TNT have axed a number of shows, two new and one that had returned with a drastically changed premise and cast. The secret agent series Agent X has been sent to the bench along with Public Morals, another new series. Legends, which had returned with Sean Bean as the “solo” actor to return from season one (apart from Morris Chestnut as FBI agent Tony Rice), has also been sent off the field.
Out of the three who have been cancelled, only Legends was no real surprise. While the first season squeaked into a second chance, the premise of a deep cover agent who had real identity problems could have worked, but not after taking out so much of the cast. Bean is an excellent actor but the chemistry between he and Ali Larter and Tina Majorino worked well, their removal felt like a coup of sorts instead of a re-imaging of the show’s plot line.
Public Morals was entertaining in a niche sort of way, Irish cops and a time when the beat meant taking bribes and under the table payments to look the other way. Criminals were handled and tolerated in this show and it could have been interesting to see how things were going to turn out.
Of the shows relegated into anonymity Agent X showed the most promise, despite a rather tepid performance by figurehead star Sharon Stone. Jeff Hephner gave a performance that entertained even then the show’s writers left his character to stumble. Part of the problem had to do with the show wanting to run before it could walk.
Time spent allowing the character of John Case to develop was minimal, instead plot devices were used to endanger the character before the audience ever really cared. Stone, as the vice president underplayed her role so much that she could have been sleepwalking. Gerald McRaney was good value, as was Olga Fonda, but this was not enough to guarantee a huge audience.
Sadly, the two characters with the best chemistry, Fonda and Hephner, were not paired up enough. Granted the inclusion of Andrew Howard, who was eliminated over on Agents of SHIELD, turning up as “Bond-ian” villain Volker/Ray Palmer, was a nice touch but once again the audience was expected to really care whether Case won over his old colleague.
The shooting of President Eckhart (John Shea) also did not really accomplish much apart from allowing Stone to awaken from her slumber a second time. (The first being in an earlier episode where the actress got a little action in with a sidearm.) Of course the plot line relied upon a conspiracy to kill the president, but sadly, we never saw enough of Eckhart to like him, let alone care that he had been shot.
In the previous episode, it is revealed that not only Eckhart, but Millar (McRaney) as well, are not very nice people. This revelation means that the near-death of the president is even less bothersome than perhaps the creators had hoped for.
Agent X had the best viewing figures, but apparently not high enough to keep the show going. It seems that “action” genre shows are not meant to be in 2015. NBC cancelled their slow starter The Player (which incidentally also had a film star figurehead, Wesley Snipes; who “got it” a lot faster than Stone) right after it settled into a decent pace and gave us more interesting characters.
Perhaps the demographic aimed at by TNT and NBC do not want action. Something must be keeping the viewing figures down, each show, Agent X and The Player, and Legends to a degree, had impressive fight scenes, stunts and car chases. It could well be that with insanely paced action films like Furious 7 and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation on offer, small screen versions just cannot keep up.
With the Internet and On Demand streaming, Netflix, Hulu and a plethora of other channels and websites competing with television , it looks like the networks need to “up their game.” That said, there also appears to be no real bench mark to aim for. Shows like Quantico (Miss World and Mr Universe put on FBI badges) and Blindspot (which is basically “let’s solve a tattoo a week” show) have fared quite well.
Still, Agent X will be missed, as will Sean Bean and those Irish cops in Public Morals. There was enough diversity in each show that the series offered something in the area of entertainment. Things have changed in the viewing stakes, there are other shows with viewing figures comparable to Agent X‘s 1.7 million per episode. While these numbers are not overly impressive, they are more the norm for viewer figures across the board.
In the meantime TNT have, apparently, allowed Agent X the luxury of finishing out its only season. Unfortunately it is difficult to watch a “deadman walking” series and drum up any enthusiasm. Ironically, Sunday’s episode, Angels and Demons, brought back Olga Fonda but sadly it is a case of too little too late. RIP Agent X and John Case.