Editors Note: This is part two of “Canceled!” a two-part article breaking down this year’s TV show cancellations. Click here for part one.
FOX (The gold standard for lowering the bar.)
Hole In The Wall – Ending after eighteen episodes, final episode on 3/15/2009. Okay, it’s a giant wall with a hole in it that contestants have to jump through as the wall moves toward them. Fox stole the idea of course. Only the Japanese could come up with something so simple and yet so entertaining. Problem is the novelty wears off after the first couple episodes. So it should come as no surprise that this puppy was canceled after just eighteen episodes. My guess is Fox execs would admit even they didn’t see this as anything more than a one-trick pony to drive ratings for one season. Viewed in this light, maybe this show was successful after all. One downside: it did spawn that annoying anti-smoking ad where the kid steps through the moving holes in the wall until he sees the one for a smoking pose. Ouch, that stings, doesn’t it smokers?
MADtv – Ending after fourteen seasons, final episode on 5/16/2009. When Saturday Night Live was wallowing in the mediocrity of Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sanz in the late 90’s and early 00’s, MADtv remained consistently irreverent, funny and far more willing to ruffle feathers. In my opinion, SNL — though experiencing a revival — has never really regained that irreverence that it lost upon becoming THE sketch comedy show. It’s an institution that stays within a certain set of boundaries. At times, it is still good but it will never be great again. Also, SNL, please stop forcing Andy Samberg upon us. His name may sound like Adam Sandler’s but Sandler he ain’t. As for MADtv, it had fallen off in recent years due to the departure of many of its key players throughout the 00’s but I will miss it.
Do Not Disturb – Ending after three episodes, final episode on 9/24/2008. Three whole episodes, huh? Apparently people took this title literally. Congratulations Jerry O’Connell. Heather Graham says hello.
Prison Break – Ending after four seasons, final episode on 5/15/2009. I watched every episode of the first two seasons of this show. By the end of the second season, I started to lose interest. Somewhat of a parallel here to my thoughts on Life although the failure of Prison Break is not solely the writers’ fault. The thrill of the first season in prison just couldn’t be duplicated once the guys made it out. The genius of this show is the first season. A man who masterminds a prison break down to every detail and contingency intentionally gets sent to prison to save his brother; a completely original idea which was executed very well. I read an interview with the show’s creator Paul Scheuring a few years back and even he admitted that the show was, in his mind, a two season story. One to get out of prison. One to find the gold. I strongly recommend the first season on DVD.
The Simpsons – Ending after twenty seasons, final episode on 4/15/09. Just kidding. Probably needs happen though as this show has achieved “Old Yeller” status. I can’t remember the last new Simpsons episode that I watched. I think it started with Bart getting in trouble at school, then the family went to the demolition derby and somehow Homer ended up driving a car in the derby, then the whole family somehow ended up in India, and then Moe’s Tavern burned down. You get the point. This show has devolved into a series of unrelated situations jammed together and called an “episode.” On a good day a couple of jokes still ring true and remind you of the greatness of what was — almost like watching Willie Mays turn on a pitch in his last days with the Mets. But, make no mistake, it is time for The Simpsons to gracefully exit stage right. Of course, that will never happen. Don’t worry, Simpsons fans.
King Of The Hill – Ending after thirteen seasons, final episode TBA end of 2009. This show wouldn’t exist but for the show directly above. Nevertheless, count me among the Mike Judge fans. Beavis and Butthead and Office Space are American classics. Yet, for some reason I could never get into King of the Hill. Maybe it was the initial Simpsons knock-off flavor of the show. Maybe it’s because I am not from Texas. Whatever the reason, it never resonated with me. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good show, though. My question is (and, really, it’s the question on everyone’s mind): what’s next for Brittany Murphy? A remake of Gone With The Wind or Cleopatra? How about a romantic comedy with Ashton Kutcher where they get married, end up on a comedic-yet-problem-filled honeymoon and question the their love for each other — the very love which necessitated the honeymoon in the first place? Crap, I guess she already did one of those. If you guessed she would plan to release a solo album produced by the likes of Paul Oakenfold and Timbaland — you’re the big winner. Place your pre-orders now folks.
CW Network (Also known as the hellspawn of the WB and UPN.)
I am going to be honest. I have never watched a single minute of a program on the CW. Is Moesha still on? Sorry CW fans. Maybe next year’s edition.
Sci-Fi Network (NBC Universal will be rebranding this network as “SyFy” this summer so as to allow trademarking currently not possible under the generic brand name referring to an entire genre. We’ll see what they do with the logo (I don’t think this is it) but “Syfy” looks like a bastard child of the abbreviation for “safety.” Not a good start.)
Battlestar Galactica – Ending after four seasons, final episode on 3/20/2009. By far the most critically acclaimed sci-fi series since Sliders Star Trek: The Next Generation. This show reinvented a cult classic into a tense space-faring political thriller which served as an allegory for today’s problems of war and terrorism and their effect on society. On a lighter note, Dirk “Face” Bendict starred brilliantly in the original. Anytime you can give a member of the A-Team credit — you do so. They work anonymously, you know. For new Battlestar fans, fear not. A special two hour movie event Battlestar Galactica: The Plan is set to air this fall.
Stargate Atlantis – Ending after five seasons, final episode on 1/9/2009. I can sum up the reason for this show’s cancellation with three words: Richard. Dean. Anderson. Screw continuity — how can you not put MacGyver in this show? He starred in the original Stargate SG-1 series plus he had already unlocked the keys to Atlantis once, for chrissakes! On a separate note, was Stargate was an underrated movie? Sometimes I think so. Maybe I am just a huge sucker for the egyptian/alien connection mixed with wormholes. Also, Kurt Russell played a suicidal grieving dad to perfection. How great was his long hair in the beginning scenes where he is still a broken man? That’s how you know a man has lost it — when he wears his hair long in a $500 hair cut that belongs in a Pantene commercial.
