Brief Thoughts On Shows That Won’t Last Much Longer


Reaper: As a WKRP nut, the Les Nessman shout-out could not have made me happier (even if they didn’t dare actually mention where the name came from, for fear of looking uncool). I wondered last night if this show could be a candidate to go to cable if/when the CW drops it. In many ways it’s the sort of show that used to be all over basic cable: fun, unambitious, low-budget fantasy. (Many of the writers come from the USA fantasy/comedy Weird Science, which was a half-hour teen-oriented version of that type of show.) The Sci-Fi channel, which I refuse to call SyFy, has gotten more ambitious in recent years, but they still have some shows like that. I can’t really get too strongly behind a “Save Reaper” campaign, though I’ll be happy if it does somehow wind up getting another season; it’s the kind of show that you turn on, enjoy and forget until the next episode. Which is fine, but the CW is a network that depends on its little-watched shows getting a lot of buzz, word-of-mouth and online repeat viewing, and Reaper is not that kind of show. But it’s all worth it to see Ray Wise’s devil leading an AA meeting and tempting them all to get drunk again (an idea that may be inspired by Bedazzled, where Peter Cook’s devil is always seen doing some kind of petty, nasty, annoying thing to make people’s lives miserable).

Kings: There’s really nothing to say about this show except that nobody thought that NBC’s position could be any worse than it was, and then they go and greenlight this bomb. I will say that while I admire the creator’s idea of doing an updated version of a Biblical story, he chose a story that already bombed when it was made into a Richard Gere movie. The story of David and Saul is so depressing and tragic that it’s hard to make it into a work of popular entertainment, but when you update it, the way Kings does, it seems a lot more like a soap opera than a great tragedy. So you wound up with a show that was both pretentious (because of its biblical origins) and silly (because of the actual story it was telling).

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Brief Thoughts On Shows That Won’t Last Much Longer

  1. Put me down for saving the show as I totally enjoy it.

  2. Oh, but Kings was only a mini series, LOL. NBC’s new method wait till the show bombs then call it a mini series.

    I am just hoping “Chuck” gets picked up, so I am glad Kings tanked. But with Leno taken 5 hours of primetime space it is not looking good.

    As to Reaper, not really a fan but according to the renew/cancel index by tvbythenumbers(which has been pretty good at predicting cancel/renew) it has a chance.


  3. Kings may be pretentius but who cares it was awesome. But you’re right it wont last.

  4. Jaime,

    Sorry to put up a comment that has absolutely nothing to do with what you have posted about but I didn’t know how else to get this to you.

    Unfortunately I don’t watch either of the two shows you have mentioned so I can’t add my own 2¢ on them.

    The reason I am adding a comment here is that I was wondering what your take was on a few things:

    The effect the current economic climate is having on Canadian networks and the types of shows they will be showing

    CRTC rulings on Canadian content etc.

    The CBC’s financial woes and what you think of the government providing more cash or the Mother Corp. changing its format due to these changing circumstances.

    What’s your opinion on some of the recent Canadian series that are now out. I happen to really like Billable Hours. I enjoy Rent-a-Goalie. Murdoch Mysteries is an nice watch. Less than Kind is a wacky good time. I llike Being Erica. I certainly didn’t mind Tthe Jane Show. Jeff Ltd. showed occasional potential. If I still catch an episode of Trailer Park Boys I remember why I used to watch it regularly. In fact I would say the two Canadian shows I find the least fulfilling are the two biggies – Corner Gas and Little Mosque.

    Sorry once again for the off-topic comment but this inquiring mind wants to know.

    • 1) I don’t really know; 2) I said a bit about the idea of the CRTC’s idea for an equal money rule last month.

      I’ll say a bit more about 3) and 4) when I get the chance, but I do think — and I know I’m repeating myself again — that the CBC would do better to openly embrace its basically middle-of-the-road, older-skewing audience. They keep trying to go younger and hipper, canceling popular shows like Air Farce (not that Air Farce is great, but the network didn’t really need it gone) and trying to get the kind of viewers that normally wouldn’t watch the CBC anyway. I like Being Erica too, though I haven’t liked it as much after the pilot, but it’s chasing a demographic that the CBC keeps looking for while ignoring the demographic that kept it going — the “Wayne and Shuster” demographic, essentially. To me as an outsider, the awkward attempts to remake the network’s image are a bigger problem than some of the more-publicized problems.

      • Don Messer……. don’t forget Don Messer.

      • Thanks Jaime. I look forward to your further comments on points 3) and 4).

  5. Finke’s post about Kings is ridiculous. Whatever else the show may be, it’s as ambitious as anything the networks put out there this year and Silverman deserves credit for that.

