ATV Reports: The television axe swings in 2009

After our features looking at television in 2008 we take a look forward to 2009, in this issue of ATV Reports with editor Shaun Linden, and show’s that are in danger of being axed, due to low ratings, and we’ll also take a look at shows that have already been confirmed as ending this year.

Our trilogy of features on television in 2008 looked at show’s that were axed, show’s that failed to make an impact [flops] and the show’s that were a delight to watch. We now cast our eye towards 2009 and take a look at those show’s we think are under threat of the axe and those show’s that have already been confirmed as ending in 2009.

Confirmed as ending:


After 15 years on-air it was confirmed last year that ER would draw to a close as ratings continued to decline. At its heyday the medical drama pulled in more than 30 million viewers and was popular both stateside and in the UK. The series launched the careers of many a star, such as George Clooney and Alex Kingston and was created by Michael Crichton who sadly passed away last year. During its 15 years on air the drama has covered a number of issues, had numerous stunts, killed off cast members and attracted an impressive array of guest-stars. Producers have tempted back a few ex-cast members for the final season, Alex Kingston amongst them, but fans are hopeful that George Clooney will be tempted back.

Battlestar Galactica

The re-imaged Sci Fi show will bow out later this year at the end of its fourth season. When the show BSG Castwas given the go-ahead for a fourth season producers quickly announced it would be the shows last and they would conclude the saga at the end of the fourth season. The first half of the season was broadcast last year and killed off a few secondary characters and the second half of the season has recently started to air in America and over here. As the show hurtles towards its finale we can guarantee more deaths, twists, turns and the big reveal – just how is the final Cylon? The finale of the series will be extended, possible a 3 hour finale, and will doubtless provide plenty of shocks for fans.

In Danger:

Knight Rider

The revived 1980s series has suffered from low ratings for some time now and a planned reboot of the Knight Riderdrama, to bring it more in-line with the original series, is a last ditch attempt to save the drama. The problem is the series has already undergone one revamp which failed to bring in audiences as the pilot episode was radically different from the weekly series that followed due to changes behind the scenes. While Knight Rider has survived longer than the Bionic Woman, which was killed off by the writer’s strike, in all honesty it is limping along and is dangerously close to being dropped completely by NBC.


Hugely anticipated new series from Joss Whedon but the signs for the series aren’t good. Production on the series has stopped several times while scripts were written and a new opening episode was filmed as Fox the premise of the series needed a better introduction. Then came news the show would air in a highly competitive slot that had killed off several shows across the years. However, Whedon is a big name in Sci Fi circles and commands a loyal following from his fans and doubtless they will tune in to Dollhouse and give it their full support but to survive Dollhouse will need to command a strong audience base from the word go or it really will be in danger of the axe.

Sarah Connor Chronicles

Television spin-off series from the Terminator film franchise. The first season of the series was disrupted by the writers’ strike and so Fox commissioned a second season of episodes. However, the second season has been struggling in the ratings for some time and many expected the plug to be pulled on the spin-off. In a surprise move Fox actually ordered more episodes of the series but that was mainly due to delays with Dollhouse. However, ratings for the series haven’t really improved and its likely Fox will pull the plug on the series when it reaches the end of its episode order.

Robin Hood

BBC Saturday-night teatime drama that hasn’t commanded the same audiences as Doctor Who or Robin Hoodthe same respect, critics haven’t been kind to the drama series. The drama will be back for a third series later this year but at the end of it actor Jonas Armstrong will step down from the role of Robin Hood placing the show’s future in doubt. How can a drama called Robin Hood continue without its leading character? Well in the 1980s the HTV series Robin of Sherwood continued for a season without its original Robin Hood by finding someone else to fill the gap. The BBC version may go for a similar trick but it’s all very dependent on audiences and they may not want another Robin Hood.


When this series debuted it commanded huge audiences but these figures have now halved, here and Heroes in America, and the show’s second and third seasons failed to impress audiences. The storylines failed to impress audiences and show the ratings declined to dangerous levels. However, Bryan Fuller has returned to the writing staff, after the axing of his series Pushing Daisies, could lead to a turnaround in the show’s fortunes. Broadcasters NBC are certainly hopeful of such an event and are confident enough in the show’s future to give the go-ahead for more episodes. But ratings will have to improve quickly as NBC aren’t likely to wait around for long before waving their axe.

Ashes to Ashes

The 1980s set spin-off series from Life On Mars, which was set in the 1970s, which returns for a Ashes to Ashes second season later this year. Ratings for the first series was good although critical response was rather mixed but the most important thing to remember in the case of the spin-off’s future is that Life On Mars only ran for two seasons. Producers correctly guessed they couldn’t string out the mysteries of the shows for too long before audiences demanded answers or switched off and so decided to wrap things up after two seasons. As Ashes To Ashes is set in the same universe as Life On Mars, be it slightly later, it’s likely producers will feel the same and seek to wrap up the Ashes To Ashes mythology at the end of its second season. Rumour has it that another spin-off series, with Gene Hunt, is in the pipe-line.

The Royal

Medical drama set in the 1960s and spun-off from Heartbeat. The series used to command respectable audiences of up to eight million and ITV were obviously satisfied enough with the series to Royal castcommission a daytime spin-off from it set in the modern day. However, the daytime series wasn’t a success and wasn’t re-commissioned for another run. But it may have had more of an impact that ITV anticipated as ratings for The Royal over the past year haven’t been good. For the drama now usually doesn’t pull in audiences higher than five million. The Royal isn’t the only drama to suffer from this though as its parent show Heartbeat has also been suffering from a decline in ratings and is also only attracting similar figures. The Royal is probably secure for now but ITV will doubtless be keeping a close eye on it and hoping ratings improve.

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