Da Vinci’s Demons and The Comedians are the latest two cult television hits that have received the axe from their respective channels – Starz and FX in this case. Though I cannot admit to ever checking out or having much interest in Da Vinci’s Demons, Starz’s action-melodrama about the famed inventor and artist, it has a passionate fanbase which has nearly convinced me to take a look on numerous occasions. Never the biggest critical sensation, the Straz series has nevertheless proven to be a favorite amongst fans of historical dramas, mixing historical facts with familiar narrative indulgences – religious and social persecution, sex, and murder, to be exact.
Far more disappointing, for this reviewer at least, is the canceling of The Comedians, which stars Billy Crystal and Josh Gad as versions of themselves working on a fictional sketch show, after what has been an interesting and occasionally very funny first season. Taking a similar route as the inimitable 30 Rock and Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, the show used the backstage drama of television comedy and hardened egos of the two main stars to investigate how jokes are made and how sketch comedy is extensively augmented and hammered at before it ever even gets into rehearsals. It’s one of the few shows that actually had a way of making the traditional vs. modern comedy argument seem reasonably argued on both ends and, intermittently, showcased a wisdom that’s hard-to-find in the modern comedy series. Still, the increasingly diminishing audience for both shows had the writing on the wall for awhile for cancellation or retooling, despite supportive fanbases that have consistently cheered for the show. Call them the collateral damage of cable’s inexplicable continuing dependence on ratings as a barometer for quality and fiscal decisions.