T Dog’s Media Notepad: No “Doubt” – CBS cancels drama after two episodes

In what technically is the first prime-time cancellation of the season (in February no less), CBS has pulled the plug on Doubt after just two episodes. The court drama starred Katherine Heigl and Laverne Cox, who became the first transgender individual to star in a prime-time show. But the audience didn’t respond: the series’ premiere drew 5.3 million in its Wednesday night time slot, only to drop to 4 million the second episode, with the adult 18-49 rating hovering around a 0.6 rating. The series dropped tremendously from its Criminal Minds lead-in and finished a distant third behind Chicago P.D. and Match Game.

This coming Wednesday (March 1), Doubt is being replaced by a rerun of Bull, a freshman hit for CBS this season. On March 8, the second season of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders takes its place.

Networks have been shy about announcing cancellation of shows – especially the last two seasons as viewers complained about quick hooks in the past (think Lonestar and The Playboy Club.) Earlier this season, ABC announced it wouldn’t renew Conviction, but kept it on the schedule despite poor ratings.

Reviews have been mixed: Metacritic scored Doubt at 58 (with a user score at a low 3.8): Rotten Tomatoes had it at 53 percent.

Thirteen episodes of Doubt have been completed – it is not known if the eleven remaining episodes would be burned off on CBS in the summer, or air on streamed exclusively on CBS All Access.

As first reported by Broadcasting & Cable, CBS Television Distribution’s long-running Inside Edition received some good news: the first-run syndicated newsmagazine show was upgraded to prime access (7 to 8 p.m.) in three of the nation’s largest markets – CBS-owned stations in New York (WCBS), Los Angeles (KCBS), and Philadelphia (KYW). In each case, Edition replaces The Insider, which was canceled after thirteen seasons. The change is effective in September.

In Chicago, Edition is carried by ABC-owned WLS-TV at 3 p.m., where it has aired since December 1990 (excluding the two seasons when the time slot was occupied by Katie.) WLS-TV’s carriage of the show is not affected by the CBS deal.

So far this season, Inside Edition has averaged a 2.9 household rating and 4.3 million viewers a day – even besting genre leader Entertainment Tonight during some weeks.

Originally syndicated by King World (bought by CBS in 1999), Inside Edition premiered on January 9, 1989 with David Frost as host, who was quickly replaced by Bill O’Reilly (who, of course went on to greater fame at Fox News.) Former WMAQ-TV and Today Show anchor Deborah Norville has anchored the show since 1995.

In New York, Inside Edition has aired on every commercial TV station in the market except for WABC; Currently, the series runs at noon on WNYW-TV. In Los Angeles, Inside Edition returns to the access slot it occupied on KCBS for the first time since its premiere, to be replaced only nine months later by Wheel of Fortune (Wheel – and Jeopardy shifted to KABC in 1992.) Inside Edition is currently airing on KCAL-TV at 4:30 p.m. KCBS, KCAL, and CBS Television Distribution are all owned by CBS Corporation.

The last ties to Turner Broadcasting have been cut with the announced sale Thursday of the former WTBS – now WPCH-TV in Atlanta – to Meredith Corp. to form a duopoly with CBS affiliate WGCL-TV, which it already owns. Since 2011, the station had been run by WGCL through a joint sales agreement – meaning WGCL sells much of the ad time for WPCH, branded as Peachtree TV. The deal comes as TimeWarner was looking to unload the station as the company is merging with AT&T – with a sale, TimeWarner could avoid FCC scrutiny of the deal on public interest grounds.

Originally launched as WJRJ-TV in 1967 on Channel 17, Ted Turner bought the station and changed the call letters to WTCG in 1970. In 1976, he uplinked the station to satellite, making WTCG available to cable viewers for the first time, becoming WTBS in 1979. TimeWarner merged with Turner Broadcasting in 1995, and split and national and local feeds for TBS, the latter becoming Peachtree TV in October 2007. Once the top-rated independent in Atlanta, WTBS/WPCH has fallen on hard times in recent years as fragmentation of the TV audience and the loss of the Atlanta Braves, a baseball team Ted Turner once owned to provide programming for WTBS, took their toll. Since WPCH now ranks below the top four rated stations in Atlanta (currently, duopolies aren’t allowed among them), Meredith is making the case for one.

Meanwhile, TBS is one of the top-rated cable networks thanks to reruns of The Big Bang Theory and originals Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, Conan, and People Of Earth (from Conan O’Brien.) TBS also carries Major League Baseball regular season and playoff games.

One of television’s first judges has died: Judge Joseph Wapner died Sunday at the age of 97 in hospice care in his home in Los Angeles. A retired Superior Court judge in California, Wapner presided over the original version of The People’s Court from 1981-93. Even though there were courtroom shows before People’s Court (notably the original Divorce Court, using actors as litigants) The People’s Court was the first show to use binding arbitration – featuring real cases and real people. In its early years, the series constantly ranked as one of the top shows in syndication.

The series success helped spawn the court genre in syndication, including shows such as The Judge, Superior Court, and two Divorce Court revivals – not to mention current entries Judge Judy, Judge Mathis, Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court, and others. Many stations found The People’s Court as a valuable news lead-in: during the height of its popularity in 1987, NBC-owned WMAQ-TV declined to renew the show after four years and saw the series jump to CBS-owned WBBM-TV to use in its then-languishing early fringe lineup. The result: WMAQ fell from second to third in early news (4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.), a position it would not recover from until at least 1992.

Currently, The People’s Court – now in its 20th year in its current incarnation – is presided over by Marilyn Milan and airs weekdays at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on WCIU. Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, who took over original syndicator Lorimar-Telepictures in 1989, also produces the current version.

Good news for fans waiting for the “eleventh” season of Mystery Science Theater 3000: the revival now has a drop date. Netflix announced on social media the new version of the cult classic will be released on April 14. Netflix tweeted out the news and a photo of the new cast behind the show, including new movie victim Jonah Ray.

Originally on KTMA (now WUCW) in Minneapolis and Comedy Central, MST3K’s last airing was on Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) in August 1999.


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