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.