FOX has opted not to renew the heavily promoted, mediocrely rated time-travel drama "Terra Nova
While "Terra Nova" has been cancelled by its original network home, this isn't necessarily the end of the road for the Steven Spielberg-produced series.
Sure, it's probably the end of the road, but 20th Century Fox TV is still hoping to parlay strong international sales and so-so numbers into a new home, presumably on cable.
A final decision on "Terra Nova" had initially been expected by the end of 2011 and the decision kept getting dragged out and dragged out, a strangely strangely fitting fate for a series that was initially supposed to have a special sneak premiere in May of last season, but saw its normal premiere moved to fall when it became clear to the producers and the network that the effects work (and other footage) wouldn't be ready in time.
The two-hour "Terra Nova" premiere in September drew just under 9 million viewers and a 3.0 rating in the key 18-49 demographic. That was down to just over 7 million viewers and a 2.2 key demo rating by the two-hour finale in December. For the season, "Terra Nova" averaged a fairly respectable 2.5 rating in the 18-49 demographic and took a 44% bump in Live+7 Nielsen figures.
Speaking to reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour in January, FOX Entertainment President Kevin Reilly took a positive approach to the "Terra Nova" experiment.
"It was an exciting bet to take, and I think it’s proven that it was worthwhile," Reilly insisted. "There were 14 new dramas on the network schedules this year. Most of them have come and gone. It’s the second-highest-rated drama. It is one of the highest-rated new shows of the season. There is a distinct audience that has stuck with that that enjoys it. You know, the perception of it kind of got away from us at a certain point. It was pretty obvious the bar was set enormously high. Everyone kept saying, 'Doesn’t it have to do huge ratings?' The fact is if we if this is all we produce, we made money on it, the studio made money on it, the audience enjoyed it, the show looked fantastic. It is clearly a conceit people wanted to watch. They’ve had ample opportunity to reject it. They didn’t."
Reilly suggested at the time that the decision on the show's future would be based on some creative considerations.
"The show was hunting for itself creatively through the season," Reilly admitted, acknowledging an early revolving door of creators, showrunners and executive producers. "I love the cast. I love some of the episodes. I love some of the ideas that were there, and, again, I thought it looked fantastic. Creatively, it was hunting. So we are trying to figure out, in a network that is pretty strong across the week right now, is that the best show? I mean, if we had more holes on our network, we’d be thrilled to just lock that right in. Right now, we are looking at everything, some of the shows that are premiering, some of the new shows that we are doing, and having creative conversations about, and then we are going to decide very soon because it does need to get back into production over the next month. So that decision, we won’t be able to drag our feet on it for too much longer."
While that foot-dragging did, indeed, continue on for a long time, FOX still has several similar bubble decisions to make by the end of the season, despite a schedule that will also be vacated by "House" in May.
"Bones" semi-spinoff "The Finder" has struggled to find an audience all spring and will be shifted to Fridays starting in April. Friday is already home to perennial bubble show "Fringe." Meanwhile, after getting off to a strong start in January, "Alcatraz" has cooled off in recent airings and will probably have to find a second wind to avoid a tense couple months before upfronts in May.