3 Shows That Were Doomed To Failure

Good ideas are a dime a dozen, but it’s the execution that’s tricky. Dozens of new TV shows pop up every season, but only a few go on to become moderate successes, much less smash hits. Here are a few shows that I wanted to work.

Emerald City (NBC, 2017): Emerald City is a gritty reboot of The Wizard of Oz. It sounds crazy (and but was way too over the top for network television. In this version, Dorothy is a cop. She also has magical powers and becomes the unwitting heir to the Witch of the East. The Scarecrow is a tragic soldier. Glinda isn’t such a good witch after all. The Witch of the West basically runs a brothel and is usually high on poppy tea. The Tin Man is a teenage amputee and Ozma is his magical transgender BFF. Oz is, of course, a fraud–but he’s also a scientist who is scared to death of magic and tries to ban its use in order to preserve his own power.

The cinematography was excellent, but the show was ultimately brought down by trying too hard. It started really slow, and there were just too many plot points. It also dealt with some very adult themes that had to be glossed over in order to be fit for a prime time audience. A few edits and a move to SyFy or HBO could have made this show a success.

Constantine (NBC, 2014): Constantine sought to take advantage of the new wave of comic book adaptations. However, NBC was definitely the wrong network. The comics were created by Alan Moore, the same man behind The Watchmen. John Constantine is an occult practitioner and demon hunter haunted by his failure to protect innocents in the past. But the demons he fights are not of the wise cracking variety displayed on Supernatural (The CW)–they’re the baby eating, serial killing, apocalypse bringing kind. Moreover, in trying to add a female character they shoehorned in a reluctant sidekick who had escaped from a cult. The writers tried to split the difference between grim dark and comedic by making it sorta kinda dark, which killed all narrative momentum.

Almost Human (Fox, 2013): This science fiction drama shakes up the usual buddy cop dynamic by making the sidekick an android. Michael Ealy plays an AI who has seemingly developed sentience. It hit all the beats of a traditional procedural, but with an intelligent exploration of the tension between humans and robots. Karl Urban’s character also has a prosthetic leg, due to an injury he suffered in the line of duty. He hates it because he is staunchly anti-android, but as he starts to develop a true partnership with Michael Ealy, his feelings start to shift. However, the show was much too niche for Fox. SyFy would have been a natural fit, and they’ve kept worse on the air (Wynonna Earp, anyone?).

Sorry To Bother You Again: The Black Futurist Playlist

Sorry To Bother You was such a deep movie, and it put me in a mood to digest more media like it. My review (despite its length) just barely scratches the surface and there was a lot of stuff I didn’t get to. So if you’re interested in doing the same, here are my recommendations.

WATCH

Atlanta (FX, 2016-present)- If you aren’t watching this show, you should be. It’s hard to describe but most episodes are kind of like a magical realism black Seinfeld. But then there are episodes that veer into very weird territory (especially in the second season).

Bamboozled (A Spike Lee Joint, 2000)- This isn’t science fiction, but it is a satire very much in this vein.

Dirty Computer (2018)- This 45 minute visual album is sci-fil all the way. The protagonist is a black queer woman whose identity is literally being erased by technology. The music shows her journey of self acceptance and rebellion against the status quo. 

Get Out (2017)- Also something you should have seen by now, but it’s still very much in the vein of STBY and I’d be remiss to leave it off. 

Lamborghini Angels/ITAL (Roses)/Audubon Ballroom (Lupe Fiasco, Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1, 2012)- There’s a lot packed into this 12 minute music video if you listen and watch closely. Interestingly, while this video was officially released it is no longer on Lupe Fiasco’s or his former record label’s official YouTube/Vevo page, even though all of his music videos push the envelope. I’d love to hear your conspiracy theories if you’ve got them. 

“Negrotown” (Key & Peele, 2015)- A comedy sketch that cuts so deep you have to laugh to keep from crying. 

