According to The Hollywood Reporter and other media outlets, season 2 of Netflix’s ambitious live action remake of the iconic anime series Cowboy Bebop has been cancelled.
Despite a strong core cast (John Cho as Spike Spiegel, Daniella Pineda as Faye Valentine, and Mustafa Shakir as Jett Black) and the presence of original series director Shinichiro Watanabe as creative consultant and original series composer Yoko Kanno creating the soundtrack, Cowboy Bebop received widely negative critical reviews and only a lukewarm viewer response. It still managed to garner 74 million viewing hours upon its debut, but this quickly tailed off in subsequent weeks.
If there is anything that Netflix is known for, it’s taking a ruthless attitude toward shows which it perceives as “failures”. With Cowboy Bebop only scoring a 59% renewal rate (that is, only 59% of viewers who initially watched an episode returned for more), this placed the show below Netflix’s 60% threshold. And while some might argue that a 1% difference hardly warrants an adverse outcome, the renewal rate combined with the critical/viewer response probably sounded the death knell for the production.
Cowboy Bebop was widely criticised for its dense dialogue, allegedly “muddy” visual appearance, (at times) shoddy looking sets, and for the changes it made to various characters’ personal histories and/or personalities. There was even a pre-premiere blow-up online about the changes made to the outfit worn by Faye. But despite a slow start, the series did seem to be picking up pace, and ended on a cliff-hanger which presented intriguing possibilities.
But now we’ll never know how those possibilities might have played out. For what it’s worth, this Little Black Duck thinks that if the reports are accurate, this represents a potentially poor decision by Netflix that may come back to bite the streaming service. The first season of the adaption of The Witcher (also by Netflix) arguably had as many “issues” as did Cowboy Bebop and was just as heavily criticised – yet its far stronger viewer ratings saved it from the chopping block that certainly threatened after the show premiered. An improving (and potentially much improved second series of) Cowboy Bebop could have garnered Netflix much better returns over the longer term. It appears, however, that – much like the zeitgeist generally and the corporate world specifically – Netflix is interested in short-term profitability only.
Anyone for Star Trek?
Text © Copyright Brendan E Byrne 2021. All rights reserved.