We should have such problems!
by Michael Schneider
May can be the harshest month for TV fans, as the networks make their annual series orders and renewals for fall. One show that didn’t make the cut: Fox’sEnlisted. Fox chief operating officer Joe Earley admits to TV Guide Magazine that the network didn’t do Enlisted any favors. The show was originally announced for fall 2013, but later shifted to January, launching in a tough Friday night timeslot.
“With Enlisted, we feel really badly, it never got a fair chance, because of scheduling moves that happened around it,” Earley says. He confirms that Fox executives seriously considered renewing Enlisted, as well as fellow freshman comedies Surviving Jack andDads. “They were all heavily discussed because of the auspices that work on them,” he says. “The shows themselves all had fan bases within the network.”
For Enlisted executive producer Mike Royce, it was the latest in a string of heartbreaks. Royce was also behind TNT’s Men of a Certain Age, a series still remembered fondly by critics and even Turner entertainment president Michael Wright, who considers it the “one that got away.”
Enlisted earned high praise from critics. The show starred Geoff Stults as an Army sergeant who returns home from Afghanistan to a Florida post to run a platoon that includes his brothers (Chris Lowell and Parker Young).
In his own words, Royce describes the loss that comes with the cancellation of a promising show:
“Television is the only medium where they usually make you stop telling the story before you’re done. If you write a movie or a book, maybe no one will ever see or read it, but you get to finish the story. In the music business, you get to finish the song; rarely does someone knock the mic out of your hands because you’re losing males 18-34.
“Only in television do you get stopped before you’re done. Often when you’re just getting to the good part. That’s what happened with Enlisted. My first big TV writing experience was six glorious seasons on a long-running hit (Everybody Loves Raymond). We stopped when we were good and ready. I thought that’s how life was going to be. I was stupid. The next part of my career I was showrunner of a multi-cam sitcom (Lucky Louie), a hour-long drama (Men of a Certain Age) and two single-cam comedies (1600 Penn and Enlisted), all cancelled long before we were done telling the stories. My resume was diversifying in ways I didn’t appreciate….”