The Borgias cancelled by Showtime: plans for two-hour wrap-up movie scrapped

Showtime The Borgias cast cancelled

It’s an inevitable part of being a TV fan – some day, without warning, the axe will fall on your favourite show. And this week, Showtime cancelled it’s gripping papal drama The Borgias. And to twist the jewel-encrusted dagger even deeper, they’ve shelved Neil Jordan’s plans for a two-hour movie to wrap up the series and send the nefarious Pope Alexander to hell once and for all.

The Borgias had become our go-to period drama after the end of Spartacus. It was (and still is for the final remaining episodes) a truly absorbing look inside the papacy circa 1492. The show began with Rodrigo Borgia manipulating and negotiating within the college of cardinals to secure the votes he needed to become pope. And the corruption didn’t stop there. We’ve had strategic marriages to powerful nobles, poisonings and assassination attempts aplenty. Fratricide. Incest. Oh, and that unforgettable scene where Lucrezia tried to kill her brother by dropping an enormous iron chandelier on him while he was having sex.

And like SpartacusThe Borgias was one of those history-book shows where you were constantly Googling to see if the events in the show were true. And they almost always were.

What’s fascinating about this – for me – is the idea of a pope moving into the Vatican with four children and his long-term lover and their scheming and machinations to maintain their grip on power. Can you imagine that happening in the present day – a pope with an entire family in tow? There are so many questions as to how the head of the Catholic church could manage that in the 15th century, but it couldn’t happen today.

Cancellation

Showtime have announced that the Season 3 finale (which ends on June 16 with an episode titled The Prince) will be the end. And apparently it’s all Jeremy Irons’ fault.  According to a report on Deadline, Irons may have suggested that the Season 3 finale effectively kills off the potential for any future storylines:

…while filming a pivotal scene in the Season 3 finale, Jordan said Irons turned to him and told him that “this feels like the end of something, that the family has come to an end.” While mulling a potential fourth season, Jordan said he wasn’t sure he had enough material for 10 episodes and wasn’t sure whether Showtime would want to commit to another season either.

And so, it seems Jordan was keen to wrap-up the story of the ruthless papal family with a feature-length movie that would wrap up the storylines of the characters and culminate in the death of Rodrigo. The finale Jordan had in mind sounds nothing short of incredible…

I wanted a totally biblical ending, for the Pope to burn in hell. That is how he wrote the proposed two-hour finale, with the Pope dying and no one willing to hear his confession. When they finally find a confessor and the Pope starts to repent his sins, the confessor interrupts him, saying, ‘I’m sorry, it’s too late, you’re already dead and burning in hell.’ This satisfies all moral feelings about the Pope.

There are suggestions that aside from the reasons given by Jordan and Showtime for cancellation, that the show would have caused duplication with another recently-commissioned drama series. Showtime are planning to debut a contemporary Vatican drama this year, called, surprisingly, The Vatican. The new show is said to focus on “spirituality, power and politics –- set against the modern-day political machinations within the Catholic church. The series will explore the relationships and rivalries as well as the mysteries and miracles behind one of the world’s most hidden institutions.”

Given the backdrop of what we’ve seen in The Borgias over the last three seasons, it’ll be interesting to see what a modern take on the papacy will show us. But there will forever be a soft spot for those villains of Rome and the most sympathetic way in which they were painted by Neil Jordan and brought to life by the core trinity of Jeremy Irons, Francois Arnaud and Holliday Grainger.

by Gerard McGarry on June 7th, 2013

Gerard is the founder and editor of Unreality TV. He writes about TV dramas as well as reality TV talent shows and is obsessed by sci-fi and Doctor Who. Follow him on Twitter @gerrybot or Google+

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16 thoughts on “The Borgias cancelled by Showtime: plans for two-hour wrap-up movie scrapped

  1. Mireya Lousteau says:

    With all due respect Gerard, Jeremy didn’t “kill” the series, SHO did. I’ve read so many commentaries and the common denominator is … money. “Too expensive to produce” they said. One man’s comment is not enough to impact dozens of creative minds of The Borgias -or- thousands of FANS.

