On Dragnet, Jack Webb would start his witness interviews with the famous catchphrase, “Just the facts, ma’am.” Here are the facts about two CBS shows — both police procedurals — one renewed for a second season and the other cancelled after only one short outing as a mid-season replacement:
Police Procedural #1: An updated “re-make” of a popular 1970’s television drama. This show, set in an exciting, tropical locale, stars four young actors, with the lead character played by an Australian actor who had several previous CBS series cancelled after short runs.
Police Procedural #2: A spin-off of a popular crime drama (now finishing its 6th season). This show, set in the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, stars six actors, one of whom won an academy award for best actor and one who also stars in the original series that gave birth to the new series.
On May 15, 2011, CBS renewed for a second season Hawaii Five-O, the highly popular drama set in the Aloha State. Five-O has been one of this season’s strongest performers, even winning the Best New TV Drama at the 37th People’s Choice Awards.
On May 17, 2011, CBS announced it was cancelling Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. Alas, there will be no second season for what should have been a promising new series with a built-in fan base from the original Criminal Minds.
What we have here is a tale of two police/crime dramas, with two very different outcomes following their first season. Hawaii Five-O, which ended season one with a bang (and several cliff-hangers), looks primed for a long run. As a fan of the original series (1968-80) starring Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett and James MacArthur as Det. Danny Williams (“Book ’em, Danno”) , I was eagerly anticipating the new Hawaii Five-O. As as child, I remember my parents letting me stay up late to just to watch the the theme song.
From the opening episode where we are introduced to the “new” Steve McGarrett — played by Australian actor Alex O’Loughlin — through the tense final episode of its freshman season, the new Hawaii Five-O did not disappoint. I DVRed every episode and thoroughly enjoyed this first season. I would daresay that Hawaii Five-O has become my favorite series to watch this past season (although the original CSI and Big Bang Theory are tied for second).
Why did Hawaii Five-O do so well in its first year, so well in fact that it was picked up for another season? While writing is critical to the success of any movie or television show, without on-screen talent to credibly act out what is written and, without characters who the audience can like and relate to, the show is dead in the water.
In the case of Hawaii Five-O, not only are the four main actors — O’Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, and Grace Park — credible, but they portray their characters in such a way that they are likeable. Very quickly, the four (plus some compelling and quirky recurring characters who were introduced throughout the season) developed a chemistry that was evident to fans of the show. As a fan, I bought into the show mainly because of the characters who the actors portrayed (not to mention my nostalgia for the original series). But, if any of the actors themselves would have been a hindrance for me believing their characters, it would have made it difficult to like the show and to keep watching week after week.
Which brings me to Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. Even though I was pre-disposed to like this spin-off because of my affection for Criminal Minds, the new show was a non-starter for me because of one thing: the casting of Janeane Garofalo. I, along with apparently many other people, did not watch a single episode of Suspect Behavior. And, in order to be renewed for a second season, it helps mightily to have ratings that go up, not down, throughout the course of your first year.
Why CBS and the producers of Suspect Behavior wanted to limit their audience right off the bat with the hiring of Janeane Garofalo is baffling. You would expect that folks who spend millions of dollars in developing and producing a television series would want a return on their investment. And, in order to get that return, that they would take reasonable measures to ensure its commercial success. In Hollywood, as in most places, success = money!
But, if you expected that from those involved with the train wreck that was CM: Suspect Behavior, you would be wrong. No one wants to say why this series did not make it after all. At Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood, Nellie Andreeva acknowledges that Suspect Behavior did not meet expectations:
“Given the great success CBS has had with expanding its CSI and NCIS crime drama franchises, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior has been a disappointment, never finding its footing behind the mothership Criminal Minds series on Wednesday.”
Ms. Andreeva, however, fails to explore the reason why the series never found its footing. Let me give it a shot. I believe one of the main reasons that Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior failed to find and/or keep an audience is because of the poor casting choice of Janeane Garofalo. I do not fault Ms. Garafolo from wanting to be hired. I do fault CBS and the producers for hiring her in the first place.
I am fully aware that the producers can hire whoever they want. I would not prevent them from choosing the actors and actresses who they thought best for each of the roles. But, why would they hire a woman who is well known for her ugly diatribes against Christians, Tea Partiers, Conservatives, and Republicans? They are crippling themselves and limiting their audience by offending so many potential viewers. At least that was the case with my family. I’m sure it was the case for countless others.
On multiple levels, CBS’ decision to hire Janeane Garofalo made absolutely no sense. However, in the upside down world that is Hollywood, I’m quite certain that the folks associated with Suspect Behavior and the Hollywood elites will never understand how the choice of Ms. Garofalo affected viewership.
In the end, the viewers will decide what shows are worthy to stay on the air. And, they spoke loud and clear. Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior and American leftist actress Janeane Garofalo get the boot. Hawaii Five-O and Australian actor Alex O’Loughlin are coming back for a second season, baby! What a difference it makes when you don’t even know the politics of the actors and actresses involved in a series. Aloha!