New episodes of the deathwatched television show Kitchen Confidential as well as the last few episodes of "Arrested Development" start Monday night, but they both will soon be gone because shows I like are inevitably cancelled. I have a twenty-five year long record of killing promising new series. My liking a show is usually enough to doom a new series. Here is just a small list of shows that never stood a chance. All links are to the IMDB summary in case you want to check cast bios or get more info.
Breaking Away (1980). This television series adaptation of the bicycling movie starred a post-Hardy Boys Shaun Cassidy with a lot of the movie cast including Jackie Earle Haley. While the show caught the spirit of the movie, it never found an audience.
Square Pegs (1982). Before Sarah Jessica Parker found sex in the city, she was a high school geek trying to get in with the cool kids. This show was set in the early 80s and had a great New Wave musical vibe. The show was notoriously uneven in quality largely because the producers, writers, crew, and possibly some of the cast where constantly coked up. Perhaps a perfect meta-metaphor for the 80s.
It’s Your Move (1984) Jason Bateman was a scheming teenager in a feud with the nebbish guy across the hall trying to date his mother. Snarky comedy too edgy for the family friendly times.
Max Headroom (1987). The US version of the British talk show spoof. Twenty minutes into the future was a little too far for this ahead of its time satire of a ratings-obsessed 24-hour news channel.
Ferris Bueller (1990) This TV adaptation of the movie classic lacked everything the film did. Ferris’s sister played by a young Jennifer Anniston survived this turkey long enough to find some Friends on a better show.
The Flash (1990). Hoping to capitalize on the popularity of the Tim Burton Batman movie, this noirish series had good production values but zipped around the schedule so much an audience had no chance of finding it. Mark Hamill guest starred as The Trickster.
The Single Guy (1995) Jonathon Silverman starred as a twenty-something ready to settle down because all his friends were married. The show was one of the better ones stuck in the 8:30 Thursday NBC deathspot but it still wasn't Must See TV.
Sports Night (1998) A behind the scenes look at an ESPN-style sports news show. I blame the bad acting. These actors have gone onto dreck like "West Wing", "Six Feet Under", and "Desperate Housewives".
Freaks and Geeks (1999) This show about a math nerd in the early 1980s that starts hanging around the school stoners was so true to life that I have considered legal action. Cruelly cancelled and burned off in summer reruns, watching the DVD box set is one of my goals this winter.
Action (1999) Jay Mohr takes the slimy guy schtick he perfected in Jerry McGuire and uses it in a Hollywood behind the scenes spoof ala The Player. Bonus points for having a Warren Zevon song for theme music.
Undeclared (2001) Judd Apatow took some of the cast of Freaks and Geeks and set them in a contemporary mid-level state college dorm. Despite the much higher sexual content, this show also failed to find an audience. The episode where Lizzie keeps denying hooking up with guest star Adam Sandler is a classic.
Arrested Development (2003-2005) Wait, you say I can’t take credit for this since it lasted for more than one season. True, but I quit watching it about six episodes into the first season when I couldn’t keep track of when it was on. It then won six Emmys and got nominated for ten more over the next two seasons. It was only when I started watching the third season that the plug got pulled. Sorry.
For fans of quality television everywhere I apologize for my curse. Let me know what new show you like so I can avoid it for you. Or let me know what short lived series you really miss. I may have killed it too and just overlooked it here.
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