Netflix is canceling its horror podcast adaptation Archive 81 after only one season on the streaming service. The eight-episode series premiered on January 14, but despite positive reviews and decent viewership, Netflix decided not to renew it for a second season, despite positive reviews and decent viewership that seemed to position it among Netflix’s other horror giants like Midnight Mass and Brand New Cherry Flavor. In the end, it falls short of the supernatural horror podcast on which it was based, leaving much of the tale unexplored.
Even while Netflix advertises popularity vs money as the criterion for choosing the future of its productions, it’s unclear why the series was canceled. Archive 81 appeared to be doing well enough on that front, earning a slot in Nielsen and Netflix’s weekly Top 10 original ratings for a brief while following its premiere, and even ranking as the top streamed series in the United States. The series’ Rotten Tomatoes reviews were likewise good, with an 86 percent reviewer consensus.
Mamoudou Athie and Dina Shihabi featured archivist Dan Turner and documentarian Melody Pendras, respectively, in Archive 81. Dan gets recruited onto a strange project that requires him to rebuild Melody’s film from her investigation of cult activities at the Visser Apartment complex, and the series has an intriguing, time-bending premise. The two histories of Dan and Melody were seen to be playing out concurrently, and as Dan works to reconstruct the footage, the two build a bond. Dan believes he can save Melody from her horrific death about 25 years ago because of their unusual connection.
Archive 81 had a solid crew behind it as well, with modern horror legend James Wan producing through his studio Atomic Monster and The Boys producer Rebecca Sonnenshine receiving her first try at showrunning. She also penned the script and served as the show’s executive producer. Stranger Things director Rebecca Thomas was also on board, taking the reigns for half of the series and executive producing with Atomic Monster’s Wan and Michael Clear, writer Paul Harris Boardman, and Antoine Douaihy. Martin Donovan, Julia Chan, Matt McGorry, Evan Jonigkeit, and Ariana Neal also appeared in the series.
The first season of Archive 81 is now accessible on Netflix, but viewers will have to rely on the original podcast to learn more about Dan and Melody’s journey.