Nov 24, 2015

TNT Cancels Transporter: The Series

The Digital Spy reports (via RenewCancel TV) that Transporter: The Series, which aired in America on TNT, will not be returning for a third season, sadly. The series starred Chris Vance in the role originated on the big screen by Jason Statham in a trio of action-packed neo-Eurospy movies produced by Luc Besson. Frank Spotnitz, who served as showrunner on the show's second season and thoroughly revamped it, told the website that he would love to keep working on Transporter, but blamed poor timing for its low ratings. He also revealed that he hadn't yet seen the latest Transporter movie, The Transporter Refueled, saying, "The truth is, to make it into a TV series we had to change a number of things about the central character, because it was sort of his anonymity and his solo nature that drove the movie series. And in the TV series, because people watch TV for characters, we had to create relationships and dimensionalize him in a way that I don't think they did in the movies that I saw, anyway." Refueled does actually attempt to do that as well, by taking a page (let's face it, more than a page!) from the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade playbook and teaming Ed Skrein's younger Frank Martin with his father, played by Ray Stevenson (Rome). Spotnitz is currently producing the Amazon Prime alternate history series The Man in the High Castle.

It's unclear from Spotnitz's comments if he means that TNT is passing on a third season (which would leave the European/Canadian co-production free to seek out another U.S. partner, like the El Rey Network, where it would be a good fit), or if the European production company Atlantique has decided not to proceed... which would pretty much mean the end of the road. And what a long and circuitous road it's been for this show—nearly as twisty as one of the winding Riviera roads showcased on the series. The show was first announced way back in 2009; it was officially greenlit in late 2010, and in early 2011 it was reported that Cinemax would partner with EuropaCorp to air the series in the United States. Later that year Vance (best known to spy fans from an arc on Burn Notice) was tapped to star as Frank Martin, and subsequently joined by Andrea Osvárt as his handler, Carla, a former CIA operative and a character who didn't appear in the theatrical films. That fall, the trouble started, with the original showrunners departing over creative differences. Before the first season's twelve episodes would wrap, their replacement would also ankle, and production would shut down when Vance was sidelined with an injury. The first trailer came out in the summer of 2012, heralding airdates that fall in Europe and elsewhere, but another year went by with still no announcement of a Cinemax premiere. In August of 2013 it was announced that the cable network had backed out, and the show's international producers were seeking a new U.S. partner. Undaunted by all these setbacks, they were still pressing forward with a second season, and had tapped Spotnitz to oversee a retooling after he had shepherded two hit international action co-productions on Cinemax, Hunted and the first American season of Strike Back. Vance's option had expired, but was renegotiated. Production finally began on the second season at the end of February 2014, shooting in Canada, Morocco and the Czech Republic. TNT (where Vance was a familiar face from a recurring role on Rizzoli & Isles) came on board to air both seasons in the U.S., and last fall that finally happened. Season 2 (which was aired back to back with Season 1 here) ended on a cliffhanger, and we've been waiting ever since to hear if there would be a Season 3. Now I guess it looks like there won't be, which is really too bad. Transporter: The Series would have made a great stablemate with TNT's new escapist spy drama, Agent X.

Happily, both seasons are at least available (and quite cheaply, on Amazon!) on DVD in their full, uncut European versions. (Which means with lots of nudity. Remember, this show was originally bound for Cinemax!) And I recommend them for fans of the Statham movies, fans of the neo-Eurospy genre at large, or fans of daffy action and crazy car stunts in general.

Order Transporter: The Series - Season 1 here.
Order Transporter: The Series - Season 2 here.

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