Fox is putting Ben and Kate, and the idea of a two-hour Tuesday comedy block, on hold.
The freshman comedy, which opened to resounding critical approval in the fall, is being taken off the schedule immediately, to be replace by back-to-back original episodes of lead Raising Hope staring Jan. 29.
Raising Hope will double up on Jan. 29, Feb. 5 and Feb. 26, airing its one-hour season finale on Mar. 28. Effective Mar. 12, Hell's Kitchen will air at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, leading into the New Girl and The Mindy Project -- neither of which will see any changes because of the move.
From creator Dana Fox (What Happens in Vegas), Ben and Kate is semi-autobiographical laugher followed an even-keeled sister (Dakota Johnson) and her more eccentric older brother (Nat Faxon). Lucy Punch, Echo Kellum and Maggie Elizabeth Jones also starred.
Despite the good buzz, Ben and Kate was never able to bring in the same ratings as Tuesday comedy block neighbors Raising Hope, New Girl and The Mindy Project. After a so-so premiere of a 2.1 rating with adults 18-49 and 4.2 million viewers, the series quickly dropped. Season to date, it's averaging a 1.4 rating with adults 18-49 and 2.9 million viewers.
And unlike other Fox comedies, its DVR growth has been modest, rising only 21 percent in the key demo after seven days of time-shifted viewing.
Ben and Kate received an order for an additional six episodes in October, bringing its total to just 18. At the time, the lack of a full back nine was said to accommodate its creator's recent maternity leave. Fellow freshman The Mindy Project, alongside New Girl and Raising Hope, will produce and air 24 episodes by season's end.
In November, John Quaintance (Whitney, Perfect Couples) and David Feeney (2 Broke Girls, Love Bites) were upped to co-showrunners on Ben and Kate after the departure of original EPs Garrett Donovan and Neil Goldman. The latter, who have a two-year overall deal with Ben and Kate studio 20th Television, cited creative differences at the time of their exit.
Fox's lone unscheduled midseason offering, The Goodwin Games, recently had its episode count cut to just seven.
And from Ausiello:
Although a Fox insider maintains that Ben and Kate will return at a later date, make no mistake: today’s news has cancellation written all over it. And yes, it sucks.
I really liked this show and am super bummed. This is why we can't have nice things!