7 TV Shows Canceled Too Soon

I’ve always been a bookworm. Mostly because I love reading, but also because I grew up without cable so books didn’t have much competition. When your only options are Matlock reruns, Jeopardy, and the local news, books look much more attractive. Now we’re living in the age of peak tv and I have cable, DVR, and Amazon Prime. I used to have Hulu until it stopped being free. The worst part of television is starting a new show. Unless it’s something I’m excited about from the commercials alone, I wait until a show gets a second season before I invest time and energy. Nevertheless, I’ve been burned a few times over the years. Here’s a roundup of some shows that  I loved and lost.

Powerless (NBC, 2017): An inside look at the lives of regular folks in the DC Universe. Vanessa Hudgens plays the newest hire at Wayne Industries, headed by Bruce’s incompetent cousin, Van. One of my favorite episodes deals with Hudgens’s character having a new boyfriend who turns out to be an evil henchman. This show got pulled before it even completed its first season. I feel like this was a case of the right show on the wrong network. It probably would have done better numbers on the CW (which has successfully adapted DC Comics properties Green Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow) or even Comedy Central (perhaps as a lead in to Tosh.0 or At Midnight).

 

Still Star Crossed (ABC, 2017) : This summer series, based on a YA novel and produced by Shonda Rhimes, should have been a success. It looks great–the cast is gorgeous (and super diverse), and so are the costumes and setting. This covers the romantic and political machinations of the Montague and Capulet families after the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. However, it got moved from Monday nights after The Bachelorette to Saturday nights, and ABC hasn’t put original programming on Saturday nights since the 90s (way back when there was no DVR and you watched reruns in the summer!). Honestly, this never really had a chance. While the show definitely doesn’t fit into the mold of Shonda’s Thursday dramas Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and How to Get Away With Murder, it might have done well airing on Sundays after Once Upon a Time. The OUAT audience is prepared to accept a universe where fairy tale characters are real, so this wouldn’t be a huge leap. Still Star Crossed also would have been a perfect fit for the CW, taking the time slot recently vacated by the series finale of Reign (a teen drama adaptation of Mary, Queen of Scots’s life story).

 

Pitch (Fox, 2016): Pitch tells the story of Ginny Baker, Major League Baseball’s first female player. I’m not a sports fan and I find baseball especially boring, but I enjoy sports dramas (Survivor’s Remorse on Starz and Ballers on HBO are two of my faves). I love seeing black people on screen, and Ginny’s character was something you don’t see much. She was a female athlete who was dedicated to her sport, but who also had a love life. And the behind the scenes, Money Ball-esque machinations of the coach and front office were entertaining as well. Plus: plenty of topless Mark Paul-Gosselaar (aka Zack Morris aka the finest white boy alive)! Unfortunately, Fox chose to air this in a competing time slot with actual MLB games, therefore cutting out a large portion of the potential audience. Another time slot could have saved this. It also might have done better on TNT, which has a history of turning unconventional TV shows into hits (a la Leverage, Franklin & Bash, and The Librarians).

 

Dracula (NBC, 2013): This update of the Bram Stoker tale starred Jonathan Rhys Meyers as a sophisticated American businessman in London circa the Industrial Revolution. The bones of the story remained the same and Meyers was a great casting decision, as his commitment to the role kept it grounded. It came on after Grimm (which just wrapped a fantastic six season run!), so it had a solid lead in audience. It got tanked or low ratings after the first season, which I felt was unfair. Friday night shows, even the most successful, have much lower ratings than their Sunday – Thursday counterparts. It was set to be picked up by Netflix, but rumor has it that problems with Meyers sank the possible reboot.

 

The Gates (ABC, 2010): Nick Monohan is a cop who takes a cushy job as chief of security for an upscale suburban neighborhood. Little does he know, the families he’s watching are vampires, werewolves, witches, and other supernatural beings. This was basically Desperate Housewives with an urban fantasy twist, and even starred Rhona Mitra, who was in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans. Ultimately, I think this was a few years before its time. In 2010, the Marvel cinematic universe was just launching with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk (Edward Norton version). It wasn’t until 2011’s Thor and Captain America that the MCU picked up steam and studios started to realize that fantasy/scifi/comic book adaptations had a real audience, and weren’t just a fluke. Had it come to television in 2015, I believe it could have developed a strong following.

