CBS: Cancels Best Shows; On 'Limitless' Being Canceled

CBS was not the right network for a disruptor like Limitless. Are you familiar with innovation theory? To put it simply, there are two types of inventions: ones that satisfy a current market need, and ones that create a need within a new market. The latter type is known as disruptive innovation. Things like the television, the computer, the internet, and Limitless. So again I say that CBS was not the right network for a show with as much potential to reshape the future (quality) of television as Limitless.

CBS has a long history of handing out paper bags: generic cop procedurals with no originality, no creativity, and, frankly, no gimmick, so to speak. No... substance — that's the word. Personally, and you might disagree, I don't even consider shows like Law & Order, CSI, NCIS, or Criminal Minds to be primetime dramas. I see them as sort of being part of the television. You turn it on, CSI comes on, and then you change the channel. Sort of like the little apple that appears when you turn on an iPhone. It's like wearing a paper bag to the red carpet. As Shia LaBeouf once did — but without a point.

Limitless

Limitless is not a paper bag. Limitless is... was... the best television series I have ever seen to date. And I don't say this lightly. This isn't like your perpetually drunk college roommate coming home and telling everyone with ears that Game of Thrones is the best show in the universe (when previously he'd only ever seen The Walking Dead, The Wire, and True Blood). When I say Limitless is the best show I have ever seen, I have actually seen other shows. (Over 200, to give you some perspective). So you can disagree with me, but you cannot claim that I say this about every new show I like.

You see, Limitless was like no other series. It was sort of like... that feeling you get after completing something you're extremely proud of; Limitless itself was something to be proud of because every word of dialogue, every little tidbit of character development and story progression, every crazy sequence exploring how Brian's brain worked on NZT was uncharted television territory and pure gold. Mr. Robot won an award for exactly this sort of thing.

Previously, and quite consistently, my personal favorite shows have been action-based, featuring massive, highly choreographed fight sequences and epic battles. Limitless didn't need any of that. It was to primetime drama what Death Note was to anime. It showed us that brilliant, creative, intellectual writing was as exciting as Into the Badlands-style action. It showed us that the pen was indeed mightier than the sword.

I literally could not find a single thing I would change about Limitless. At no point in the series did a character ever do something I didn't like — and that is almost impossible considering the nature of how these shows work. Almost always, simply by the fact that different episodes are written by different writers, you get episodes that you don't like as much. This is quite often the case with Grimm, or Castle, and even Hawaii Five-0, which have many writers all working from the same bible, but still coming from different places. But this was actually not the case with Limitless. It masterfully bridged the procedural with the serial, satisfying our appetite for the case of the week, whilst dangling the proverbial "steak" of carried-over plot. Successfully merging these two things drew us back each week to find out what would happen next, while leaving plenty of room for us to be surprised. It took Fringe five seasons to do this, finally finding the perfect balance in its last season, which, in my opinion, was by far the best. Limitless' entire arc from beginning to end was already at this level.

While the creators hadn't set in stone what direction the show would take in a second season (according to a Sci Fi magazine article), you can be damn sure they knew exactly how to wrap up that first season. Much like the creators of Lost (which I'm not bringing up because it was a good show — it wasn't), they knew from the onset exactly how it would end, and let me tell you, it is NOT easy bringing the audience one step closer toward that ending with each new episode when you have a 20-plus episode season. Limitless gave us what we wanted to see in each hour, all while simultaneously providing us with its signature humor and innovation. Very few shows are able to do this. Castle sort of failed at it. They would dedicate entire episodes to pursuing the main story, and then have standalone procedural episodes. Person of Interest is one show that also does a fantastic job of feeding us exactly what we want each week, but saving enough to distribute throughout the season. Think of it like a delicious cake, and each week we get a piece, and seeing as it is all part of the same cake, each piece is just as delicious as the last.

Limitless might be canceled, but it will not be forgotten. Not by me, and hopefully not by you either.

In conclusion:

Thank you, CBS.

And f**k you, CBS.

Comments

18 comments

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May 27, 2016 2:07AM EDT

I could not have put it as passionately or as eloquently as you, but I totally agree!

I must say that stuff getting cancelled is almost something you expect nowadays, but when I heard about this I felt a certain kind of emptiness that I can't remember feeling for a show for a long time!

