September 29, 2010 / 9:16 AM / 8 years ago

Fox cancels "Lone Star" after second episode

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The first casualty of the broadcast season is one of the best reviewed new shows of the fall: Fox is pulling “Lone Star,” its acclaimed drama about a con man leading a double life, from Monday nights.

Production has ceased on the show after five episodes. The third season of procedural drama “Lie to Me” will take its place starting next week.

Though the fate of “Lone Star” has preoccupied the media since its dismal debut last week, there’s several other shows that are also endangered after only one or two episodes.

ABC’s Wednesday night legal drama “The Whole Truth” (4.9 million viewers) did only slightly better than the “Lone Star” premiere. ABC’s Thursday ensemble soap “My Generation” (5.2 million) was likewise modest.

The second episode of NBC’s legal drama “Outlaw” (4.9 million) laid an egg last week, even by the humble standards of Friday night. And a return to the civilian format of “The Apprentice” (3.8 million, 1.4) is struggling on Thursdays.

“The Apprentice” represents a delicate situation since NBC is shooting “Celebrity Apprentice” for midseason and the network has a longstanding relationship with Donald Trump. It would be unusual to yank a well-established competition reality series before all the episodes have aired. The entire civilian edition was shot months ago, so production cost is not a factor.

Though remaining in its premium Thursday night time period is increasingly unlikely, the “Apprentice” question may hinge on whether NBC can find a suitable place on its schedule to burn off the show while maintaining a livable number.

As for “Lone Star,” despite a praise-filled 77% score on Metacritic, the show’s first two episodes were Texas-sized bombs. Only 4.1 million viewers showed up for the “Lone Star” premiere. Fox gave “Lone Star” a second chance last night, but viewership sank to 3.2 million viewers.

There’s no word yet if the remaining three episodes will be available online. There’s also no comment on whether the show will be shopped to cable, though sources say its unlikely.

From the beginning critics wondered if “Lone Star” could draw a broadcast-sized audience. The show best resembled the sort of nuanced character-driven dramas seen on basic cable networks like FX and AMC. But Fox expressed high confidence, with entertainment president Kevin Reilly telling critics the only reason shows like “Mad Men” pull such low numbers is because they’re not on his network.

“The only reason those shows aren’t watched by more people is they’re not on Fox,” Reilly said. “The (basic cable networks) don’t have this (promotional) machine.”

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