Saturday, October 12, 2013

First Comedy Cancelled No Surprise

We are menIt’s We Are Men.

And I’m not kidding that it wasn’t a surprise. There are so many reasons why this show was going to fail that would be apparent to anyone who isn’t a network TV executive that it really is a shock to me that any network would pick it up. Let’s go through them shall we.

1. The central plot device – guys coming together and bonding.
Without resorting to notes I can tell you of two previous series where this central plot device: CBS’s Welcome To The Commodore and ABC’s Carpoolers. The former featured a young man moving into a historic hotel and being taken under the collective wings of the people living there, including the supposedly wiser older man (played in that case by Jeffrey Tambor; in this show it was Tony Shaloub). For the latter I’m going to have to hit IMDb and Wikipedia because memories for failed TV shows isn’t encyclopaedic and this one was gone and forgotten so fast that it would make your head spin. Oh wait, it wasn’t; it lasted 13 episodes. It was just forgotten so fast that it would make your head spin. It was about four guys who carpool together, each with different problems at home. Even reading the descriptions in the Wikipedia article makes me want to turn off my monitor. Suffice it to say that this sort of group of men getting together comedy doesn’t fly very well in the ratings.

2. The other part of the central plot device – Guys trying to regain their masculinity:
If I’m not mistaken we went through a recent spate of comedies that looked at how men were trying to regain their lost masculinity. It was back in the 2011-2012 season, and only one of those shows is still in the line-up. That was the season of such gems as How To Be A Gentleman (the first comedy cancelled that season), Man Up! (which, from looking at the description, is also one of the shows with the first problem – I forgot that this one even existed, lucky me), and the too horrible for words Work It! The only show to survive that trend was Last Man Standing which is still on and is Tim Allen reviving his old Home Improvement series with daughters instead of sons and apparently a lot other similarities that showed up after I gave up on watching this show…about three weeks after it debuted.

3. Show killer Jerry O’Connell: That’s right, I’m labelling Jerry O’Connell a show killer. Take a look at the record. Since Sliders, O’Connell has been a regular on Crossing Jordan, Carpoolers, Do Not Disturb, and The Defenders. Of those series, only Crossing Jordan lasted more than 18 episodes, and that is largely due to the fact that O’Connell’s part wasn’t the lead or even the co-lead. Crossing Jordan was very much Jill Hennessy’s show while O’Connell was the detective who usually worked with her and occasionally expressed romantic feelings towards her. Of the other three series, Carpoolers lasted 13 episodes with O’Connell as one of the four title characters, Do Not Disturb aired 3 episodes (two or three others were made but mercifully never aired), and The Defenders (where he was equally billed with Jim Belushi and was in a semi-dramatic role for the first time since Crossing Jordan), last 18 episodes.

4. A guy in a Speedo: In this case it was Jerry O’Connell, which makes it worse, but really pretty much any guy who isn’t an Olympic swimmer wearing a Speedo is going to make a show a failure. I’m fine with nudity and near nudity on TV – I actually applauded the producers of NYPD Blue for having Dennis Franz bare his butt – but there are some boundaries that just shouldn’t be crossed and a guy in a Speedo - aka a Banana Hammock – is one of them.

We Are Men will be replaced at 8:30 p.m. (Eastern) by 2 Broke Girls which had been at 9 p.m. Reruns of The Big Bang Theory will air in the 9 p.m. time slot for the next three weeks. Mike and Molly will return to that time slot on November 4.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

The First Series Cancelled Is…

Lucky_7_logoThe ironically named Lucky 7 after two episodes. The second episode of the ABC Tuesday night drama had a 0.7 rating in the 18-49 demographic (which we know are the only people whose buying habits count).

The show had ton of problems. It was part of an all-new Tuesday line-up and aired an hour after the heavily touted blockbuster Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The lead-in for Lucky 7 was the new comedy Trophy Wife. Neither Trophy Wife nor Lucky 7 were given a heavy promotional push by the network before the start of the season. It had a cast of unknows.

There’s one other thing, and I’m not sure it’s accurate but I think it leads into something that is accurate. More than one writer has claimed that people don’t like shows about lottery winners. Of course it’s not exactly easy to find shows in the past about lottery winners, but let’s let that slide.A bigger problem for the show as far as I can see is that it’s an ensemble drama where we have very little investment in what the characters are doing. There is a very long history of shows with that sort of premise dying quickly on the vine. Successful ensemble dramas – shows like Lost or The West Wing grab you with dramatic stories and make you want to be involved with the characters. It isn’t easy to do; for all the Losts and West Wings there are shows like Reunion, Six Degrees Of Separation, and The Nine that are dismal failures. An ensemble drama can work if it delivers a cohesive group dynamic with people we like and can identify with quickly, and dramatic situations that people can relate to. Lucky 7 clearly didn’t do this.

ABC’s immediate plan for the time slot is to have reruns of their hit Thursday night series Scandal fill the slot, opposite new episodes of Person of Interest on CBS and Chicago Fire on NBC.