Jeff goes back to his roots, and things get weird with Annie, Troy and Abed
A hilarious, welcome return to form for Liz, Jack, Tracy and company
Unless I've gotten one of them in advance, I tend to review the NBC Thursday comedies (minus "Outsourced," whose second episode ditched the lazy stereotypes and settled for simple laziness) in chronological order. I will make exceptions in the event one of the later ones is particularly good or bad, and fortunately last night's "30 Rock" fits into the "particularly good" category - the best overall episode since at least last year's "Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001." And in honor of getting a vintage "30 Rock" at a time I wasn't sure such a thing existed anymore, it's first in the rotation this morning, coming up just as soon as I go to middle school in an Exxon station...
Faux-livia gets to work on our side
The writers find a funny and sweet way to address fan concerns about Mitchell and Cam
Pretty people, but not much else to offer in episode two
Things get crazier - and better - as the guys get back on the Lindus case
What did everybody think of the spin-off?
Jules struggles with Travis' impending college departure
Good shows don't tend to die as quickly as 'Lone Star' did
FOX canceled "Lone Star" on Tuesday afternoon, after only two episodes had aired. And even though it was my favorite new network show of the season, the debut ratings were so bad that the network frankly would have been justified for canceling it after only one.
Even with the ratings, I know some fans of the show were shocked by the abruptness of the cancellation. I, unfortunately, have been covering TV long enough to be numb to the idea of cancellation after 3, 2 or even 1 episode. What's relatively rare about the "Lone Star" case is that it's a swift cancellation for a show that the networks and the press liked. I'm not saying that critics' darlings are guaranteed a long lifespan, but a disastrously-rated show that's working creatively will tend to get a longer leash than one that's terrible.
This cancellation made me think back to ABC's great, controversial priest drama "Nothing Sacred" from the late '90s, and I remembered it as another one that got yanked quickly due to ratings and pressure from The Catholic League, but in fact 15 episodes aired. For all the talk of how badly NBC and FOX treated Judd Apatow with "Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared," those shows produced 18 and 17 episodes, respectively, and got to air most of them. Similarly, "Firefly" fans like to curse FOX for how the network treated Joss Whedon's outer space Western, and yet 11 of the 14 episodes aired before the plug was pulled. Not great, but far, far better than the "Lone Star" people got.
When you run down a list of stillborn shows like this, they tend to be awful, like David E. Kelley's "girls club" (2 episodes) or the Brian Bosworth action show "Lawless" (1 episode). At best you'll find something mediocre with a good cast and/or creative pedigree, like John Wells, Ray Liotta and company with "Smith" (3 episodes).
So I decided to cast my memory back over the 15 or so years I've been a TV critic to think of other shows I liked a lot that didn't make it out of single digit episodes aired. It was harder than I thought (especially if you leave out something like "Andy Barker, PI," where the network only ordered six episodes and aired all of them), but here are five I came up with (and please note that Fienberg insisted that I at least mention the 4 episodes of "Wonderfalls," even though he liked that show a whole lot more than I did):
Move could save action show, but bad news for 'The Good Guys'
On this week's podcast, Fienberg and I talked about the changes new showrunner Matt Miller had made to "Human Target," and I was looking forward to seeing how fans of the show reacted to those changes on Friday night. Instead, we're all going to have to wait a little longer, as FOX has moved the series to a different night, and pushed the season two premiere back to mid-November.