Cable television's FX channel has decided not to renew the critically praised Iraq war drama Over There for a second season due to weak ratings during the show's initial 13-episode run, the network said Tuesday.
Over There, a first-of-its-kind contemporary war drama about US troops in combat and their families back home, was cocreated by Steven Bochco, the veteran TV producer behind such landmark cop shows as Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue.
While Over There garnered mostly favorable reviews, the gritty, albeit fictionalized, depiction of a real war that has grown increasingly unpopular with the American public ultimately proved a turnoff to TV viewers.
Although the series contained references to real-life events that have stirred debate over the war, including the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal, the producers sought to avoid overt political messages about the conflict.
The show got off to a promising start July 27 with 4.1 million viewers tuning in, a fairly healthy launch by cable TV standards, but the audience steadily declined from there.
Through the 13th and final episode on Oct. 26, the program averaged a meager 2.1 million viewers overall. Only 1.35 million watched the series finale.
"It became evident to us that the American public didn't want to see a dramatization of a war that was already going on," Yemaya Royce, a spokeswoman for Bochco's production company, told Reuters.
"It made people uncomfortable to watch. I think that was the case for a lot of people," FX spokesman John Solberg added. "Clearly it was subject matter that was harsh."
Said FX president and general manager John Landgraf: "The series was arguably the most critically acclaimed new television show of the year, a fact which made the decision not to renew it all the more difficult."
Launching any new TV show is always a gamble. But for Bochco, the stakes were especially high for Over There, his first series on basic cable following a string of misfires on network television, including the ABC crime and legal dramas Blind Justice, Philly, and Total Security.
Bochco recently took over as producer for the ABC political drama Commander In Chief and signed a three-year production deal with sister studio Touchstone Television.
Both ABC and Touchstone are units of the Walt Disney. The FX network is owned by News Corp. Ltd.