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Television

No benefit of ‘Doubt’ as CBS pulls Katherine Heigl’s new series

Dulé Hill and Katherine Heigl in “Doubt.” CBS has pulled the legal drama after just two episodes.
Dulé Hill and Katherine Heigl appear in “Doubt.” CBS has pulled the legal drama after just two episodes.
(John Paul Filo / CBS Entertainment)

After airing just two of its completed 13 episodes, CBS has pulled the low-rated legal drama “Doubt” from its schedule.

The network didn’t call the move a “cancellation,” saying that the series, which starred Katherine Heigl, could return at some point in the future — probably during the summer, when the remaining 11 episodes could be burned off with less worry about a paltry viewership.

One of its stars, Dulé Hill, had no problem using the word though, in a post on Twitter.

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“Doubt,” which premiered Feb. 15, starred Heigl as a defense attorney who becomes personally involved with a client, played by Steven Pasquale. The cast included Elliott Gould and Laverne Cox (“Orange Is The New Black”), who became the first transgender actor to play a transgender character in a regular role on broadcast TV.

“Doubt” creators Joan Rater and Tony Phelan, who had worked with Heigl on “Grey’s Anatomy,” told The Times before the show’s premiere that they wanted it to delve into the imperfections of America’s legal system.

“The more we can see that people who are in prison are people with families and with dreams and aspirations, I think, is enlightening,” Phelan said. “Are we, as a country, really about reform and rehabilitation? Or are we about putting people away and throwing away the key and just getting them out of society? And if we are about that, let’s just be honest about that. But if we are really about reform and rehabilitation, how do we do that?”

Times television writer Meredith Blake, reviewing the series  (and watching more episodes than CBS aired), called “Doubt” a “worthy, highly watchable effort.”

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Blake also noted in her review how Heigl has had a difficult time shaking her reputation as “difficult” since leaving “Grey’s Anatomy” seven years ago.

Heigl’s last television series, the espionage thriller “State of Affairs,” was canceled in 2015 after a poorly reviewed run of 13 episodes failed to find an audience.

Her movies — “One for the Money” and “The Big Wedding” among them —  likewise fizzled with critics and audiences. Heigl plays an overprotective mother in the upcoming horror film “Unforgettable,” scheduled to open in April.

As for “Doubt,” it might be best remembered for the distinction of being the first new series to be pulled from the schedule this year, as networks are increasingly giving their freshman shows longer looks before official cancellations.

But after drawing just 5.3 million viewers for its premiere and 4 million for its follow-up episode, CBS wasted little time making a move.

glenn.whipp@latimes.com

Twitter: @glennwhipp


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