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Is ABC Axing Its Shows Too Quickly?

By Michael Griffin, Hollywood Staff

Now that The Neighbors has finished its second season run, fans are all a bit nervous about its propensity to return to ABC in the fall. The problem is that the show is on a network that is not known for being patient in terms of letting shows, particularly sitcoms, get past its growing pains.

The list of ABC comedies cut down before their due runs pretty long: Better Off Ted, Don't Trust the B in Apt. 23, Man Up!, Mr. Sunshine, and Happy Endings. While there are dramas that met the early axe, it seems like sitcoms have a much harder time sticking on the network. The main reason that ABC gives for getting rid of these shows is low ratings. That may be true, but they also seem to never take into account the fact that the landscape has shifted since the original three-network format. As such, other programs that proved to be formidable hits in their day might not even get the chance to blossom under this new regime. Would ABC have even let Family Matters reach the Steve Urkel stage with its present mentality?

To be fair, the other networks have been sometimes hasty on the trigger as well. Poor Matthew Perry was on an NBC show that didn't fare well either. CBS pulled a Cop Rock move on How to Be a Gentleman, sending it to the showers after only two episodes. But it just seems that the suits at ABC are the most impatient out of all of them.

The final answer to the question about why these sitcoms seem to be so short-lived: as someone once said, Dying's easy. Comedy's hard! It's such a broad spectrum and people have a wide range of senses of humor. What might send one person into fits of near-paralytic bouts of laughter might only elicit a chuckle from another. It's hard to cater to everyone, and it may explain why smartly-written shows like The Neighbors are living on borrowed time whereas Two Broke Girls keeps getting renewed.

So, soon we will find out what happens with The Neighbors. Hopefully this will not be its swan song and that ABC can let it flourish and grow more while showing itself to be a more patient entity. Otherwise, it may find itself continuing a bad trend of cultivating fans who are afraid to follow a show lest it get prematurely canceled. That's no fun for anyone.

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