From Freep.comDon’t let them cancel Angel & Wonderfalls !
By Mike Duffy
Wednesday 31 March 2004, by Webmaster
Don’t let them cancel these shows!
Captain Video sets out to rescue 5 worthy series March 29, 2004
BY MIKE DUFFY
FREE PRESS TV CRITIC
Pump up the emotional volume. It’s time to vent.
5 others worth saving
Mike Duffy says that these shows, on life support because of small audiences, deserve heroic resuscitations:
1. "Life with Bonnie" (ABC): Gifted goofball Bonnie Hunt, a cockeyed improv comedy charmer, is a genuine prime-time MVP: Most Valuable Prankster.
2. "Boston Public" (Fox): Fox deserves an F for moving the faculty and students of Winslow High School to Fridays, where "BP" has withered.
3. "Alias" (ABC): Yeah, I know, it’s absolutely impossible to figure out. But the deliriously tangled web of cockeyed plot twists is just the wigged-out window dressing on a remarkably smart, stylish thrill ride.
4. "Everwood" (WB): The best family drama you’re not watching is an imaginative mix of wit, nuanced characters and honest, affecting emotion.
5. "Miss Match" (NBC): Falling in love with love. Alicia Silverstone’s sparkling dramedy deserves a second chance at ratings romance.
Pull the plug
Mike Duffy hurls his standard weapon — the rubber brick — at the following shows that are breathing but deserve network euthanasia. 1. "Fear Factor" (NBC): Why? This low-IQ gross fest is hosted by Joe Rogan, the Kathy Griffin of male comics. Yes, very, very aggravating.
2. "Yes, Dear" (CBS): A family comedy so annoyingly lame that it is a prime carrier of ISS: Irritable Sitcom Syndrome.
3. "According to Jim" (ABC): See "Yes, Dear."
4. "ER" (NBC): The patient is terminal. A once-great medical drama succumbs to extreme tedium, becoming an overwrought sawbones soap opera.
5. "Hope & Faith" (ABC): Exhibit A on why Kelly Ripa should restrict herself to daytime chatterbox chores with Reege. If funny is money, Ripa’s bankrupt.
Yep, it’s me again. The Don Quixote of lost eye-candy causes, Captain Video, tilting at television windmills with a sharpened remote control clicker.
It’s early spring. Cruel fate may await our favorite, albeit low-rated shows. Is the grim cancellation reaper coming to visit? Or will St. Gilligan of Hope Springs Eternal bestow the blessing of a fall season renewal?
Well, don’t just sit there. Let’s get ready to grumble.
It’s time for Captain Video’s Save These Shows 2004.
I select five shows deemed extremely worthy of being invited to the renewal boogaloo party as the networks ponder and prepare to announce their fall schedules in mid-May.
You may agree with my picks; you may not. That’s cool.
But hold on, there’s more: Network addresses, phone numbers and other feedback options so you can fire off calls, letters or e-mails to support your own favorite shows that may be lingering on some network’s endangered entertainment species list.
What shows? Well, my own picks for this year’s edition of our annual prime time rescue mission include "Whoopi," "Line of Fire," "Wonderfalls," "The Guardian" and "Angel." The supernatural latter is a real challenge because WB has already announced the show’s cancellation and driven a stake through ol’ Angel’s heart. Horrors!
Of course, that hasn’t stopped thousands and thousands of impassioned "Angel" fans from launching a campaign to get another network to revive the series. You can visit www.savingangel.org for crusade details.
Do television viewers campaign in vain to save shows?
Hate to rain pessimism on my own parade, but the answer is usually yes.
"You can count on one hand, even if you’ve lost a couple fingers, the number of times this sort of thing has had any impact," says Robert Thompson, head of Syracuse University’s Center for the Study of Popular Television. "People going into these campaigns, sad to say, are tilting at some very big windmills."
The teensy handful of shows that have been spared because of a viewer protest? "Cagney & Lacey" was the most notable.
CBS canceled the female cop show, starring Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless, after one season of low ratings in 1982-83. But when outraged fans buried the Eye network in calls and letters, stirring up controversy, the "Cagney & Lacey" ratings shot upward during summer reruns.
The sudden ratings buzz — plus an Emmy Award for the series — helped convince CBS to rescind the cancellation and bring the show back in early 1984 to enjoy five more seasons as a popular, critically acclaimed hit.
Three years later, CBS also had second thoughts about the cancellation of "Designing Women." An intense fan campaign led by former Michigan resident Dorothy Swanson and her organization, Viewers for Quality Television, helped change CBS’s mind. The Delta Burke sitcom soon became a major hit, and "Designing Women" lasted six more years.
Today the Internet has made it ridiculously easy for TV fans to communicate with one another. And whether it’s "Freaks and Geeks" or "Once and Again" or "Angel," online crusades to save beloved, beleaguered shows have become an annual ritual.
"I think people do this for the same reasons they go to funeral receptions or attend good-bye parties when friends move away," says Thompson. "I think TV fans find a lot of comfort in these campaigns."
At the very least, it affords fans a rich, therapeutic opportunity to rant and rave, to share their feelings and talk back to the networks.
Now excuse me while I happily tilt at a few windmills. Hey, TV networks, save these shows:
"Line of Fire" (ABC, on hiatus): This stylish, edgily intelligent ensemble crime drama, created by writer-director Rod Lurie ("The Contender"), vividly captures a war between the FBI and a Virginia organized crime syndicate. The best part? Veteran character actor David Paymer, playing bodaciously against type, is a twisted sensation as brutal mob boss Jonah Malloy.
"Whoopi"(8 p.m. Tuesdays, NBC): Yes, it’s rather clunky and old-fashioned at times. But Whoopi Goldberg’s raucous topical comedy, featuring a sharp multicultural crew of performers, also displays a feisty, good-natured irreverence. It has cast a refreshingly tart satiric eye at everything from President Bush to gay marriage to white people who talk black. We want Whoopi back.
"The Guardian"(CBS, on hiatus. Returns at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on April 27): A traditional CBS drama about a young Pittsburgh lawyer. Ho hum. Except that Simon Baker’s fascinating, layered portrait of a tortured soul, the frequently anguished, misbehaving Nick Fallin, is a quasi-subversive triumph on a play-it-safe network like CBS. Kill "Century City" and renew "The Guardian."
"Wonderfalls"(9 p.m. Fridays, Fox): Smart, silly, dizzy and droll. This marvelously surreal comic odyssey weaves the topsy-turvy tale of Niagara Falls souvenir clerk Jaye Tyler (Caroline Dhavernas). She’s a slacker snarkily treading water after graduating from an Ivy League school. And then — shazam! — plastic animals and brass monkeys start yammering at her. Is she nuts? Is it God talking to her? Dismal ratings, divine show. We need a renewal miracle.
"Angel"(9 p.m. Wednesdays, WB. Series finale is May 19): Speaking of wacky pipe dreams, this witty, demon-slaying "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" spin-off has already been sentenced to die. Yo, Sci-Fi Channel! Hey, UPN! Give courageous Angel (David Boreanaz) and his sly, quirky pals new life in a new home. Can’t handle a full season? Then how about a cool "Angel" telemovie sequel? Pretty please.
OK, TV Nation, it’s your turn. Start your venting engines and rattle the network cage of your choice.