Zoe: Hey everyone! We have a great blog for you tonight, where Justin and I will talking about some great TV shows that you might or might not have heard of. I must say I was shocked by some of the gems that I found when doing research for this blog tonight. I was surfing through my Netflix trying to fi–
Justin: AND CUT!!
Zoe: Wait, what? I was only halfway through the opening dialogue.
Justin: Well, even though it was going to be a great story, I felt that we should stop it mid-way through and not give it a chance.
Zoe: You’re still upset about “Firefly,” aren’t you?
Justin: Maybe… all right, yes, I am a little upset. Would it kill them to round the cast back up and make some new episodes or at least finish the season they started?
Zoe: They did make a whole movie called Serenity you know.
Justin: Yes and I’ve seen it. However, it just isn’t really compensation for cutting the series short.
Zoe: You really need to let it go. In fact, wasn’t it I who turned you on to “Firefly”?
Zoe: Well then, shush, if anyone should be mad about it being canceled, it should be me. Okay, focusing now: If you haven’t guessed already, we are going to talk about some of our favorite television series that were cut way too short, shows that we dream could have stayed on the air. Anything you would like to start off with, Justin?
Justin: Indeed there is. During last week’s review of books I mentioned a series of books by Jim Butcher called the Dresden Files. Well, it just so happens there was a show that was created based on the books. It was a show that only got 12 episodes, one of them being a pilot episode that just seemed a bit out-of-place from all the rest. In my opinion it was a great series, but not well-known. I didn’t even know about it until stumbling upon the series on Netflix and truth be told, it is what got me to read the books. The cast did a wonderful job and I enjoyed Paul Blackthorne’s portrayal of Dresden. It is a series that with a little tweaking could have brought in a bigger audience, but I think it will stay as one of those that only a select few enjoyed. Then again in my opinion they could have at least made a full 24 episode season. But what do I know? Zoe?
Zoe: Well, I would first like to say that there are some shows that run their natural course and end at the perfect time, between when they’re new, exciting/innovative and when they’re overdone, devolve into melodrama or straight-up jump the shark. For example, I think “Entourage” having this year be its final seasons is perfect timing; it’s been a good ride, but it’s time to end things while everyone is ahead of the game. But anyway, there are plenty of shows that I think were getting off to a nice start–maybe not super-smooth or there was a little trouble with pacing or tone or whatever–that get canceled prematurely. In doing research for this little dialogue, I found this great sitcom called “Accidentally on Purpose,” about a 37-year-old woman coming off a break-up with her boss who gets knocked up by a 22-year-old. The actors have great timing and it makes me laugh out loud consistently, which is a really rare in any series, let’s face it!
Justin: I agree whole-heartedly that there are some series that end at the right time after enough seasons. Then there are those that just won’t die, like “American Idol” or those that should have never been created in the first place, like “The Jersey Shore.” How that is popular, I have no freaking idea. In line with your comedy, I have a short-lived dark comedy/drama that I really enjoyed. In fact it is another show that you turned me on to. It is called “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” staring Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford and Amanda Peet. It was also created by the amazing Aaron Sorkin. It is basically about this variety show, kind of like “SNL,” that isn’t doing well so they bring on a new head writer and producer who turn it around. Toward the beginning of the series they even have a hilariously wonderful tribute to Gilbert and Sullivan, which can be found HERE. It was wonderful show with great dialogue that only Sorkin could create. Another one I caught too late on Netflix instant and I wish they would make more episodes of. Although they did wrap up the ending very nicely.
Zoe: Hm, I do love Sorkin. The best way to prove his awesomeness is to watch any episode he wrote of “The West Wing” and then watch an episode of that same series written once he was no longer the writer. It’s going to hurt a little bit. Okay, back in the day, “My So-Called Life” got canned after one season (1994) and it was a little ground-breaking, not to mention everyone’s introduction to Claire Danes and Jared Leto (awww). Even more importantly, there was “Freaks and Geeks,” which was a very early project (1999) of Judd Apatow and starred such awesome folks as Jason Siegel, James Franco, John Francis Daley, Seth Rogen, Busy Phillips and Linda Cardinelli–all of whom are still working. It takes place in the ‘80s, about a dorky girl (Cardinelli) who ends up becoming friends with a bunch of “loser” stoner-types (you guessed it, James Franco is the hottie she had a crush on). The scripts were smart, the cast had fantastic chemistry, and even though I wasn’t nearly a teenager during the ‘80s, it felt super authentic in terms of what was up with that generation. Great counterpoint, actually, to “That ‘70s Show,” which lasted a few seasons too long but which also always brought the laughs.
