Well, this sucks: FXX’s “Cassius and Clay,” the post-apocalyptic country-fried female-led animated comedy, has been cancelled before ever seeing the light of day. Created by “Archer’s” Adam Reed and Megan Ganz, and featuring the voice talent of Kaitlin Olson, Lake Bell and Susan Sarandon, the “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”-esque adventure was one that got us very excited when the news first broke in August. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, the network has pulled the plug after producing a pilot.
“Cassius and Clay” conceptually sounded both awesome and awesomely bonkers — a tricky thing to pull off. The “Archer” team, of course, has proven itself capable of such things, and co-creator Megan Ganz’s years on “Community” likely offered equally helpful training. But now we’ll never know what might have been.
There are a couple of notable elements to the news. One, it comes seemingly paired with the announcement that Louis CK and Albert Brooks will be teaming up to create and voice an animated comedy for FX. (Fun fact: In a May 2015 interview with Indiewire, Marc Maron said that Brooks “doesn’t want to do TV.” Guess his mind changed?)
The other is that this fits with an ongoing trend in networks avoiding the idea of cancellation as we once understood it. Shows get their episode orders cut (“Minority Report”), disappear without a trace (the “Coach” revival) or quietly vanish after a second season fails to follow a first (“The Brink”), but rarely experience the full spectacle of premiere, followed by cancellation.
There are of course exceptions: ABC’s “Wicked City” was taken off the schedule halfway through its airing this fall, and Kurt Sutter declared to the world that “The Bastard Executioner” would not be returning for a Season 2. But failure is a much quieter experience than it used to be, in the TV world.
This perhaps speaks to the fact that television is no longer a 22-episodes-a-season-syndication-or-bust gamble, but a medium rich with adaptable approaches to format and distribution. It also points to the fact that as the talent coming to the small screen grows more and more high-profile, the potential for embarrassment is bigger.
It’s a complicated issue, one we’re still in the middle of discovering. But one thing’s for sure: It would have been neat to see “Cassius and Clay.” Even if it wasn’t a success, there’s no way in hell it would have been boring.