series.

Fans of Moonlight even saw this coming, emerging in a rare pre-cancellation drive for interest and support. Within months of its premiere, it was topping the charts at Hey! Nielsen, a site that Jericho fans once flocked to in support of their own show, and fans eventually organized a nationwide blood drive to help support the Red Cross and their favourite show. And yet, all of these efforts weren’t enough to save their favourite show from being booted off the airwaves.

Did CBS not learn their lesson ahead of time? While Moonlight is not quite as serialized as Jericho, and thus won’t suffer quite as dearly from the cliffhanger factor, it still is a blow to fans of the series. But CBS is actually rolling out a number of new drama pilots, and the reasons I gave for the network canceling Jericho really all do apply here as well. But, something about this one rings false, almost false to the point of suspicion.

Part of me actually wonders whether or not Moonlight was put in this position on purpose, and that CBS is banking on fans to do their job for them. If a Moonlight campaign pops up, and makes the internet and the general public more aware of the series, they could cite the error of their ways and give the show a shot at midseason hopefully bolstering its chances. Now, this seems like a strange gamble to take all things considered, but I wouldn’t put it past them to try to capture lightning in a bottle artificially.

Regardless, I’m extremely curious to see how fans respond, and what CBS chooses to place in its place. Meanwhile, CBS has renewed three comedies (Including How I Met Your Mother, The New Adventures of Old Christine and The Rules of Engagement) and one drama (The Unit) that remained on the bubble, so it smarts even more that Moonlight is pretty well the only casualty this time around (James Woods’ Shark was also canceled but let’s be honest: did anyone care?).

For more information on Moonlight’s exit, stay tuned for tomorrow when CBS announces its Fall Schedule and fields the inevitable questions regarding the show’s future.

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15 Comments

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15 responses to “Upfronts Analysis – CBS Cancels ‘Moonlight’

  1. Donna

    How does CBS cancel a Peoples Choice Award show? Doesn’t that say something to keep the show. How do we contact Joel Silver to try to get another network to pick up?

  2. Tami Graham

    Thanks for your article. People say moonlight ratings werent great but we won our time slot every week on what is known as Death Fridays. Oh and you can bet that we fans, will have something to say to CBS for their abuse and misuse of our loyality. Our goal is to save Moonlight, if CBS won’t give it to us then we trying to contact producers to have it sold elsewhere. Where moonlight goes we will follow. We won’t let Mick/Alex and Beth/Sophie Josef/Jason go without a fight. CBS has never supported our show but through our steadfast support we have kept it winning every week. Vampire Solidarity, Rah Rah Rah

  3. Amanda

    CBS SUCKS! They just let the fans do they job and this is how they thank them?! I’m so pissed right now…

  4. Dyrinda

    I feel a bit like the jilted bride here. “We might … we might … we might … oh! no wedding!” I have cable and a vast pile of books just so I can ignore the networks.

    That being said, the idea that CBS might be waiting for a bunch of rabid fans to do its job for it isn’t all that farfetched.

  5. Rafferty Rulz

    Funny you should mention fans mobilizing…check it out->

    http://forums.moonlightline.com/viewforum.php?f=8

  6. Christy

    Moonlight fans have been called rabid. Well, just WAIT until we come together to FIGHT for our show. The Moonlight Convention is in Los Angeles next week. You think there won’t be a stink made? Think again folks.

    This is war.

  7. Cherri

    As Christy said, many of us will be in LA next week for our Moonlight convention and don’t think CBS won’t hear from us!!! Sure, Jericho was a good show and shouldn’t have been cancelled but, good grief, MOONLIGHT is the BEST SHOW on TV and canceling it is CRIMINAL!!!!!!!!

