Confirmed cancellations: 'Medium' on CBS and 'Rubicon' on AMC
Tuesday, November 16, 2010; 11:07 PM
The same week that Sarah Palin becomes a reality-TV star, word breaks that CBS is officially getting out of its low-rated, chatting-with-dead-people business and that AMC - which continues to pull in its best numbers with its walking-dead series - officially gets out of the thinky thriller business. There's a trend story in there somewhere.
Here's a look at the week's winners and losers:
l "Sarah Palin's Alaska." The newest star in the reality-TV firmament is Palin - just like her daughter Bristol, only with about 15 million fewer viewers. Mama Palin's TLC show debut attracted an average of 5 million viewers. Which, in one of those incredible coincidences that make covering the television industry so rewarding, is virtually identical to the number of people who watched the unveiling of AMC's new zombie show, "The Walking Dead."
And if that's not enough of a coincidence for you, try this on for size: Both show debuts delivered their network's biggest ever series-launch crowd. On the other hand, the zombie audience was very young, while more than 62 percent of the audience for Palin's debut had seen at least their 50th birthday. That would get Palin canceled on AMC - just ask the producers of "Rubicon" (see: Losers).
l"SpongeBob SquarePants." Everyone's all Palin this and zombies that in their TV coverage these days. But truth is, last week's most watched non-sports cable show was not "Sarah Palin's Alaska" or "The Walking Dead." It was an episode of "SpongeBob SquarePants" in which Plankton tries to steal the Krabby Patty recipe again and Mr. Krabs sends the formula to a faraway vault for safekeeping, only Mr. Krabs forgets the recipe and gives the key to the vault to SpongeBob and sends him on a journey across the ocean to retrieve it - only the key goes missing aboard the Oceanic Express. Will SpongeBob identify the culprit and reclaim the key before the Krabby Patty recipe is lost forever? Gak! More than 6 million tuned in to find out - more viewers than Palin or zombies attracted that week. "SpongeBob" also delivered more 18-to-49-year-olds - who are to advertisers what tea partiers are to Sarah Palin - than "Conan" did that day.
l "Medium." Star Patricia Arquette has confirmed the obvious: CBS has put "Medium" out of its misery. The network had slashed the show's order this season from 22 episodes to 13. "Now we know why," Entertainment Weekly reports breathlessly (after Arquette said to some reporter there, "We got canceled.") Really? They didn't know already? "Medium" may be the most canceled series currently on TV. NBC dumped it a couple of seasons back, leading CBS (which produces the show) to pick it up. More recently, Lifetime canceled its "Medium" repeats. And now CBS has gotten in on the act.
l "Rubicon." AMC announced it will not renew its thinky conspiracy thriller "Rubicon" for a second season. The series is about an an analyst at an N.Y.C.-based intelligence think tank who begins to suspect he's actually working for members of a secret society that's manipulating world events. Sad to think that when the show officially premiered on Aug. 1, AMC boasted that the launch had set a record as the most watched debut of an AMC original series. Over its 13 episodes, the show averaged about 1.6 million viewers. But more than half of those fans were 50 and older. AMC doesn't do 50 and older; AMC targets 18-to-49-year-olds. So "Rubicon" is toast and now AMC is developing a reality series about a boxing trainer suffering from symptoms of Parkinson's disease who has a gym in Hollywood and whose fighters have included Oscar de la Hoya and Mickey Rourke.