News came out on Friday that two of the new shows for the fall season of US television had been cancelled. ABC cancelled 666 Park Avenue from Sunday nights and Last Resort from Thursdays. Both shows will see out the end of their current schedule run of thirteen episodes but seeing as 666 is already eight episode in, it’ll only have another five episodes to see it to the end. Last Resort fairs lightly better as it has another seven episodes before it comes to an end. I enjoyed both shows but I never honestly felt enamoured by the shows in the same way that I was by Awake. I half expected 666 to be cancelled but I thought Last Resort might at least have gotten a full season order.
So why were the shows cancelled? The simplest explanation is that ratings for both shows were failing to meet the standards needed. Last Resort started off well in the ratings but, unlike shows such as Chicago Fire and Go On, it hasn’t shown any growth but rather declined from nine million viewers to a rather mediocre five million. 666 Park Avenue fared even worse, starting off with six million viewers and dropping to just under four million viewers. Sunday nights are tough enough for shows having to complete with the NFL and American Football games but other shows such as Revenge and Once Upon a Time do well, and 666 in particular has to directly compete with the established show, The Mentalist.
In part, I feel that 666 Park Avenue is difficult to market. On the face of it, it’s about wealthy people who own a hotel, buy land and get involved in politics. There are similarities to Gossip Girl and The O.C. in how the show seems to invent reasons for the main couple to attend parties every week. But beneath the glitz and glam of the high life at the Drake lies a sordid occult secret. The walls swallow up people and the owner, Gavin Doran, played by Terry O’Quinn, makes magically underhanded dealings with residents of the Drake. In one episode he gives a down and out journalist the ability to make whatever she writes comes true. This comes back to bite her in the ass when she creates a Russian assassin who tries to kill her. Be careful what you wish for, indeed.
Part of the problem with the show is that it is trying to cover too many bases at once. It wants to lure in the horror crowd and the young adult audience. But by trying to split the target demographic I don’t think anyone is really satisfied. Anyone who is watching it for the high society melodrama is probably going to be put off by the fantastical elements and anyone who enjoys the spectacular parts of the show will likely be annoyed at the insignificant problems of rich people. It’s a difficult show to market properly because I don’t think the show itself really knows what it wants to be.
Even at that, some of the fantastical elements are even a bit bothersome. One main character, Jane Van Veen, played by Rachael Taylor, was recently revealed to have been born in the Drake. She, along with others, is one the Children of the Drake. It feels like a cheap way of connecting the main character to the mysteries behind the veil and bringing the secrets of the Drake to the forefront of the show. There are similarities to be made between 666 Park Avenue and Lost, and not just because Terry O’Quinn is in both shows. Both have underlying mysteries that defined the shows but where I feel that Lost got it right and 666 is missing out is that Lost let secrets come out more naturally. When 666 reveal something new, it always comes across wooden.
Last Resort has also had comparisons made between it and Lost, although for completely different reasons. Last Resort has less mystery so most of the comparisons come from both shows having a group of people stranded on an island. Last Resort focuses on a smaller group of people, however, as only six of the main characters are actually from the submarine and one of those is a rogue Navy Seal that the sub picked up before the attack. Six episodes in and the reason why the U.S.S. Colorado still hasn’t been made clear yet but that’s not really a bad point. Lost went for many seasons without revealing the real reason behind the survivor’s being on the island. But aside from being stranded on an island with a mysterious reason for being there, there isn’t much of a comparison between the two shows.
There have been criticisms of Last Resort for having too many soap elements. Executive Officer Sam Kendal, played by Scott Speedman, is married to a woman back on the mainland but under the influence of drugs kisses the French NATO Communications officer, Sophie Giard, played by Camille De Pazzis. There also seems to be a connection between Sam and Lieutenant Grace Shepard, played by Daisy Betts, but she also has a thing going on with the rogue Navy Seal, James King, played by Daniel Lissing, who is actually sleeping with the island’s resident barmaid. That’s all about as interesting as it sounds too.
The show excels when it comes to action. Every episode involves some serious dramatic tension, ranging from the potential mutiny of the U.S.S. Colorado crew to negotiating their freedom with politicians with Washington D.C. This is where Last Resort really stands out and it was the drama that truly made me think that the show would at least get a full season commission. Unfortunately, Last Resort is an expensive show to make and for the ratings it was getting it wasn’t enough to justify the money ABC were spending, even if the action was top notch.
So another couple of shows fall by the wayside. Good news is that Elementary got a full season, as did Chicago Fire. And after the mid-season break there are new shows to look forward to, such as The Following, staring Kevin Bacon. Maybe not good news for ABC but it is definitely good news for us, the viewers.