READ 
“When Survival Equals Destruction- Let’s Talk About Sorry to Bother You” by TaLynn Kel

“Sorry To Bother You is Great Science Fiction, People” by Wired.com Culture Editor

“The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates- This longform essay is sci-fil only in the sense that reparations is seen as an impossible fantasy by most. Yet, Coates deftly rips apart the idea that slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, and the civil rights struggle are ancient history. It’s an idea that only benefits the system of white supremacist capitalism that America is built on. Germany paid reparations to Europe after WWII. When apartheid fell in in South Africa there was reparations and a restorative justice panel–why should the US be different? 

Futureland by Walter Mosley- This writer is best known for his noir detective novels starring the rakish, smooth, but troubled Easy Rawlins. Remember that Denzel Washington movie, “Devil in a Blue Dress”? That was based on the first book in the series. Mosley is also a very talented sci-fi writer and this collection of stories remains one of my favorite.

Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction in the African Diaspora”, edited by Sheree Thomas- Another great collection of black sci-fi, this one pulled from black authors across the ages, including W.E.B. DuBois. If you read nothing else, check out Derrick Bell’s story “The Space Traders”, which is even more interesting in light of the current administration.

LISTEN

Everybody (Logic, 2017)- I actually reviewed this album in a post last year. I’ll link it here so I won’t repeat myself, but the TL;DR of it all is that this is a conscious concept album that bangs. Give it a try. 

“If Your Love Cannot Be Moved” (Stevie Wonder ft. Kim Burrell, A Time to Love, 2006)- Stevie Wonder is best known for his love songs. This isn’t one of them. It’s a deep cut, not one of his singles, but the lyrics remind you that Stevie lived through segregation. He was born in 1950 (just like my parents!) and started his music career in 1961, just 7 years after Brown v. Board of Education integrated schools and another 3 years before the Civil Rights Act ended segreation altogether. When he says “You can’t say we shall and not fight through hell. . . You can’t shout out peace and then vanish in the crowd” or “You can’t free the slave to enslave them differently”, he means that shit. This is a revolution song, no doubt about it.

They Don’t Really Care About Us” (Michael Jackson, HISTORY, 1995)- The title says it all. But in case you forgot, they (whether that be the Republican Party, patriarchy, the 1%, or corporate interests) don’t care about anything but what they can get out of you. So get off your ass and VOTE in this election and everyone that follows. 

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!

 

 

5 Favorites for 2016

Happy New Year! I’m kicking off another year on the blog with 5 things that I’m loving right now.

Jazmine Sullivan, “Reality Show”

      This album dropped at the  beginning of the year. I live my life on shuffle so it took until this summer for me to listen to the album as a whole, but it’s been on repeat ever since. My absolute favorite song on the album is “Let It Burn”. It samples an old Babyface-produced track which feels like a long lost Debarge track.  

These boots from Target.

target shearling boots

 

    It’s cold as crap outside! Accuweather is telling me that I’m lucky, but 50 degrees feels stupid cold when you spend 9 months out of the year at 85 degrees and up. Not to mention that the office a/c apparently runs year round. I’m going to be wearing these bad boys out for the next 8 weeks!* 😀

Mozart in the Jungle

I finally broke down and got an Amaz.on Pr.ime subscription. I knew it would pay for itself in Kin.dle books alone, but since all my regular shows are on winter hiatus, I had time to try out a new show. Mozart is actually really good! It’s a nice, light, 30 minute comedy. And having spent about 10 years in the orchestra, it’s nice to hear classical music and enjoy all the quirky musicians’ shenanigans. Check it out here.

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The Awkward Yeti web comics

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Somebody shared a collection of these on Facebook and I’m hooked. They’re super cute and the misadventures of Heart and Brain just speak to my life.

Tazo Gingerly Jasmine Tea

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Hubs got me a kettle for Christmas, which is enabling my new tea habit. I love green tea but this flavor from Tazo is wonderful. The flavor of the tea mixed with ginger, jasmine and rose petals has just the right balance of floral, earthy and spicy notes. Mixed with a couple teaspoons of local Texas honey, there’s no better way to unwind after a hard day at work.

 

 

*ICYMI, Houston has 3 months of winter, 3 months of spring, and 6 months of hell.