FX has elected to cancel its historical drama The Bastard Executioner after a single season. The series, created by three-time Primetime Emmy Award nominee Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy, The Shield), follows a man pretending to be a castle executioner in 14th century Wales trapped in the position after a series of unfortunate events. According to Sutter, the ratings were too low to justify the expensive production, but the writer shelled out his own money to buy an ad in Variety magazine, among others, thanking his cast and crew.
“I have been awed by the talent and commitment of this TBX cast and crew,” the ad says. “The audience has spoken and unfortunately the word is, ‘meh.’ So with due respect, we bring our mythology to an epic and fiery close.”
In an interview, Sutter explained that “the numbers just didn’t sustain the cost of the show, quite frankly. It’s all math at the end of the day. We couldn’t establish that core audience that allows you to figure out your advertising paradigm and whether or not the show is affordable.”
“I love this cast and crew so much. They’re primarily British actors. They have a different mentality about the work. They’re not plugged into the numbers or worried about ‘Do I have a job?’ They’re so used to be journeymen. They were there to do the work. By the finale the whole cast and crew had bonded and everyone was so excited about this show and the mythology. And by that time I already knew it wasn’t coming back. It was heartbreaking for me.”
“I loved this f—ing show. So did the studio and the network. [FX President John] Landgraf is probably more disappointed than I am. Everybody gave this everything they had. The studio never said ‘no’ to me. Everybody gave me the tools that I needed to do this job. … I just didn’t want to let it disappear without acknowledging the effort that everyone put into it.”
“It was a dense mythology. It was historically based. I do think they’re harder to plug into. It takes more time for people to find those shows and to have the energy to sit and watch them. … My sense is a year from now when people have the time and energy, they’ll watch and some of them will be like, ‘What happened?’”
The Bastard Executioner starred Sutter, Lee Jones (Home and Away, Magical Tales), Stephen Moyer (True Blood, Priest), Flora Spencer-Longhurst (Walking With the Enemy, Wallander), Sam Spruell (The Last Ship, Taken 3), Golden Globe Award winner Katey Segal (Sons of Anarchy, Futurama), Darren Evans (Galavant, The Fifth Estate), Danny Sapani (Penny Dreadful, Misfits), Timothy V. Murphy (True Detective, Grace and Frankie), Sarah White, Sarah Sweeney (Cider with Rosie, The Tempest), Ethan Griffiths and Elen Rhys (World War Z, Season of the Witch) with guest appearances by Grammy Award nominee Ed Sheeran (Undateable, Watchtower), Alec Newman (Children of Dune, Dragon Age II) and Matthew Rhys (The Americans, Brothers and Sisters).