The cut-throat Golden Age of TV
We’re living in the golden age of TV, with movie stars on the small screen, shows that looks like indie films, and more places than ever to watch whatever obscure show you hold dear. This past season saw the creation of a slew of high quality options such as HBO’s Divorce, High Maintenance, and Netflix dramady anthology Easy, to name but a few. But unfortunately, it also saw the cancellation of a number of shows much too soon. Such is the cut-throat nature of TV’s golden age.
Sure, once the bar is set high, there’s pressure to keep it up there. But there’s something to be said for allowing a show to find its voice (cough, Parks and Recreation) or allowing it to stay on the air despite less-than-stellar first season ratings (30 Rock, cough) - because it’s not easy to keep up with network shows in 2016 let alone the cablers and streaming originals. Behind-the-scenes network politics can also cause a show to get yanked prematurely despite decent rating and critical praise. So for whatever reason, here are five good shows whose plugs were pulled too soon.
Rob Lowe stars as a famous actor who was in a long-running legal drama, playing a lawyer, only for his show to be canceled. So he moves back to his small town, and though he’s never even set eyes on a real law school, starts helping out around his family’s law firm - adamant he has some legal acumen from years of playing a lawyer on TV. The show has solid jokes, a witty voice, and an effective odd-couple dynamic between Lowe and his brother, played by Fred Savage. Sure, there were some odd serialization choices towards the end of season one, but there was real potential for a great season two. The good news is, the season in its entirety is now available on Netflix.
You’d be forgiven for never actually having heard of this series on account of a serious lack of promotion - despite the fact it’s on NBC. Based on a Turkish format that was adapted from the 1996 Brad Pitt movie Sleepers, Game of Silence follows five best friends whose worlds are disrupted when a dark secret from their past threatens to resurface. The show is heavy, with brutal images and very little comic relief (by little we mean none) which perhaps hits a little too close to real life current events. With low ratings - again, no thanks to the NBC PR department - the show was cancelled after only seven episodes into its first season. But despite its low ratings, the show accrued a small but loyal fan base, who are petitioning for the show to be picked up by Netflix.
Often described as “Mad Men, but with women,” Good Girls Revolt tells the based-on-real-events story of female writers who demanded equal treatment of their employer, a news magazine, in 1969. The show is good. The fashion and soundtrack are brilliant. And it’s a serialized telling of a mostly true story that has a solid procedural element of the journalists covering real-life events form the past - the pilot is about a fan being shot dead by Hells Angels at the Rolling Stones’ free Altamont concert in 1969. More importantly, the show is relevant. And, it’s a much-needed history lesson. Yet it was cancelled just five weeks after airing. Creator Dana Calvo has commented publicly that no women were present in the decision making process for the fate of the show, which is ironic, given the show’s subject matter. But, there could still be hope for Good Girls; rumor has it that Sony is shopping around to find it a new home.
Grandfathered returned something special to us that we didn’t know we were missing - John Stamos. It tells the story of a long time bachelor/playboy restaurateur (Stamos, obviously) who finds out he’s not only the father of an adult son, played by Josh Peck, but a grandfather. The show is not perfect. Peck is miscast as a dweeb, his chemistry with the mother of his child, (played by Christina Milian) is forced, and at times the story lines are eye-rolling-ly predictable. And yet, there is something about the show that is compelling. Both Stamos and Paget Brewster (Stamos’ former flame) are such pros that they compensate for the show’s flaws, as does Ravi Patel, who plays the chef at Stamos’ restaurant. Given time, this show could have potentially found its voice as a solid family comedy that you can switch off to.
Comedy Central calls this show “a free-form venue where comic and curious perv Nikki investigates the issues the rest of us are too timid to ask”, and the results are consistently hilarious. Glaser is sharp, funny, and extremely likeable, and given more time this show could have built up a loyal audience. Not so. The good news is that Comedy Central is exploring other options to work with the curious perv again.