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TV News Tidbits: Merlin to End, Community News, a Spartacus Spinoff, and More

Cancellation News
BBC One’s Merlin (airing on Syfy in the U.S.) will bow out after its fifth season. The Arthurian drama tells the wittily reimagined story of Merlin as the boy-servant of King Arthur, and will have Merlin cast his final spell sometime around Christmas on BBC One in what the producers consider a "natural and dramatic end." The decision to end on a high note appears to come from the creators, something so rare in the business it should be praised.

Far from the above natural and climactic ending, the CW’s Emily Owens, M.D. is being axed from the TV schedule. To be fair, considering that all the initially ordered 13 episodes will air, we should say that the network has opted out from ordering a full season (back-9 order), but that is a lot of words to say essentially the same thing: Emily Owens, M.D. is canceled. The series has been hovering between 0.3 and 0.5 in 18-49 ratings, which even for the CW is damning. And yes, the appalling The Beauty and the Beast has enjoyed better ratings and already got its back-9 order, and for the disappointed fans out there who can’t believe how bad some of the shows on the CW are this season in comparison, last year’s The Secret Circle is still canceled.

Finally on the chapter of cancellations, MTV would not order a second season of its remake of the British series The Inbetweeners. There was of course a lot of praise for the cast and crew with the announcement, which is always ironic.

Development Projects News
If you've been watching Starz’s Spartacus and were worried that the third and final chapter (Spartacus: War Of The Damned) would signal the end of the franchise, fear not. Acutely aware of your condition, Starz is looking into ways to keep gladiators and the Roman Republic around after the sun sets on the story of the famous and rebellious gladiator. Deadline Hollywood reports that there is talk about a possible spinoff series centered on Julius Caesar (who will be introduced in War Of The Damned as a Nemesis). And for those of you who would, please don’t wonder about a historical connection between the two men. We should instead be happy that the producers picked a contemporary as it could have been much worse: They could have decided to move a historical figure out of his time period!

Caesar in 'Spartacus: War Of The Damned'

Renewals News
The British network ITV has renewed Downton Abbey for a fourth season. The critically-acclaimed and hit period drama’s third season just ended its regular run in the UK and will air in the U.S. from January 6 on PBS. Executive producer Gareth Neame summed it up neatly when he said, “Viewers can look forward to more drama, comedy, love, hatred, jealousy, rivalry, ambition, despair and romance.”

Casting News
This is more of a layoff news, actually. After what appears in retrospect as a tumultuous relationship, NBC’s Community and Chevy Chase are parting ways, effective immediately. What it means is that not a single additional frame will be shot with Chase’s character Pierce Hawthorne in it, but as most of the fourth season has already been filmed, fans will have to put up with the bigoted character for practically the remainder of the series. Yes, I know the show has not yet been canceled, but the perennial off-screen drama, lukewarm ratings and the 13-episode order for the fourth season do not bode well for the future of the fan-favorite comedy. According to Deadline Hollywood that broke the news, the separation is by mutual agreement, ending a relationship punctuated by outbursts from Chase who, it seems, never liked the show very much.

Scheduling News
FX has announced the 2013 return dates for Anger Management, Archer, Justified, and Totally Biased as well as a premiere date for the freshman series Legit. Critics' darling Justified will return on January 8 at 10 p.m. EST while the rest (including Legit) will premiere on January 17.

Business News
It would not be “TV News Tidbits” without a TV carrier dispute. Deadline Hollywood reports that AMC is warning its Verizon FiOS’ subscribers that they are about to lose the channel (and a few others) if no renewal deal is reached when the current contract expires at the end of the year. I will spare you the rebuttal from Verizon because you know by now that there will be a lot of heated back-and-forths before a deal is reached at the 11th hour, or after an episode of The Walking Dead is missed.


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