Why? That's all I want to know.
Not every show is a hit right out of the box. Not everything can be a ratings juggernaut like American Idol, which I personally cannot stand. Sometimes it takes a little time, a little nurturing. However, it seems like more and more often, if a show is not an instant hit, it disappears in a matter of weeks, sometimes less. Drive is the latest casualty, towed to the garage after a mere three episodes (four if you count the premiere as two). I, for one, was really enjoying the show and the ways each character's story fit into the larger puzzle that was slowly being pieced together.
It feels like it was just yesterday that I was writing down my thoughts on the two-night premiere. I really liked the show, almost from the opening credits. It was a fast paced, action packed show that held a lot of promise for the future. It was an ensemble thrill ride that felt natural right at the start; the characters were all introduced in a nice manner, they were easily delineated, they were all interesting. The cast had a great chemistry among themselves, the writers were weaving an interesting story, creating a larger shadow conspiracy flavored with the smaller personal stories of those who entered the race and those who were coerced. The directors laid out a colorful palette of action, nicely shot driving sequences, fights, character interaction — it just gelled so well.
It's all over now. Fox has decided to close shop on yet another Tim Minear series. Something tells me the guy should try shopping his shows elsewhere. Just take a look at the series he has been involved with, besides Drive:
- Standoff – Consulting producer on the short-lived hostage negotiation series that starred Ron Livingston. Sure it wasn't the best series, but it probably deserved better than it got.
- The Inside – Executive producer on this Peter Coyote series about an up and coming FBI profiler. This series held much promise.
- Wonderfalls – Executive producer on this fun, quirky series about a slacker, played by Caroline Dhavernas, who speaks to inanimate objects that usually try to help her do the right thing. This was a lot of fun, canceled before its time.
- Firefly – Executive producer. Here is the big one, the way this was handled by Fox. They aired episodes out of order, pre-empted episodes, and completely mishandled the show from the get go. Fortunately, we got a DVD set of the series and a big screen movie (Serenity). This had all the makings of a great show.
- Angel – Tim Minear held a few different producer-y titles on this one; it was the longest running, although still cut before its time.
Mark down Drive as the latest casualty. Nathan Fillion was great as the centerpiece of the ensemble — he could get down with the action, be a complete badass, and be sensitive and vulnerable, all in the same scene, the perfect anchor. The other characters were also on their way to filling their positions. All of that cut short by Fox's decision not to continue with it.
Shows are not always going to be hits, and it seems to me that Fox is strictly after the big flashy entrance, never willing to give a show the time it may need to grow an audience. The last show I can remember them growing an audience with is The X-Files, but that was long time ago. Ever since then, I have seen show after show get canned after just a few episodes, never to be seen again. Sure, some of them probably didn't deserve getting on the air in the first place, but, as evidenced above, some of them were quality shows which were not given their due.
Trying to figure out why a good show fails is a hard thing to say, outside of the instant jumping on the network for doing the dirty deed. In retrospect, things have to be examined to find out where missteps may have been made. Could they have cut better commercials? Could they have been better placed? Did they put it in the wrong time slot? Cast more "name" actors? Ahh, who knows… All I know is that we are left in the lurch, never to know what was going to happen during this cross country race, never to know what happened to Alex's wife, or how the half-brothers would get along, or the girl with the baby, or any number of stories that were developing.
Thank you, Fox. Thank you very much for canceling yet another show that I was enjoying.
This sad, unfortunate news was broken by TV Guide's Ausiello Report.