Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My Approval Is the Kiss of Death

Okay, so I didn't quite get my blog in under the wire last night, 'cause the post was just after midnight, but I figure it was before I went to bed, so it counts for Monday. Maggie doesn't believe that I can do this every day this week, but I consider that more of an incentive to accomplish my goal. It's so sad when I feel like someone doesn't believe in me. You know, that makes me think of how people just don't give enough chances to others sometimes. Don't worry, Maggie, I'm not talking about you anymore. I'm talking about this corporate world that art must somehow find a place in.

It's strange how individuals or groups of people put their hearts and souls into dance, movies, paintings, writing, what have you, only to have some dink with a business degree say it's not good enough. What's more, getting a big break often isn't big enough. There are constantly critics, agents, managers, executives, producers, and any other number of gate keepers ready to slam you out the door without notice. You're only as good as your last moment, and if the general public didn't receive it well according to who knows what kind of arcane system, you're out, and you might never see the inside again.

I know a lot of people ready to poo poo television without a second thought. Don't get me wrong, it's fine by me if you don't really watch the tube. There are plenty of mediums I don't like: online gaming, musicals, roleplaying. However, I'm not about to say I'd never enjoy any of those things, or that there's no possibility I'll ever find myself addicted to one. So here's the thing--television, like all art media, is full of a lot of crap. But if you can sift through the crap like I have, you'll find some real gems. And just when they show you enough for you to fall in love, they'll cancel it on you. Hey, I'm defending television here, not CEO's.

*Note: Brian has requested that I link to more external sites on my blog. Look out for clicking fun, and may the interaction begin.

Top 5 Brilliant but Cancelled Television Programs

Before The West Wing and long before Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Aaron Sorkin created and wrote this half-hour comedy about the behind-the-scenes life of the employees of a SportsCenteresque highlights show. Yes, it's like he stole his own idea for Studio 60, but decided to make it a lot lamer. If you can get past the horrible (HORRIBLE) laugh track, you will find yourself rolling on the floor. Peter Krause is cute but manipulative, his usual MO. Joshua Molina is cute but dorky, again, his usual. Josh Charles is just cute. None of the women are cookie cutter, and the dialogue is fabulous. If it weren't for his ear for human speech patterns, I wouldn't have a shred of respect left for Sorkin. He's great at what he does, but it's no exec's fault this show went off the air. He left it in order to do West Wing, and when you're as big of a control freak as he is, you leave no one behind to pick up the pieces. If any of you did watch Studio 60, Matthew Perry's character is Aaron Sorkin, complete with autobiographical relationship problems projected onto the small screen for all of America to see. I really feel bad for Kristin Chenoweth.

Boy, do I like puzzles. You might remember this show as the mystery produced by Ben Affleck and that other guy where some lucky viewer would win a million+ bucks for putting the clues together by the end of the season. It was only supposed to run for a total of 13 episodes anyway, and it made it through 7. It had to have been pretty bad, right? Unfortunately, the gimmick wasn't necessary, and it might have even dug a deeper grave for the show. This one just turned out being way too weird for most of America, and if viewers hadn't tuned in for the first one or two, they might have felt it wasn't worth catching up, since they hadn't seen the presentation of the first two episodes' clues. I'm not sure how Lost can do so well and Push couldn't, but perhaps it was a little ahead of the curve on prime time esoteric entertainment. What I really loved about this show were all the little details, the red herrings, the interconnected touches which turned out to be literary allusions and historical references. It was smart, and I was upset that Mr. Daredevil wouldn't just front a couple more bucks to finish out the season himself. Well, 'vongilnail' you, Mr. Affleck.

Jason Bateman, marry me. Talk about tying up loose ends. Nothing happens in this show that doesn't come back later, and that might be what killed it. There can be a line at the beginning of season 1 and you've got to wait until the middle of season 2 to hear the punchline. Continuity is the key to such writing--that and a lot of ad libbing, planned bleeped expletives, a hook hand, a seal, a cooler, and something that looks like a photograph of the Iraqi desert but...well...isn't. This show effects my daily life. Every time I call up Jimmy, I greet him with a "Hey, brother." I like to yell "No touching" at every available moment, and I still think that breakfast is the most important thing, not family. I will never hear "The Final Countdown" the same way again. Countless lines just pop into my head from this show, and it seems the critics were really happy with it, too. Apparently when the movie finally comes out, it will be me and six other people with light-up clicky pens in the theater. Unfortunately, it wasn't making enough money for the execs. Perhaps they should have looked in the banana stand.

The tagline says it all: "What high school was like for the rest of us." Think My So-Called Life without the drama. And that's the thing about high school really, isn't it? There was pretty much zero drama in my life as a teenager. I've made more of an interesting story out of those years now that I'm well into my twenties than how I felt about them at the time. I was over high school. I was over the drama. By the time I dropped out, I was over every kind of organization imaginable. Enter the kids of Freaks and Geeks. They're a bunch of rag tag kids who don't have anything figured out, don't talk like psychoanalysts, don't get into any real trouble, and don't really accomplish anything either. For those of us who didn't have our lives mapped out at 15, this is the show to watch. Plus, it's a Judd Apatow program, so virtually everyone who starred in it is now recognizable to anyone who went to the movie theater last year.

The mother of all cult shows. You've got this dead girl. Everyone in town is a suspect. Throw in a giant, a dancing dwarf who talks backwards, a smiling bag, a man with only one arm, and the smell of burning motor oil, and you've got yourself the most fascinating murder case ever seen on TV. K Mac plays the lovable FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper with a penchant for damn fine coffee and cherry pie. By the time you find out who killed Laura Palmer you're so much more interested in the goings on of the rest of the town, it just might make you a little sad how soon the dead are swept away. Or are they? That new girl looks so familiar...

I've done little justification for these awesome shows. I considered a lot of other options: Journeyman, Love Monkey, Lucky, My So-Called Life, Firefly, Eerie, Indiana. I guess I just shouldn't ever become a network decision-maker--I'd drive it into the ground with fabulous programming.


Kim said...

Journeyman is done? =( sadness. I think I might actually like New Amsterdam a little more, though. Fewer embarrassing moments, which makes it much more enjoyable for me. I know, I'm odd.

We should have some Twin Peaks marathon weekends sometime. I need to watch those again.

Shmaylor said...

"K Mac" HAHAHAHAHA I love it. I too was so mad and disappointed at Studio 60. I think Aaron Sorkin, the man, jumped the shark as soon as he ast down to write taht show - he should just give up, really. His self righteousness is awesome when put in the mouths of Martin Sheen, Richard Schiff and sweet, sweet, hott, hott Bradly Whitford... but otherwise, not so much.