Recently, I've had the pleasure of recommending some great shows: Fargo, The Blacklist, The Returned. Take your pick in excellent entertainment.
Mind you, it is that time of the year when decisions are made about cancellations, especially in the U.S. network racket. Sometimes the deciding factor is ratings and demographic reach. The bottom line. Sometimes it's the execs realizing that everyone involved in the show is stoned or bickering, and the network wants rid of the lot of them. If I could tell ya the details, I would.
This is when the "Save My Show" campaigns get going. Online petitions and snail-mail letters sent to execs who pay other people to ignore these things. Ever see a TV show set in an office or a police precinct where there's paper on people's desk? A lot of that is letters from people pleading that some long-cancelled show featuring a teenage dreamboat is kept on the air. Seen it myself on set visits.
Here's a current example, found online: "We believe that The Carrie Diaries should be renewed for season 3. We love this show, the characters, the cast, the crew, everything. It gives us something to obsess over and look forward to every Friday night, we would be devastated if that was taken away from us."
Good luck with that. Meanwhile the website Zap2it is doing its annual counteroffensive. That's the "Vote In Our 5th Annual 'Don't Save Their Show!' Poll"
Genius. It's a let's-cancel-that-show movement. And people, you know, you just know, that certain shows should be terminated.
As I write this, the top 10 shows that should be cancelled, according to the poll, are Beauty And The Beast, Nashville, Super Fun Night, Star-Crossed, Mixology, The Carrie Diaries, Betrayal, Hostages, Dads and Rake.
Right-o. Let's get started. I'm all for eliminating the ridiculousness that is Beauty and the Beast. Have you seen this thing? The "beast" is a handsome lug with a wee scar or something. He's a hunk-a-chunka palooka and will surely find a job doing dreamboat work on another show. Super Fun Night is something I forgot immediately after seeing the first episode. I do remember Star-Crossed, "About an epic romance between a human girl and an alien boy when he and others of his kind are integrated into a suburban high school 10 years after they landed on Earth." I remember because I decided I'd rather watch The Lang & O'Leary Exchange all night than watch another episode.
As for Hostages, Dads and Rake, they failed. Phony-baloney attempts to squeeze either drama or comedy from a one-note idea. Kill 'em all.
But Nashville? Hello? A terrific old-school soaper with occasional outburst of good, twangy, country music. What's to hate? Don't you dare cancel my show.
There's the problem, right there. My show isn't your show. Still, if Nashville disappears, I won't scream. I'll only sulk.
The following (but not The Following) should be cancelled forthwith – Friends with Better Lives, Almost Human, The Mentalist (what's happened to The Mentalist since the Red John storyline is rather like a slow death by torture), The Tomorrow People (so yesterday!), Revolution, The Carrie Diaries and that show with that guy from Home Improvement. Yeah, Tim Allen, that guy's show.
In the matter of Canadian TV and cancellation, we can't go there. Hurt feelings and vile hate mail is the upshot. Really hurt feelings. So much depends upon the continuing existence of Canadian TV series. Egos. And the livelihood of the guy who delivers boxes of doughnuts to the writers' room. In the current climate, if this column suggests that some show is best cancelled, the outpouring of raw emotion and swearing is too much to bear.
But, what the heck – would somebody please let the axe fall on To Catch a Killer? The true-crime reality show on OWN Canada is the most ineptly made crock of nonsense I've ever seen. Talk about unskilled labour. And I'd like to see Dragons' Den cancelled too, actually. Others may disagree. That's the fun part of this thing called, "Let's cancel that show!"
Frontline: Prison State (PBS, 10 p.m.) is part of Frontline's deeply sober continuing look at the U.S. prison system – the extraordinary rise in the number of prisoners, the blanket use of solitary confinement, the possible futility of long sentences, the too-little effort at reforming them, and the financial burden of a system that often creates multiple offenders. As one justice official says here, "We need to distinguish between who we're mad at, and who we are afraid of."