    1. Hi Mireya. It may not have come across in the text, but it was a tongue in cheek comment :) I will definitely miss this show. Hell, my wife has taken to randomly exclaiming “I can’t believe they cancelled The Borgias!” After the demise of Smash, this may be the final straw for her!

      1. Lauren Michero says:

        Mireya and I are organizing a group to send sardines (Borgia reference) to execs at Showtime in a couple of weeks to show our support for a fourth season of the Borgias…or at least the two-hour movie! If you want, let people know to check out the Bring Back the Borgias group on Facebook. We want to get this show back…like when One Tree Hill, Roswell, and Friday Night lights were renewed after fans sent things in to the networks. Also, there’s a petition:
        http://m.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thepetitionsite.com%2F496%2F753%2F349%2Fwe-need-4th-season-of-the-borgias-on-showtime%2F&h=wAQE6fqPp&s=1

        Tell the wife to join :)

        1. laurie says:

          I will jump on this bandwagon. I need an ending ridiculous. There is way too much not to put an ending to a show. Okay now let me start watching The Vatican and also wait to see if they leave me hanging when its all said and done

        2. laurie weinberg says:

          I will jump on this bandwagon. How dare them leave us hanging.

          I will jump on this bandwagon. How dare them to leave us hanging. If I cant have a 4th season a 2hr show I will take. Who wants to watch The Vatican now only to get involved then find out at the end of a season the show is canceled. RIDICULOUS

          1. Lauren says:

            Hey everyone upset by ending of the Borgias:

            Mass Twitter Event Sunday 6/16:
            #SaveTheBorgias
            Tweet 2:00pm EST-7:00 GMT

            #SaveThe Borgias
            Bring Back the Borgias FB group&page:
            Check it out: http://t.co/Yu5dAnY6e
            We are The Borgias’ fans and we feel unloved

    2. mj c says:

      They cancelled the Borgias; I’m cancelling Showtime

      1. Bye SHO says:

        Me too, showtime you suck, jesus christ would it have killed you to do one last season and finish things off right a la “the tudors”. there was nothing else holding me to that monthly fee.

  2. Almira says:

    Rough landing for anyone who was aboard this drama since the beginning. Lesson to be learned, don’t fall in love with niche/cult shows like The Borgias because the networks will axe them without warning. All that talk about fans being important – total BS.

  3. GVC says:

    I will leave the SHOWTIME subscription for the last season of Dexter, then it is gone just like the Borgias will be.

  4. lisa carr says:

    What the Hell…are you people retarded..what a great show..a lot of true facts and you cancel it ..whoa dudes..good-bye showtime….

  5. paula says:

    The ONLY reason I subscribed to Showtime, and subsequently the “On Demand” feature, was to watch The Borgias. I agree with all the others – no reason to continue the subscription. I’m cancelling Showtime and Showtime On Demand.

  6. David M. Brown says:

    Alas, “The Borgias” is far from the masterpiece some viewers say it is. See my article “Why Showtime Did Right to Cancel ‘The Borgias,’ Even Though I (Used to) Watch It” at Yahoo! Voices.

    1. UH34D says:

      David, I found the Borgia’s quite entertaining. While historical facts were sometimes stretched, has anything ever been produced pertaining to history that doesn’t? The most enjoyment I got from the series was talking with other people who actually took an interest and began reading and studying that era in Papal history. I would imagine it motivated many more to do the same. Many times there’s more to a series than just viewing it for entertainment purposes, it actually may stimulate the brain of a lot of people. Regardless of opinions, it would have been nice had Showtime allowed the Borgia’s to produce a final episode to at least get closure.

  7. fan111 says:

    Why can’t someone manage to cancel reality tv?
    These few intelligent and artful series that we do manage to get are always at risk. You give a service, your customers love it and brand themselves to follow it like a religion and poof w/o word or warning you kill it.

    I fully understand killing something off due to any number of complications but you are going to blunt the best tool in your pouch – cliffhangers. Why? You consisently leave us hanging! Endings are deserved. Kill as you will, but kill clean!

    1. Riri says:

      Right on… cancel something stupid, not The Borgias, it was intelligent, suspenseful, exciting! I have to agree SHO time is done for me as well. I will not be watching the Vatican, I am still hurting from the disappointment of having the Borgias cancelled…

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