The network had recently boasted a diverse lineup of original television series, most of which was the source of moderate critical acclaim. Most notable among these was Underground, a series about the Underground Railroad, which had brought WGN considerable prestige but few viewers. This latter part, the low viewership, however, became a thorn in the network’s side, and ultimately they ended up canceling the vast majority of their original programming.
WGN America’s troubles in this regard are perhaps an early sign that the Prestige TV/Peak TV bubble may be popping. After all, other channels or content creators have also had similar problems, the most notable example being Netflix, which had to cancel a huge swath of content like The Get Down and Sense8. The cancellation of Sense8 in particular was so uproarious that Netflix eventually attempted to pacify fans with an extended finale for the series.
WGN, cutting their losses, has acquired Bellevue, a Canadian drama starring Anna Paquin (True Blood). This is the first show the network has picked up since the departure of their president, Matt Cherniss, and marks a very different trajectory for the channel. After Tribune Media recently acquired WGN, CEO Peter Kern selected Gavin Harvey to serve as the interim president, and under his leadership, the channel is clearly straying from the high production costs of creating original series. Instead, they appear to be acquiring other properties and reruns, although the idea of original content with a lower price tag does not appear to be out of the question.
As for Bellevue itself, Paquin will star in the eight-episode mystery as a detective investigating a missing high school athlete. Jane Maggs and Adrienne Mitchell are co-creators and showrunners, while Allen Leech and Shawn Doyle co-star in the series. The exact air date is not known yet, but it will certainly be sometime in 2018.
What do you think of WGN America’s new direction?