'Murphy Brown' Revival, 3 More Comedies Canceled at CBS

Creator Diane English and star Candice Bergen had been hoping to do another season of the comedy after it ended its initial 13-episode order. Meanwhile, veteran 'Life in Pieces' and rookies 'Fam' and 'Happy Together' have also been axed.
John Paul Filo/CBS

This just in: CBS' Murphy Brown will not be returning for another cycle.

The revival from series creator Diane English and featuring star Candice Bergen and much of the original cast has been canceled after one season of the reboot. CBS has also canceled veteran comedy Life in Pieces (ending with season five) and rookies Fam and Happy Together.

The multicamera comedy from Warner Bros. TV was picked up straight to series and had been one of the most anticipated new series of the 2018-19 broadcast season. The comedy, co-starring Jake McDorman as Bergen's onscreen son, was never going to attract scores of younger viewers but ultimately struggled to draw many at any age.

The Murphy Brown revival wrapped its original 13-episode order after drawing the smallest audience on CBS' Thursday comedy block in the fall. Sources noted that those close to the series were optimistic about getting a back order should the launch have worked. That did not happen and CBS instead opted to take a wait-and-see approach to how its pilots turned out before making a decision on a potential second season of the reboot — or its 12th season overall.

For her part, English told THR after the season finale that she was "optimistic" when it came to doing another season. She hoped to "bring the characters forward" and explore topics including bias. "I've already got a yellow pad going with a ton of stuff I'm interested in pursuing, and not all of it is political," she said in December. "There's a lot of real personal stories I think I'd like to tell, and I think we hinted at some of them in the finale — a lot of fun stuff and some new stuff for Avery (McDorman). There's just a lot of stories to tell on that level, too."

The decision to cancel the comedy arrives as CBS is in its first upfront without CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves having a large role when it comes to the network's renewals, cancellations and new series pickups. That role now belongs to Showtime's David Nevins, who was appointed chief creative officer at CBS Corp. in October.

For his part, CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl told THR in January that Murphy Brown's fate was effectively tied to how the network's comedy and drama pilots turned out as piecing together the new schedule would likely help determine if the network had room for another cycle of Murphy Brown.   

Life in Pieces, is ending after four seasons despite rumblings of a potential platform move. The fourth-year, single-camera family comedy from 20th Century Fox TV earned a very late-season return date (April 18). The cancellation is a bit of a surprise as the Modern Family-inspired comedy starring Colin Hanks, Betsy Brandt, James Brolin and Dianne Wiest was a season away from syndication for new owners Disney. 

Fam, meanwhile, was a midseason multicamera comedy created by Corinne Kingsbury that starred Tone Bell and The Vampire Diaries fan favorite Nina Dobrev. The series never really caught on after getting off to a rocky start after showrunner Bob Kushell was fired after he allegedly used inappropriate language on the set. Despite a marketable star and being owned in-house (and hailing from prolific producer Aaron Kaplan's Kapital Entertainment), Fam finished the season as CBS' second lowest-rated comedy.

Happy Together can be filed under "big surprise": After heavily courting star Damon Wayans Jr. and landing the always in-demand Happy Endings grad with one of last season's biggest talent deals — it included a producing pact — the multicamera family comedy from EP Ben Winston (The Late Late Show), based loosely on his life, ranked as the lowest-rated CBS comedy of the 2018-19 season. The series also had the distinction of being the lone fall show on the network to not earn additional episodes.

Keep track of all the renewals, cancellations and new show orders with THR's scorecards for ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW and with all the latest pilot pickups and passes with our handy guide. For complete coverage, bookmark THR.com/upfronts.