Don’t it always seem to go
that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone?
That classic Joni Mitchell line doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but you get my point. Artists come and go, books and albums go out of print, and in the world of television, sometimes that great show just doesn’t catch on with enough viewers fast enough, and…poof.
Some of TV’s most iconic programs were not instant successes. In the early days, frankly there wasn’t enough left to replace them with, so a Twilight Zone could have time to build an audience. And it wasn’t unusual for a show to become a staple over time, whether it was a groundbreaking program like M*A*S*H or All In The Family or a pop culture nugget like The Munsters or Gilligan’s Island.
Star Trek probably came out of the 60’s with the strongest credibility, but that show was a bomb when originally aired. And has the ratings been as nervously distilled for Hill Street Blues as they are today, you wouldn’t even know the name of just another cop show that bit the dust.
So I’m thrilled that HBO has already renewed Boardwalk Empire after just one episode, even if I haven’t seen it yet. After leaving fans of Carnivale and Deadwood in the lurch, perhaps they have learned from Lost that if you are going to try to bring an ocean liner to a halt, a smooth deceleration works better than a dead stop. If this year is successful and DVD sales are solid, they’ll hopefully give the writers and producers another notice next year so that story arcs can be flexible enough to either ascend or wrap up.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the wonderful Better Off Ted, which got the axe with only two shows left in the can. Eight months later, ABC still hasn’t been able to find a time slot to burn off those two shows – again, already filmed and produced, just sitting there – so those of us who appreciate well-written comedy can have one last hour of enjoyment. The UK picked up the show and those episodes aired in England…yet this week in the States, ABC filled a third of its prime time schedule with four hours of Dancing With The Stars and a new show regurgitating both Jerry O’Connell and Jim Belushi. Thanks a lot.
Thankfully Britain is our friend. Since the DVD of season two might never appear, enjoy those last two episodes here, won’t you?
Episode 12: It’s My Party and I’ll Lie If I Want To.
Episode 13: Swag The Dog
This intelligent comedy is brought to you by Veridian Dynamics