TV Meme: Day 1 - An Unfairly Canceled Show.

Well, here we go. It's the first day of this 30-day meme. Just as a forewarning, some of these choices were made on the basis of me not wanting to duplicate shows too much. For instance, I didn't want to choose the same thing for "Favorite Childhood Show" as I did for "Favorite Show of All Time." Also, my 'favorite' of anything changes constantly, so... yeah. But for most of these, I had to do internet searches to refresh my memory to whatever aspect it is I was looking for. Anyway, let's get on with the show (see what I did there?).

The first day asks me to talk about an Unfairly Canceled Show. This one wasn't particularly difficult after I did some searching and was reminded of some canceled shows that I enjoyed. There were three main choices that came to me, but of course I can only choose one. One of my runners-up was the show that did Heroes first and some might argue better, The 4400. But I wouldn't necessarily say it was unfairly canceled. By the end, the show was grasping at straws, and it was a summertime USA Network show that felt like it took multiple years to get to the next season. Despite that, the 4 or so seasons it lasted were good.

The second runner-up was another great show that I feel was very underrated, and that was the vampire detective show, Moonlight. It took an interesting look at vampire lore and spun it around a pretty unique premise--making him a private detective who ends up falling in love with a reporter. Sure, the dialogue was cheesy, but it was reminiscent of old-time noir films. However, again, not really an 'unfair' cancellation considering how few people watched it.

So that brings me to my choice, a choice I'm sure many people would agree with. And let's just say this: I don't own many TV shows on DVD, mostly because I hardly ever re-watch them, but I own the complete series of this (granted, I won it in a contest and, granted, it was only 2 seasons and a Direct-to-DVD movie, but still). And the show? Showtime's Dead Like Me.

This show was made by Bryan Fuller before he attempted Pushing Daisies (which was also canceled) and wrote some of the best episodes of the aforementioned Heroes (which was just recently canceled)... seriously, we think Joss Whedon has it bad, I feel worse for Bryan Fuller. Anyway, the premise is that a young woman named George dies after getting hit by a falling toilet seat from a space station and gets chosen to become a grim reaper. She must then cope with her afterlife and the ramifications and moral dilemmas of being said grim reaper while putting up with her co-workers and boss(es).

Her co-workers-in-death include Daisy, a pretty actress who has many-a-story on how she gave various famous people blow jobs; Roxy, a metermaid with an attitude; and Mason, a British drug addict. Her boss(-in-death) is Rube, a mysterious man with many metaphors and words of wisdom played by none other than Inigo Montoya himself, Mandy Patinkin. The interactions between Rube and George was, at least in my opinion, the glue that held the heart of this story together. He was tough when needed (and that was needed a lot), but also there for her when necessary.

George also had to keep up a regular job, as well, in order to make money (as grim reapers didn't get paid). So she works at a temp agency called Happy Time. Her boss, Delores Herbig (as in "her big brown eyes"), is a strange one, but she's hilarious. I think George's relationship with Delores is another bit of glue. There really aren't that many regular office personnel on the show except for Crystal, a quiet and very strange woman who works as secretary to the office. She's also one of the only living people that ever discovered anything about the grim reapers.

But then there's another side of the story. We also have George's old family. We're left with her dad, Clancy, who isn't around for too long, as he ends up having an affair and leaving his wife (and George's mom), Joy. Joy is a real hardass, though, and is always griping and complaining about stuff. However, she does grow as a character and get nicer and more understanding as the series goes on. But we also have George's little sister Reggie, who acts out in strange ways after her sister dies, which her parents (especially Joy) are not very happy about. George tries to contact her family numerous times, but continually gets in trouble for it and eventually pays some pretty rough consequences.

Overall, the show is very quirky, demented, funny, and full of heart. And it only lasted 2 seasons. But why? It was a much loved show, and the ratings weren't too bad. Well, I'll tell you why. There's been at least 2 reasons I've heard. The first is that the Showtime people got a new boss, and the boss wanted a completely new lineup. So most of the shows that were airing at the time, new or old, got canceled, including Dead Like Me. Talk about unfair. Here's the second reason, direct from imdb:

Bryan Fuller, creator of the show, left early in the first season due to conflicts with MGM Television, including disagreement over major script and storyline cuts considered important to the main theme. He stated that the "lack of professionalism... made it really difficult... it was like being at war... they were constantly trying to strong arm me. It was the worst experience of my life." According to Fuller, Showtime canceled the show due to "a loss of quality and a sense the problems would continue."

There had been talk for a while about bringing the show to regular television, but there's no way it would translate. With all the cussing, drugs, and serious talk of sex and blow jobs (all of which were part of its charm), I don't think it would have lasted very long outside of Showtime or HBO.

They did, however, decide to try and wrap things up with a Direct-to-DVD movie called "Life After Death," which... well... sucks. Their biggest mistake? Getting rid of Mandy Patinkin. That's right, Rube is nowhere to be seen in the movie. The basic plot is that Rube crosses over having met his soul quota and they get a new boss who really doesn't know how to run things right, pretty much trying to bring the downfall of the system. They don't even show Rube crossing over, and he gets merely a passing comment of what happened to him. Talk about a slap in the face. I mean, they do talk about him throughout the movie, usually in comparison to the new guy, but still. The next issue? They recast Daisy, and the new woman so didn't have the charm and ease that Laura Harris brought to the role. The next issue? The movie seemed to ignore at least half the rules set up by the show. I mean, the movie had its moments, but for the most part really was a slap in the face to the show and its fans.

Overall, this was a great show that was unfairly canceled, and it was not given the wrap-up it deserved. And if you have not seen this show, I definitely recommend you check it out.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah Dead Like Me was a brilliant show. I didn't start watching it until the complete series came out and after watching it I pretty much agree it was amazing. And the movie did make me really sad, considering it was a half-assed attempt at a closer.


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