Shocker: Fox Airs Great New Show, Immediately Cancels It

Dammit. The fall TV season has claimed its first casualty, and of course it’s a show I liked. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to watch the pilot episode of Fox’s new con man drama ‘Lone Star’ until late Sunday night, which didn’t give me enough time to write up a recap before the second episode aired this past Monday. I still have that second episode on my DVR, and was planning to watch it soon and talk it up a bit here in the blog. I guess I needn’t bother, because Fox just pulled the plug on the series.

‘Lone Star’ (no relation to the John Sayles movie of the same name) stars James Wolk as a young con artist straddling two completely falsified lives in Texas. One seems to be an average suburban life with cute young girlfriend in a small town where he’s sold most of the locals shares to an oil field that doesn’t actually exist. In the other, he’s married the daughter of an oil tycoon (Jon Voight) and wormed his way into a VP position in the company. The problem is that he’s worked himself in so deep that he’s actually started to like both lives, and has fallen legitimately in love with both women. Now he wants to go straight, much to the consternation of his father (David Keith), who expects him to bleed both the town and the company dry, then cut and run.

The pilot episode was pretty fantastic. It’s a great story with a strong cast, and has a lot of potential for gripping drama to develop over the course of a season or more. Too bad we’ll never know. After lackluster ratings, Fox officially yanked the show off its schedule effective immediately. Next week, the network will bump up the premiere of ‘Lie to Me’ to fill the time slot.

This is just the latest in a long string of interesting series that Fox has commissioned only to cancel right away. (The most notorious example was ‘Firefly‘, of course.) To be honest, as I watched the premiere, I felt like this was just too adult and mature a program for the network. I’m sure it would have had greater success on a cable channel like TNT or AMC.

According to a studio spokesman, production of the series will cease immediately. “We will have shot five completed episodes after the pilot, and will not complete principal photography on episode 106.” There’s no word on what will happen to the unaired episodes. It’s possible that they may get burned off on FX at some oddball weekend morning hour. Even if that happens, I’m sure there will be no resolution to the storyline.


  1. I just dont understand why these companies do this. This is a big reason why I’m not paying for cable anymore, too many shows arent even given a chance to develop or bring in a fan base, how does FOX or any other for that matter expect a show to get off the ground if they give it 2 weeks tops, I honestly havent heard of this show and maybe thats why it didnt pull in the numbers they wanted, but WHAT NEW show besides reality garbage that has been on for years really pulls in amazing numbers in the first week or two?

    Honestly I’m glad I’m not paying cable providers right now because this crap keeps going on and it isnt worth my cash, I would hope some time soon these companies will realize this doesnt work and just pisses people off

    • Hi Chaz —

      I’m not saying I support this, but networks cancel shows quickly because they face losing ad-revenue. There are two parts to this: a financial side, and ego. Ego-wise, Fox opened the first week of the fall season #4 (in terms of audience) among the broadcast nets (and btw, most cable networks actually do give their shows a chance to find audiences; most of the quick cancels are broadcast networks; cable providers themselves rarely make programming decisions — well, until Comcast owns NBC-Universal, of course).

      Basically, if Fox swaps out a series like Lone Star which is tanking, their overall and averaged ratings go up, and they could hop into a higher position.

      Financially, networks pre-sell airtime based on how many viewers they think will be watching (thus, the Superbowl ads are the priciest of the year). If a show or time slot under delivers, meaning they didn’t have more than the estimated number of eye balls, the advertisers (the network’s customers) are going to be very unhappy, and though they aren’t specifically reimbursed, Networks will be forced to lower prices or give other sorts of deals to make up for it.


  2. they put it in the worst time slot.tuesday @ nine would of been better. sure it would of went up against the dancing results show and ncis :la.i bet it would come in 3rd in that slot and have a huge DVR numbers cause you would DVR Lone Star , watch dancing live and look up ncis on demand.

    • Josh Zyber

      Fox has had success with Monday nights in the past. ‘House’ and ’24’ owned that night for the last few years. ‘Lie to Me’ was also doing pretty well on Mondays over the summer (which is why they’re moving it back).

      The problems here are three-fold:

      1) This show has a more serious tone than audiences expect out of a Fox drama.
      2) Poor promotion and marketing. The show had very little audience awareness.
      3) Fox’s unrealistic expectations that every new series must be a ‘House’-sized breakout hit right out of the gate. They don’t ever let series grow an audience. If it isn’t an instant smash hit, they don’t want it.

  3. I don’t understand what all the fuss was about…it was NOT a very good series, nor a very well acted one. Sure, there’s a ton of worse stuff on the air, but how you blame FOX for canceling a show that nobody (in TV numbers, 1 million people is “nobody”) is watching is sour grapes. Next time hire a better lead actor…James Wolk was a bore.

    • Josh Zyber

      I (obviously) disagree with you about the show and about Wolk. He was fine. Critical consensus for the show was very positive.

      The pilot episode had 4 million viewers. Not great, and certainly not what Fox wanted out of it, but that number would have been considered pretty successful if this had premiered on a cable network, as it probably should have.

      • Yes, it had 4 million viewers (I was one), and 3 million of them didn’t like it and didn’t tune back in. It’s one thing to get an audience, it’s quite another to keep it. I think the 4 million came from the critical response and the fact that FOX kept touting it as the next DALLAS, which of course, it bears no resemblance to whatsoever, other than the fact they both are set in Texas.

        I’ve seen about 75% (estimating) of the new fall series, and I think THE DEFENDERS, HAWAII FIVE-0, THE EVENT, UNDERCOVERS, NO ORDINARY FAMILY, and BLUE BLOODS were/are all better written, produced and acted than LONE STAR.

        I’ll give LONE STAR the nod over DETROIT 187 and CHASE, but that’s not saying much!

        • Josh Zyber

          Not to belabor this too much, but I just don’t understand how you’re doing your math. The premiere episode had 4 million viewers. The second episode dropped to 3.2 million. That’s a difference of 800,000 viewers, not 3 million. Did you misread the Yahoo article, which says that it “sank to 3.2 million,” to say “sank 3.2 million”?

          Again, I admit that those aren’t good numbers for a Big Four network. However, they wouldn’t be bad if this aired on a cable net, which is where it should have gone. Nothing about the show strikes me as being terribly expensive. If Fox had passed on this, it could have possibly turned into a solid hit for a network like AMC or TNT (where it would have fit in nicely with the existing programming on either).

          I agree that Fox’s promotion was bad. (Actually, the problem was more non-existent promotion.) But I didn’t see a single ad that touted this show as being anything like Dallas. Even if the network did market it that way, that’s not really the show’s fault.

          We’ll have to agree to disagree about the merits of the series. As I previously mentioned, critical consensus was very positive for Lone Star. Metacritic lists it in the top 5 best reviewed shows of the new season:

          I can’t agree with any of your comparisons. The Defenders is just flat-out atrocious. I couldn’t even make it through to the first commercial break on that one. No Ordinary Family is also pretty bad (recap coming tomorrow). Hawaii Five-0, The Event, and Undercovers are all exceedingly mediocre.

          I haven’t seen Blue Bloods, Detroid 187, or Chase. Haven’t heard good things about any of them.

  4. mh

    I didn’t watch either episode (I will be watching LIE TO ME), but just from reading a description of the show, I figured it should have been on FX. Just goes to show that one can NEVER predict what the public is going to latch onto.

    Fox would never have moved it to Tuesday. They’re trying to establish a comedy beachhead at 9 p.m., and they need GLEE’s huge lead-in numbers to do that.

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