Pardon the long post here, but this deserves some attention. "Rubicon" was AMC's first cancellation and gives us a sense of where "the home of television's best original series" is heading. After only one stellar season, AMC has canceled the conspiracy thriller "Rubicon." It was never able to gain big ratings, but neither did "Mad Men" in its first season and look where it is now. That said, the main reason "Rubicon" was canceled may have nothing to do with its own lack of success, but the success of other AMC series.
AMC was willing to give shows like "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" more time to develop an audience because it was in the infancy of its scripted television venture. But, now both shows win loads of awards every year, get good ratings and have established AMC as one of the best outlets, cable or network, for original series.
So, AMC is tightening its budget as it gears up for more seasons of “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and now “The Walking Dead.” As I predicted a couple days ago, the ratings success and quick second season order of "The Walking Dead" was an early death knell for "Rubicon." AMC also added “The Killing,” a new series premiering in early 2011.
“The Walking Dead” is by far the most expensive show for AMC to produce, but it already had a built-in audience with the zombie genre that’s resulted in huge ratings. Oh, it’s also an extremely well-executed series. I don’t imagine it was a hard to decision for AMC executives to cancel “Rubicon” given the bottom line.
AMC still represents the best TV has to offer, but due to financial limitations it may be forced become too selective in renewing shows, or stop taking risks with the likes of “Rubicon.” In other words, “The Killing” better be really good and get really good ratings.
Anyway, it’s still a shame to see one of the best shows this year—it will surely be on my best of 2010 list—that boasted some outstanding performances by James Badge Dale and Arliss Howard get the axe. It’s a special kick in the pants for fans given some of the loose ends after the season finale.
Even though it had some issues early on—switching showrunners after only a handful of episodes—“Rubicon” will undoubtedly live on as one of those “cancelled too soon” shows that was “too smart for general TV audiences.”