Wednesday, May 16, 2018

TV: The Axe Falls

"F**k you both," opened one e-mail Ty passed on to us.  "I was perfectly fine last week not even knowing about THE CROSSING but I go and read your rave, head on over to HULU and play catch up.  I'm hooked.  And a day later?  ABC cancels the show.  F**k you, f**k you very much."

We understand the anger.

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It's not just that it's that time of year, it's that the axe has fallen so quickly and so often.  Last week, THE CROSSING got the axe and so did THE MICK, LUCIFER, QUANTICO, DESIGNATED SURVIVOR, ALEX INC, DECEPTION, KEVIN PROBABLY SAVES THE WORLD, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, THE EXORCIST, THE BRAVE, TAKEN, GREAT NEWS, LIFE SENTENCE, VALOR, THE EXPANSE, KEVIN CAN WAIT, SUPERIOR DOUGHNUTS, 9JKL, SCORPION and INHUMANS all got the axe.  That's a lot of shows to be gutted all at once.

And then there's BROOKLYN NINE-NINE.  It got the axe last week from FOX but NBC then announced they were going to pick up the show for another season.

It was the sort of last minute rescue many still hope will happen to one of their favorites that just got the axe.  Or, for some, there's the hope that HULU or NETFLIX might resurrect a show.

That rarely happens.

HULU did pick up THE MINDY PROJECT a few seasons back and NETFLIX did grab ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and THE KILLING -- you can even throw in CMT picking up NASHVILLE after ABC axed it.  Or how about LAST MAN STANDING?  ABC cancelled it this time last year and FOX has just announced that they're bringing it back.

The moves by NETFLIX, HULU and even CMT don't happen very often.  FOX's decision?  It goes beyond once in a very blue moon.  But there was the fact that it shouldn't have been cancelled to begin with.  It was ABC's second highest sitcom and third highest scripted show.

And maybe, most of all, LAST MAN STANDING can be seen as a constant reminder that the networks don't have any idea what they're doing.

So if you're a fan of say, SCORPION, remind yourself that the suits are guessing as much as anyone else.

And they're not that smart.

NBC did their upfront Monday and were rather surprised that their new sitcoms didn't result in cheers or even smiling faces.  But NBC knows the crap they've put on has done awful.  GREAT NEWS, for example, should never have had a second season.  The axe should have fallen last year.  It was not funny.  It's rhythm was always off.  That's what happens when you do these 'whimsical' single-cam shows.  NBC had a hit sitcom this season: WILL & GRACE.

Not to take anything away from that show but it is filmed before a live audience and, equally important, the audience didn't flee for the exits.  That's what is supposed to be happening, NBC insists it over and over, audiences want single cam.  There's no ratings to back that up, but it's something a bunch of pompous asses on social media insist over and over -- while not watching TV.

NBC's biggest sitcom hit this season was WILL & GRACE and for ABC it was ROSEANNE while CBS had THE BIG BANG THEORY.  All three sitcoms, the biggest on broadcast TV, had one thing in common: multi-cam programs filmed in front of a live audience.

You'd think YOUNG SHELDON would have taught everyone something -- it trails THE BIG BANG THEORY.  This is FLO before CBS leaves it on its own.  It only pulls the audience it does because it's on after THE BIG BANG THEORY.  Move it to another night and it's dead weight dragging the network down.

At some point in 2019, NBC will air ABBY'S, a multi-cam sitcom.  In the meantime, audiences will have to suffer through more whimsical and bland nonsense.

Again, they don't know what they're doing.

ABC proved that this season with HOUSEHOLD NAME.  Don't remember seeing it?  It never aired.  But ask an ABC vp -- any will do -- and they'll tell you it was the funniest sitcom the network had a shot at in years.  It starred Carol Burnett.  That alone should have allowed it at least a six episode run.

Instead, ABC screwed with it over and over, asked for this change or that change and Carol finally walked away.

She walked over to NETFLIX where her show is A LITTLE HELP WITH CAROL BURNETT and features Carol and her co-host Russell Peters.  It's a panel show and the networks had forgotten all about those.  Carol's show offers advice -- to famous and nonfamous people (among the famous Taraji Henson, Lisa Kudrow, Julie Bowen and Wanda Sykes).  They come on with a problem -- Lisa has agreed to go to lunch with a friend when another friend calls her with an emergency, what should she do?  They present their problem to the panel.

Carol's panel is a panel of children.

It makes for a very funny show and also serves to remind you, as children attempt to tell a story while repeatedly self-derailing, that Kathy Griffin's comedy style has been around forever.

Few TV shows are around forever.  THE SIMPSONS has been around forever and, April 29th, aired its 636th episode meaning more episodes have been broadcast of it than the previous scripted primetimer with the most episodes (GUNSMOKE).

If you're show just got the axe, it really stands no chance of ever topping THE SIMPSONS -- even if some streaming service should order a season or two of new episodes.  And the networks, as they cancel more and more shows, stand less of a chance when it comes to brand loyalty.  Once again, THE CW stands out.  This season, they've axed two shows.  Even better, when existing shows are going off, they've started a pattern of announcing "Next season will be the final season" which allows their viewers to prepare for what's about to come.

Then again, nothing really prepares you for losing your favorite show -- a point WILL & GRACE made quite well in their episode "No Sex 'N' The City" (originally aired March 25, 2004).  In the spirit of the month, we'll close by noting our greatest losses from past season.  NBC should never have cancelled WILL & GRACE the first go round.  THE CW should never have cancelled NIKITA (still the best show they've ever had).  FOX should never have cancelled FRINGE. ABC should never have cancelled HAPPY ENDINGS.  CBS should never have cancelled PARTNERS.

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