The cancellation axe has Swung at NBC. It’s modern-day Russian spy drama, Allegiance was cancelled after 5 low-performing episodes. In its episode from Thursday, March 5, the show attracted 3.4 million viewers, a distant third place finish in the 10pm (ET) time slot behind the series premiere of American Crime on ABC, and Elementary on CBS. Allegiance even followed NBC’s hit The Blacklist, which was moved from Mondays to Thursdays in an attempt to help launch the series, but to no avail. This was clearly a case of too many good shows on one night.
The drama was about former KGB spies (Hope Davis and Scott Cohen) called back into service by the Russian Government. And now, Mother Russia wants to enlist the help of one of the couple’s children, a brilliant young CIA analyst with a brilliant — yet mysterious — mind. The genius, Alex O’Connor, was played by Gavin Stenhouse and his role was incredibly interesting, but it may have been his portrayal of a character that was repeatedly referred to as “special,” that was the show’s undoing.
I had the pleasure to chat with Stenhouse about the show and he is a delightful chap who is a wonderful actor. I found the show’s premise was incredibly promising: a bright guy solving crimes with his intellect while being spied on by his family. The pilot that I saw featured espionage and intrigue around every corner. And the show has a rich bunch of baddies who did terrible stuff like put someone in a furnace — alive! That’s an incredibly intense way to premiere a series.
One glance at Stenhouse and you know he’s a great looking man. And as the show’s star/hero you want to be attracted to him for his mind as well as his face. But here was where I felt a bit conflicted: throughout the pilot, we’re repeatedly told how “special,” Stenhouse’s character Alex is and that “his mind is different.” We also heard statements that implied he’d undergone some terrible trauma or experience that may have harmed his psyche. Of course, the references were shadowy enough that I worried more about what had happened and I then felt creepy for finding his character hot.
Of course, I start worrying: was he exploited? Abused or neglected? Does he have Aspergers? (because whenever someone on a TV show says someone is “special” and gives that look while the subject is solving a Rubik’s cube, or doing an intense math problem, or in Alex O’Connor’s case, rolling a squash ball obsessively in his hands while blundering through human interactions — that’s the TV message I’m receiving.)
While wanting to know what happens next, worrying about Alex became my focus, which was too bad, because it distracted me from how bad-ass Hope Davis was as momma bear, Katya O’Connor. And Margarita Levieva should keep her phone on; she was heartstopping as Alex’s big sister Natalie — a sexy, slinky, spy. Her services will undoubtedly be requested elsewhere on TV.
To fill the time slot, NBC will move The Slap from 8pm to 10pm, which seems a better fit for that series anyway. Nobody wants to watch a family fall apart at 8pm on a Thursday. But the move means that Allegiance is gone, not simply moved to a better, less competitive night. No word from NBC as to what will air at 8pm or what it will do with the 8 episodes of Allegiance yet to air.
UPDATE (3/11/15) :
I contacted NBC to find out the fate of the 8 unaired episodes of Allegiance and was told that the episodes will be available on NBC.com. The network is unsure of the rollout schedule, but at this moment, the next episode will be available on Friday, March 13.
Here’s the episode description for Allegiance: “Liars and Thieves”
Natalie (Margarita Levieva) must rely on an outsider to hunt down vital information on Black Dagger and risks Victor (Morgan Spector) discovering her plan. Anxious to detain an SVR source before he escapes the country, Sam (Kenneth Choi) and Alex (Gavin Stenhouse) set up a risky sting operation in broad daylight. Meanwhile, Katya (Hope Davis) asks Alex to help throw the task force off track, and the outcome brings him face to face with Victor. Also starring Scott Cohen (Mark O’Connor) and Alex Peters (Sarah O’Connor). Guest starring Floriana Lima (Michelle Prado), Robert John Burke (Special Agent Brock), Haaz Sleiman (Scott Tolliver), and Aleksander Mici (Oleg Zhulov).
Fans of the show are so outraged that they’ve even started an online petition to save the show. Will you Pledge your Allegiance? Sign here
Gavin Stenhouse as Alex O’Connor image: Will Hart/NBC, © 2014 NBCUniversal Media, LLC
Allegiance Cast image: © 2014 NBCUniversal Media, LLC