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Oh the Humanity! When Promising Shows Crash and Burn


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#1

Brandon

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Posted Apr 29, 2006 @ 9:40 AM

I wonder what shows do you remember that seem to have debuted with such fanfare and promise. People were screaming that it was going to be the next big thing. Everyone seemed to be excited about it. The show may debut with huge ratings and is off to a good start. Every critic in town loves it, everyone at the water cooler is gushing about it at work. But something happens. You notice that the quality of the show is starting to diminish, the ratings are beginning to slip, and more and more negative buzz begins to surround it. The show's timeslot changes and then it changes again, and again. Eventually maybe after one season or maybe half of season two the show is unceremoniously cancelled. Suddenly the show that was going to be the next Hill Street Blues or ER is now just another unmarked headstone in TV's long and ever expanding graveyard of cancelled shows.

Now of course the shows I'm talking about aren't critical darlings and rating hits that simply go on for way too long like ER or NYPD Blue. Or good shows that maintain a high standard quality for most of it's run with the exception of a crappy final season. (ie Homicide) No I'm taking about the well-hyped shows that crash and burn after one (or maybe two seasons).

The show that comes to mind that fits this criteria is Commander in Chief, in fact CiC inspired me to create this thread. Everything I read about it suggested it was going take its place alongside Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Grey's Anatomy as ABC's newest hit. But now after sagging ratings, several staff shakeups and the customary time slot switch, the show is on a slow, painful march to an early death. So I ask you what other shows in annals of TV have started off with such promise only to crash and burn a short time later.

Edited by Brandon, Apr 29, 2006 @ 11:04 AM.

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#2

Eegah

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Posted Apr 29, 2006 @ 10:43 AM

Push, Nevada, definitely. The Twin Peaks-like long term mystery, plus the very neat aspect that you could win money if you figured it out before the characters, really hooked me. Then there was the Whedon-esque twist that the guy who seemed like he would be the primary antagonist was killed off in the pilot. After that, though, it just completely lost steam both in the writing and ratings. ABC even had to keep airing it after cancelling it to get all the clues out there, and those episodes have a distinct lame duck "just marking time here" feel.
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#3

Well Manicured

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Posted Apr 29, 2006 @ 11:38 AM

I remember Invasion having a lot of buzz before it's premiere. All the critics were calling it the next Lost. But I guess it never took off, I don't here about it that much anymore. I think it's still on the air, isn't it?
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#4

Eegah

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Posted Apr 29, 2006 @ 12:45 PM

Invasion was insanely slow during the first half of the season, but something kept me watching and since then it's picked up impressively. I now look forward to it more than Lost, and check out the thread in Sci-Fi Shows and you'll see nothing but total raves and eager speculation about it.
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#5

Scoithniamh

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Posted Apr 29, 2006 @ 1:10 PM

I was very excited for Kitchen Confidential before it aired. It had three ex-cast members from three of my favorite shows: Bradley Cooper, Nicholas Brendon, and John Francis Daley. I thought it would be an interesting premise, especially if was anything like Bourdain's book. I watched every episode Fox aired, and I do think it had potential. If Fox had given it more attention and time, I think it could have been a solid comedy. Not on par with Arrested or anything, but funny and light. Instead, they had the standard knee jerk reaction to lower-than-expected ratings: ignore it, cancel it, pretend it never happened. Argh. Good cast members wasted! A funny and exciting premise totally lost! Boo.
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#6

TudorQueen

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Posted Apr 29, 2006 @ 2:40 PM

"Murder One" started out brilliantly, IMHO, with a great cast and a fascinating concept: take one high-profile capital murder case from the first moment the lead character - a charismatic, famous defense attorney - hears about it, through each step, to the final disposition. In a way, it was a precursor of "24" with its 'time' gimmick.

The show started out with huge critical buzz, but never quite found an audience, till an end-of-season surge when the murder mystery aspects were solved. That 'surge' led to the show's renewal, but the network made certain demands for change. When "Murder One" reappeared in the fall, most of the main cast was gone, as was the 'one case followed from beginning to end' structure. There were three separate arcs, and Anthony LaPaglia was brought in as the new leading man. [no complaint here on that score - I love ALP, though I also loved Daniel Benzali, the original lead]. It became a more conventional, though still slightly edgy, show.

