Thursday, June 05, 2008

TV: Not All That Much Crying

The May Sweeps are behind us and the schedules for next year are out. Looking back at the casualties of the just-past season, I've got to say there wasn't as much carnage as I would have feared.

A quartet of science fiction shows, a single comedy (maybe two) and four other shows made my most-missed list.

CBS did most of the damage, cutting Jericho's second lifeline, then ending Moonlight prematurely. Lastly, I will miss James Woods and his scenery-chewing performances on Shark. NBC did a lot of people an injustice by ditching excellent Journeyman and Las Vegas, one episode short of completion. ABC just couldn't find it in the company's hearts to give October Road a third season and Women's Murder Club a second one.

The smaller nets saw CW not renew Aliens in America and Fox dunkirk Back to You. The latter was almost, a-l-m-o-s-t a mercy-killing. But some late-season changes had that show turning around.

Lastly, Blood Ties was not renewed by Lifetime (shown here on the CHUM channels).

Much has been written about Jericho. In some ways, a more sedate successor to Firefly. Just too plainly well-written for most folks to follow. It layered the kind of conspiracy story common to 24 and the ilk with a pretty decent projection of what WOULD happen if the bombs exploded. There was the gaffe about outlasting a fallout rain with no aftereffects from the rain afterwards, but every show gets one mulligan. Like I said, this show was too smart for the very folks it was rhapsodizing about.

Moonlight featured two actors from across the pond effecting American accents. Call it the Hugh Laurie Effect. Proves their acting chops. Still, the story of Mick St. John, modern-day vampire who walks in the sun and loves a mortal, was getting better when it died. A second season MIGHT have turned the show into another Angel. Maybe even a Buffy. But we will never know.

The producers of Shark made a huge mistake. They signed on Paula Marshall for a story arc after the strike was over. Marshall, beautiful as ever, simply re-established her reputation as a series killer. Californication, an up and down series from last year, will have her back for EIGHT episodes when it's second season debuts. There is utterly NO chance whatsoever that there will be a third year. Getting back to Shark. Woods just wasn't in enough of the episodes over the last half of the season, starting before the strike. He WAS the show and they blew it. Apparently, it was either Shark or The Unit. I could have accepted either and been sad for the loser.

NBC was criminally negligent with the time-traveling Journeyman. Yet another Brit spoken like a true American star suffered from so-so adventures into the past. His present day life was fascinating! If the show could have spent less time in the past and more in the present, it might have been better, but still wouldn't have survived. It got stuck with a 'Quantum Leap clone" label, which it didn't deserve. Shame on the programmers who wouldn't stick by the show.

I've spoken about Las Vegas before. If canceling Journeyman was criminal, I'm not sure what to call NBC's decision to cancel the show after part TWO of a THREE-PART story arc that would have acted as a series send-off had the network let ONE MORE episode show. A pox on their houses. At any rate, this wasn't the Las Vegas that used to be. No Jimmy Caan, despite a charming Tom Selleck, just gutted the show's heart. I would have been glad to write a happy epitaph to the show ... had there been that ONE MORE EPISODE.

ABC never liked October Road. I'm a writer, and that made this show more personal than it was obviously to most. Brian Greenberg made a worthwhile viewpoint character. And any show with Odette Yustman and Lindy Booth was always welcome on my screen.

I reviewed Women's Murder Club back in January. A bit of weird casting, with some weird writing, made it uneven but watchable. The post-strike episodes were less so, but the promise of something better was there. As detective shows go, it could be a lot worse than having to lay eyes on Angie Harmon weekly.

Tanya Huff, the creator of Blood Ties, the Victoria Nelson stories, has always been a favourite author. Her current Valor books are at the top of my reading wish list. The TV series was bordering on the brink of working, but the world is tiring of vampires now. I think the coming series based on Charlaine Harris' vampire books might very well spell finito to the genre on TV for awhile. I personally liked the TV shows, but then again, I'm admittedly biased.

Aliens in America was NOT a science fiction show. But it was on the CW and just about unseen by everybody. Too bad, it was tied with Samantha Who? and The Big Bang Theory as the very best of the new comedies last fall. And unlike Samantha Who?, it got better week by week. Guess we are still awaiting America's acceptance of a Muslim co-star. Thankfully, The Little Mosque on the Prairie is still going strong up here in Canada.

Back to You. Star power in front of and behind the camera. But the personalities never meshed. Characters came and went and came again. They even changed the daughter of the two stars, having Laura Marano give way to Lily Jackson. I thought Marano, sister to former Gilmore Girls recurring guest star Vanessa Marano, was the best thing in the show. With her gone, my enthusiasm waned. But, like Moonlight, a second season COULD have been a major change in a good direction. Guess we will never know.

Say Kelsey, get over that heart attack.

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