    I really thought Kings was pretty good, actually. It dragged a bit, and there was some silliness where the updated story didn’t quite translate seamlessly (ie- Goliath=Tank!), but the look of the show was fantastic, the affected dialogue mostly worked (though Michael Greene is no Milch, obviously), and the cast was very strong (Ian McShane!). It’s an opulent soap opera, sure, but I don’t really see why that’s necessarily a bad thing.

    • It’s an opulent soap opera, sure, but I don’t really see why that’s necessarily a bad thing.

      I don’t think it’s a bad thing, just the kind of thing that leads to an identity crisis: it’s like it’s the Bible and Melrose Place at the same time. I can see, though, how that could be a good thing.

      Ben Silverman is one of the people Finke clearly hates the most, though whatever his qualities as an executive (and I think he does have some good instincts about bringing new or different things — including things that foreign networks are doing — to the broadcast networks), he’s not exactly a hit-maker lately.

      • it’s like it’s the Bible and Melrose Place at the same time

        If you’re suggesting the stories from the Bible are somehow dramatically different from the plots on Melrose Place, perhaps you need to read the Bible again. I don’t see any “Bible/Soap Opera” tension here. The Bible IS a soap opera.

        The Bible IS Melrose Place.

        • Especially with all that begatting goin’ on.

          • Well, David did have eight wives and somewhere around 20 kids.

            Which, to people unfamiliar with King David would probably make people watching the show over the seasons (were there seasons) roll their eyes and think that the writers were unnecessarily “spicing up” the Bible, a la Melrose Place. Whereas the reality is that nothing that ever happened on Melrose Place was ever half as crazy as some of the stuff that happens in the Bible.

            Which is why I always figured a Biblical-story-based show like Kings would be awesome.

            People sometimes forget what the Bible’s really like (especially the OLD TESTAMENT Bible). In T.V. terms, the Bible is kinda like Rome, only with way more sex and violence.

        • The Bible IS a soap opera.

          The Bible IS Melrose Place.

          Which is why, when you take the stories out of the original context, they become harder to take seriously. My problem with Kings, tonally, is that it’s using the Biblical stuff to try and give itself a lot of thematic weight (the way Battlestar Galactica plays up the Biblical parallels of its story). But out of the Bible, the story can’t necessarily support that weight, at least not the way they’re telling it.

          • I see. Yeah, I get that.

            I guess it depends upon how one approaches the show as well, and how seriously one assumes we’re to take it. I guess many heard that a modern retelling of a Biblical story was being produced and thought “Wow, that will be serious and dramatic! How exciting!” whereas I think my reaction was “Wow, that’ll be crazy and ridiculous! How exciting!!!”.

            I think it’s too early (for me, a layman) to tell what the “tone” of Kings is exactly (have you seen all four of the first episodes Mr. Weinman, or just what we’ve all seen?” Maybe it’s because I didn’t go in to it expecting it to be serious with a capital S, but I didn’t find it to be trying to be too serious. Of course, I’ve only seen 120 minutes worth.

  6. Kings is fucking awesome.

  7. I see Kings as similar to Rome, and The Tudors.

    I know both only lasted two seasons, but I can easily see Kings fitting into the same genre, as they all are epic soap operas attempting to make history interesting to the masses.

    And I loved the first two, so hopefully Kings will last as long…

  8. This whole Kings discussion (I liked Kings too) has me wondering about another question. In 2009, how long is a show allowed to air before it can (should) be declared a failure?

    ‘Cause by the Kings example, the answer is apparently “120 minutes”.

    Is it wrong to be slightly incredulous at declarations of a show’s failure and impending cancellation after nothing more than the airing of its two hour pilot? Not that you’re wrong that it won’t last, but aren’t we getting to the point where soon some shows are going to end up getting canceled (or at least tagged as “ready for cancellation”) on the same day that the producers announce the cast?

    If Seinfeld were introduced today, would it make it past 10 episodes?

    • It’s pretty common for shows to get branded as “doomed” when the pilot gets bad ratings. Often a show that fails will still get good ratings for the pilot because of all the hype and promotion, like Bionic Woman. If all that hype and promotion gets bad ratings for the pilot, then it’s usually assumed that it’s in big trouble, especially when it’s a show that’s very expensive to produce. I don’t think it’s anything very new. Even the schadenfreude isn’t new. Whether it’s right or wrong is a whole other question.

      • Actually, I hadn’t even seen the ratings. WOW.

        Doomed with a capital D then, eh?

        Thankfully for fans, the producers tell everyone right on the website that they’ve got the whole 13 episodes of the first season, which they suggest are gonna happen no matter what – i.e. don’t stop watching ’cause you’re worried you’ll get hooked and then get dropped… we guarantee a full first season and (it’s suggested) if we’re destined to get canceled and not get a 14th episode, we promise to wrap it all up nice a neat for you!

        Of course, this also suggests that they were (somewhat) worried about getting canceled pretty early on, but it’s also nice to see T.V. folks not in denial, and giving some serious thought to the feelings of fans.

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