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May 27, 2016 3:04PM EDT

totally agreed.

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May 28, 2016 12:42PM EDT

preach!

http://giphy.com/gifs/sad-crying-how-i-met-your-mother-Ndb82bzY0VsiY

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May 28, 2016 12:23PM EDT

When I first decided to watch Limitless, I didn't expect to become a fan. I liked the movie, and expected some light entertainment to fill an empty slot in that night's entertainment.

Boy, was I wrong.

The showrunners and writers took what could have been a pretty bland movie spinoff and created a bright, witty, charming and funny original property.

That was when I was becoming sure it wouldn't last. Some friends and I have a running joke about there being a direct proportional relationship between my enjoyment of a show and the chance it will be cancelled.

So, seeing how much I enjoyed Limitless, I guess I owe you all an apology (and I will continue to hope that maybe Netflix decides to add this to their stable)...

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May 28, 2016 2:23PM EDT

Totally agree! This was a great, fun, and out of the box show!
Shame on you CBS!!

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May 29, 2016 10:28AM EDT

I agree with you whole heartedly, I am absolutely crushed that they canceled this gem of a show. The problem canceling these kinds of shows has is that it makes me less interested in starting new shows until after they get a season 2, just adding to the lower viewership in season 1.

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May 30, 2016 5:18PM EDT

Gutted, I was Enjoying the show as well

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UnknownfearContributor
Jun 1, 2016 6:00PM EDT

There is no reason to not watch a 1 season show if you enjoy it while you watch it. Every season comes the end of shows, and the start of shows. Don't give in to your fear of cancellation. :)

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pwtmurnane
Jun 2, 2016 9:57AM EDT

I disagree, Limitless was lame. Loved the movie, watched the first....I'm not sure 7-10 episodes anyway. It was boring and predictable and overall just poor.

However, I enjoyed reading this spirited defence of a show that isn't worth the effort and I agree wholeheartedly with the more general points about CBS and that NCSI Law&Order: Criminal Minds: Bosie, Idaho being the equivalent of televisual hold music.

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Jun 6, 2016 4:08PM EDT

Well, sorry you feel that way. However, I don't think you need to be such a jerk about it, despite your choice of avatar. Maybe leaven your proclamation with a seasoning of "show that I thought isn't worth the effort " or "I felt it was boring and predictable and overall just poor."

Also, how do you judge a show so harshly in just a few episodes? Most shows don't even have an idea of what they want their vision to be in the first season, much less the first half-season.

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Jun 9, 2016 1:08AM EDT

CBS you suck big fat hairy balls! And no they are not chocolaty salty balls. Damn them, damn them all to hell.
Limitless was a fun show. Really enjoyed it, looked forward to every episode.
"CBS scripted shows 2015-16 18-49 Viewers millions"
"13 Limitless (cancelled) 1.34 7.049"
Ratings were not that bad, 13th show in the 18-49 demo, many shows with worse ratings that they kept. Total BS.

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Jun 13, 2016 12:31AM EDT

With a lot of the effects and cinematographic tricks they used, I wonder if the cancellation might not have been financially motivated...

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Jun 14, 2016 7:25AM EDT

I was never a fan of limitless! I had too many shows that took precedent over Limitless! But I would say this, it wasn't a bad TV Show. It should have been given atleast another season to prove it's worth in a much better way!
But Kudos to the one who wrote the article. It was very well written and was a pleasure to read it.

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Jun 17, 2016 7:17AM EDT

I started putting a lot of trust in this show and finding it never let me down. I'm basically crushed to see it end so quickly. What am I supposed to watch now...?