Justin: “Freaks and Geeks” was one of those shows I have always heard about but never seen. It is on my list, but might have to wait until I can find it at the library or it comes to Instant view. The next two series were both about detectives and were canceled, in my opinion, way too early. The first is “New Amsterdam” staring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who you might know better from the current “Game of Thrones” series on HBO where he plays Jamie Lannister. Anyway, this show was about a man who basically can’t die. After saving the life of a woman during the 1600s, she places a spell over him that makes him live until he finds his one true match. I know it sounds kind of corny, but it really wasn’t. It was interesting how they intertwined his history and the history of New Amsterdam (aka New York) and how he had watched it change. It was one show that I made sure to be home to watch every night it was on and was pissed when I found out they cut it short and cancelled it. Another good show staring Jeff Goldblum was called “Raines”. This show only ran for seven episodes but I thought it was a fresh story in a saturated police drama TV world. It was about a detective who had a peculiar way of finding out what happened in a crime. He sees the deceased victim. No, no, stay with me it isn’t what you think. You see it wasn’t their ghost, it was just a figment of his imagination. His mind portrayed the victim how he saw them and then evolved as he got to know them better. It was a really fascinating concept that apparently didn’t catch on. Both shows were great but just couldn’t compete with things like “Law & Order” and “CSI”. Kind of like the recent show “The Good Guys.” Although from what I saw of that show, there were other major factors such as how freaking cheesy it could be.
Zoe: I liked “New Amsterdam” too, but I wasn’t sure how they could have kept it going indefinitely. My favorite episode was one with the flashbacks to him during the Civil War working with Walt Whitman, one of my dad’s favorite poets, who worked as a medic, much like Hemingway, who was an ambulance driver during World War I… On a completely different track, one of the best short-lived shows has to be “Arrested Development.” It was an incredibly quirky story full of eccentric characters and played by a wild cast: Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walters, Jason Bateman, Portia di Rossi, Tony Hale, David Cross and Michael Cera, among millions of sweet guest stars and recurring characters. Lots of people trying to be indie-hip like say they love it, and it does have a distinct… flavor that certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it was refreshing. Hey, Justin, do you want to briefly name some shows in recent history that you think went on way too long, just to provide some examples of shows that should have been canceled way before they were?
Justin: Hmm well I’ve already mentioned “American Idol.” To be honest we could probably do without “Law and Order.” I used to love that show but you can only take so much of the same old plot. There is a murder, they catch a bad guy, there is a trial. Every single episode. I know they are “ripped from the headlines” but I watch TV to get away from that not dive back into it. Are they any you can think of? I know how you love to make lists.
Zoe: Yes, I do love lists… Well, there are some shows that I lost interest in, because I felt their overall quality went downhill for the same reason that “Law and Order” has, too long using the same sort of template schtick. Let’s see… “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” “E.R,” sitcoms I never liked much like “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “King of Queens,” I’d imagine “The X-Files” but I never watched it so I can’t 100% state that with certainty, “Murphy Brown,” and “Ally McBeal.” Basically all reality shows ever and a lot of game shows–I’m looking at you, “Wheel of Fortune.” Uhh, did I miss any? And by the way, the procedural cop shows / law shows / crime scene shows can last forever, because you can never run out of weird cases, crazies and soap opera pairings up of coworkers. These shows just kind of gain and lose views cyclically, because mostly you don’t have to watch regularly to get what’s going on. Stellar examples of the genre, of course, require you to watch all of the time, like “The Shield.”
Justin: As a hardcore “X-Files” fan, I really couldn’t say if it over stayed its welcome. I keep hoping they come out with another movie. Although the seasons without David Duchovny kind of let it go down hill so I guess you are correct. Anyway, we should probably wrap this up before we overstay OUR welcome.
Zoe: If you have any show that you liked that we missed, please comment. We would love to hear from you!
Justin: We always love reading the comment section.
Zoe: Yeah, when it’s there…
Justin: Which should be every week, so get commenting. Until next week, have a great evening and we shall–