The Road on M-Net's Mzansi Magic (DStv 161), the telenovela produced by The Bomb Shelter, has been effectively cancelled and its episode order dramatically reduced by almost half, making the Sophiatown show-set-inside-a-show production likely the most expensive local production flop in Mzansi Magic history.
Originally commissioned and envisioned to run for 208 episodes, the axe came down on the expensive multimillion rand Bomb Shelter produced show with its elaborate 1950's era sets filmed in a lot in an abandoned factory in Jeppestown, with Mzansi Magic deciding to cancel and end The Road as soon as possible that's been suffering from tepid viewer response and barely there ratings.
The Road as a Monday to Thursday telenovela with Gail Mabalane, Sthandiwe Kgoroge, Darlington Michaels and Muzi Mthabela on M-Net's Mzansi Magic supplied channel to MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform will now end on 31 March after 128 episodes.
"The Road will draw to a close in March 2016," says Mzansi Magic, noting that "audiences have appreciated this groundbreaking drama that in many ways was a first for South African television and has kept viewers glued to their screens."
That's not quite true: The Road debuted in August 2015 with 437 000 viewers and plunged to a barely registering just over 120 000 viewers - a far cry Mzansi Magic's top show, the telenovela isiBaya at 754 000 viewers.
Asked why The Road was cancelled and its episode order cut down, Bongi Potelwa-Metsing, Mzansi Magic publicist tells TV with Thinus that "as the story progressed new twists and turns became evident giving life to a faster build-up to the storyline climax".
With lackluster ratings for an expensive show, Mzansi Magic made the decision to cancel The Road late last year.
Asked how the cancellation and change in episode order affects the production and impact on the original story the show wanted to tell, Mzansi Magic says "contracts with our suppliers are confidential" but says the story as it was written will come to an end as planned.
"As with all great stories, by the time we reach the final episode, viewers will be taken on a journey with our characters, revealing a resolution as planned and ending on a high note".
Although liked by TV critics for its innovative dual story despite the wooden acting of some of the actors, The Road, set in two time periods - both the present and olden days Sophiatown, together with a murder mystery - proved too high-brow, intricate and meta-media for Mzansi Magic viewers.