There’s been a boom in original, scripted series on cable over the past 15 years—and Sunday night, another channel finally took the plunge: E! has premiered The Royals, a scripted drama that hopes to be just as splashy as the celebrity-focused and reality TV that’s been the channel’s bread and butter for decades.
The Royals was renewed for a second season before its first even started—but not every cable network’s first scripted series is so lucky. Here’s a look at what happened when several other channels first entered uncharted, scripted territory, starting with the future home of Bates Motel and The Returned.
A&E: 100 Centre Street, premiered Jan. 15, 2001
This New York-set legal drama starred Alan Arkin as Joe Rifkind, a Supreme Court judge whose life is full of troubles both legal and personal.
Metacritic score: n/a
Run: Two seasons
Review snippet: “Centre Street spent its first season looking for the right tone. It established a solid, idiosyncratic friendship between Alan Arkin’s liberal Rifkind and Richardson’s law-‘n’-order maven Sims, but beyond Paula Devicq’s intriguing Cynthia Bennington—a rich girl who decides to defend poor people and bad guys because she feels they deserve the fruits of the overloaded, understaffed judicial system—the series needed some spark.” —Ken Tucker, EW
AMC: Broken Trail, premiered June 25, 2006
A cowboy (Robert Duvall) and his nephew (Thomas Haden Church) save a group of Chinese girls from prostitution on their way to Wyoming, where they’re selling horses to the British army, in this Emmy-winning Western.
Metacritic score: 78
Review snippet: “At three hours, Broken Trail’s plot hits some potholes, but Deadwood’s Walter Hill shoots his gun battles with efficiency, shattering the bucolic mood with convulsive violence.” —Sam Adams, EW