On May 10, 2014, CBS served up breaking news and broken hearts for fans of the CBS drama “Intelligence.” Andy Swift of TV Line reported today that CBS cancelled “Intelligence,” “The Crazy Ones,” “Friends with Better Lives,” “Bad Teacher,” and “Hostages.” Fans of “The Mentalist” are delighted to have yet one more year on their show’s run. That’s the good news.
It’s sad news if you are a fan of the dynamic, intelligent drama, “Intelligence,” which debuted on CBS in a prime-time slot following “NCIS” to 20,800,000 viewers just four months ago. Unfortunately, the show created by Michael Seitzman was relocated to what might as well have been a new zip code. “Intelligence” was given the network’s “time slot of eternal failure,” otherwise known as 9 p.m. (CST) on Monday nights.
The programming of news, reality, drama and comedy on network television is entirely at the discretion of professionals who have years of experience, skill, merit and gut instincts and hunches about programs, stars, and plots that “belong” on certain nights at certain times. They’re paid to stress over ratings. But why they felt the need to program “Intelligence” at 9 p.m. on Monday nights, and keep it there, was a primary reason it couldn’t pull viewers.
It’s a different mind-set of viewers who tune into CBS on Monday nights at 7 p.m. and by the time 9 p.m. rolls around, they’re still wanting to laugh at products from the Chuck Lorre and Carter Bays factory of “Beavis and Butthead” humor. A Seth MacFarlane product would work well there.
The four shows that span the 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. lineup are “2 Broke Girls,” “Friends with Better Lives,” “Mike & Molly,” and “Two and a Half Men.” There’s about one brain and one joke that spans those four shows. After that menu is served up, viewers who enjoy laughing at one joke for two hours are not going to want to watch a program about supercomputers, cyberintelligence, or see eye-popping graphics.
Even if it were a certified long-time anchor hit in that spot, it should not be expected to win the ratings spot if it follows laugh-tracked junk. “Intelligence” is more for the “NCIS” and “Elementary” and “CSI” folks than it is the “2 Broke Girls” fans. Some viewers don’t feel that way and they’ll just sit there and watch whatever is on, to relieve the tedium of their days.
One person’s opinion of “Intelligence” is not at issue. The show’s fan base has been growing steadily all season long. Fans have been a faithful group who have Tweeted to the networks asking them to "Please renew 'Intelligence'." Ironically, on the show’s Facebook page, they posted that Marg Helgenberger as Lillian Strand “made the Top 10 “Mom”ents on CBS this season.
Even going far above and beyond, the executive producers, writers, and stars of “Intelligence” have made themselves entirely accessible to the fan base for several months, so much so that it was a heartwarming commitment to see quality actors, writers and producers lifting the veil of boundaries to connect with viewers.
Most were respectful with the stars; others were a tad unique in their communications. It was still important and relevant to the point where other shows took a page out of “Intelligence’s” book to communicate with their fans later in the season. Impressive, because never before in the history of scripted dramas have you found a “production team family” all so united toward a common goal of finding a permanent home on prime time for their work product, of which they have every reason to be tremendously proud.
In the past months, Josh Holloway, Meghan Ory and Michael Seitzman held a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). And for at least six weeks, "Live Tweeting" with the fans during both the Central and Pacific time zones was enthusiastically hosted by Michael Seitzman and the writer’s room. Michael Rady, Marg Helgenberger, Josh Holloway, and P.J. Byrne have tweeted with fans until they’re tweeted out.
P. J. Byrne has been a hands-down fan favorite, and people so connected with him that they’ve really started seeing him as “Nelson Cassidy.” It’s a good thing for him that he had a prime role in “The Wolf of Wall Street” so as not to be typecast. Josh Holloway had still been battling the “Lost” image, but interestingly, Marg Helgenberger was not as much tied to “CSI” as she was given the freedom to create a new persona and have her fans accept her in “any” role she plays.
Such a level of commitment to a show is not only most gracious, but it’s highly unusual. P. J. Byrne even went on Hallmark channel’s morning show, “Home and Family,” to help promote “Intelligence.” That’s absolutely extreme measures being taken in behalf of a quality television show. They’ve done everything they can on their side of the equation.
One can only hope that one of CBS’ corporate channels will follow the trend in the UK and Australia, who’ve already licensed and been broadcasting Season One, so more new viewers are already engaged. Hopefully, they'll find a way to make a second season of the program happen “somewhere.” Failing that, TNT does “know” drama, and they’ve had tremendous breakout success with “Major Crimes,” “The Closer” and a tremendous run with “Rizzoli & Isles,” so “Intelligence” could easily find a home there. Third chance is that something will fizzle early in the fall and CBS will reconsider and order 13 more episodes for a second go-round. You never know. It’s the multimedia entertainment industry, where anything can happen.
Add into the mix that the ever-innovative Amazon.com is redefining television at all levels. Overlooking their choice of Gary Busey to introduce their Amazon Fire-TV to the world, streaming programming, original and classic, is doing well on demand. No one who has seen and made a commitment to the success of “Intelligence” really wants it to end.
Yes, despite having Robin Williams in a comedy vehicle where he could shine, the writing went from brilliant to boring, and adding in Brad Garrett made it tiresome or just plain horrid, so “The Crazy Ones” will remain only the vehicle that brought Pam Dawber back to television for at least one episode, for which viewers are thankful.
“Bad Teacher” was a bad idea from the get-go, and so good riddance to the “filler” material as an all-new low. “Hostages” was filled with a good cast and a sorry premise, so it’s understandable that it didn’t survive, but don’t forget it had the same “kiss-of-death” time slot as “Intelligence” inherited, so once again, if the script had a plot, after “Mike & Molly” and “Two and a Half” jokes, well, there you go.
Thanks are due to entire team of “Intelligence” for giving viewers something to look forward to each Monday. Hopefully soon, this reporter will be able to write that “Intelligence” has found new life for a second season somewhere on a channel near you. That CBS saved “The Mentalist” for one more season is nice, but still it’s just not going to be the same without the cyberfun of Gabriel Vaughn and his cyberfamily. Hoping that soon, someone, somewhere will show us some….intelligence.