Drama couldn't overcome hurdles to reach second season

AMC’s decision to cancel original series “Rubicon” after one season underscored the drama’s in-betweener status at the cable network.

Though critical notices were strong and seemed to gain momentum as the series progressed through its August-October run — particularly after Henry Bromell took over showrunner duties midway through production — the cult favorite didn’t seem likely to grow into major Emmy bait like AMC’s “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” nor was it a relative audience smash in the vein of “The Walking Dead.”

AMC didn’t lack initial enthusiasm for “Rubicon,” offering a sneak preview of the show (created by Jason Horwitch) immediately after June’s season finale of “Breaking Bad” before officially launching the series Aug. 1. And that official premiere drew 2 million viewers for what was, at the time, AMC’s most-watched series debut ever.

However, with some viewers not prepared for the series’ slow pace, viewership soon fell to approximately half that total. By comparison, “Walking Dead” launched to more than 5 million viewers Oct. 31 and followed up with 4.7 million in its second airing.

Given the still-limited ability for AMC to juggle the budgets of multiple original programs, “Rubicon” drew the short straw. It becomes the network’s first original series to receive the ax (not counting 2009′s “The Prisoner,” classified as a miniseries).

“‘Rubicon’ gave us an opportunity to tell a rich and compelling story, and we’re proud of the series,” AMC said in a statement. “This was not an easy decision, but we are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such a phenomenally talented and dedicated team.”

The “Rubicon” cast included James Badge Dale, Arliss Howard, Michael Cristofer, Dallas Roberts, Lauren Hodges, Christopher Evan Welch, Miranda Richardson and Jessica Collins.

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