By David Weigand
This week, the broadcast networks finish the annual upfronts, the process by which networks try to woo advertisers with bright and shiny objects called “New Fall Shows.” In the process, a lot of shows have fallen by the wayside.
In fact, since last fall, shows have been cancelled left and right, which only shows both an air of desperation in the TV industry as well as an absence of originality and creativity.
I offered a list of the handful of shows I’ll miss earlier this week. Now we turn to the much longer list of shows I want to forget forever.
Here’s my non-hit list:
1. “Animal Practice” on NBC. The Peacock turned to a damn monkey to save the fall season and wound up stepping in something early on. And it wasn’t a banana peel.
2. “Guys With Kids,” on NBC. The network made a big point of saying it wanted to seek a broader audience for sitcoms, which was a thinly veiled way of saying, “‘The Office‘ and ’30 Rock’ and all that edgy stuff is too precious for us. We want to appeal to the masses.” You can do that but only if the show is funny. This wasn’t.
3. “Deception” on NBC: The network’s pale answer to ABC’s “Revenge.” But no one was deceived into thinking it was any good.
4. “Do No Harm,” NBC – Sheesh, it’s amazing how many shows NBC has had to cancel. “Do No Harm” should have been the advice given to the network, but at any rate, this dopey Jekyll and Hyde doctor show was monstrously boring.
5. “Smash,” NBC. I thought it had potential in its first season, and thought it had potential at the start of its second season. It didn’t. Fool me twice, shame on me.
6. “Up All Night,” NBC: I used to like this show, but it went off the rails, so much so that even Christina Applegate quit. The lesson here is that if you have a challenged show, you gotta be careful about how much you screw around with it. Go too far and you lose your small loyal fan base without attracting new viewers.
7. “Whitney,” NBC. A bad idea from the get-go. Whitney Cummings is a real talent, but she can’t act and all she does when she tries is to do a stand-up routine of one-liners. It didn’t deserve to last as long as it did. Glad that Chris D’Elia got a new project. He deserves a purple heart.
8. “1600 Penn,” NBC. There was something here but not enough to earn viewers. Politics makes good TV fodder, but you have to do it right, like HBO does with “Veep.” The NBC show was too much about the screw-up son and not enough about the full ensemble of otherwise capable actors.
9. “Made in Jersey,” CBS. I liked Janet Montgomery in this even better than I liked her in BBC America’s “Spies of Warsaw,” but the show felt like it belonged on USA, as a “Fairly Legal”wannabe.
10. “Partners,” CBS. This was an Odd Couple pairing of a gay guy and a straight guy who set up an architecture practice together. It came from “Will & Grace’s” Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, but it didn’t advance the ball down the field much. In fact, it felt really old fashioned compared to, say, “The New Normal” and “Glee.”
11. “Touch,” Fox. Way too touchy-feelie in an effort to expand Kiefer Sutherland‘s image from “24.” And that was the mistake. The whole thing felt like “Touched by an Angel.” Back to “24,” Jack, which is exactly what Kiefer’s doing in a forthcoming “24″ miniseries.
12. “The Mob Doctor,” Fox. This came straight out of the uninspired mind of someone who doesn’t get out of the TV writers’ room much. People like medical shows, people like mob shows, let’s combine the two and have a show about a woman doctor who’s in debt to the mob. Let’s not.
13. “The Last Resort,” ABC. I couldn’t figure out what this show was about. It seemed to want to tap into the “Lost” demographic, but maybe it tapped in too many other places as well. It was a futuristic world conflict story, a desert island story, and overall, a terrible waste of the considerable talents of Andre Braugher.
14. “Rules of Engagement,” CBS. The Tiffany Network has kept this old chestnut around for far too long and used it to fill in the gaps left by prematurely cancelled shows. I guess it shows belated confidence on the part of the network that it thinks it doesn’t need this ace in the hole. Actually, more like a deuce in the hole.
15. “Golden Boy,” CBS: For this, CBS moved the struggling “Vegas” to God’s waiting room, AKA: Fridays? Theo James was always too pretty and clean-cut to be believable as an ambitious cop who becomes commissioner of police in seven years.Even if you accepted that gimmick, the show was just a dopey police procedural that even the presence of Chi McBride couldn’t save.
16. “How To Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life),” ABC. Coulda, shoulda worked, but didn’t. Too precious and not very funny. Sarah Chalke deserves a better vehicle, and the presence of over the top parents, over-acted by Brad Garrett and Elizabeth Perkins, made living “With Your Parents” insufferable.
17. “Red Widow,” ABC. Ukrainian mobsters in Marin County. There was nothing at all believable or compelling in the show. And why was the widow “red?” The Soviet Union doesn’t exist anymore, people. Buy a new calendar.
18. “Malibu Country,” ABC. I’m a little surprised that Reba’s popularity didn’t keep this afloat, not to mention that it was pared with Tim Allen‘s “Last Man Standing” on ABC’s Friday night schedule. But overall, there wasn’t a whole lotta difference between this show and McEntire’s previous sitcom, “Reba.”
19. “Happy Endings,” ABC. I used to love this show, but then I realized it was kind of the “Groundhog Day” of sitcoms. It was the same situation over and over and over again and never really moved forward. If this had been a year ago, I would have been sorry to see it go. Now? Not so much.
20. “Family Tools,” ABC. Well, J.K. Simmons was in it, and he’s usually worth watching, but, to paraphrase Bette Midler, “not when he’s stuck in a turkey the size of this one.” It should have been more of an ensemble show and less about the ne’er-do-well son, and it shouldn’t have costarred Leah Remini. Nothing should co-star Leah Remini, but that’s a whole other column.
Ok, your turn: What shows won’t you miss at all? Add your nominations to the comments portion here and I’ll toss a few more pics on the gallery.
And here’s a look at this week’s earlier gallery of shows I really will miss a lot: