Amazon has opted not to renew drama series Mad Dogs for a second season. Executive producer Shawn Ryan just confirmed the news in a series of tweets. The dark comedy, based on a British format, launched on Jan. 21 with little promotion. It garnered mostly positive reviews, and there has been anecdotal evidence of solid early viewership. (Like other streaming services, Amazon does not release ratings information.)
In his emotional post (read it in its entirety below), Ryan notes that the original intention was to do Mad Dogs — which he shepherded with the original series’ creator Cris Cole — as a 10-episode limited series. I hear that plan had somewhat evolved, with Amazon and Mad Dogs producer Sony Pictures TV involved in discussions about a potential second season. I hear Amazon brass had been leaning towards not going beyond the first season even before the show had debuted, which could explain the limited promotion. (There had been some early production delays but overall there have been no issues on the series, and Amazon has given a second-season renewal to every serialized drama series to date.)
After the promising launch and solid reviews, Amazon’s head of programming Roy Price and his team held a meeting with Ryan and Cole this past Thursday where the duo pitched their ideas for Season 2. The next day, Amazon informed them that it was not going to proceed with a second installment.
“Cris and I laid out a story for Season 2 we believed in,” Ryan wrote about the meeting. “Ultimately, Amazon didn’t want to make that story, and we didn’t want to make the kind of story they wanted us to make, so it made more sense to declare victory after ten episodes, which was our original plan all along anyway.”
Amazon’s decision comes at the last minute as I hear the options on the cast expire tomorrow, February 29. That puts Sony TV in a bind. The studio is known for fighting for its shows and successfully finding new homes for them as it did with Damages, Community and Sneaky Pete, among others. But, faced with the options expiration, Sony has no window to work with. We are smack in the middle of pilot season, and I hear the Mad Dogs actors have not been willing to extend their options, instead opting to try out for a pilot.
Toplined by Ben Chaplin, Michael Imperioli, Romany Malco and Steve Zahn, Mad Dogs centered on a group of fortysomething friends who travel to Belize for a celebration that quickly descends into a harrowing roller coaster of lies, deception and murder.
Sony TV and Amazon have a lot of business together. Sony TV was the first major studio to produce a pilot for the streaming service, Zombieland, it has the upcoming series Sneaky Pete and Good Girls Revolt as well as two pilots in production, The Last Tycoon and The Interestings.
Here is Ryan’s Twitter post:
Wanted to report that a decision was made not to make any more episodes of Mad Dogs.
We were lucky to be one the best reviewed dramas on Amazon, if not the best. A lot of critics got what we were going for, so thanks. Some Amazon employees told me that Mad Dogs, after only four weeks, already had better streaming stats than many other Amazon shows. So, thanks to the viewers for finding, embracing and binging the show. It’s been a blast to read your joy and shock on Twitter.
That said, Mad Dogs was originally intended to be a closed 10 episode limited series. Many critics pointed out that this wasn’t the kind of concept destined for an extended multi-season run, and that’s right. But in order to get Season 1 made Amazon wanted to know that future seasons might be possible. Cris Cole and I said we thought there could be but we should have that conversation on if and how after the season was over.
We had that conversation on Thursday with Roy Price and company. Cris and I laid out a story for Season 2 we believed in. Ultimately, Amazon didn’t want to make that story and we didn’t want to make the kind of story they wanted us to make, so it made more sense to declare victory after ten episodes, which was our original plan all along anyway.
Mad Dogs is extremely important to Cris and I and we can’t do the show any other way than to follow Cris’ vision.
Ultimately, I think it’s better to leave it there, pure and unsullied, than to do a watered down version of the show. I’m so proud of our 10 eps and how they turned out, despite the many obstacles in our way. Want to acknowledge Ben Chaplin, Michael Imperioli, Romany Malco and Steve Zahn. What talent and chemistry! Want to thank all our writers, directors and especially our ridiculously hard working Puerto Rican crew.
Especially want to thank Cris Cole who was a terrific collaborator. He stuck to his vision, morals and beliefs throughout. If you haven’t checked out Mad Dogs yet, I hope you will. It’s the full, complete crazy story we set out to tell over three years ago. Oops. A cat just walked in. Looks like I have to go. See you on the next one.