As networks shore up their TV schedules for the new season, it’s usually a time to mourn shows that got canceled. The 2019-2020 season is no exception, as some well-done shows are bidding farewell (we’ll miss you, “Elementary”).
But, as TV viewers have learned in recent years, cancellation isn’t what it used to be. For example, when ABC announced in 2017 that the network was axing Tim Allen’s sitcom, “Last Man Standing,” fans went into uproar mode, accusing the network of punishing the show for political reasons (Allen’s character is a conservative).
But after the outcry, Fox stepped in and picked up “Last Man Standing,” bringing it back in 2018. The comedy did so well that Fox has renewed it for the 2019-2020 season, though the show will return in January 2020 on a new night, Thursdays, having been bumped from Fridays by “WWE’s SmackDown Live.”
In another example of gone-but-not-really, in 2018 Fox canceled the devilish drama, “Lucifer,” which prompted a #SaveLucifer campaign on social media. Netflix came to the rescue, picking up “Lucifer,” which is now streaming its fourth season on the platform.
Netflix also saved “Designated Survivor” after ABC voted out the political drama, and will stream Season 3 of the series, which stars Kiefer Sutherland, on June 7.
In a current example, ABC recently announced that the espionage adventure, “Whiskey Cavalier” was being canceled after one season. This week, Deadline reported that there’s a possibility that ABC might decide to un-cancel the show, which stars Scott Foley (“Scandal”) and Lauren Cohan (“The Walking Dead”).
Though there’s no guarantee of renewal, the network’s second look recalls NBC canceling the time-travel series, “Timeless,” then making a last-minute decision to renew the show for Season 2. “Timeless” ultimately was canceled again, but NBC aired a special two-part series finale, which wrapped up the story.
So, bearing in mind that even if shows are canceled, they may come back in one form or another, here’s a farewell to some series we’re sorry to see go – along with others that we won’t miss.
“Elementary” (CBS): Yes, a seventh and final season is airing starting May 23, but after that, this smartly written, deftly acted series will be over. It’s probably time to close the case on this contemporary spin on Holmes and Watson, but Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu were so good in their roles, it’s a shame to see them wrapping things up.
“The Fix” (ABC): Of all the queasy concepts for a legal drama, this one is hard to beat. Marcia Clark, the prosecutor who gained fame for losing in the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, co-created a show that sounded a whole lot like Clark’s own situation. Robin Tunney played a Los Angeles district attorney who – what a coincidence! – lost a high-profile murder case against a celebrity who then – what do you know? – is once again accused of murder. The ratings were anemic, and nobody is likely sorry to see this one-season show go away.
“The Kids Are Alright” (ABC): Yes, ABC has a plethora of family comedies, but the network’s decision to cancel this one after only one season stings. Like another ABC comedy, “The Goldbergs,” “The Kids Are Alright” is set in a nostalgic past, in this case the 1970s. But rather than rely on simple jokes about how goofy things were back then, the show boasted a terrific cast, headed by Mary McCormack and Michael Cudlitz as the Irish-Catholic parents of a houseful of boys. C’mon, ABC, couldn’t you have given Constance Wu her wish and canceled “Fresh Off the Boat,” and kept “The Kids Are Alright”?
“Lethal Weapon” (Fox): No doubt some viewers were disappointed, but even the star, Damon Wayans, seemed eager for this show to end. It was messy enough when costar Clayne Crawford got fired, and Seann William Scott was added. But Wayans, in an interview, said he wanted to leave the spinoff of the movie franchise after the third season was over. No wonder there won’t be a Season 4. We’re all too old for this.
“One Day at a Time” (Netflix): The reboot of the classic comedy was hailed for its inclusive casting – the family was Cuban-American, for example – and insightful approach to the struggles of a single mom (played by Justina Machado). The show, like classic comedies from producer Norman Lear, dealt with such contemporary topics as racism, undocumented immigrant status, LGBTQ issues and more. When Netflix announced the show wouldn’t return for a fourth season, critics and fans were distraught, and have led efforts to try to find the show – whose executive producers included former Oregon resident Gloria Calderon Kellett — a new home. But at this point, those efforts haven’t been successful.
“Proven Innocent” (Fox): This legal drama never caught fire, despite the efforts of stars Rachelle Lefevre, Russell Hornsby, Kelsey Grammer, Vincent Kartheiser and more. But the good news is that “Proven Innocent” being canceled freed up Hornsby — who Portlanders will recall from his role on “Grimm” — to play the lead in “Lincoln,” inspired by the bestselling novel, “The Bone Collector.” The series is scheduled to premiere on NBC’s midseason schedule.
“Speechless” (ABC): In its three seasons, the comedy offered a portrait that TV needs more of – a warm, but not sentimental look at the challenges of a family that doesn’t have a lot of money, but offers a loving home for their kids, including J.J., the eldest son, who has cerebral palsy. It’s a shame to say goodbye to the fine cast, which included Minnie Driver and John Ross Bowie as the parents, and Micah Fowler as J.J.
“Murphy Brown” (CBS): Candice Bergen and the cast returned to their roles with ease and good spirits. But the revival, which returned to CBS in September 2018 after having left the air back in 1998, was self-consciously preachy, with Murphy prone to lecturing everyone about journalism, politics and more. The revival won’t get a chance to smooth out the rough spots, since CBS pulled the plug after one comeback season.
— Kristi Turnquist
Visit subscription.oregonlive.com/newsletters to get Oregonian/OregonLive journalism delivered to your email inbox.