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Cancellicious: 3 Shows That Might Join ‘Lonestar’ in Failed Series Heaven

September 30, 2010

The TV DEATH WATCH has already begun!!! Fox officially euthanized its low rated critical darling on Tuesday. Lonestar needn’t worry because soon other low rated, costly network failures will be keeping it company.

My picks for other shows that won’t make it to season two:

Outsourced – Thursdays – NBC

Critics have been particularly harsh towards the freshman series; after seeing the pilot I’m inclined to agree with them, particularly The AV Club who said:

It also has the potential to be a huge, huge hit because it has absolutely no shame about playing to the lowest-common-denominator. If one of the other three shows it shares the night with did a joke about Indian food giving you the shits, it would be couched in some level of self-aware irony, the show acknowledging that it was stooping to a puerile level, but, hey, sometimes puerile is really funny. Outsourced just says, “Holy shit, dude. If you eat Indian food, you’ll probably be on the toilet for, like, a WEEK, and it’ll be all runny and stuff? GROSS.” Sadly, this has often proved to be a solid way to entice the American public into watching television.

(source)

If Outsourced were on CBS or FOX, I wouldn’t expect it to be cancelled. On the contrary, I would expect the show to be cultivated and elevated to the status of other unfunny “comedies” like The Big Bang Theory (a laugh track? what, you don’t trust us?) or everyone’s favorite whipping comedy Two and a Half Men. But the peacock has been struggling to regain its Thursday night dominance since Seinfeld took its bag of nothing and went home two hundred years ago. Well, Outsourced is not the way to do it. It’s even worse than the Fred Savage vehicle Working or the stinky and recently canceled Better off Ted. Outsourced is what happens when a network is asked to rethink its enduring love affair with whiteness as “default” in order to present programming more inclusive to a global audience. If the bad press won’t get it, hopefully the respectable, but ultimately lackluster ratings will. POC/Non White characters are not props, tropes and stereotypes for the wacky white guy. By the way, I’ve gotten the trots from pot roast. Where’s my sitcom?

My Generation – Thursdays – ABC

Oh this one has everything: bad numbers, bad reviews and it’s a lousy show. I had it on in the background while preparing for the Grey’s Anatomy premiere and I actually had to turn off the sound/picture because it was so terrible. When a show is so bad it’s not even fit for background noise, you’ve got a pretty dire situation on your hands. The only joy I got in relation to My Generation is reading the bumper crop of terrible reviews written within moments after it debuted on ABC.

Media Life Magazine said:

Sometimes people give a show the benefit of the doubt because it’s at least trying something new. But in this case, the producers have taken something old — the fake documentary — and misapplied it. Chances are no one is going to be wondering what ever happened to this show, either in 10 years or 10 weeks.

Hollywood Chicago said:

The faux-documentary feels just as false in its current-day updates as it does in its set-up. The over-achiever now works at a beachside bar. When reminded that his one word to describe his future was “success,” he feels as though he has it and few people with lives more difficult than surfing and flirting would disagree, but the consciously clever writing on the show underlines the irony of the over-achiever becoming a surfer as if it means something deep. It doesn’t.

Bottom line on this one: You can’t expect a show to grow an audience if we already own a copy of The Big Chill and nobody likes the characters on your show. Stay sweet, My Generation! Also, 2000 wasn’t all that long ago, couldn’t anyone find someone who remember what people wore, how they talked and what pop culture products they consumed? Is this really a difficult task to accomplish? Where are all the low rise jeans? Where’s The New Radicals?!!?

Better With You – Wednesdays – ABC

On a braver network this show would be called, White People with Silly White Problems and someone more clever would attempt to Fabreeze the stench of the early 90s off the show or at least try to pass it off as irony. Not happening here. It’s all earnest unfunny stuff shot in the same style as How I Met Your Mother and totally uninspired. Better With You has all the earmarks of all those shitty 90s FOX live action sitcoms like Ned & Stacy, Flying Blind, Babes and the truly awful Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. Intrusive counterfeit chuckles: check. Recycled, stale jokes from unfunny sitcoms of yore: check. If Better With You makes it to midseason it’ll be on the strength of the strong cast whose talents are wasted on this terribly embarrassing dreck.

