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?).

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!