First of all...Happy Birthday Rick Springfield! 61 and getting better every year! Whooo hoo!
Now, a disturbing bit of news just crossed my desk. It appears "Scoundrels" David James Elliott's newest dramedy on ABC is going to be canceled after just 8 episodes. I'm crushed, because I really liked the show, but I'm not surprised. I remember a time when a tv series would get at least 13 episodes before it got yanked, and a network would actually, you know, promo the show, and oh by the way, they wouldn't start a show and cancel it during the summer months.
Granted, in today's world, TV is different. Cable stations reruns new episodes days after the networks air them. You can watch TV online. Of course, reality TV pervades the airwaves so that it's almost impossible for a WRITTEN show to make it. And, while I've long said that networks could increase their viewership by running "Summer Series" tv shows (My husband longs for the day they bring back "Maximum Bob") they shouldn't start those in late July, as ABC did with a number of shows. Most of those shows I'm sure won't see the end of September.
I could have saved "Scoundrels." I'm not saying this because I'm a DJE fan. Well, okay, I am, but still, I could have saved this show, and ABC SHOULD save this show.
First the why...then the how:
There just are not enough written shows. I get that actors and writers cost money. I get that there's something about the instant buck ABC gets from low rent trash like "Wife Swap." I also understand the schadenfruede lure of shows like "What would you do?" and "Wipeout" because I also watch those shows. There is a place for "Reality TV." Certainly. But there is a need, a great gaping need, for shows that are written, that have a plot, that give us a laugh or a reason to sit at the edge of our seats. There's a need to have handsome actors...you know..ACT, and for beautiful actresses to also...you know...ACT.
I can tell ABC this. You might be making a truckload of money off of shows like "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelor Pad." (Both shows I never have and never will watch.) Guess who's watching those shows? Not people with money. Kids. Kids are watching that silliness because, well, it's fun to watch people cry on TV and since the networks seem fairly hell bent on cancelling the Soaps, I guess we're stuck with this. But kids don't spend money like their parents do. My kids get their money from me or from part time jobs. And I can tell you this...unless you get Paramore to perform in every episode, you're not getting any of that money for your advertising dollar.
There's a reason that 5 of the top 20 TV shows each week are on Univision, the Spanish channel. I've been known land on univision every once in a while. First of all, those dramas ARE HOT. The actors and actresses are BEAUTIFUL. And don't discount physical beauty...I don't speak enough Spanish to order a taco, but I get the story of those shows.
There's a bigger reason why shows like "Mad Men" (Okay, anything AMC is putting out) has a huge following, even though it's on a cable station...it's really, really good. Why are HBO and Showtime getting all the emmys? Because they don't air "THE BACHELOR!"
Do I watch "reality TV?" Yes, of course. I watch Survivor, Amazing Race, American Idol, Project Runway, and Top Chef. I enjoy watching most shows on "Food Network" and if "Most Dangerous Catch" is on, I'll probably sit down and watch it. But the thing that separates those shows from things like "The Real World" "Big Brother" and, again, "The Bachelor" is that the people on those shows have to DO something. Whether its learning to build fire without matches, or navigate through a foreign country without money, or, making a dress in 18 hours that looks good enough for Heidi Klum to like, they all have to DO something that takes practice, talent, and skill.
What do the contestants on "The Bachelor" have to do? Or "Real World?" Or "Big Brother?"
I will admit to watching "Wipeout." Sure, it's crap. But the dialogue on that show is brilliant and fun (See...writers...) and again, at least the contestants have to DO something. It's not rocket science, but it's far easier to digest than watching some artificially attractive gym rats sit in lawn chairs and use vulgar language. For the amount of money you pay the beep guy couldn't you just get a writer to write something a little more clever?
So that's the why...now, here's the how:
I could have saved "Scoundrels" easily. It started off with great promise...DJE and Virginia Madsen, a married couple, in a steamy embrace...AWESOME kick off to a show, I say! (And for those who thought it was too steamy, hey, isn't it nice to see some heat between two MARRIED characters?)
And then they put DJE in jail. Even The Girl child, 13, said, "So the whole reason you're watching this show is for DJE and now he's in jail?"
I realize the whole premise of the show was Virginia Madsen's character trying to get her kids on the straight and narrow. and I loved her character from the start. But as the weeks went by, she got whiny and it was less about her struggle to keep the family on the right path and more about her being a damsel in distress needing to be rescued from her life by her husband, her father in law, her son...anyone, really. And in the last episode I saw, she kissed the cop that arrested her husband??
So then DJE gets out of prison in the last episode, and comes through the door just in time to see the wife and the cop discussing the smooch. NOW WE'RE GETTTING SOMEWHERE...
But it took 8 long weeks to get there.
I could have saved this show by making it move faster. We didn't care about the kids. Not really. Three of the four were outright awful. The youngest, Hope, was hilarious. But the other three were, at best, boring. So ABC, if you're going to bill a show as starring DJE and Virginia Madsen, who would attract yes, an older crowd, especially on a Sunday AFTER Extreme Home Makeover, why wouldn't have have those two FRONT AND CENTER in almost every scene? Ten minutes a week of DJE doesn't fly for me. Sorry. The younger set isn't going to watch the show because the younger characters a horrible, and the older set isn't going to watch because, as much as we love Virginia Madsen, we loved her with DJE...
But there's more to it, because I think the show could have over come a few slow episodes. Especially on Sundays. Think ABC...How many women, ages, let's say 30-49, would have tuned in to see DJE every night...especially if he was out of those prison clothes? Not sure? Check the stats for JAG...Go Ahead, I'll wait.
So you gave a new show 8 weeks in the dog days of summer with little promo and false advertising. Then you tank it when it's really getting good and you completely misuse the lead characters, two of the most talented and attractive people in TV today.
Well, congrats, ABC. I'll be boycotting your network. You keep on striving for excellence in crapitude and keep torpedoing shows that have promise. I'll go watch shows that are written by writers and acted by actors where there's a beginning, middle and end. I'll keep watching shows that DON'T get most of their promotion from the tabloids.
And I'll watch any show any time that stars David James Elliott.
I'm an employed, college educated woman. I'm 42. I have a husband, children, and complete control of the family finances. I do all the shopping, all the buying for the family. I'm also an author, an avid reader, and someone who watches way more than the national average hours of tv.
And ABC, I've just turned off your network.