MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Now let's talk television. If this were a show, you would the cue the sad music or maybe an explosion. In any case, you could call it a TV massacre. The big broadcast networks canceled at least a dozen shows last week, and more cuts are expected to be announced this week, including the last version of "CSI" left on the air, "CSI: Cyber."
(SOUNDBITE OF "CSI: CYBER" THEME SONG)
MARTIN: The moves came a week before an event known as the TV upfronts, where the broadcast networks announce their schedules for the fall to advertisers in New York. We wanted to talk about just what these cancellations might mean, so we've called NPR's TV critic Eric Deggans. Hi Eric.
ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: I'm still banging my head to that Who theme of "Cyber." Excuse me...
MARTIN: Is that what was?
DEGGANS: Yeah, that's what it was. Yeah.
MARTIN: So what other big shows got canceled? And does the list give you any sense of what the networks have planned?
DEGGANS: Well, one of the big cancellations I think was a show called "Castle" on ABC. It'd been on the air for, like, eight seasons. And there was a lot of behind-the-scenes negotiation to try and bring it back, but ABC decided they weren't interested. They didn't even get a farewell season to say goodbye to the fans. And some of the fans were upset anyway because the female lead on the show was written out of the show. And so the show was kind of in a controversial place anyway, and they didn't bring it back. ABC actually got rid of a lot of shows. They got rid of six shows last week, including "Nashville," which, you know, it was a nice little soap opera about the music business. But it only had a small following. Shows like Marvel's "Agent Carter" and the musical "Galavant." And then, of course, "The Muppets," right? So they tried to revive "The Muppets" as a sort of modern take on these characters that we all love. And unfortunately, it didn't work so well. And I think we actually have a clip.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE MUPPETS")
ERIC JACOBSON: (As Miss Piggy) Can I get a hot towel, please and a calzone?
STEVE WHITMIRE: (As Kermit the Frog) Somebody call for a calzone?
JACOBSON: (As Miss Piggy) Kermit, what are you doing here?
WHITMIRE: (As Kermit the Frog) Well, I'm here, Piggy, because - because I know - I know it's risky, and I know I want to try anyway. And on top of all of that, I know that this airline does not serve pre-flight calzones.
MARTIN: Yeah, you're right.
DEGGANS: Didn't work.
MARTIN: Yeah, I kind of see your point there, yeah.
DEGGANS: Yeah, so they changed the show-runner on the show. They tried to sort of revamp it and relaunch in the middle of the season. And it just did not take. People did not want to see these characters that they love sort of recast as these contemporary sad-sack kind of figures.
MARTIN: You know, we mentioned earlier that CBS is cancelling "CSI." This is the first time in many years that a "CSI" show is not on the air. Do you think there's any conclusion to be drawn from that?
DEGGANS: Even the longest-running franchises kind of have a shelf life. So this is going to be the first time in 16 years that we have not had a "CSI" series on CBS. And that's quite a run. Now, if you look over on NBC, of course, there's still "Law & Order" over there, which has been on the air in one form or another since 1990, if you can believe it. And at CBS...
MARTIN: I know, it's like a member of the family. Like, you know...
DEGGANS: Exactly, that show is probably older than the children in a lot of households that watch it. But this new "CSI" show, I don't think it really caught on with viewers and with fans. And I think the concept itself had kind of gotten exhausted. I mean, we had "CSI," "CSI: New York" and "CSI: Miami," and all of those are off the air. There's no sign that TV is totally done with franchises. You know, NBC's got the "Chicago Med," "Chicago PD," Chicago Fire" thing going on. But "CSI" definitely ran its course, and it is headed off to that great rerun in the sky.
MARTIN: Anything you're particularly happy that was saved?
DEGGANS: Oh well, yes, I have to say "American Crime," which I thought, you know, started out promising in its first season but really blossomed its second season on ABC, from former NPR contributor John Ridley. We have to say that.
DEGGANS: Exactly. It got renewed. And so it was good to see ABC continue its commitment to diversity because it's a diverse show. And John Ridley is one of the rare African-American show-runners and show creators in network television. But it also was a great show. And I think when the Emmys roll around, we're going to see some more nominations for "American Crime" because they upped their game this year.
MARTIN: That's NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. Eric, thank you.
DEGGANS: Always a pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.