Ask Matt: Cancellations (Last Resort, Ben and Kate), Smash, Switched at Birth
Last Resort | Photo Credits: Karen Neal/ABC
Question: While I'm not happy Last Resort was canceled, I would like to thank ABC and the producers for allowing this show to have an actual ending, with [SPOILER ALERT] Marcus showing his love for his country and sub by dying to make sure the Chinese didn't get it. Like you said in one of your daily reviews, any ending is better than a cliffhanger. I was satisfied with the ending. — Foster
Matt Roush: So was I, more or less, even if much of it felt awfully (though under the circumstances forgivably) rushed. It's probably too much to hope that the industry will remember Andre Braugher's tremendous performance with another Emmy nomination, but that was some heroic acting as the climactic mutiny took its various twists and turns on the way to Chaplin's ultimate sacrifice.
Question: If ever a show needed the time to develop an audience, it was Last Resort. The pilot was brilliant, the next four to five episodes lost their way while trying to introduce the sprawling cast, and the last half-dozen episodes (starting about the time ABC announced the cancellation) were very good and riveting. I would have been interested to see where a second season (or at least the back nine episodes) would have gone. As to ABC, they were complete weasels to run promos and announce the episode as the "season" finale. At least be upfront about what you've done. Don't act like you haven't already killed the show. Now, an actual question: I don't know how far in advance episodes are written and shot, so I'm curious, did the producers have time to shoot that final act after their cancellation was announced, or realizing their battle was always going to be uphill, did they shoot that final act in advance just in case 13 episodes were all they got? — Rick
Matt Roush: The final act was written and filmed in response to the cancellation. Everyone knew by then that it was already over. TV production schedules rarely have the luxury or budget to film scenes like these in advance just in case the show is canceled. This time, ABC made the decision early enough to allow them to figure out an ending, which when it was limited to the sub action (always the best part of the show) was still pretty thrilling. Some of the other subplots (Sam's wife's release, the intrigues on the island and back in D.C.) naturally suffered, but something had to give. And you're not the only one irked about ABC labeling the episode a "season" finale, which if my mailbag is any indication only served to confuse some people and give them false hope.
Question: I am disappointed to hear about Ben and Kate being pulled from Fox's schedule. Does this mean the show is canceled? Since the show's beginnings, it shared the same time slot as one of my all-time favorite shows, NCIS. Consequently, I was always watching NCIS and DVR-ing Ben and Kate. Would Ben and Kate have done better not up against NCIS? Speaking of NCIS, any word on when we can expect an introduction to the NCIS: LA spinoff's characters? — Hollis
Matt Roush: Although it's possible the remaining episodes of Ben and Kate will air (maybe this summer?), it is truly canceled, a fact made even more clear once Fox halted production before the show could finish its 18-episode order. In terms of its scheduling, Fox gave it the best shot it could, hammocked between the established Raising Hope and New Girl as the network tried to launch a two-hour comedy block. Every network wants to have its own night of comedy, and Fox's priority this season was to expand beyond Animation Domination Sundays to build a full live-action sitcom night on Tuesday, where Fox had already planted its comedy flag the year before. (However, Fox may not have expected ABC and NBC to crowd sitcoms onto the same night, effectively cannibalizing the audience.) Fox knows it's not going to win the night opposite a powerhouse like NCIS, but its lineup of quirky comedies is intended as counter-programming to draw a younger audience. Unfortunately, this show never broke out, even on DVR. But Fox isn't giving up on live-action comedy on Tuesday, so don't be surprised to see one or two new comedies next season (depending on how The Mindy Project fares the next few months) hoping for better luck.