Canned US shows coming to NZ

ERICA THOMPSON
Last updated 10:40 16/05/2012
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Ringer
RINGER: Stars Buffy actress Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Pan Am
RETRO: Airline drama Pan Am.

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Kiwi actor Sam Neill's American TV series is among dozens of cancelled shows due to hit New Zealand screens in the coming months.

Neill's mystery thriller Alcatraz, retro airline drama Pan Am and Ringer starring Buffy actress Sarah Michelle Gellar have all been promoted in this year's viewing highlights.

TVNZ even held a Pan Am-themed 2012 programming launch party in November.

But the show failed to fly in the US after one season and has now been given the chop as part of the American television industry's annual scheduling shake-up.

This has left TVNZ and MediaWorks, who typically acquire the rights to these shows well in advance of their American screenings, in the awkward position of having brand new, but discontinuing series in their winter schedules.

Comedy drama GCB (Good Christian Belles), which premiered last night on TV2 after weeks of heavy promotion, is one of the victims.

Also on the axed list is Unforgettable, starring Without A Trace's Poppy Montgomery, the Steven Spielberg-produced horror thriller The River, Ashley Judd action series Missing and crime drama Awake.

Kiwi comedian Rhys Darby's American sitcom How to be a Gentlemen was cancelled last year after only a few episodes.

Bones spinoff The Finder and Prime Minister John Key's favourite show, Harry's Law, have also been shut down.

But many of the rejected American shows will still air here.

MediaWorks spokeswoman Rachel Lorimer said the cancellations were not necessarily a reflection of quality.

"This happens every year... programmes are renewed, or not, on the basis of how they rate in the US," she said.

"However, sometimes shows work here that don't work in America and if we have a first series we think New Zealand audiences will love, we'll play it regardless of whether it gets a second series."

TV2 programmer John Kelly agreed short-lived shows were not necessarily duds.

"These shows still have extremely high production values as well as being entertaining," he said.

"Many shows that are cancelled in the United States often rate extremely well here, for example, [William Shatner comedy] S#*! My Dad Says."

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While viewers often complained about the delay in bringing new shows to New Zealand, fast-tracking American programmes had its drawbacks.

Kelly said it would mean being held "hostage to the American channels scheduling practices", which includes frequent repeats and breaks for sporting and other events.

"This would mean we could not provide 22 uninterrupted episodes to viewers.

"The US networks launch their new series in our spring meaning the new series would play here over summer when viewers are often away."

CANCELLED AND YET TO AIR IN NEW ZEALAND

Alcatraz
Man Up
Missing
Pan Am
The River
How to Be a Gentleman
Rob
Unforgettable
Are You There, Chelsea?
Awake
The Playboy Club
Prime Suspect (US)
Ringer
The Secret Circle

CANCELLED

GCB
The Finder
House
Terra Nova
CSI Miami
Chuck
Harry's Law
Charlies Angels
Desperate Housewives
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

- © Fairfax NZ News

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