NBC Yanks 'The Michael J. Fox Show'
UPDATED: Just a few weeks after shutting down production on "Sean Saves the World," NBC pulls the remaining episodes of the fellow struggling Thursday comedy -- replacing them with "Hollywood Game Night."
The outlook is not good for The Michael J. Fox Show. NBC has pulled the remaining episodes of the Thursday sitcom from its lineup, effectively canceling the struggling comedy just a few weeks after shutting down production on time slot neighbor Sean Saves the World.
The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that the show will be replaced by Hollywood Game Night starting Feb. 27 -- at the conclusion of NBC's Winter Olympics coverage. The one-hour show, from exec producer Sean Hayes and hosted by Jane Lynch, will air at 9 p.m. The news was first reported by Vulture.
Fifteen of The Michael J. Fox Show's 22-episode order have aired on Thursdays. Production has wrapped on all 22 episodes, with NBC unclear where the remaining seven episodes will be broadcast, though the network will look for a spot after April 3.
NBC picked up the Michael J. Fox Show with a straight to series order for 22 episodes following a multiple network bidding war in August 2012. It marked the Family Ties, Spin City and Back to the Future alum's return to series television following his diagnosis with Parkinson's disease.
"It's certainly what I hoped for [creatively] because I love the show but I would have hoped for a larger audience," NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt told THR in December about The Michael J. Fox Show. "It's a function of all the things we were just talking about. I also think that there's a learning curve on any new show and I see every episode and it gets better and stronger and more assured of why those characters are funny. We just did an episode where Michael goes to Sochi to cover the Olympics, which is a really funny episode of television. It could air during the Olympics or right after. The show is doing what it should do, which is get better and better."
NBC effectively canceled Michael J. Fox Show's companion, Sean Saves the World, last week, when production on the freshman comedy was halted before the Hayes comedy could complete its remaining four episodes.
The move to end The Michael J. Fox Show comes as NBC has struggled with its comedy brand. The network has been hard-pressed to find a new comedy hit this season -- and last. Of NBC's seven new series the network ordered last year, none returned for second seasons, with only veterans Parks and Recreation and bubble series Community returning to its comedy lineup.
The Michael J. Fox Show had the benefit of a strong premiere, thanks to interest in the star's return to television, but interest waned quickly. Season-to-date, the Michael J. Fox Show is averaging a 1.7 rating among adults 18-49 and 5.2 million viewers -- and that is after seven days of DVR viewing. In live viewing, recent episodes have fared particularly bad. On Jan. 16, the show barely broke 2 million viewers and hit a series low 0.6 rating.
The cancelation marks the second bit of bad news to NBC's struggling Thursday this week. Wednesday morning brought word that CBS had landed the rights to eight games of the upcoming football season's Thursday Night Football. NBC had pursued adding a second night of primetime NFL, as the Thursday remains the biggest trouble spot on a schedule that has otherwise seen significant improvement this season.
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