Serial Killing: FX Gives 'Shield' 1 More Year, to Nip 'Tuck' After 3

In 2011, FX says, it will cut loose "Nip/Tuck," with Dylan Walsh, left, Joely Richardson and Julian McMahon.
In 2011, FX says, it will cut loose "Nip/Tuck," with Dylan Walsh, left, Joely Richardson and Julian McMahon. (By Michael Becker -- Fx)
By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., July 15

FX network having been, its president boasts, a groundbreaker in developing high-quality scripted basic-cable series, it will now become a trailblazer in killing off high-quality scripted basic-cable series. To that end, "Nip/Tuck" will end its run in early 2011 and "The Shield" begins its swan-song season in September, FX execs announced Tuesday.

To wrap up "Nip/Tuck," FX has ordered 19 more episodes beyond the 22 episodes for the current season. It's also ordered 39 episodes of its comedy series "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," which should get it into at least 2011, FX prez John Landgraf told TV critics at Thank God We're Still Working Summer TV Press Tour 2008.

"One of the reasons you see us announcing the end of 'The Shield' well in advance . . . and announcing now that 'Nip/Tuck' is going to end in three years is we're publicly challenging ourselves and saying we're not going to wait until the light is blinking red," Landgraf said.

"We're going to plan for the orderly and dignified ending of great shows and we're going to launch new great shows at the same time, and we're going to get the new shows on the air before the shows that have been the great shows as part of our brand are over," he said. "I feel very confident over time that we're going to achieve that. We decided we're going to achieve it and we're planning to achieve it."

To recap: Old Great Shows dead, with dignity. New Great Shows launched, with dignity. NGS's up and running with dignity before OGS's become dignifiedly dead.

To illustrate, Landgraf announced FX has ordered a comedy called "Testees" (from Kenny Hotz, who did Comedy Central's dignified "Kenny vs. Spenny") about two best friends and roommates in their 30s who work as test subjects for "TESTICO," a "less than normal" product-testing facility. The two guys spend most of their time trying to lead their lives while waiting for the side effects from the products to wear off.

"Testees" will premiere Oct. 9, right after a new episode of "It's Always Sunny."

As part of this Dignified Drama Death March, FX intends to frown on any drama series that tries to run past 100 episodes. This commitment to under-100-ness came to be over a number of years, Landgraf said. He and "Shield" creator Shawn Ryan and others "ultimately came to the decision about what the large interior structure of 'The Shield' would be narratively, not just within episodes, but across multiple seasons, and to the notion that we would finish it after seven years.

"I think that decision was a big decision and a kind of fateful decision for FX and other channels that do serialized dramas," he said.

Serialized dramas, he noted, are the best work in drama on television because procedural dramas (think "CSI" or "Law & Order" or "House") are "basically about catching the bad guys or solving diseases or whatever they're about," Landgraf sniffed.

The writers of serialized dramas, on the other hand, are "taking on social commentary; they're taking on grand sweeping questions about human characters and human nature. To me, those are the best shows on television."

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