Monday, March 7, 2011

Five Shows I Would Cancel


I am sad. I just realized that Running Wilde has been canceled, making this the third Mitch Hurwitz show to be prematurely killed by Fox, following Arrested Development in 2006 and the lesser-known and even shorter-lived animated series Sit Down, Shut Up in 2008. Some people never learn. Wilde admittedly got off to a rocky, inconsistent start, but it showed promise and was funny in that absurd way mildly reminiscent of Arrested. Besides, I will watch almost anything Will Arnett touches. I won’t mourn it for very long, but this cancellation did get me thinking about shows that have truly reached their expiration dates and should be put out of their misery, along with the poor saps who would otherwise still wish they we knew how to quit them. Here are my top five, in no particular order:

Yes, I still watch this, cue the shaking of a thousand heads, but judging by the fact that I’ve been writing this post while the latest episode has been playing in the background, it’s obvious that this show’s guilty pleasure flame has fully been extinguished along with its humor, originality, and feminine appeal. The conflicts have been getting recycled for the past two or three seasons, and when they aren’t, the complications the writers think up are embarrassingly outlandish. I mean, how much villainy can take place on the same damn street in a gated community of East Borington, Middle America? I know that’s the schtick here, but it has gotten so seriously old that I’d rather watch Project Runway. The timeline of this show is already so screwed up that current events are supposed to be taking place 10 years or so after the first season’s; let’s not try to go for Desperate Housewives: The Golden Years here.

It’s hard for me to go back to a time when I thoroughly enjoyed and obsessively followed this show. Over the years it’s been pretty fascinating to observe the evolution of the three “sister wives,” the compelling stories of myriad supporting characters, and sometimes, the humanity of even the vilest of the lot. The high point came circa Season 3, but ever since then I’ve had an increasingly harder time becoming invested in the characters, in large part because the central one, the polygamous patriarch himself, has not seemed to develop past his general blandness. Moreover, driven by Bill’s political aspirations, the complications for his family have shifted from the private to the public sphere, where before, what made the show interesting was its focus on the secrecy of it all and the intricately nuanced questions of morality, freedom, and faith that emanated therefrom. By bringing the Henricksons’s polygamy out in the open this season, the writers have provided nothing more than a deus ex machina device to bring about obstacles and perhaps, in the end, the family’s destruction; I don’t know about others, but I would much rather have seen these relationships unravel from the inside out.

This is actually really difficult because I still enjoy this show a good amount. Still, ever since the whole Jim and Pam will-they-won’t-they mystery has been off the table, we’ve been treated to a gradual decline into sameness over the years. Now that Steve Carrell is leaving and taking the sublime character Michael Scott with him, I have doubts that the Dunder Mifflin gang will retain its viewership and special something that made it one of the great comedy wild cards of the last decade. Let’s not give this show a chance to get stale and accept that it may be time to resign it and allow its successor, Parks and Recreation aka the other NBC documentary-style sitcom, to really flourish.

OK, I’ve never watched an entire episode, but based on what I’ve seen of it on The Soup, this show neeeeeds to end, like, yesterday.

This one is really starting to grasp at straws now, as evidenced by the parade of characters, each of them more attractive than the last, that have made their way on and off the show since its premiere, and I’m not just referring to those few forced and voluntary resignations that take place every now and then. The problem is that the only new thing that ever happens among the Seattle Gracies is sex with someone different, and now that most of the possible couplings have already happened, the producers keep introducing new players to an already numerous ensemble cast in hopes of creating new stories. It’s more than a little desperate. Who the eff is Lucy Fields and why should I care about her… other than the obligatory sob story that every character in a Shonda Rhimes production seems to be walking around with (also see: Practice, Private and Map, Off the)? Since the three central couples are now well-established and happy together, why not just wrap it up neatly and call it a day? Give MerDer a damn baby, Alex a non-crazy girlfriend, and Lexie an age-appropriate boyfriend, and get out with a shred of dignity before it’s too late.  

Have I missed anything? What other shows are mercilessly keeping us hooked in spite of our better judgment?


  1. I didn't get passed the first episode of Running Wilde.

    Ricky Gervais has tipped his hat in favour of Will Arnett replacing Steve Carrel. So I'll reserve judgement until they get a new boss and hope for the best.

    I had no idea One Tree Hill was still on the air.

    I will never stop watching Grey's Anatomy. (I think the next dramatic direction should be the tanking of Christina and McArmy's marriage.)

  2. RW was not a brilliant show, but it had moments of comic brilliance that could have added up to something in time. And I didn't say I would stop watching GA, or any of the aforementioned, for that matter. Such is the nature of the tellyphile's burden. (I WILL bring that term into the vernacular!)

  3. I agree with everything but Grey's. It's actually getting better and Meredith, not completley annoying anymore! I know that it's tragic that this counts as progress, but I find that as of late that show is getting better and better, with the exception of the Teddy storyline ( really she married someone to help him...what could happen there? what could possibly develop from that?) And the Lucy Fields character makes me roll my eyes everytime she opens her mouth to flirt and be sassy. Seen that and I'm sure Alex has already done that too in another manifestation. The other show I would take off the air--Weeds. I'm no longer rooting for Nancy and anytime I watch I hate myself a little, gone is the humor and edginess of yesterseason. Nancy is no longer the anti-hero just anti-interesting and I'm sick of watching her wreak havoc, it's just not fun/intersting anymore.

  4. Yes, it is time for Weeds as well. I forgot about that one, though I still enjoy the writing and still want things to be semi-OK for the Botwins, Nancy too. I think I read somewhere that next season will be the last. Do you think crazy-eyes Shane will finally do her in? That kid has been a junior sociopath from the beginning.

  5. Oh, and the Teddy storyline... you're right, of course, but... Scott Foley = foxy.