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AMC’s Rubicon Gets the Axe

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Hmm. Let’s see. zombies vs. the closer-to-home threat from the corporatizing of American intelligence; the tense, subtle terror from a small group of rich men playing puppet masters to world events—or the fantastical, popcorn movie terror from a zombie war?

AMC TV has canceled the slow moving, but compelling Rubicon. Most likely the unsurprising, but disappointing, decision was rendered by the Powers That Be after they were certain that The Walking Dead had secured a large audience and kept it through a second episode. It is a terrible shame that the network could not find a way to keep both series in it stable.

In its initial 13-episode run, Rubicon never really got an audience large enough to be viable in an industry beholden to numbers of 18 to 49 year old viewers who tune in each week. I admit that the series moved slowly as we watched Will Travers (James Badge Dale) and Miles Feidler (Dallas Robert) parse intelligence; Kale Ingram (Arliss Howard) demonstrate his unique heroism, and Truxton Spangler (Michael Cristofer) exude evil from every pore and with every smirk.

Maybe Rubicon would have been more suited to the big screen—or a mini-series like British The State Within (2006). The battle fought was a battle of mind and will (no pun intended) and as happens so often in real life (and in the classic espionage novels to which it owes its pedigree). The Rubicon team lost the 13 episode battle to prevent a terrorist attack. The good guys lost. And in the battle of “the next AMC hit,” they lost again 

I actually like The Walking Dead. After two episodes, I like the characters and their essential battle, but I’m a bit put off by the horror homage and the donning of zombie entrails as battle armor. I will miss Rubicon, but in this new media world, who knows where and if it may pop up again. I still think it would make a killer mini-series. Who knows, maybe Truxton Spangler is really a zombie.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • drSpace

    I really hesitate to commit to any series outside of HBO or Showtime at this stage of the TV game — been burned too often. Note to network execs attempting to grow and evolve: quality shows mean smaller *but more loyal* audiences, and more time for the word to spread. Grow a pair, or get out of the quality game.

    Add to handyguy’s list: “Sons of Anarchy” and “Breaking Bad.”

  • Kathy

    Wasn’t this series taken over by a new show-runner a third of the way through, and that person changed the story line? Wasn’t that what really doomed the show and lost the viewers?

  • susan

    PLEASE other cable channel–TBS, SYFY, FX,HBO–pick up this winner. What a mistake for AMC which was beginning to rival premium cable for taking a chance on thoughtful programs that didn’t compromise their standards to fit a formula.

  • Beverly Kaplan

    What a travesty! Two of the only shows I watch regularly are on AMC: Rubicon and Mad Men, and now, one is gone. So, my viewing has been reduced by 50%! Why is it that the shows that are cancelled first are those that are well-written and well-acted? To what level of moron do the networks cater? Hmmmmm…maybe to those that are committed to the dumbing down of American culture…

  • Never said it was the only show. It’s an unfortunately cancelled show that should have been allowed to grow an audience. It was not.

    And that is the shame of it.

  • I’ll forego boring the Rubicon groupies again with my dissenting opinion about their pet show.

    But claiming it was the ‘only’ show on worth watching ignores a lot of fine work:
    Mad Men
    The Good Wife
    Friday Night Lights
    and HBO/Showtime programs like
    True Blood
    Big Love
    Nurse Jackie
    Boardwalk Empire
    and others.

  • JohnHenry

    Rubicon cancelled? Are you kidding me!? This will reduce my interest in TV to… let’s see… zero. Is there no place on the hundreds of cable channels for a well written dramatic series with interesting characters and an intelligent plot?

    Wait, here’s an idea! How about a zany sitcom, starring the current thirty-something hollywood hottie as “Mom”, some dufus has-been as “Dad”, a couple of adorable kids (must be smarter than Dad), an obnoxious brother-in-law, and two annoying parents?

  • Nooo! This was an amazing, intelligent show. Slow at first, but far more interesting than most other similar fare. It makes other “intelligence”-oriented shows look quite cartoonish. I hope some other network can pick it up.

    Honestly, I’m getting so tired of networks cancelling shows that may not have mass appeal but are distinguished by their quality.