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CBS officially buries Swingtown

by Allison Waldman, posted Jan 14th 2009 3:31PM
swingtown poolRemember last summer, that CBS drama about life in 1976, the music, the fashions, the wife-swapping and key parties? Yes, Swingtown, the daring drama that flirted with controversial subjects, but was essentially a well-produced soap opera in the tradition of Knots Landing?

Well, after months of no news about the show, we learn today that no news is bad news. Swingtown has been cancelled.

CBS president Nina Tassler championed the show, but apparently she couldn't save it. At the press tour presentation she talked lovingly about the drama, even patting the network on the back to taking a risk by broadcasting it. But in the end, the good performances, excellent writing, critical approval and cult following it garnered didn't matter.

What did matter was that at the end of the run, CBS had next to no advertising for the series. The network was left to run PSAs and CBS promos mostly. That was a death knell for the show, even more than the middling Nielsen numbers.

What's really disappointing about Swingtown's demise isn't just that we'll never know if Roger and Susan leave Janet and Bruce, respectively, or whether or not Trina and Tom have the baby, or if Laurie follows Doug to Guatemala. No, what stinks is that CBS had a chance to add some variety to their crime-laden drama line up and they chose to pass.

The cancellation of Swingtown coupled with the pick up for Flashpoint just reinforces the fact that guns and action trumps couples and problems. Don't get me wrong; I like many of CBS's CSIs and crime shows. I just wish there was room for something like Swingtown.

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My ten word review of Swingtown:

Molly Parker, Molly Parker, Molly Parker, Molly Parker, Molly Parker!

Let's hope CBS uses her again soon. Dare I suggest a pairing with their contract player Alex O'Loughlin from Moonlight?

January 16 2009 at 1:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is such a shame! It was a chance to actually put some groundbreaking writing into network TV. This is probably why I don't watch CBS. To give it a shot on cable would have added a whole new lineup. I enjoyed the Ex List too, but they also took that away. This is a guilty pleasure that I enjoyed.

January 15 2009 at 1:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Big John

I personally thought it would've made great counter-programming to NBC's 10pm strategy next season, but that is a long time to keep actors on the hook. At least CBS can't say that it cost too much to produce.

January 15 2009 at 11:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm disappointed. I was hoping, they would give it a chance. I enjoyed the show. I agree about all of CBS being crime dramas. Enough already!

January 14 2009 at 7:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

never heard of this show, but it sounds interesting, probably would have done better on HBO or Showtime.

January 14 2009 at 7:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is a bummer, but not much of a surprise. Swingtown was a great little show and I'll miss it!

January 14 2009 at 6:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Give me a break. Flashpoint is a show about "couples and problems" more than its about "guns and action." Seriously, I really doubt that the author of this article has even seen a snippet of Flashpoint. You've got a woman who puts her career above her life, a guy who loves his gob more than his wife and his marriage is falling apart because of it, a sergeant who hasn't seen his kid in years, and a veteran who is learning that shooting first isn't acceptable in the civilian world. In fact, Flashpoint deals with the aftermath of violence, and seems to preach against guns. How the hell is that like any other show on TV? You have all those elements and the fact that Flashpoint deals with criminals who all have good reason to turn to criminal behavior.

Swingtown was a good show. However, it was more conventional that Flashpoint because at the end of the day its only catch was the swinging 70s angle. Two married people who secretly love each other isn't groundbreaking, and shitting all over a show you've never seen in an attempt to make a show won't help you win arguments.

January 14 2009 at 5:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Adam's comment

I think those who only saw Swingtown as a soap opera really missed the point. More than any other aspect I found the show's ability to examine the changing cultural landscape fascinating.

As I saw it, one couple represented the rigid 50's ideal, another the new 70's free spirit. Swinging between was Susan and Bruce, a couple raised in, and aspiring to, the 50's ideal but constantly having their eyes opened to new ideals and other options, good and bad. Watching Susan and Bruce navigate and negotiate their way was emblematic of what happened to families -- and America -- all through that era.

Added to that was their kids' journey and how their parents' uncertainty affected their development. Perhaps some people found Swingtown conventional, but I felt it was the most multilayered and intriguing exploration of one of the most dramatic times in recent American history told through the lives of three average couples. That it couldn't find a market on television is depressing, and may be a sad commentary on TV viewers desire to examine our history.

January 14 2009 at 11:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff N.

I thought Swingtown got better and better as it went along.
It was something different on Network TV. Not another prodecural Crime drama. My wife and I both enjoyed it. Sorry to see it cancelled.
I wish a cable network would've picked it up.

January 14 2009 at 5:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

.....I assume the last resort, Showtime, also passed....too bad as it was an interesting well written show......and cable could take it to a new level....

January 14 2009 at 4:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And isn't it funny that we are so sexually repressed in this "progressive" nation that we would champion murder, kidnapping and rape over exploration of mutual, loving relationships? At least that's what our advertisers have determined. What a bleeping shame.

January 14 2009 at 4:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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