Thursday, June 28, 2018

Canceled Before They Began: The Ortegas

It was supposed to be a unique sitcom- The Ortegas would feature Cheech Marin as a father whose son had his own garage based talk show. The show within a show would feature stars appearing as themselves, getting interviewed by the younger Ortega. Fox was bullish on the show and put it on the fall schedule in 2002.

Obviously you’ve never heard about the show, so what happened? Fox’s summer slate that year was too strong. The network found great success with The O.C. and American Idol. It had to clear the decks to accommodate its newfound success and The Ortegas were the sad casualties.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Canceled Before They Began: The Jake Effect

Jason Bateman was ready to take on Hollywood again. In the early 2000’s, he would star in a cult favorite that would gain attention after its cancellation. That show was called The Jake Effect. Whaaaa??

The Jake Effect featured Jason Bateman as a smart lawyer who ditches it all for a job teaching. NBC had picked up the show for the 2002-2003 season. Only eight episodes were produced when the network lost its interest in the show. The show never aired on network television, but Bravo picked it up after the success of Bateman’s next show- Arrested Development.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Canceled Before They Began- The Men’s Room

In the mid-2000s, NBC was reeling. “Must-See” TV was dead and the network hadn’t been able to produce a breakout his in years. Its leader had smugly declared ABC dead a few years before, yet it now found itself a distant fourth in the ratings after ABC’s hot streak began in 2004. The network quickly greenlit a slate of comedies hoping that one of them would catch on. One such comedy was The Men’s Room, which would star John Cho, Scott Cohen and Kate Walsh.

Unlike other shows that were cancelled before they aired, this show actually filmed six episodes out of twelve before NBC pulled the plug. The entire production was scrapped and none of the produced episodes ever aired on television. Why did NBC cancel the show before it ever aired? Apparently the network didn’t like what it saw and canceled the show before giving its audience a chance to decide.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Canceled Before They Began: The IT Crowd

The IT Crowd is a British television show that depicts the world of Information Technology in a bizarre light. We are introduced to this world by a regular career woman who embellished her resume a bit and ended up getting a position running a company’s IT help desk. The show often bordered on the bizarre, staying realistic enough to be relatable but still stepping across the border into occasional insanity. It eventually found a small but enthusiastic American fan base, which caught the attention of NBC. Having found success with its American version of The Office, NBC thought it could do the same with The IT Crowd. It excitedly announced in 2007 that the show would be on its Fall schedule, importing Richard Ayoad from the British version and featuring Joel McHale, Jessica St. Clair and Rocky Carroll.

Don’t recognize this show? Don’t be alarmed; it never actually made it to NBC’s schedule. In a rare move, NBC quietly dropped the show before the new season began. It never addressed the show’s cancellation and acted as though it never existed. The network recently announced that the show was being developed again with a new cast, so some version of the show might finally see the light of day.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Cancelled?!? “Leave it to Beaver”

Today, Leave it to Beaver is remembered as a classic, successful sitcom that reflected the way America saw itself in the 1950’s. Everyone must have watched it every week, right? Well, the truth is that the quintessential 1950’s family sitcom was actually canceled after its first season on CBS. Originally, the show had middling ratings and was on the bubble ratingswise. CBS decided to pop the bubble after the show’s first season.

Had CBS’ cancellation stuck, Leave it to Beaver would probably have been seen as just a strange artifact of the 1950’s, remembered only for its rose colored view of family life. ABC, however, decided to step in and pick up the show from CBS’ scrap heap. The network was younger and more desperate than CBS, so even if Leave it to Beaver merely retained its middling ratings, it would be good enough for ABC. Fate would intervene, however. America had grown to love the show and its ratings soared in its second season. The classic show would eventually end on its own terms, going out on top in 1963.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Only on TV: You’re Always 100% Right- But Not This Time!

In the real world, we often prize the opinions of experts. Their opinion is especially sought after if they seem to be right most of the time. On television, opinions of people who are regularly shown to be absolutely correct are often ignored if the person is considered ‘quirky’.

Even abrasive doctors who save lives can get ignored despite their nearly perfect past diagnoses. After all, why take the risk of curing a deathly ill patient with a diagnosis from a doctor who is rarely wrong? He’s sometimes a jerk! Certainly the grieving family will be comforted with the knowledge that their loved one might have been saved, but the treatment was summarily rejected because it came from a doctor that the others dislike.

An extreme version of this instance occurred on ABC’s The Good Doctor. The lead doctor has autism, which makes his colleagues regularly disregard his diagnoses and berate him in front of patients. On one episode, a sick girl was misdiagnosed by his colleagues and sent home. In the middle of the night, he figured out the real diagnoses and went to the girl’s house to tell her parents that theyneeded to get her to the hospital immediately. The parents, who allegedly cared about their daughter, instead berated the doctor and said that they wouldn’t take their daughter in for emergency surgery- but would be going to the hospital the next morning to get him fired. Of course, the daughter starts exhibiting the very symptoms the doctor pointed out and gets rushed to the hospital just in the nick of time.

In the real world, even if they questioned the sanity of the doctor showing up at midnight, good parents would have immediately rushed their child to the hospital on the off chance that the doctor was right. Only on TV would parents ignore the doctor’s advice just because he was strange.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Only on TV: This is Your Life!

While the characters we see on television appear to be just like us, they often don’t behave like real humans. Television writers often try to skirt the line between believability and exaggeration to create stories that are interesting enough for viewers. This often means that there are things that happen on television that rarely happen in real life.

Do you spend every waking moment with your co-workers? Do all of your major life events center around your workplace? If you keep a balanced work/life balance, the answer to these questions are most likely no. But on television, most people in a workplace regularly find themselves only hanging out exclusively with their fellow employees. Every major life event will take place at work or while socializing with people from work. Relatives and non-work friends are rarely mentioned or consulted about major life decisions.

This strange TV anomaly even occurs with random acquaintances and interest groups. Dealing with getting dumped? Don’t look to relatives or longtime friends for help- become totally dependent on a self help group that, in the real world, would just be people you would see once a week. These relative strangers would become the only people you spend time with or use as confidants even if the thing you need advice on has nothing to do with the group.