Archive for The Unit

The Unit Cancelled – Bad CBS

I wrote this for film.com. You can also go to that site to comment:

CBS won’t be re-upping with The Unit.

Was it a chain reaction after NBC opted out of Medium and CBS decided snag the psychic crime series, or was the military drama always doomed? We suspect the latter.

The Unit has been teetering on cancellations almost from the time it jumped out of the starting gate in March 2006. The Unit posted a respectable audience of 15 million before dropping each season to little more than 9 million viewers.

But despite some tawdry affairs depicted in the series, it’s never been a particularly sexy show for CBS. And CBS wants to have some flash, and to keep far away from its former image as the network drawing the most viewers over the age of 50.

The intense fan base has tried to keep the show on the air, but unlike the Chuck Subway campaign, where fans sparked the sandwich chain to actually sponsor the show, there were no big sponsors willing to go to bat for The Unit.

At a little under $3 million an episode, it’s one of the cheaper series to produce. But the networks are still trying to get the costs down on every show they pick up. The preferred method has been pay cuts or freezes. And that was something star Dennis Haysbert, who plays Jonas Blane on the series, wasn’t willing to do, according to an interview with him in the LA Times.

“There are a number of factors that go into whether I want it back or not,” Haysbert told the paper concerning both his salary and the creative direction of the show. “It’s been a great ride and, if I don’t work with these people again, I’ll certainly play golf with them.”

So in the words of Blane, “You, you and you…panic. The rest of you, come with me.” And we’ll give you five reasons why The Unit should have stayed on the air.

5. There are few scripted shows that parade a banner of nobility and love of country like The Unit. While it doesn’t shrink from controversy, it tells a story that isn’t being explored in a TV landscape that loves dark heroes. House may save your life, but you don’t want to invite him to the neighborhood barbecue. These are good ol’ boys serving their country, and darn proud to do it.

4. Ratings for the show weren’t horrible, but while the ratings were higher than other CBS shows that were picked up, the audience skewed towards older viewers. The median age was around 55, which might just as well spelled dead zone to advertisers. But we contend that this is exactly the group that probably has money to spend right now, and isn’t squirreling away every last cent for fear of getting booted from their jobs.

3. CBS has become the home of the procedurals. We’ve got ghost whispers – and soon another talkin’-to-dead-people crime fighter. We’ve got crime scene investigations in three different cities, and even a military crime team. And, as is the case with all the networks, you can’t swing a stethoscope without hitting a doctor show. Two of the new CBS series are doctor shows. But what is in short supply around the eye-land is a straight drama like The Unit.

2. Before Barak Obama, there was President David Palmer, the honorable man who served as our nation’s president. OK, it was just on 24, but Palmer set a tone. So when the actor, Dennis Haysbert, was recruited to head up the team at The Unit, you knew this was a man to be reckoned with. We could use a few more good men like Jonas on TV.

1. The Unit was written and produced by
Shawn Ryan
(The Shield) and created and written by respected Tony and Oscar-nominee David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross, Speed-the-Plow, American Buffalo). Mamet’s got a distinctive dialogue style. So when you want to brush this off as just a conservative bent military show, save the dismissive attitude and remember that two of the best dramatic writers around, Ryan and Mamet, helmed The Unit. They served proudly. They never talked down to their audience, and while leaving the door open just in case of a last minute stay of execution, they gave a satisfying season ender to their fans.

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“The Unit” back on CBS, “Shark” “Moonlight” gone

It’s true. As producer Shawn Ryan predicted, CBS took it’s own sweet time deciding on picking up the show, but “The Unit” will be back on board at 10 p.m. Sundays this fall.

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Max Martini, Dennis Haysbert, and Scott Foley star in “The Unit” on CBS. Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS ©2007 Broadcasting Inc.

Sadly, both “Shark” and “Moonlight” didn’t make the final cut.

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Vampire Mick had a brief time in the sun before CBS canceled “Moonlight.” Mick (Alex O’Loughlin) enjoys what time he has left as a human with Beth (Sophia Myles), on “Moonlight” at 9 p.m. Friday April 25 on CBS. Photo: Adam Taylor/CBS

Forgive me, but a flare-up of the herniated disk in my neck means I’m poaching liberally from the CBS press release. So here goes:

CBS announced today its 2008-2009 Fall Primetime Lineup, featuring five new series — two comedies and three dramas — and the launch of a new comedy block on Wednesdays.

The new series include:

ELEVENTH HOUR, a dramatic thriller from producer Jerry Bruckheimer about a special advisor to the government who investigates scientific crises and oddities.

THE MENTALIST, starring Simon Baker as a former celebrity psychic-turned- detective who uses his gifted skills of observation and expertise at “reading” people to solve crimes

THE EX LIST, a sexy comedic drama about a 30-something woman who searches her past relationships to find her future husband

PROJECT GARY, a comedy starring Jay Mohr and Paula Marshall as dueling ex-spouses and parents trying to move forward with new relationships

WORST WEEK a comedy based on a British series about a good guy who is always trying to do the right thing, yet something always goes wrong — especially when he’s around his girlfriend’s parents.

The freshman series will join 18 returning programs on the current CBS lineup.

CBS will return network television’s Number One drama franchise — CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION; CSI: MIAMI, CSI: NY — the Number One comedy, TWO AND A HALF MEN; the Number One news magazine, 60 MINUTES; and two franchise reality series —SURVIVOR and the five-time Emmy Award-winning THE AMAZING RACE.