But don’t take my word for it; watch all 22 minutes of the pilot yourself. No, you won’t get those minutes back – ever.

What shows are on your TV DEATH WATCH?

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2010 12:11 pm

    I really enjoyed Better Off Ted! Portia De Rossi is hilarious in it. Guess I’m alone though.

  2. September 30, 2010 12:29 pm

    I tried harder with Better Off Ted than I do with most comedies, but in the end it just didn’t make me laugh and the lead was not appealing to me. I always like Portia, but this wasn’t a particularly meaty role for her. Most recent network comedies are too bland for me, save Scrubs, Everybody Hates Chris and My Name is Earl, King of the Hill and Arrested Development.

  3. hsofia permalink
    September 30, 2010 12:52 pm

    Especially good writing in this post. It’s hard to write about terrible stuff without resorting to hyperbole (redundant). I do have a soft spot in my heart for Working, being the same age as Savage, and starting my working life in offices the same year it came out – but I rewatched parts of it recently via YouTube and it’s pretty awful. LOL

  4. September 30, 2010 12:56 pm

    Working was so weird. There was nothing especially problematic with the show and I definitely wanted to see Fred Savage make the transition into more mature fare, but somehow it didn’t connect. His brother fared much better on Boy Meets World, a show so cheesy that I cannot believe I loved it as much as I did.

  5. evmaroon permalink
    September 30, 2010 1:03 pm

    You made me remember Working, Snarky! And here I thought I’d made it disappear from my memory banks forever! That’s not right! I’m glad to see Outsourced go gentle into that goodnight, though, because that shit is just unfunny.

  6. September 30, 2010 1:17 pm

    @Everett – Outsourced is probably going to last until the midseason, as will Better With You. There’s not much to replace either show, so that’s probably the only thing currently working in both shows’ favor. There is probably a couple of shows ABC could use to replace Better With You but they probably won.t

  7. September 30, 2010 1:24 pm

    I’d find Big Bang Theory funny without the laugh track, but then I’m an old geek… I think they left it in for everyone else who might not get the physics/comics/video game references.

  8. September 30, 2010 2:13 pm

    @redlami – hmmm. I don’t know anything about police work, but still find the monotony of police work hilarious on Barney Miller. I think the minute BBT started trading in some pretty unflattering and offensive stereotypes I wasn’t inclined to give it a pass. I’m thinking of the episode with some cross dressing/Trans Woman conflation that was played for “laffs”.

  9. evmaroon permalink
    September 30, 2010 5:23 pm

    Please no more funny or dead trans women on TV. Please.

  10. September 30, 2010 6:59 pm

    Seconded, EvMaroon.

    I’m going to go ahead and slap Chase on the TV Death Watch; the pilot was not terribly stellar and the second episode out of the gate ain’t much better. This fills me with sadness, because I love a good cop show.

  11. September 30, 2010 7:18 pm

    Chase is looking real cancellicious.

  12. September 30, 2010 8:26 pm

    I keep hoping that Outsourced won’t be on tonight, but it’ll be showing in about 10 minutes. Damnit. I watched it last week, and it was just.awful. Not even Deitrich Bader could save it (actually, he was one of my bigger problems with it! Why, Neighbor Larry? WHY?).

    Ugh.

  13. September 30, 2010 9:00 pm

    I knew “Outsourced” wouldn’t make it. I also saw “My Generation” totally failing. But “Better With You” I thought had a shot, except I forgot one of my own television rules: a dumb guy cannot carry a series (if nobody else in the show is interesting), so my bad for that.

    However, apparently “Mike & Molly” is the breakout comedy hit of the season! So, I’m wrong again.

  14. September 30, 2010 9:05 pm

    I knew Mike & Molly might strike gold because people the idea of having permission to laugh at fat people for being fat and for also being every stereotype of fatness they’ve synthesized over years of watching television.

  15. September 30, 2010 9:21 pm

    I fear, after watching the second ep of “Running Wilde” that it isn’t gonna make it. It was truly unwatchable.

  16. hsofia permalink
    September 30, 2010 9:46 pm

    I’m missing a word in my above post (“overblown” hyperbole), which is why the word “redundant” is there.