 

Mercy (NBC, 2009): This was a medical drama about a nurse who served in the Army’s medical corps in Iraq. She had an affair with the doctor she worked with, who of course gets a job at her hometown hospital. This wouldn’t be a big deal, except she left behind a husband and is dealing with PTSD. Her fellow nurses also had their own problems. It starred Taylor Schilling, who now helms Orange Is The New Black. Mercy was a worthy successor to medical drama ER, which had wrapped up its final season in the spring before Mercy aired. Apparently, I was the only watching it because ratings started low and got lower. It never caught on like Grey’s Anatomy, but it had really great characters. Looking back, it felt similar Nurse Jackie–yet another show that might have done better on cable.

 

Eastwick (ABC, 2009): This show was a lighthearted adaptation of the 1987 cult classic film The Witches of Eastwick, itself based on the novel of the same name by John Updike. The lead actresses had great chemistry. The magic stuff was cheesy but the likeability of the cast made it fun. It was very similar to the 90s WB show Charmed, but was canceled after one season.

So, what are the shows you wish could have a second chance? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

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My Top 5 Favorite Terrible Movies

Growing up, I didn’t have cable. This was partially because my parents objected to us watching too much brain-rotting television (my siblings and I all have graduate degrees so I guess it worked!), and partially because we couldn’t afford it. My husband grew up with cable and loves watching movies. Between him and the fact that I’m making up for 18 lost years of pop culture exposure, I watch a lot of random sh*t.  Some movies are just so bad, that they’re good. So I’m cataloging a few of my favorite hidden gems.

  1. SAVAGES

You guys. THIS IS MY FAVORITE BAD MOVIE OF ALL TIME.  I first saw this movie with Tex and Teddy McBright. It has a gratuitous threesome in the first 5 minutes, and the ending is completely insane. On top of that, Benicio del Toro and Salma Hayek utter each line of this cheesy script as if it were a Shakespeare play. You can’t look away. It’s magnificent.

2. HOMEFRONT

This is a close second with Savages because it’s just as foolish. Jason Statham is my guilty pleasure that I don’t feel guilty about. I discovered him in The Transporter wayyyy back in ’02 and he’s been bae ever since. Anyway, he’s starring in this opposite James Franco as a meth king in the Louisiana bayou. I sh*t you now. Tex’s uncle and aunt who always host Thanksgiving are retired, and unc has all the time in the world to go down the Netflix rabbit hole. This was the after dinner movie for 2014. I think I was the only person who genuinely enjoyed it, and I have no shame. I laughed. I gasped. I yelled at the tv. It. was. everything!

 

 

3. THE FAMILY

A Luc Besson film that was given a scandalous 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, this movie is a diamond in the rough. It’s like Home Alone, except instead of a little boy setting booby traps for robbers it’s a formerly connected family setting booby traps for  the mob. Totally worth it just to see old man DeNiro scowl while trying to act like a regular, suburban American dad…in France. Tommy Lee Jones is more deadpan than usual as their humorless FBI case officer. Honestly, this might be the most quality film on this list.

 

4. THE PRINCE

What do you get if you mix Taken with John Wick and add Bruce Willis? A hit, ladies and gentlemen, that’s what! This was the 2015 after Thanksgiving movie. It didn’t quite live up to the splendor that was Homefront, but it was pretty good nonetheless. Bruce Willis stars as Bruce Willis and John Cusack stars as an unconvincing bad guy. There are gunfights and explosions and Rain is criminally underutilized for him to be pictured on the movie poster.

 

 

5. LAWLESS

The story of the Bondurant brothers is predictable. We know it won’t end well and that the women are just going to get them caught up. The accents are offensive at worst and merely bad at best (I swear some of these folks just swagger-jacked Cletus the slack-jawed yokel).  But the scenery and the costumes are gorgeous, and the actors make this entertaining. I came for Shia LaBeouf (don’t judge me!), but I stayed for Tom Hardy. That man can act his way out of a paper bag.