The new format did no better in the ratings and the last arc - ironically, the most critically acclaimed, and the one that won the show its only Emmy, for guest Taylor Pruitt Vince - was compressed and burned off. The show was then cancelled.
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#7

Stephen

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Posted Apr 29, 2006 @ 6:33 PM

Why hello, Profit! Fancy meeting you here!
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#8

culturevulture73

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Posted Apr 29, 2006 @ 6:57 PM

Well, to be fair to Profit, the writing didn't go down, it was Fox...but then it's always Fox.

Since I generally hate most of the shows that are critically acclaimed (hi Sopranos!) let me offer a show that I thought would be "eh" and was great for exactly 20 minutes of the pilot then became what its title implied.

Go back to 1985 or so, when every new show was like Magnum or Simon and Simon (or at least trying to be). Little show on ABC called "Hawaiian Heat." As you can guess from the title, it looked like it was going to be your basic SiSi ripoff.

Except for the first 20 minutes, the two leads are cops in Chicago and it's like Hill Street Blues only darker and angsty-er. I was transfixed, it was great.

Then they ditch their careers and go to Hawaii and it turns into a pile of crap. Sigh.

The Guardian got some nice critical notice and then went south in its second season when the creator pulled a "reset to zero" the Trek folks would have envied.

And speaking of Trek and pilots, let me offer Voyager. It's the best of the four "new" Trek pilots, in my mind, right up until Janeway decides to save the space creature instead of getting home! ARGH!
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#9

Eegah

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Posted Apr 29, 2006 @ 7:40 PM

The real problem with Voyager was rather than follow DS9's lead with long term story arcs, it returned to the episodic nature of the first two series. Had the former been done the show could have really been interesting, almost a precursor to Firefly with the crew constantly trying to keep the ship in good condition and such. Instead, whatever damage the Voyager took was somehow repaired by the next ep, and you never really got the sense that things would have been much different had the "lost far from home" hook not been used at all.
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#10

MethodActor05

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Posted Apr 30, 2006 @ 2:35 AM

Witchblade? This is your thread.

Witchblade was this incredibly cool show that began airing in 2001 on TNT. It revolved around Sara, this NYC cop who gets this glove that is able to turn into this lethal killing machine. The show managed to blend continuity, drama, scifi, and ass-kicking into one very compelling hour. Witchblade was actually pretty well favored by the critics and mightybigtv. Then the finale is one of the best hours of tv I've ever seen, where almost everyone dies. Then there's a big re-set.

Next season, the show seems to be pandering much more to the male demographic, and the lead actress is dealing with alcholism. The show tanks.

Which sucks. I was so excited in the summer of '02 when I started seeing those ads.
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#11

Justin Cognito

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Posted Apr 30, 2006 @ 8:28 PM

Joan of Arcadia. The first season is one of the best things on TV... then the second season starts off kind of depressing, gets darker, and the Duff sisters show up, and Adam completely, and offensively, breaks character. The finale redeemed things, but we won't know how much, because it got cancelled for the fucking Ghost Whisperer.
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#12

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Posted Apr 30, 2006 @ 8:53 PM

I'll second the JoA mention.

Started off as a very creative show about an ordinary girl having an extraordinary experience and who was able to have an impact the world around her. This gets great critical reviews, really good ratings for a Friday night, a People's Choice Award, and a Best Drama Series Emmy nomination. But, CBS is mystified that teenagers aren't suddenly staying home to watch tv on a Friday night. So, the show became more about the ordinary girl (who really got dumbed down) and her boyfriend, and God became her life coach. Teenagers still weren't staying home to watch, so CBS cast Hilary Duff and her sister for a month because what teen wouldn't skip extracurricular activities, work, or hanging out with friends to watch the Duffs? This didn't drop the average viewer age either and only drove more viewers away, and the plug got pulled.
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#13

yesman6764

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Posted Apr 30, 2006 @ 11:22 PM

For me, That's Life owns this thread.