  8. Septbday

    First, Les Moonves stated in December that they would probably renew Moonlight. He most certainly has a death wish. Moonlight is the best show they have. I hope CBS has a picket line out in front tomorrow when they announce the 2008-2009 season. He has not heard the last of this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Neither has CBS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Sjacob

    Well I personally hope Les Moonves’ death wish is successful! Isn’t he the one who decided to pay Katie Couric millions of dollars to do hard news? Cute little Katie who was so good on the Today show? Was he in charge when Dan Rather made is huge blooper? Isn’t his wife the one who’s involved in the most mind numbing reality show of all– Big Brother? Moonlight is a great show and has a fan base right out of the gate and no amount of money can buy that! CBS promoted the bejesus out of Cane and it flopped big time. They never promoted Moonlight at all and it has still been successful. I never even watch Ghost Whisperer. The only things I watch on CBS are Moonlight and NCIS. Too bad for NCIS that I will no longer be watching it. Numbers is always the same thing over and over again. And I’m sick of all the CSI’s.

    So I will be joining all the passionate Moonlight fans to fight for the show’s survival. http://www.moonlight-united.com is a website organized for this. Leeser of Moonlightline reports that Silver Pictures is working on Plan B. Let’s all go get them! ‘This is war’ is right!!!!!!!!!!! “It is SO ON!” Josef Kostan

  10. Janet

    I am devastated!

    Thanks Sjacob for the link to:

    http://www.moonlight-united.com

    I was able to get through to a real live person at the 323-575-2345 number. As soon as I mentioned Moonlight, the lady who answered told me that the decision is not final, and asked if I wanted to leave a voice mail message. I left the message, and then email three of the exec’s at CBS asking them to reconsider. Then I left feedback at Warner Bros, to please find Moonlight a new home at another network.

    If everyone who loves the show would please make your voice heard tonight, tomorrow may be a brighter day.

  11. Aside from my being utterly shocked and horrified, this decision does not make any sense to me. Since CBS cares so much about ratings why not take a show which they KNOW is good enough to be ABSOLUTELY LOVED by those who watch it, and PROMOTE it properly, since clearly it has the potential to do great if only they did. Hec it is already doing good: ITS RATINGS DID ALLOW IT TO WIN ITS TIMESLOT EVERYTIME. It’s like a company sitting on the i-pod and instead of advertising it nationwide, it puts a couple of adds in the newspaper, thinking “well if this product really is any good the word will spread”!!! Moonlight has won its time slot every time; it is not its fault that it got stuck on friday nights when most people would rather dvr it, go out for dinner, and watch it later. Instead CBS is going to bring new shows which it hopes should do well (like Cane, right; I mean, that certainly seemed like a sure recipe on the face of it and yet!).
    What really gets to me is that everybody has done an unbeilevable job with this show from the writers to the cast and through the set designers, etc, etc… and at the end of the day its fate depends on somebody neglecting to promote it. CW has been talking about Gossip Girl like it could compete with American Idol (I’m not criticizing CW here, on the contrary!!!). Imagine how they would have spun it if GG had won the People’s Choice Award. Moonlight did, and did CBS pounce on the opportunity? This is just crazy.
    And from a fan’s standpoint, yes, to echo Josef:
    “It is SO ON”!

  12. Natalie

    this whole thing is craziness. I’m finding it hard to believe that CBS would be that stupid….I hope I’m right.

  13. A fan

    I think you need to give it a chance.. We all have been telling everyone about the show, I have convinced 5 people already to start watching just to find out you are cancelling it. If I can convince 5 people, just think if all of the Moonlight fans convince 5 people to watch.

  14. joe

    This is why I don’t watch CBS.They get a great show like Moonlight & Jerrico and they cancel it,just goes to show you that they just don’t get it.If it doesn’t have CSI in its name they don’t want to get behind the show thats why I think they are a bunch of PANZIES working over there.Thats why nobody watches CBS anymore…….

  15. Melinda Morgan

    I can’t beleive that cbs canceled Moon light but feels the need to put a show on called swing town.the thought of watching a show with no moral and a bunch of whores and their sexed craised hubands.what is wrong with you cbs all I can say is no way will I watch that and I hope it flops and cbs looses their buts over it.there is nothing to watch anymore on tv.

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