So that’s my top 5 bad movies. Have you seen any of these? Do you plan to watch them? Any bad movie recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

Winter is Coming

So I’ve devoured all the books in George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series. I’m caught up on the tv show.  I bought the anthologies Dangerous Women and Rogues just to get my Westeros fix, even though I really don’t like short stories. I feel like I’ve read every character entry on the GOT wiki and seen every plausible theory on the discussion boards. What to do? The next book probably won’t drop before 2016, and there are 4 more months until the show comes back. I figured I can’t be the only one in this predicament, so I’m sharing my list of read that compare favorably to GRRM’s heady mix of high fantasy, political intrigue and family feuds.

 

TV RECOMMENDATIONS

VIKINGSRagnar--P

Although it airs on the History channel, this isn’t a documentary. It’s an engaging, fast-paced take on legendary Norse ruler Ragnar Lothbrok, who was the scourge of France and England in the 800s. There’s plenty of fighting and raiding, but clan politics and family tensions keep things interesting. And since it’s the History channel, there’s plenty of glimpses into Viking culture and religion that add depth to the plot.

REIGN

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Yes, this airs on the CW. Just think of it as  a lighter, fluffier GoT. This is a fictionalized take on the rise and reign of Mary, Queen of Scots. Court intrigue, international politics and illicit romance abound, along with a touch of the supernatural. If you can learn get over the Renaissance Fair wardrobe styling, this is a fun show with enough substance to keep it from being silly.

TYRANT

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Recently greenlighted for a second season with FX, Tyrant tells the story of Bassam “Barry” Al-Fayeed. Bassam is an expat from the fictional Middle Eastern country of Abbudin who visits home for the first time in 20 years to see his father before he dies. Bassam is faced with a choice: return to America or help guide Abbudin’s new ruler, his impulsive brother Jamal. Family ties run deep, and Bassam, along with his American wife and children, are suddenly thrust into a world where they are foreigners. Bassam must figure out who he is, and who he can trust, before the balance of power shifts out of his favor.

HOUSE OF CARDS

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If you don’t know who Frank Underwood is, you ought to. This fictional Congressman is the living embodiment of Machiavelli’s “The Prince” and Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”. Cold, calculating, and impeccably bred with Southern charm to spare, he and his wife Claire are on a mission to rule the political world. They work together with a loyalty and efficiency that puts the Lannisters and Starks to shame. Frank and Claire have an answer for every question, a backup plan to the backup plan, and a workaround for every obstacle. But can their luck hold forever? You’ll have to tune into Netflix and see.

 

READING LIST

The Accursed Kings (series)

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A cult hit by French author Maurice Druon, this is a dramatized retelling of the Hundred Years War. It has recently come back into print due to the popularity of GoT, because George R.R. Martin cites these books as his main inspiration for the hit series. I haven’t started reading yet, but I’m looking forward to it!

The Chronicles of Amber (series)

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Amber and the Courts of Chaos are the two true worlds, of which Earth and many others are mere shadows. The royal families of these worlds are the only ones allowed to travel back and forth. The first five novels comprise the adventures of Corwin, a Prince of Amber who wakes up in a New York hospital with no knowledge of how he came to be there. With the help of his sister, he recovers his memory and undertakes a journey to claim the throne. The last five novels in the series follow Corwin’s son Merlin, who has come of age in a very different Amber than came before- and his destiny, like his father’s will change Amber forever.

Fevre Dream

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While this is a significant change of pace from GoT, Martin’s trademarks remain- morally ambiguous characters, the philosophical struggle with self-determination vs. predestination, and mesmerizing prose. This is not your average vampire story. Martin’s tale of a weary steamboat captain who partners with a child of the night is evocative, poetic and engrossing. Joshua York is a vampire with a humanist bent who strives to transcend his “peculiar condition” and achieve something no vampire ever has before. He enlists the help of Abner Marsh, whose life has become increasingly hardscrabble, by dangling his lifelong dream in front of him. As York and Marsh make their way down the river in the world’s fastest steamboat promises are made, secrets are revealed, and loyalties are tested.

