What are television executives thinking? After a mere three weeks, two new NBC fall shows, “Ironside” and “Welcome to the Family,” are now canceled. Just like that. Three weeks. Buh-bye.
Even worse, NBC announced they are shutting down one of television’s true quality comedic gems, “Parks and Recreation,” for the time being. NBC plans to air a couple of additional “Parks and Rec” shows in November, then bring it back in 2014 … sometime. Madness.
As for “Ironside”? I never watched it. I’ve got too many police procedurals on my DVR and I’m not intrigued by another re-hashed idea. “Welcome to the Family” was no gem, but it was, at least, mediocre. There were some warm, winning performances on the comedy that should have given it a chance.
Not according to NBC. Instead, the focus seems to be on saving the wretched “Sean Saves the World,” which is the epitome of cloying, annoying, obvious, overly laugh-tracked sit-com junk that dominates the broadcast airwaves. I watched the first episode in full and I still haven’t forgiven myself.
“The Michael J. Fox Show” is another new vehicle that has been spared the axe, despite weak ratings, partly because it was guaranteed a 22-episode order. They paid for a full season, so a full season we’ll get. The problem with Mr. Fox’s show is that, despite it being nice to see him back on TV, it’s not funny. It’s. Just. Not. Funny.
Viewers are partly to blame
We viewers get what we ask for. We somehow deliver ratings for really awful shows. Despite its general wretchedness, CBS’ “The Millers” is doing well in the ratings. I couldn’t make it through the first episode. It’s as bad as “Sean” and “Mom,” another wretched new CBS crapcom that is doing well in the ratings. CBS has that magic Midas touch, even for complete crud television. I should stop ranting, but I have to say that “The Millers” is a career insult to its talented cast, which includes Will Arnett, Margo Martindale and Beau Bridges. “Mom” is a disappointingly putrid level of comedy that insults the gifts of the usually brilliant Allison Janney and the usually lovable Anna Faris.
Despite my rantings, my ire is not directed at the talent, but the television executives. Why cancel a show after three weeks? What new show — of any quality or genre — can really get a foothold in the television viewer’s attention span with just three episodes? There is nary a hint of wit in any of “Sean Saves the World,” “The Michael J. Fox Show,” “The Millers,” “Mom” or a handful of other new shows that I won’t drag through the mud at this time. The problem is why broadcast it at all? If you can’t back the show due to its craptastic leanings, how could you not see that before you committed to it — and worse — tried to get viewers committed to it?
Not a mystery
Viewers are tired of being yanked around. Please, TV execs, do not wonder why your viewership continues to erode. You continue to put out crap. You cancel said crap, jerking around your viewers that made the mistake of hoping your new show might bring them some levity. You move both crap and good shows around the schedule, making it harder to follow your content. You promote everything as if it’s the next great show — “Parks and Recreation,” “Community,” “The Mindy Project” — these actually witty shows get lumped in with the detritus of broadcast situation comedy, like “Two Broke Girls.”
OK, sorry. I said I wasn’t going to drag other shows through the mud. Couldn’t help it.
Why is “Two-and-a-Half Men” still on the air? How is “The Big Bang Theory” the number one comedy in the country? I really want to know. I’m admitting I don’t have the answers. But I’m not a television executive. They must have some skill at this, right?
These “professionals” should have some kind of clue about what belongs on the airwaves — enough so that they don’t put something out, promote it at every break, and then yank it off the air when — surprise — untrusting, tired and skittish viewers haven’t yet committed to it.
You won’t commit to anything. Why should we? You take a quality comedy like “Parks and Recreation” and stick programming obstacles in front of it by playing hide-and-seek with its time slot. It’s not like this is the first time this has happened. To be fair, NBC is hardly the only broadcaster guilty of this crime.
We’ve got other things to do. We have PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones with shiny screens that grab our diminishing attention spans. We check them while we’re half-watching your about-to-be-yanked shows. What are you thinking? Please stop aiming for formulas and news or reality shows that cost next-to-nothing to produce.
There are talented writers, directors, producers, craftspeople and performers out there. Pick wisely and stick with good content. That’s what we want.
We’re not going to tune in to the rehashed junk or half-baked reality show you plan to cheaply replace the scripted shows with. You lost us. But congrats on the production cost savings.
Julian Rogers is a contributor to WiseTribe, Oregon Sports News, OregonLive (the Oregonian), Comcast Sports Net, ProFootballNetworks.com, Androsform.com, and other websites. He is a native Washingtonian. He also spent six years in Alaska, but still does not understand the appeal of hockey or dog sled racing. He has made an uneasy peace with social media and can be found on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and WordPress. He has two beautiful children and one tolerant wife, who is also beautiful.
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