J.J. Abrams might have the most important job in entertainment right now — directing “Star Wars: Episode VII” — but the TV side of his Bad Robot production banner is having a rough week.
After a robust selling season for 2013-14 that saw pickups for freshman series “Almost Human” and “Believe” and renewals for “Revolution” and “Person of Interest,” the company’s Warner Bros. TV-based production arm has taken three hits this week with the cancellation of Fox’s “Almost Human” and the demise of “Revolution” and “Believe” at NBC.
Taking three strikes in a row isn’t easy for any producer, but Bad Robot is hardly down and out. “Person of Interest” remains a player at CBS, earning an early fourth-season renewal in March. And HBO has given a production commitment to the fantasy-western based on the cult-fave 1973 movie “Westworld.”
With so many shows on the air this season, Bad Robot deliberately pared down on broadcast TV development projects for the 2014-15 season. This fall will mark the first time since 2009 that Bad Robot has not had a new broadcast TV series to launch.
“Believe” was a high-profile property as a collaboration between Abrams and hyphenate Alfonso Cuaron, who won the directing Oscar this year for “Gravity.” But the writing was on the wall for the show when NBC opted to pull it from the schedule ahead of its May 18 airing, along with another underperforming midseason entry, “Crisis.” Both shows are skedded to return to the lineup on May 25, after the official end of the season.
“Almost Human” was an internal favorite of execs at Fox but never caught fire in its initial 13-episode run. “Revolution” had a promising start in the 2012-13 season, when it had a lead-in assist from “The Voice.” But NBC did it no favors by imposing a long winter hiatus during its first season, a mistake the Peacock did not make this year with “The Blacklist.” “Revolution” endured its creative ups and downs and never regained much of an audience after moving to the lead-off Wednesday 8 p.m. slot last fall.
Among the prospective series Bad Robot is developing in-house is an event series based on an unproduced Rod Serling screenplay and an adaptation of Stephen King’s time-travel novel “11/22/63.”