It had a terrific supporting cast (Paul Sorvino, Ellen Burstyn, erstwhile "scream queen" Danielle Harris---who was my personal favorite surprisingly, and a pre-Entourage Kevin Dillion and Debi Mazur). It had a workable, likable premise (30-something Jill of all trades returns to college in New Jersey, anchored by a non-mob Italian/American family). It was on "America's Most Watched Network", CBS. So how come this ran only two seasons (2000-02)?

Well, the lead actress, while not a Misha Barton-esque total waste of space, wasn't strong enough to carry the show (especially compared to her aforementioned castmates). The show spent more time with the family than at the college (where I liked the interactions between Lydia the lead and her younger classmates, especially DH's Plum Wilkinson), though admittedly this wasn't too fatal a flaw. The love interest (one of Lydia's professors) of DM's pregnant Jackie got killed off by a horse (!) in the Season 2 premiere. Lydia herself got transterred to a campus sports clinic run by Titus Welliver. Plum and KD's Paulie (I think that was the character's name; forgot that now) fell in love and married too quickly (which would probably happen in real life anyway, but still). The show's creator got a reduced creative role as time went on....

....and this whole thing got stuck on unwatched weekend slots (two Saturday slots, with a Friday stop in between).

Yet I watched to the unbitter but definitely unresolved end. And even with all those flaws I mentioned above, loved it anyway.

There were a few filmed Season 2 episodes that never aired, so there's a good reason (in addition to the flawed gems that did air, of course) to put TL on DVD, at least.

Edited by yesman6764, Apr 30, 2006 @ 11:24 PM.

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#14

Melina Detroit

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Posted May 1, 2006 @ 8:40 AM

I loved the promos for Surface, and it started out very well. Now, it seems to have disappeared. Is it cancelled?

We can't forget My So-called Life, which crashed and burned only in the sense that it was cancelled so fast, while it was still amazingly good. Maybe a blessing, though, before it had a chance to crash and burn in the sense of veering off into ridiculous plots and bad writing.
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#15

Svenska Flicka

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Posted May 1, 2006 @ 11:04 AM

I adore the show It Takes a Thief...but it's apparently being cancelled? Darn shame.

And...Clean Sweep.

Sigh.
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#16

Morrigan27

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Posted May 1, 2006 @ 11:10 AM

I have to agree with whoever said My So Called Life. I loved that show! The one I really miss Night Stalker with Stuart Townsend. I thought it had promise and could have been better had it been allowed to stay on.
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#17

Aurelian

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Posted May 1, 2006 @ 11:29 AM

Night Stalker is an interesting example, because I'd argue that they never quite had it right. They had a nice visual style (I really liked the super sharp digital look they had), and I liked the trick of having his key phrases show up on screen at the beginning and the end. However, it really just kept coming off as a second-rate X-Files knock-off.
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#18

xinfinity

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Posted May 5, 2006 @ 2:54 AM

Too many to list, nowdays, I fully expectmy favorite new shows to turn to crap by season two, I'm surprised if any last longer than that.
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#19

Morrigan27

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Posted May 5, 2006 @ 8:05 AM

Night Stalker is an interesting example, because I'd argue that they never quite had it right. They had a nice visual style (I really liked the super sharp digital look they had), and I liked the trick of having his key phrases show up on screen at the beginning and the end. However, it really just kept coming off as a second-rate X-Files knock-off


Agreed. Though I had hoped that if given a chance TPTB might of seen the errors of their ways. That may be a little naive of me but I had hoped.
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#20

erik316wttn

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Posted May 5, 2006 @ 9:24 AM

Boston Public.

Great first 3 seasons or so. Then, cast turnover gets too much to bear, and the final season is aired in the Friday Night Death Slot, (and for good reason. The final season SUCKED).

It was once my favorite show.
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#21

The Mutt

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Posted May 5, 2006 @ 11:33 AM

Commander in Chief is the poster child for this thread.

There was a sitcom called Hearts Afire with John Ritter, Markie Post and Billy Bob Thornton,set in Washington politics. The whole thing seemed to be a set up for the "mis-matched couple/sexual tension" thing, which everyone knows only works until the couple finally sleeps together. John and Markie slept together at the end of the first episode! Instant shark-jump.