Random Others (A potpourri of random cast-offs.)
D.L. Hughley Breaks The News (CNN) – Ending after one season, final episode on 3/28/2009. Count me among the D.L. Hughley fans. I have seen the man play live and he is definitely worth the price of admission. Sorry D.L. At least you can rest easy knowing you are much more talented than the comedian directly below.
Frank TV (TBS) – Ending after two seasons, final episode on 12/23/2008. Bad year for Frank Caliendo. First, John Madden — his bread and butter — unexpectedly retires. Then Frank TV gets the axe. To make matters worse, he can’t go crawling back to MADtv. Frank, I don’t want to see a Chris Collingsworth impersonation unless you lose about 100 pounds.
The Starter Wife (USA) – Ending after two seasons, final episode on 12/12/2008. In true “classic show follow-up failure” fashion, Debra Messing’s solo endeavor comes to an end after two seasons. Honestly, it’s not her fault though. So many ships have crashed along these rocks. Bob Patterson, Listen Up!, Watching Ellie, The Michael Richards Show, Joey. These are the tattered remains of solo projects from stars of the biggest hit series in recent memory. For those of you keeping score, Debra’s two season solo effort makes her the most successful former cast member of Will & Grace to date. Eric McCormack’s solo project Trust Me (see below) ended this year after one short season and Megan Mullaly’s epic failure of a talk show, The Magic Hour The Megan Mullaly Show (do you notice how they always give one main actor an eponymous show?), was canceled in 2007 after one season of dismal ratings. Only Sean Hayes’ reputation remains unsullied. Don’t worry though, he will be back to ruin it — just like poltergeists, they all come back.
The L-Word (SHO) – Ending after six seasons, final episode on 3/8/2009. All I know about this show is that it made softcore lesbian sex scenes okay to watch in prime time (as opposed to at 2 am on Skinemax).
Extreme Trains (THC) – Ending after eight episodes, final episode on 12/30/2008. All I know about this show is that it made hardcore sex scenes okay to watch in prime time…wait…sorry. Wrong show.
Mind Of Mencia (COM) – Ending after four seasons, final episode on 7/23/2008. As most of you know, this show was canceled after Carlos Mencia’s tragic and violent murder.
RIP Carlos, you will be missed.
The Shield (FX) – Ending after seven seasons, final episode on 11/25/2008. This was a very popular show and provided the bedrock of FX’s original drama programming along with Nip/Tuck. Personally, I liked this show but I am a sucker for the “McGarnagle”-style cop shows:
Homer: “Oh it’s that new show about that policeman who solves crimes in his spare time.”
Bart: “Crank it Homer.”
Chief (on TV): “You busted up that crack house pretty bad McGarnagle. Did you really have to break so much furniture?”
McGarnagle (on TV): “You tell me Chief, you had a pretty good view from behind your desk.”
Homer: “Ah McGarnagle, eases the pain.”
Chief (on TV): “You’re off the case, McGarnagle!”
McGarnagle (on TV): “You’re off your case, Chief.”
Chief (on TV): “What does that mean exactly?”
Homer: “It means he gets results you stupid chief!”
(If you prefer the audio version — and you should — click here.)
Chiklis definitely got results on The Shield by proving he was a talented actor with a range beyond The Commish and the annoying party host from the early “Dingo Ate My Baby” episode (titled “The Stranded”) of Seinfeld. All of this makes the whole Fantastic Four-thing that much more baffling. Let me see, let’s take the only guy in these movies that can act, hide him under three feet of foam and latex, and saddle him with lines like “It’s clobberin’ time!” Meanwhile, give (clothed) Jessica Alba and a boring guy with a boring name (Chris Evans) tons of screen time. Well done, Fantastic Four producers. Well done, indeed.
Survivorman (DSC) – Ending after three seasons, final episode on 12/19/2008. I always thought Les Stroud, like Bear Grylls, had no natural predator in the wild. Turns out I was right. Problem is, when Les is back here in “civilization land” The Discovery Channel eats his ass for breakfast.
Trust Me (TNT) – Ending after one season, final episode on 4/7/2009. Forget about the previously-discussed Eric McCormack, Ed Tom Cavanagh just can’t get a break can he? Check out his resume.
- Ed – Coming in at four seasons, this show was his most successful run. But, was it worth a lifetime of a-holes like me forever referring to him as “Ed”? Probably not.
- Love Monkey – A three-episode gem of a show (placing him in good company with Emily’s Reasons Why Not and this year’s winner Do Not Disturb). It was promoted to death by CBS during the 2006 NCAA tournament and Jason Priestly was prominently involved — those are never good signs.
- Eli Stone – (see part one of this article)
- My Ex-Life – This zero episode show was a pilot CBS decided not to pick up. Wow, when you are worse than Love Monkey, that is saying a lot.
Trading Spaces (TLC) – Ending after eight seasons, final episode on 12/6/2008. This would be the runaway winner for the recently-canceled show with the most annoying host, except…
TRL (MTV) – Ending after nineteen seasons, final episode on 12/16/2008. Here’s your gold medalist for the recently-canceled show with the most annoying host(s). Besides hiring soulless hosts, this show effectively ended music video television. Not a bad resume, right? I admit it was somewhat less impressive than The Real World destroying scripted programming. But still, take a bow MTV. What’s your next project? How about destroying the very reality show genre you created by transforming it into a blatantly badly scripted show? Done and done. Catch The Hills Sundays on M-T-V.
See you next year. Same crap time. Same crap channels.