Five Shows That Switched Networks

When Lucifer, The Expanse, and Brooklyn Nine Nine all return next year they'll find themselves with new homes thanks to all those nasty cancellations back in the spring. This of course has made a lot of people happy because Yay! More episodes! But at the same time it has a lot of people worried. When shows have changed networks in the past the results have not always been great. Let's take a look back and see how some of our favourite shows handled it when they underwent a sudden change of address.





BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (1997-2003)

Why it Switched: Along with Dawson’s Creek, Buffy helped the fledgling WB Network establish itself as the #1 home of teen drama in the late ‘90s. Buffy shifted to the WB's main rival, UPN, who were able to steal it away from them by offering 20th Century Television almost double what the WB was paying for it. This is the only time I can think of when a show switched networks simply because another one wanted it more.

What Happened: The new network granted creator Joss Whedon more creative freedom, which allowed him to finally make that musical episode he'd been dreaming off. But in order to do that he had to step down as showrunner. At the same time Anthony Head also severely reduced his work load in order to spend more time with his family in England. Season six saw the show take on a darker and more downbeat tone that split the fandom right down the middle. Many loved it and just as many hated it. But at least people have passionate opinions about it. Same can't be said of the seventh and final season, which was just something that sort of happened.




STARGATE SG-1 (1997-2007)

Why it Switched: Hard to believe now, but Stargate SG-1 originally aired on Showtime. Yes, Showtime. Before it was home to awards bait like The Affair, Billions, Dexter, and Homeland, Showtime used to show a lot of low budget, made in Canada genre fare like The Outer Limits, Poltergeist: The Legacy, and Stargate SG-1. It was one of the network's biggest hits, but the deal they had with the show’s production company, which allowed episodes to air in syndication just six months after they were shown on Showtime, meant it did little to attract new subscribers and Showtime eventually cancelled the show after five seasons. The Sci-Fi Channel (as it was known then) quickly stepped in and picked it up for a sixth season.

What Happened: Michael Shanks left the show at the end of the fifth season, and was replaced by Corin Nemec. But Shanks wasn't gone for long. After making a few guest appearances in season six, he returned to the show full time in season 7 and Nemec was shown the door. While Shanks was coming and going, Richard Dean Anderson began to gradually reduce his workload, appearing less and less with each season before finally leaving the show for good at the end of season 8. He was replaced by Ben Browder for seasons 9 and 10. Despite the many cast changes, SG-1 was a big hit for Sci-Fi, which is why everyone was left seriously confused when they abruptly cancelled it at the end of season 10.




BABYLON 5 (1993-1998)

Why it Switched: Babylon 5 originally aired on the short lived Prime Time Entertainment Network (PTEN), a joint venture between the Warner Bros. Domestic Television and Chris-Craft Industries. That network folded in 1997 when the two parties went their separate ways. For a while it looked like B5 was heading for cancellation, but then TNT stepped in at the last minute and picked up the show for a fifth and final season, enabling creator J. Michael Straczynski to complete his five-year plan.

What Happened: Producers couldn't reach a deal with Claudia Christian to return and she was hastily written out of the show and replaced by Tracy Scoggins. Because he thought the show would end with season 4, Straczynski had wrapped up most of the major storylines early and even shot what he intended to be the final episode. When TNT picked up the show that episode was held back and a new season finale was quickly filmed for season 4. With the Shadow War concluded and President Clark defeated, season 5 suffered from a lack of activity as Straczynski struggled to fill out the 22 episode season.




COMMUNITY (2009-2015)

Why it Switched: Community's improbable luck finally ran out in 2014 when NBC finally pulled the low rated (but critically adored) college comedy. No doubt hoping that the show's loyal fanbase would bolster their fledgling steaming service, Yahoo stepped in and picked up the show for a sixth season.

What Happened: More cast changes. Yvette Nicole Brown, Jonathan Banks, and John Oliver all declined to return and were replaced by Paget Brewster and Keith David. By this point Community was a pale shadow of its former self. Even the show's creator Dan Harmon later admitted that the show was effectively over once Donald Glover left in season 5. And many fans felt the same and failed to follow the show to its new home. Those that did quickly became frustrated with Yahoo's video player and went elsewhere. The whole thing ended up being a very expensive blunder for Yahoo! Screen, which folded not long after.




SUPERGIRL (2015- )

Why it Switched: Supergirl always seemed like an odd fit for the male dominated, crime procedural heavy world of CBS. Which is why it wasn't much of a surprise when the network axed the show after one season, moving it to corporate little sibling, The CW, home already to many DC TV series.

What Happened: The move to a smaller network saw the show's budget get slashed, forcing it to move production from sunny (and expensive) Los Angeles to cloudy (and cheap) Vancouver. Calista Flockhart left the show, unwilling to relocate and leave her family for long periods of time, robbing Kara of a mentor figure and the show of most of its best lines. The romance of Kara and James, which was a huge part of the first season, was also suddenly shelved. Instead, Kara got a new love interest in the form of Mon-El, the Marmite of TV superheroes. Many fans were not happy with what they saw as the CW-ization of the show, specifically the greater focus on Mon-El, and ratings began to quickly decline.


Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig

6 comments:

sunbunny said...

How can you call Mon-El Marmite? Aren't there people who like Marmite?

Switching networks used to be so rare and now it's half expected when something gets canceled that it'll be picked up elsewhere.

Don't forget Veronica Mars returns on Hulu next year! (and hopefully, somewhere else for you and all of our other international followers)

Panda said...

I will always stand by the opening stretch of season seven of Buffy. Episodes 1-8 are almost all 10’s. The rest (bar the finale) can choke though!

televisionandotherrantings said...

Despite YAHOO Screen! apparently being a major mess (I wouldn't really know for sure since being Canadian I had to use shadier means to watch it) I am very glad we got that sixth season of Community. It was probably the most consistent of the final 3 of Community and the finale is honestly one of my favourite finales for a show. I don't know if we'll ever get that movie but that was a good note to end the show on.

At the very least Supergirl on the CW gave the world Lena Luthor as played by Katie McGrath which a lot of people seem to appreciate.

The opening stretch of Buffy S7 isn't too bad (Selfless and Conversations with Dead People are particularly strong). But after Episode 9 it really starts to fall apart. Still we did get more Faith at the end at least and that at least gives it some value.

sunbunny said...

Buffy season 7 was very hit or miss. Episodes that played into the season arc were in general very weak, whereas standalones (like the very memorable "Him") were excellent. Most of them came early in the season, but I just want to give a shoutout to "Storyteller" and "Potential," which were both very good and came a little later.

Patryk said...

I'm not worried for the Expanse. They have the excellent books to guide them and so far they did an excellent job, plus Jeff Bezos is a fan so he'll fund the show until all nine books are done ratings be damned.

Baby M said...

TV Tropes has a pretty comprehensive list of shows that have changed networks under the heading "Channel Hop."