    Working was – I think it was trying to either be screwball or madcap or maybe Ally McBealish, but after rewatching some scenes, I think the problem was the writing and – it was just too obvious. Watching characters set each other up for unfunny jokes is just … bad. Please do not get me started on Boy Meets World – I was way too old to be loving that show, but those darn kids were so likable!

    Have seen Big Bang Theory three or four times and enjoyed it – although some of it goes right past me. My physics and math loving spouse chuckles a lot more than I do. But the only sitcoms I’ve watched more than a few episodes of in the last five years are 30 Rock and Arrested Development. I don’t think How I Met Your Mother is funny at all, but maybe it just fills the Friends vacuum for folks.

  17. September 30, 2010 10:07 pm

    @hsofia if you like the characters, you will forgive a lot… which is why a series is always on shaky ground when it gets going: you have to like the characters. I happened to like Robert from “Lone Star” as the lead, and I found him in an interesting place, so I liked the show, but most of America did not. And really, I think that has always been my problem with shows that get canceled. I liked or related to a lot of characters that mainstream US audiences didn’t care about or didn’t understand, and those shows got the quick hook! I may need to go back and examine this.

    The other element is comedy is extremely tough. Everyone knows when something is “dramatic,” but everyone’s sense of humor is slightly unique and is informed by their own life experiences, to a degree, which means there isn’t a lot of stuff that is “universally” funny, and that also means that you won’t get everybody to love your sitcom (sorry, “Raymond,” I’m not in your clique). There’s much more here, but it probably belongs in my teaching seminar about episodic television…

  18. October 1, 2010 6:24 am

    By the way, I’ve gotten the trots from pot roast. Where’s my sitcom?

    lol!!!

    I might have to watch some of that Better Together pilot, to see HOW bad, especially since you name-checked Ned & Stacey!

  19. October 1, 2010 6:34 am

    sorry, I mean “better with you”. “better together” will be the retread of it in 3 years when they try again.

  20. Kia permalink
    October 1, 2010 8:57 am

    @NYCPenpusher I always tease that if I’m mildly interested in a show then the rest of America is not. Lonestar proved that once again I better stick to cable if I want to see a season of anything.

    I actually liked Running Wilde, too twee yes but there are so few sitcoms I can stomach that maybe my bar is low. Raising Hope I found unwatchable.

  21. October 1, 2010 2:22 pm

    Have seen Big Bang Theory three or four times and enjoyed it – although some of it goes right past me. My physics and math loving spouse chuckles a lot more than I do. But the only sitcoms I’ve watched more than a few episodes of in the last five years are 30 Rock and Arrested Development. I don’t think How I Met Your Mother is funny at all, but maybe it just fills the Friends vacuum for folks.

    Yes! My partner really likes BBT and I really don’t. I am learning to step back because it’s perfectly fine for us not to always like the same shows. I’ve been spoiled because for the most part we do have a lot of overlap. Just as he doesn’t always get what I love about SATC, I should stop expecting that he’ll be agreeable when I snark on his shows. I might have to give BBT another shot because my partner has really great taste in pop culture so there might be something there if I open myself up to it.

  22. October 1, 2010 8:16 pm

    My mom LOVES Big Bang Theory. She made me watch it with her once. I was not impressed. And I HATE HATE HATE laugh tracks.

    I haven’t seen any of these shows and I’m glad I haven’t.

  23. October 4, 2010 12:37 pm

    I was laughing so hard at the second episode of Big Bang Theory this morning that my girlfriend gave me multiple death stares but I agree that the laugh track almost seems to mock people who aren’t amused in a very “SMART PEOPLE THINK THINK THIS IS FUNNY” sort of way.

    I can’t get through the pilot for Better With You and I keep trying. But then more interesting things happen – like I see a cricket crawling across the living room floor or I have bill to think about paying.

    I am curious what people think the chances are for Raising Hope. I keep intending to not like it but then the pilot was kind of hilarious. In a child endangerment kind of way.

  24. October 4, 2010 12:58 pm

    But then more interesting things happen – like I see a cricket crawling across the living room floor or I have bill to think about paying.

    HA!!

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