Saturday, February 27, 2010

Worthy cancellations

I have to admit I have trouble keeping up with all the shows I cover, which is every sci-fi and fantasy show on TV. Some shows get watched before others, and sometimes I'd rather watch American Idol or Castle than that sci-fi show who's producer I'm going to talk to the next day. And sometimes there's a show that I just can't bring myself to watch on a regular basis.

I'll admit I only watched one episode of Fox's Past Life. I did Tivo the other two episodes that aired before the show got canceled and then I happily scrapped them after the cancellation. I have nothing against the Past Life people. From what I can tell the exec producer was earnest in a desire to bring forth a quality show and Richard Schiff, who I adored on West Wing, was one of the stars.

But seriously, why did Past Life get greenlighted?

That means Fox decided to make a series out of the pilot. What about the idea was exciting? Here's the official premise... "a new drama series about an unlikely pair of past-life detectives who investigate whether what is happening to you today is the result of who you were before."

Maybe they just liked the term "past-life detectives". Maybe they hoped lightning would strike again with a show involving a believer and a skeptic (can you say X-Files). Maybe they saw other shows like Chuck that had silly premises and thought their show could be as charming and wonderful as that show. Maybe.

Certainly Past Life was worlds better than ABC's Cavemen last year. But still, of all the pilots they could have made a series out of, why Past Life? The show was dependent on someone emotionally remembering their past life and resolving past life issues, which often involved crimes. And to me, there was just no way this was going to work as a series.

But what do I know. Well, I guess I know more than Fox, which ordered 13 episodes and then cut the order to 7. Originally they'd given a prime spot to the show after American Idol. Then suddenly they decided to stick it in Fringe's Thursday night spot while that show was in reruns. And then really suddenly it was canceled after 3 episodes aired.

I mean when a premise doesn't work on paper and the journalists are going "wtf?", why did Fox waste millions of dollars and resources on Past Life. Why did they have to be hit over the head before they realized that the show just was never going to be very good or make sense.

Now mind you, I have no problem with the past life stuff. My mom always believed she'd been accused of being a witch in a past life, and well, why not? Not that she was witchy, but she was a believer who did her own past life regressions. There are many worthy stories there to be told, and I think if this was a movie it would have worked pretty well.

At least you can say Fox realized their mistake fairly early. And actually the ratings weren't as bad as they could have been. 5 million people still watched Past Life and a few of them are probably pissed off that the show was canceled. I'm not one of those people. Some shows earn their cancellations, despite good intentions and talent, who can now move on projects that are more worthy of them.

For me, I'm glad Fringe got it's spot back, even if it is going into reruns for a while. It's done well in a terrible timeslot and given Fox some traction against shows like CSI. It deserves some respect, and hopefully another season. And btw Lost, Fringe did the alternate universe thing before you did. So there.

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