6:00pm PT by Michael O'Connell
Fox to Pull 'Red Band Society' With Future in Question
The writing has been on the wall for some time, but Red Band Society is about to make an exit from Fox's schedule. The Hollywood Reporter has learned that the low-rated hospital drama will not move past its initial order of 13 episodes — at least this season.
Not yet considered a cancelation, network brass are said to remain open to the possibility of a sophomore run. Sources say that Fox expressed interest in more episodes of Red Band Society for this season — it had a young and steady (if small) audience — but producer ABC Studios could not accommodate the network's request for a reduced license fee.
And Red Band Society has ultimately failed to make much of an impression on Wednesday nights. Even with DVR, its latest season average is just a 1.8 rating with adults 18-49 and 5.1 million viewers. The series maintained its slot on the schedule these last two months, thanks in large part to a lack of anything to pull from the bench, but its complete absence from the recently announced midseason schedule was more than conspicuous.
Fox's decision to pull the plug — sorry! — on the current run does not mean that it's out of the picture completely. The end of production comes at the conclusion of the first 13 episodes, nine of which will have aired as of Wednesday night. After the tenth debuts in December, the remaining three will be shelved to air at a later date. Its time slot goes to big swing Empire in January.
The series, based on a Spanish series and developed for the U.S. by Margaret Nagle, struggled to capture much attention during fall's onslaught of new programming — despite its early debut. It also had critics quite divided, with some championing the children's hospital drama and others less than enthused. (THR's Tim Goodman wrote that it reached a "new and unhealthy level of schmaltz.")
Executive producers were also cautious from the beginning about the length of the first season. "There is a possibility for a pickup, but my understanding is if we didn't get a back order, that certainly doesn't mean we won't get a second season," Executive Producer Rina Mimoun told THR back in September. "I do think there's something about this show that if you stretch it out too long, you stretch the believability."
A setback, for certain, Red Band Society was hardly the biggest problem on Fox's new slate this fall. Its exit follows the expected death of reality show Utopia, a shortened order for comedy Mulaney and the dead-on-arrival limited series Gracepoint, barely getting a pulse with just a 0.8 live-plus-same-day rating in the key demo.
Gotham, one of the few big hits of the fall across all of the broadcast networks, has been a saving grace on Mondays.