Gone too soon
NBC announced last week what many had already suspected: they were cutting the throat of The Playboy Club, the misfiring tips-and-ass blowcial history period piece on the grounds of nobody giving a fuck about it and some really embarrassing attempts at moral outrage from the usual suspect Media Monitor teeds who you always assumed had died out with Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Nobody who wasn’t directly involved in its making will mourn The Playboy Club – although it wasn’t as bad as some made out it struggled to engage you, could claim no real star quality among its cast and had some pretty haphazard this’ll-do writing. Getting shitcanned after three episodes seems harsh but that is the nature of television. Often a cruel mistress, sometimes a total bitch, she offers favours unwillingly and dispenses beatdowns arbitrarily. Vindictive caprice comes as naturally to her as involuntary celibacy comes to Aerial Telly readers. Why, many fine shows have been cancelled way before anyone decent would have pulled their cards. Don’t believe me? Check this.
A comedy drama police procedural nobody watched, no one has ever heard of but that was actually brilliant? That’s exactly what The Unusuals was, my friends1. Created by Noah Hawley (Bones) and with a bitching cast including Amber Tamblyn, Harold Perrineau and Adam Goldberg, The Unusuals was M*A*S*H meets Homicide: Life on the Streets. Every one of the New York City cops had a secret and the team of freaks investigating freaky cases was a punch bowl full of fun until the party was ruined by the millions of idiots who weren’t watching it, causing the shitty ratings that led to its demise after 10 episodes. People suck.
Written very much with the frontier spirit as its guiding principle, the space western was a Joss Whedon project and everyone who knew great storytelling loved the concept and crew of Firefly, the space hoop ride that carried its crew of renegade mopes as they skittered around the star system from one misadventure to the next, living hand-to-mouth after ending up on the arse end of a Civil War loss. But stupid critics stupidly called it a hodgepodge of two different genres and the weak minded agreed like the worthless dogs they are – a lousy 14 episode season was all it got as a result. The injustice was puke making.
Could Terriers ever have succeeded? It was up against it from the start. Its two not-conventionally-attractive leads Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James and the unglamorous premise of a former cop and former criminal running an unlicensed private investigation business made it a tough sell to the CSI watching rubes who gawp at telly these days like they have some kind of right to. But the gritty neo-noir was beautifully made with a smart ballsy writing ethic all its own, featuring the stellar talents of Ted Griffin, Tim Minear and Shawn Ryan on scripting and production detail. Critical acclaim couldn’t get it a second season but it left behind a near-perfect single-season with what is quite possibly the most accurate and compassionate portrayal of adult mental illness TV has seen from Karina Logue as the brilliant but damaged Steph Dolworth (Donal Logue’s real life and screen sister).
My So-Called Life
Claire Danes would go on to brilliantly wreck Billy Cudrup and Mary Louise Parker’s relationshit like her name was Squealey Nause but before that she was Angela Chase, walking sighing embodiment of the confused narcissist basketcase we all were as teenagers in ABC’s slacker high school drama. “Like, you know, whatever” could have been the show’s mission statement but it showed a lot of heart in taking head-on subjects of the teen dramas just skirted around. Super acute on the joy and pain of adolescence the show’s wit and humanity were not enough to save it from the axe after 19 episodes. Didn’t watch? Then everything is your fault.
1 I’ll eat a bucket of shit every day for a thousand years before I regard any one of you skunks as my “friend”