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Mixed Notes for Music-Themed TV Series

12/12/2016 8:00 AM Eastern

Fox on Wednesday (Dec. 14) will launch music-themed series Star, the latest entry in a genre that so far this year has hit several sour notes.

 

The series, which takes over the primetime timeslot of Fox’s hit music series Empire, will look to strike a chord with viewers who tuned out of several music-themed cable shows this year.

 

After much fanfare and a second-season green light, HBO’s Martin Scorsese/Mick Jagger executive-produced ’70s rock ‘n’ roll drama Vinyl failed to hit with viewers, and was canceled four months after it premiered this past February.

 

Showtime hoped viewers would dance to the beat of its drama Roadies, which followed the lives of concert-tour crew members for major performers. But the premium channel canceled the Cameron Crowe-produced show before it opened for a second season.

 

FX’s Denis Leary-helmed comedy Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll was silenced in September after two seasons of so-so ratings.

 

While Empire continues to deliver big ratings for Fox, the task of developing a successful scripted series around the music business is not an exact science, according to Eric Deggans, the media and TV critic for National Public Radio, who is also a musician. While music has broad appeal, Deggans said, viewers tend to gravitate to shows that weave music themes into otherwise dramatic, soap opera-esque storylines rather than shows that focus on the nuts and bolts of the music industry itself.

 

“I think the way to have a successful show has been shown by Empire and [FX freshman series] Atlanta — you have to figure out ways in which the music is paired with some other attraction so that you get a wide range of viewers,” he said. “When you do feature the music, it has to be strong and authentic.”

 

Indeed, the Donald Glover-created Atlanta, which focuses on two cousins trying to navigate the ATL’s rap scene, has found an audience. The series’s Sept. 6 premiere drew the network’s second-biggest audience for a series debut, with 3 million viewers. Atlanta has already been renewed for a second season.

 

CMT is singing the praises of country music-themed Nashville, which it picked up after the show’s cancelation by ABC. The cable network will offer an early preview of its season-five premiere on Dec. 15 and will officially launch the season on Jan. 5.

 

Star will get its chance to serenade television viewers with the hopes of making beautiful ratings music within a genre that’s delivered mixed results this year.

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