The season four pickup was championed by TNT/TBS programming topper Michael Wright, who brought the show to Turner after NBC decided it wasn’t drawing strong enough ratings. The first season ran on NBC while the next two aired on TNT.
Exec producer Christopher Chulack said he considers the cop drama as good a show he has ever worked on, and that includes his tenure on “ER.”
“I’ve been blessed with some great television and I have to say this is right up there with any show I’ve done, both collaborative and familial,” he said, calling this last season “our best effort.”
“Southland” averaged 3 million viewers an episode, which was good enough for TNT to give it a go-ahead. Cabler scores well with procedurals such as “The Closer” and “Rizzoli & Isles” and that allow skeins such as “Southland” and “Men of a Certain Age” to not have to be near the top of the ratings scorecard to survive.
While aware of that fact, Chulack was still nervous about the show going forward. Series that don’t get out of the gate exceptionally well can often feel they’re fighting for their lives when it comes to renewal time.
“Either you’re a hit right away or your not,” Chulack said. “But for all the tumult, it’s worked for us.”
Another advantage for “Southland” is that it’s an extremely lean production. Shot nearly 90% on location in Los Angeles and only 10% on a stage, the average cost of an episode is approximately $2 million. That’s far less than most dramas.
“We’re fiscally responsible,” he said. “I can tell you for a fact that we make the show on budget.”
Writers are expected to gather in early summer and production for the new season should begin in the fall.
Said actor Michael Cudlitz upon hearing the news: “We were cautiously optimistic, but optimistic nonetheless. We know it’s a business but hopefully the business for our show makes sense.”