Fans of football themed comedy The Game were ecstatic when BET resurrected the canceled CW show. A BET record 7.7 million viewers tuned in for its 2011 return. That number dropped to 5.3 million for the 2012 season premiere, and fell to only 2.5 million for 2013’s debut.
If BET is shocked, it shouldn’t be. The 2013 season will be the first without Pooch Hall and Tia Mowry-Hardrict, who played Derwin and Melanie Davis. The show deals with the trials of athletes and the people surrounding them. The Davises’ relationship was always the central one.
Hall landed a role on Showtime pilot Ray Donovan, causing scheduling conflicts with filming. Producers said they hoped the two would continue to make guest appearances. Hall did make appear on the show’s premiere in a storyline that explains his absence. His character gets traded to another team for a high-draft pick.
Mowry-Hardrict reportedly didn’t want to stay with such a diminished storyline. She has landed another sitcom, Nick at Nite’s Instant Mom.
BET is replacing the show’s stars with a new power couple, Lauren London (The ATL) and Jay Ellis. (Movie 43) London is Keira Whitaker, a child star struggling to be taken seriously as an actress. She catches the eye of rookie wide receiver Bryce “The Blueprint” Westbrook. They hit it off on draft night until she declines to “hook up” on their first date. He celebrates his draft night with a friend of Whitaker’s, played by R & B star Ciara.
Whitaker and Westbrook will eventually end up together, but there’s a lot of drama that has to unfold first. The Game always dealt with the star-crossed romances of athletes. Its BET incarnation has as much in common with most soap operas as it does with any sitcom. The changes in the show’s tone and the departure of major castmembers were apparently just too much for about two million viewers to swallow.
The Game, while not garnering the amazing ratings it once was, but is still the cable network’s highest-rated show, and BET announced its renewal for another season on Wednesday.
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