Get mad when it counts

There are a lot of valid reasons for black people to be angry: Police brutality. Disproportionate unemployment. The school to prison pipeline. That being said, I’ve seen a lot of outrage over trivial issues. Sure, human beings are both frivolous and profound. But there is so much anguish wasted on the  WRONG DAMN THINGS! For example: the current vitriol leveled at rap artist Iggy Azalea.

I like her music. It’s catchy and has that southern twang I’m used to from my favorite rapper T.I. However, I can be objective and acknowledge that Iggy’s no great MC. She’s not in the same class as Lil Kim, Outkast, or Biggie. But neither is Migos, Future or 2 Chainz, and I don’t hear anyone hollering for them to pay homage to the socio-political history of hip-hop.* I’m a history major, so I understand that it feels like white people only ever take from black culture without giving back- because that’s largely true. It happened with jazz and it happened with rock n roll; this is not new. The difference is that nobody who hasn’t been living under a rock would think that white people invented hip-hop. It took 30 years for the world to even receive a white rapper that would be taken seriously, and Eminem was judged by a much higher standard than any black rapper at the time. The man raps in iambic pentameter and it wasn’t until his third album that he really became mainstream and fully accepted into the hip-hop community. Black people may be a minority in this country, but we are the leading exporters of cool. The side effect of that is swagger jacking- imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? We should really be impressed that hip-hop is so powerful that it made a 16 year old white girl leave her country to chase a dream.

I say all this to say that if we’re going to start drawing lines about what real hip-hop is and isn’t, we need to start at home first. Example: Nicki Minaj. The girl can spit. She’s a lyrical beast. But she relies heavily on her sexuality to sell records (like Iggy) and often eschews hard core rap for poppier records that reach a Top 40 demographic (also like Iggy). I like her music, but Nicki is basically the Lady Gaga of rap: a massively talented woman who doesn’t exercise her full potential for fear that it won’t be marketable. I can’t entirely blame her though. The marketplace is flooded with subpar rap music. The fall of CDs, record labels, and traditional artist development means that music is fully democratized, for better and for worse. Soulja Boy got rich and famous off of a song he made in his bedroom, that never would have gotten past a label A&R rep. Future sounds like he’s singing into a water bottle. Juicy J’s flow sounds like ratchet nursery rhymes. I can’t understand what the hell Young Thug or The Migos are saying. 2 Chainz seems to exclusively make songs best heard in a strip club. Yet, the latter three can be heard all over the radio. But nobody is pointing at them and saying it’s a rap apocalypse, or that they don’t know enough about hip-hop history. If rap is “our thing”, then shouldn’t black artists be held to the highest standard? Shouldn’t we be boycotting all the artists who glorify sex, drugs, and female debasement before we start assuming that the lone white, female rap artist is single-handedly destroying the genre?

Personally, I don’t think rap has to be all one thing. Much like there are different subcategories of jazz, the same thing goes for rap. Some of it is political. Some of it is inspirational. Some of it is just good to dance to at the club, or blast in your car. There are lowbrow and highbrow elements to every artistic medium, and that’s okay. You wanna be mad at something? Don’t get mad because white people are saying “on fleek”. Be mad because the black girl who invented it didn’t think to trademark it, and now some white people are making money off it. Don’t be mad at Iggy, be mad that her sworn nemesis Azealia Banks twitter beefed herself right out of a record deal. Don’t be mad that Macklemore won the Grammy instead of Kendrick. Be mad the BET Awards are a joke, the Soul Train Awards haven’t cracked the mainstream, and black America still thinks the height of artistic merit should be determined by the whims of a panel of old white men who probably didn’t listen to the album.

There’s plenty to get mad at. Get mad where it counts.

 

*Speaking of which, when was the last time hip-hop was really relevant for being a political movement? Aside from the handful of rappers like Kendrick, Macklemore, Lupe Fiasco,  Common and The Roots who are known for socially conscious tracks- and a few others like Wale who participated in the Ferguson protests- hip-hop is mostly prized for its cool factor and being a party starter.