May is almost over. So here is the list of TV shows you won't be seeing again in the fall:
"American Crime," "The Catch," "Dr. Ken," "Imaginary Mary," "Last Man Standing," "Notorious," "The Real O'Neals," "Secrets and Lies."
"Two Broke Girls," "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders," "The Great Indoors," "The Odd Couple," "Pure Genius," "Ransom," "Training Day."
"Frequency," "No Tomorrow," "APB," "Making History," "Pitch," "Rosewood," "Scream Queens," "Sleepy Hollow," "Son of Zorn," "You the Jury"
"Bates Motel," "Aquarius," "The Blacklist: Redemption," "Chicago Justice," "Emerald City."
Previous goners from earlier in the year include "Conviction," "Mistresses," "Doubt," "Uncle Buck," "American Gothic," "Brain Dead," "Coupled," "Masters of Sex" and "Roadies."
Carefully note the absence of a couple of shows whose cancellations have been reported elsewhere: Fox's "Shots Fired," NBC's "First Dates" and "Grimm" (which is a goner but will apparently have one more season on the tube as a zombie).
If there's any possibility -- and some online say there is -- they will grant a programming reprieve to "Shots Fired," I'd vote for it in a heartbeat. It was an interesting show about cops and race relations in the "Black Lives Matter" era and it could have been a truly arresting one with smarter and gutsier show runners.
I watched every week -- even its rushed and emotionally slushy finale. If ever a TV show ended a season with a virtual confession to its audience that it was on the bubble, it's "Shots Fired." The whole episode screamed to all of us at home "hey we don't know if we're ever coming back but if we're gone, here's a nice, tidy, hurried finale, so drive carefully, have a nice summer and be sure your pets are spayed and neutered."
The only May cancellation that seemed to cause anything remotely resembling an outcry was ABC's chloroforming of "Last Man Standing," in which Tim Allen continued his comic portrait of a suburban white guy from America's cultural paleolithic era, now living in his "get off my lawn" years.
What was interesting about the mild public protest of Allen's cancellation is that some said it was due to Allen's real politics, which are not all that different from his comic persona. They were advanced as symptomatic of political corruption in the daily doings of the "lamestream media."
In truth, that's by no means impossible, though it's highly improbable. The first time major networks canceled popular sitcoms just because they didn't like their demographics was the moment CBS' Jim Aubrey (whose industrial nickname at the time was "The Smiling Cobra") sent "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Green Acres" to their eternal reward because their huge ratings numbers didn't include the right people - the demographically favored urbanites to whom networks hope to sell oodles and oodles of commercials.
It was a pivotal moment -- the one where democracy's raw numbers were publicly admitted to be of less significance in the real world than the actual nature of the people who comprised those numbers.
It's not pleasant to think about but everything glorious that has happened to TV since -- cable TV, streaming, what we now take for granted as "premium TV" -- began with the Smiling Cobra and the anti-democratic venom dripping from his fangs.
You'll have to excuse me, then, if this May's list of departures disturbs me so little.
I'm very sorry, for many reasons, to see Fox's "Pitch" go. It would have said wonderful things about America in the Trump era if there had been a viable weekly audience for a well-made TV show about the first female pitcher in baseball's major leagues. Of all the May cancellations, I am taking "Shots Fired" and "Pitched" the hardest.
I'd have loved to see "Training Day" survive, but the tragic death, at the appallingly early age of 61, of its star Bill Paxton made that impossible.
I watched every week of "APB," despite its ridiculous premise of a mega-billionaire engineering genius who bought his own Chicago police precinct to mess with. The show was cast with a lot of panache, thereby proving the ancient TV proposition that Hollywood's skills in making movies and TV shows long ago outstripped its ability to create them. (Would we, in 2017, be seeing yet another hugely expensive sequel to a movie made out of a mediocre amusement park ride if that weren't true? I think not.)
I had only recently begun to watch "Rosewood"-- enough to find it pleasant if hardly the sort of TV to which I pledge my weekly troth.
"Bates Motel" was interesting for about four episodes but that's it. "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders" was, long before its first episode was over, a very tedious waste of a good cast.
"The Catch" was fun to watch for three or four episodes but that sort of sophisticated style depends on casting on the highest level. In TV history, there's more than a little tradition for it. Way back in paleo-TV, "The Rogues" somehow got away with giving TV audiences regular doses of Robert Coote and Gladys Cooper. Mireille Enos and Peter Krause, though, weren't going to convince anyone that were going to be prime-time's bargain basement version of Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant.
I liked "Aquarius" infinitely more than I thought I would, but I was more than a little amazed that NBC maintained a commitment to the show for as long as it did. The idea of a show about the socio-political milieu of Charles Manson's family exhibited the audacity so seldom seen in TV show creation, where all the cogency goes instead into execution.
"Conviction," which was cancelled earlier, was notable for being the second time TV tried to make a series star out of Hayley Atwell. It was a watchable show and almost entirely because of her. I hope that her second strike doesn't call her out. She's an immensely appealing figure--beautiful, smart, elegant, versatile enough to play a president's spoiled daughter in one series and a Marvel comics heroine in another.
The sudden cancellation that I regretted agreeing with the most was, sadly, the cancellation of a show whose beginning was one of the most promising on TV: "American Crime." It started out as one of the most amazing in this network era.
Creator John Ridley -- who won an Oscar for his script for "12 Years a Slave" -- has become one of the most amazing figures in Hollywood. That he thought he could turn "American Crime" into such a harshly painted portrait of American economic exploitation on an old-fashioned Broadcast network will always seem semi-miraculous to me.
As he developed into a genuine 2017 TV auteur with "Guerilla" also on Showtime, he seemed like a fellow who was getting creative advice from Noam Chomsky. He can't possibly be surprised to see his endeavors sink out of sight.
I hope to heaven he doesn't follow. He's as rare a fellow as they come.