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The made-in-Utah TV series "Blood & Oil" is Dead Show Walking.
It hasn't been officially killed. Yet. But it's on death row. And there is little-to-no hope of any kind of reprieve.
Gov. Gary Herbert would be happy to commute the sentence. After all, the state kicked in about $8.3 million in tax incentives to bring the production here to Utah.
But Herbert isn't in charge of ABC. And ABC Entertainment chairman Paul Lee has clearly lost confidence in the show.
There's no good way to spin the recently announced cutback in episodes from 13 to 10. It's a clear sign the show won't continue.
According to the Utah Film Commission, the TV production was expected to hire more than "3,000 local cast and crew and have an estimated economic impact of $33.3 million in the state.
Network shows are notorious for having large crews, but that 3,000 figure is nuts. According to the UFC, that number apparently included all the people the producers anticipated would make a few bucks as extras. (You know, the people in the background.) The total number of jobs is somewhere in the neighborhood of 600.
Whether that $33.3 million economic impact materializes is very much in doubt. It was based on producing 13 episodes.
Television is a strange business, but it's gotten stranger recently. These days, networks are loathe to admit they've canceled anything … they'd rather just cut back on the episode order and sort of let the shows expire.
This fall, Fox's "Minority Report" and NBC's "Truth Be Told" were both cut from 13 episodes to 10; NBC's "The Player" was cut from 13 to nine and the network has announced its replacement.
(The Jennifer Lopez crime drama "Shades of Blue" is scheduled to premiere on Jan. 15.)
The other three shows are equally dead. We just don't know what will replace them yet.
The demise of "Blood & Oil" is a shame, and not just because of the economic impact on Utah. Six episodes in, it is a genuinely promising prime-time soap.
But it never really had a chance because the pilot episode was so … underwhelming. How underwhelming? The promos ABC aired incessantly before the premiere were filled almost exclusively with scenes from episodes AFTER the pilot.
It didn't help that there was a behind-the-scenes struggle between the show's producers and network executives. The producers envisioned "Blood & Oil" as some sort of grand drama; the execs wanted the show to dive headlong into the soap suds.
But what's killing the series is the ratings, which started weak and have only gotten weaker. They're significantly lower than the show that precedes it ("Once Upon a Time") and the show that follows it ("Quantico").
The folks at the Utah Film Commission are trying to look on the bright side. "Blood & Oil" got the state back in the TV series game for the first time since "Everwood" went off in 2006.
And it isn't Utah's fault the show won't survive..
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune . Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.