What happened to Murder One is similar to what happened to Homicide. The network insisted they replace all the fat, old cops with sexy young fashion models. The writing was still top-notch, but the show was never as real.
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#22

nellybean224

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Posted May 5, 2006 @ 5:28 PM

The show that instantly comes to mind is The O.C. It was being compared to Dawson's Creek and Beverly Hills 90210 and everyone was talking about. The first season was a complete smash on Fox, but then I don't know what happened. It lost its spark. Maybe it was the contrived storylines, characters appearing/disappearing act, the stupid plot twists, not to mention the endless 'Will they or won't they' break up and get back together Ryan and Marissa relationship stuff. But I just got bored and in the second season tuned out.

Edited by nellybean224, May 5, 2006 @ 5:33 PM.

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#23

Aurelian

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Posted May 5, 2006 @ 6:08 PM

Agreed. Though I had hoped that if given a chance TPTB might of seen the errors of their ways. That may be a little naive of me but I had hoped.

Hey, I also watched it until the bitter end of that cliffhanger, so I guess you weren't the only naive one hoping that they'd figure it out.
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#24

Proofwell

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Posted May 6, 2006 @ 9:23 AM

Some oldies:

Cop Rock -- it's new! It's different! It's got singing policemen! It's ... canceled.

Chicken Soup -- Lynette Redgrave! Comedian Jackie Mason! Darling of the critics! Unfortunately, the two leads had absolutely no chemistry and the show was "poofed" very quickly.

The Famous Teddy Z -- darling of the critics, but unless you were an insider in the television industry, the jokes didn't make sense. Crashed. Burned. Buh-bye.
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#25

lvlyleah

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Posted May 6, 2006 @ 6:45 PM

Boston Public.

Great first 3 seasons or so. Then, cast turnover gets too much to bear, and the final season is aired in the Friday Night Death Slot, (and for good reason. The final season SUCKED).

It was once my favorite show.


I'll second that. That show was awesome.
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#26

yesman6764

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Posted May 6, 2006 @ 11:33 PM

The Famous Teddy Z -- darling of the critics, but unless you were an insider in the television industry, the jokes just didn't make sense. Crashed. Burned. Buh-bye


That applies to any show over the last 15 years set in show business (this means you, Action, Good Morning Miami, Grosse Pointe and Sports Night). The last hit TV show about someone with a TV show was Home Improvement (ran from 1991 to 1999, IIRC).

And now Aaron Sorkin is following his Sports Night debacle with *another* TV show about a TV show (Studio 60)? Is it too early to include S60 here already for the above reason?
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#27

Shuisfan1234

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Posted May 7, 2006 @ 7:21 AM

I have to add "Reunion" to this. A very promising show about 6 friends, and every episode is a new year. One is murdered, and the viewers try to guess who did it. Since it aired on Fox, it was cancelled with no resoultion whats so ever. UGH. It had a unique feel and while the writing was sort of cliche it was interesting, and I was very intrigued by it.

Put me down as another "My so called Life" fan. Watching the repeats make me sad, since I never got to know did Angela want Brian? Or was she going to stick with asshole Jordan?

I have to add "Desperate Housewives" here, while it has crashed completely yet, you can just look at the ridiculous uneven writing this season to know that it will die long before seven years. It dosen't live up to the hype at all.
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#28

GustyJames

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Posted May 7, 2006 @ 10:53 AM

I have to add "Desperate Housewives" here, while it has crashed completely yet, you can just look at the ridiculous uneven writing this season to know that it will die long before seven years. It dosen't live up to the hype at all


That is ok, as long as I can add Lost. All of the stories there are running on fumes, IMO. The hatch? Who cares. We don't even know where they are, still. Most of the mysteries from S1 are not solved, and they have brought on new characters for nothing (except Eko), as this week proved.

Edited by GustyJames, May 7, 2006 @ 10:53 AM.

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#29

McKay

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Posted May 7, 2006 @ 2:27 PM

Wonderfalls got great press, even though it wasn't heavily promoted. And then it died after four episodes. (Which is a pity, because the second half of the season was much stronger than the first.)
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#30

lith4

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Posted May 8, 2006 @ 4:02 PM

That 70's show was a funny show for most of its run. It rapidly declined last season and this one is such a complete trainwreck that I couldn't watch it anymore. It really should have ended with them graduating from high school.
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