Recently, William Friedkin, the director of the original film version of William Peter Blatty’s novel The Exorcist released his documentary The Devil And Father Amroth. Turns out that wasn’t enough to pique interest and keep the public tuned to the screen as FOX nixed both The Exorcist and Lucifer from their schedule.
Both of these were pretty high-profile series. The Exorcist, in particular, has high-production values, with dense and inky cinematography, while Lucifer offered a lighter side to the battle of heaven and hell. Lucifer was the fourth FOX show canceled this week (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Last Man On Earth, and The Mick) after the network announced its 2018-2019 lineup.
Created by Jeremy Slater, The Exorcist was a psychological and spiritual horror drama starred Alfonso Herrera, Ben Daniels, Kurt Egyiawan, and Hannah Kasulka. It first premiered during the 2016-17 television season but entered into a new chapter in its second season, which launched in September 2017. For its freshman season, it was revealed about half-way through to center on an adult Regan MacNeil, played by Geena Davis.
Season two told a new story entirely its own. John Cho appeared in the second season as a man running a group home in which a child was targeted by a powerful demon. Unfortunately, The Exorcist was FOX’s lowest-rated program this year, averaging 1.32 million total viewers and a 0.41 rating in the 18-49 demo. A shame given the show saw a short boost during its second season with some of its best ratings to date, but that’s all relative when compared to other shows on the Network: great for The Exorcist but pales in comparison to many of FOX’s other programs, even if it was better than most of them. During its two-season run the series also featured recognizable players like Brianna Hildebrand (Deadpool), Alan Ruck (Spin City, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), Sharon Gless (Burn Notice, Cagney & Lacey), Alicia Witt (Urban Legend, Dune, Twin Peaks) and Bruce Davison (Willard, X-Men).
Lucifer followed the devil (played by Tom Ellis), who is fed up with the underworld and becomes an L.A. nightclub owner and LAPD consultant, helping to solve crimes. The show was often struggling in the ratings after its initial premiere date, averaging only 4.1 million viewers and a 1.1 rating among adults 18–49 this season, and that included DVR playback. But straight-to-air ratings are still the name of the game when it comes to network television.
The TV landscape might be shifting ever-towards more streaming services and downloads, the big networks like FOX or ABC, NBC, etc. still rely on those all-powerful night-of ratings to determine how to proceed with a series. Lucifer and The Exorcist, which were by no means the worst or most mundane programs on any network, couldn’t keep a strong demographic engaged.
With two seasons for The Exorcist, we got some pretty incredible storytelling and a wonderful continuation of a horror classic. Lucifer lasted three seasons and delivered some well-rounded fun and stylish (or is that devilish) humor and sex-appeal. Between these, and Starz’ cancelation of Ash vs Evil Dead, it might not be a great time for all things demons and devils on TV, but that’s not to say we haven’t gotten several worthy, entertaining seasons of television out of it.