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Jun 22, 2016 12:38AM EDT

Well doubleomoo since you asked....you can still watch:
Suits, 12 Monkeys, The 100, The Last Ship, American Horror Story (as long as Horror isn't revolting for you), Archer, Bates Motel, Ash vs Evil Dead, Humans (BBC Show, amazon and such replays), Z Nation, Dark Matter, The Expanse, Into the Badlands, iZombie, KillJoys (bottom of this list but I think worth watching still - space, Sci-Fi shows have been rather limited lately), The Leftovers (final season this year..starts really slow and kinda leaves you going "what the hell is this about" by the end of S01, but S02 starts kicking into gear - hopefully S03 really makes goes high speed), Preacher (Give it 4 episodes if you don't like it by EOE 4 then not for you), Marco Polo, Marvels Jessica Jones, The Missing (BBC show), Mr. Robot, Power - not Powers although I've started that but only 1 Ep so not sure yet, The Strain (comic boooooo....Graphic Novel adaptation - another portrayal of Vampirism by worm virus type things), VIKINGS!!!!!!!
Not going to mention all the other well known shows but those above may be some lesser known shows that I think all are good in their own way(s). Some better than others, some for a particular taste, no one show will make everyone happy. Good luck!

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Jun 22, 2016 12:40AM EDT

1 more - The Last Man on Earth

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UnknownfearContributor
Jun 22, 2016 10:05AM EDT

Duranis. Lets follow each other. Our taste isn't 100% the same, but of the shows you mentioned I've seen and like 80% of them.
It's easier to list the ones I don't like. American Horror Story - (every episode I saw had a rape in it. Don't watch shows with sexual violence.) Ash Vs Evil Dead (way to campy. Don't like campy) The Leftovers (Reverse Resurrection, both meh) Marco Polo (never watched it, doesn't interest me.) Have not seen Power. Though Power(s) is great! Keep watching. Also have not seen The Missing. But I did see Missing (2012) with Ashley Judd, which was great :). Archer (too stupid for me) Bates Motel ( I watched first 2 seasons then gave up, didn't like any characters, got bored)

I'm really not sure about Preacher. Not much has happened so far. They gave him a very epic power, but he lives in a town with 10 people. I don't think its going to go anywhere.

I'm really looking forward to the new season of Humans.
First episode of new season of The Last Ship were the best two episodes of the series. Fantastic. Even without Rhona Mitra.
The Strain is awesome.
You know what's actually better than Vikings? Barbarians Rising (mini-series) also on History. It's really informative.

We can be friends. We watch a lot of the same shows.
Do you tweet? Add me on twitter @Unknownfear

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Jun 25, 2016 12:41AM EDT

Unknownfear, thanks for your reply. Noone is going to be 100% the same as anyone else unless you live "in Soviet Russia" hehe, some campy line from somewhere - sorry, you did say you don't like campy :)

I have a wide variety of tastes. Has expanded through the years. As a young teen I made it a full time job watching TV. I have so many shows to mark as watched, when I'm browsing around and see a show tile I remember it's like YAY something else to mark/track. As long as the a show entertains and/or educates me I'm usually ok with it. Types of shows I really can't stand watching are the "Reality" shows. Please ice-pick to my brain please. If I'm ever captured and tortured that would be the route to go to drive me insane and spill my guts :)

Hey by the way I just realized surfing around trying to figure out how to follow (noticed they are in maintenance so maybe that's why...) that you wrote this article on Limitless. Your avatar looked familiar but didn't ring a bell till I reloaded and was scanning the top of the article area. Good article by the way, I agree with a lot of it. Limitless is a really good fun show. Really hope it finds a new home. I think they could certainly pull off at least 1 more great season - if all casts/writers stay. Likely do a 3rd maybe 4th. Have to see where the story leads on, could go further but it does seem most shows really run their course by the 4th to 5th season, at least when you are doing 20+ eps a season.

One reason I like a lot of Brit shows short series 8-12ish, compact and usually very active well down story lines. Mainly just a lot less fluff that can be in so many drawn out American series.

Looking forward to Humans myself and Mr. Robot and the Strain. I was happy to see The Last Ship got their 2nd season, not many Navy dramas out there and I thought this was a nice little gem when it first came out.
Blasphemer, nothing is better than Vikings! (have to say that because I have Nordic heritage)

So at somepoint I'm sure I'll find how to follow you. I have a twitter account but I've barely ever use it, same with all social media. I'm an IT guy and I'm not really into SM stuff - Social Media or the other SM thing. Heck I am not even sure what my twitter @ thing is, lol. -so looked up, reset my pwd, reset my handle as it was my name (not that I care that people know my name just why bother letting people know my secret identity, right!) and know I know my twitter account: @DarthDuranis

Yes I'm a Vader fan.

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