Also returning are: THE BIG BANG THEORY, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, NCIS, WITHOUT A TRACE, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE, CRIMINAL MINDS, GHOST WHISPERER, NUMB3RS, COLD CASE, THE UNIT, 48 HOURS MYSTERY and CRIMETIME SATURDAY.
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The Unit – Shawn Ryan thinks Season 4 a Go

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Shawn Ryan, “The Unit”

“The Unit” executive producer Shawn Ryan has been slammed locking the final edit of “The Shield,” but took time to shot me an e-mail about “The Unit” coming back this fall.

As for “The Shield,” Shawn shares that it was “very satisfying to end it the way I wanted to, but a little sad that I’ll never be in the editing room again on ‘The Shield.’ ”

But for fans of “The Unit,” Shawn says “I’m glad that you have a number of fans clamoring for the show. Here’s the scoop: When the strike ended, we were hoping to get additional episodes for the spring, like most shows.”

Unfortunately, Shawn says, CBS didn’t need the episodes for April and May because the network had filled the schedule with new episodes of reality shows like “Big Brother” and “Survivor.” Shawn assures us that CBS loves the show and that ratings-wise it is a “solid base hit although not a home run against brutal competions in ‘House” and ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ ”

Shawn says he thinks the chances are good the “The Unit” will be picked up for the fall – but doesn’t expect CBS to give them a solid answer until closer to the May upfronts.

“We’ve always had to wait until the May upfronts to find out our fate (even after our first season when we were the top rated new show of the year!). I imagine it will be the same again this year,” Shawn says, adding that they don’t feel safe by any means.

David Mamet, Shawn and the other writers have broken out the big plot points for next season, he says, and “I think it’s pretty great and it shakes up the show in a really wonderful way. We’ll go in and pitch it to them soon. I’m very confident they’ll be excited about it creatively. Maybe they’ll be inspired and give us an early pickup after hearing it. More likely, we’ll be waiting until May to learn our fate.”

And that’s the scoop, straight from Shawn. He’s also one of the nicest guys around, and deserves to be treated better by CBS. But, what are you gonna do?

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Michael Chiklis and Shawn Ryan of “The Shield,” courtesy of ViewImages

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Save “The Unit”

CBS is staying oddly silent about the future of “The Unit.”

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Max Martini, Dennis Haysbert, and Scott Foley star in “The Unit” on CBS. Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS ©2007 Broadcasting Inc.

So of course we expect the worst. There are no more episodes scheduled to air this spring, and no word yet on if this solid series will be picked up next season. So rather than sit on our thumbs, it’s time to take some action.

Well, not us really, but Scott Miles, the person who started this online petition.

If you want to voice your discontent, here’s the contact info for CBS:

CBS Comment line 323-575-4913.
Audience Services: audsvcs@cbs.com
CBS TV City attn: Programming
7800 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036

To register your comments online, go here: http://www.cbs.com/info/user_services/fb_global_form.shtml

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CBS Jury Still Out on “The Unit”

As of Friday, when CBS announced “Jericho” had been canceled, there was still no word on whether “The Unit” would return.

That would make a lot of people very unhappy, based on the more than 50 comments from readers of my previous blog Unscripted. And it would make me angry as well. “The Unit” has performed admirably through its run, and gained many supporters.

Let’s hope sanity prevails and “The Unit” will be back this fall when the networks need a viewers.

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As they bring his body home, the team copes with Williams’s death, on “The Unit”. Pictured: Max Martini, Scott Foley, Dennis Haysbert, Robert Patrick. Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS. ©2007 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Let’s just hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of “The Unit.”

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CBS Gets More Big Bang Theory

Maybe it’s the threat of a writer’s strike, which could be happening as early as Nov. 1, but the networks seem to be giving their stamp of approval early this season.

ABC previously announced a full season pick-up of “Grey’s Anatomy” spin-off “Private Practice,” which has consistantly hit the No. 1 ratings spot for new fall shows.

CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” is the first new fall comedy to get a full season pick-up order. The network also gave their solid drama “The Unit” a full season order as well.

And dashing off into a tangent, “Scrubs” creator Bill Lawrence said yesterday that “The Unit” co-star Scott Foley may be back on board for the comedy’s final season if his schedule allows.

“Bang” is kind of growing on me. Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons as Leonard and Sheldon make the perfect odd and odder couple with their geeky, Cal Tech personalities. Of course, you have to have the dumb blonde, played by Kaley Cuoco. Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar round out the cast as Sheldon and Leonard’s two best nerd herd pals.

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Leonard (Johnny Galecki, pictured second from left), Sheldon (Jim Parsons, pictured far right), Wolowitz (Simon Helberg, pictured second from right) and Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar, pictured far left) undertake a challenging and dangerous experiment, attending the Halloween party being thrown by their hot neighbor, Penny (Kaley Cuoco, not pictured) on The Oct. 29 episode. Photo: Ron Batzdorff/Warner Bros.

As part of the CBS Monday night comedy block, “The Big Bang Theory” from Chuck Lorre, who is also responsible for “Two and a Half Men” that airs afterwards, has been averaging 8.97 million viewers.

“The Unit” is averaging 11.44 million viewers. Tuesday’s episode posted the best ratings – 3.1/08 in adults 18-49 and 4.2/09 in adults 25-54 – since February.

“The Unit” stars Dennis Haysbert, Scott Foley, Robert Patrick, Regina Taylor, Max Martini, Michael Irby, Demore Barnes, Abby Brummell and Audrey Marie Anderson. David Mamet, Shawn Ryan and Vahan Moosekian are executive producers.

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