Following in the ignominious footsteps of The Firm, Crusoe, and How to Be a Gentleman, Hannibal and Aquarius have been shipped away by NBC to the television gulag that is Saturday night. They will work there until their seasons end and they die. This is what 6th day broadcasting has becoming, a kiss of death.
The reason for this shuffle is easy enough to understand: Affiliates are tired of a toxic show’s poisoning of prime real estate, so offenders are put somewhere they can’t hurt ad rates anymore. There was a time, years ago, when Saturday nights could carry a show. Usually something family friendly, your Golden Girls, your Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and what have you. Then NBC tried the XFL, and the ground went fallow.
This is a sad fate for Hannibal, a critical darling, and perhaps inevitable for Aquarius, which is very bad but has already been renewed for a confounding second season. There might be an indication here that there’s something to NBC’s experiment with streaming a show. Aquarius may not be moving because it isn’t popular, but because it isn’t popular on television. If the show has already been consumed by its true fans, it doesn’t need a more desirable time slot. Hell — and here’s the truth of it — it doesn’t need a time slot at all.
To that end, the announcement about the two shows marks the end of one era and the beginning of another. The age of Saturday night disaster may well become the age of Saturday night I-already-saw-it-because-I-have-an-Internet-connection. If so, networks, including NBC, will be able to use that space to get more creative, potentionally treating those hours as more than hospice care.
Let’s just hope they can do better than Aquarius.