NBC cancels veteran drama ''Providence.'' The family/medical drama, now in its fifth season, will end with a two-hour finale at Christmas
Paula Cale, Providence
Credit: Providence: Sven Arnstein

A number of brand-new TV series have already been canceled; that’s typical for the Darwinian executives who program the networks. But one five-season veteran is also making the casualty list, even though it still wins its timeslot every week. Just when entertainment journalists were finally learning how to spell the name of star Melina Kanakaredes, NBC has announced it’s canceling ”Providence,” a Friday night staple since its debut in January 1999. Variety reports that the series will end with a two-hour finale on Dec. 20.

The show’s cancellation wasn’t entirely surprising, Variety notes, since NBC had ordered just 13 episodes instead of the usual 22 at the beginning of this season. But while the family/medical drama continues to outdraw its timeslot competitors, its average showing this fall of 10.2 million viewers is down 15 percent from last year, and its numbers among the lucrative 18-49 demographic are down 13 percent. The decision also shows that NBC is willing to pull the plug on a show it co-owns, even though it stands to earn money from syndication that it wouldn’t get from a non-NBC-produced series. On the other hand, NBC has just granted full-season commitments to Sunday night newbies ”Boomtown” and ”American Dreams,” hour-long dramas that are both co-produced by the network, and which both draw better numbers than ”Providence” among the 18-49 group.

Having started out as a midseason replacement, ”Providence” will need a midseason replacement of its own. One candidate, according to Variety, is ”Mister Sterling,” a drama about a young U.S. Senator, created by former ”West Wing” producer and onetime Senate aide Lawrence O’Donnell Jr. Star Josh Brolin is keeping it in the family, since his dad, James Brolin, is running for president against Martin Sheen on ”West Wing.”

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