The Flash. Brimstone. Clerks. Firefly. Threshold. FlashForward. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Persons Unknown. Outsourced. Terra Nova. I watched these shows, I grew attached to them for various reasons, and they each lasted one season or less. This has happened to me often enough that I refuse to write it off as coincidence or horrible taste.
I am not simply unlucky in leisure. I am more than a mere jinx. I am the destroyer of new network programming.
Even as far back as my childhood, incidents occurred. Does anyone else remember the McLean Stevenson vehicle Condo? Its truncated run wasn’t another example of his own curse in action. That was me. When Isaac Asimov co-created Probe, I was there to ensure he failed in at least one creative venture in his entire life. What had two thumbs and watched the American version of Cracker? This young adult viewer, that’s who.
By comparison, consider a few of the shows I didn’t watch: Lost, Heroes, The Big Bang Theory, 99% of all reality shows — all of which I didn’t follow, all of which may have lived longer than they should have. Sometimes I’ve even saved the life of a show by walking away from it. I gave up on Grimm after several episodes about a cop with a greater destiny who insisted on remaining a boring old cop; lo and behold, without me around, the cop and his world of were-critters live on. If a bad time slot and the CBS site’s horrid streaming browser hadn’t caused me to lose track of Person of Interest halfway through its decently rated first season, surely something awful would’ve happened to it or its cast, guaranteed.
(Never mind examples that dispute my hypothesis. Once Upon a Time was either a magical fluke, or will nosedive in quality this season and join the small Two-Season Miracle Club alongside Pushing Daisies, Dollhouse, and Who Wants to Be a Super-Hero? You heard it here first.)
The 2012 fall season is now upon us, and I’m about to kill again. I can’t help myself. Sometimes I just like watching new things on TV. At the moment I’m considering trying several different shows this season. I apologize in advance for the livelihoods I may ruin and any budding fandom that will be crushed because of my attempted participation.
The death march consists of the following shows. I may watch a few others if I hear great things, or if I’m in need of more writing fodder.
Last Resort — A heavily armed submarine crew disobeys a direct order to begin nuking things and finds itself a Gilligan’s Lost Island on which to stand its ground, declare nationhood, and get to the bottom of a vast government conspiracy back in their former homeland. The unusual Tom Clancy-esque premise is bolstered with a cast that blatantly delves into the my mental catalog — Homicide‘s Andre Braugher, Dollhouse‘s Dichen Lachman, Robert Patrick the original T-1000, Persons Unknown‘s Daisy Betts, Karen from Falling Skies, and TV’s Scott Speedman (whom I’ve watched in almost nothing, but he seems to get around anyway). I’ve not seen any other shows from creator Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Unit), but the buzz from them alone sounded out-of-the-ordinary, and he receives bonus points for having worked on one season of Angel.
Revolution — To be honest, I hate the premise of the show. Earth has all its electricity permanently turned off after a mysterious event, of the kind that made such winners out of FlashForward and The Event. Fifteen years later, the show picks up with the remnants of humanity making the best of a situation where apparently all generators and Duracells were instantly ruined and never reinvented. I’ve never been a fan of shows with primitive settings. I’m hardly a JJ Abrams completist. The cast is largely unknown to me, except for the never-boring Giancarlo Esposito and Elizabeth Mitchell from the new V…but part of me wants to know how they plan to patch this together into a viable series. Also, the pilot was directed by Iron Man auteur Jon Favreau. Whatever happens, at least that episode shouldn’t be boring.
Arrow — May Justin Hartley forgive me, but as a comic book reader, I feel it my duty to try at least one episode of the colorless Green Arrow series, even though it more closely resembles the morose Mike Grell post-Crisis reboot of the late ’80s than the dashing Smallville bright spot. When it comes to comic adaptations that the general public may not get, it can’t possibly be as bland as Sable, which I also helped bury in my youth after a handful of airings. Sorry, First Comics. My fault.
Elementary — My wife and I still have one more episode of Sherlock to watch before we’re caught up with the rest of the world. After that finale undoubtedly blows us away, maybe then I’ll be in a position to ask what in the world CBS is thinking. I thought the preview I posted a while back had potential. Then I began watching Sherlock. Now? I really hope Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu, and the Star Trek: Voyager writer who developed this version know what they’re doing.
Go On — I’ve already seen the first two episodes. So far, it hasn’t been canceled yet. Knock on wood, I suppose. In his role as a sportscaster grieving for the loss of his wife who died while texting and driving, Matthew Perry balances snark and pathos better here than he did on Studio 60, where he was still trying to shake the “Chandler” label. Enough time has passed, and enough hair has grayed, that I didn’t think of Friends once during either episode. The determinedly quirky cast includes Tony Award Winner Laura Benanti, character actor Bill Cobbs, Sam Witwicky’s mom, the new Sulu, the Chris that Everybody Hates, friendly traitorous Skye from Terra Nova, and some comedians I don’t know, none of which I loathe yet. I’m a big fan of humor/heart fusions, and Go On seems to be working well toward finding the right mix. The “March Sadness” scene is what first drew me in, but the interplay between the variegated members of the support group will make or break it in the long run. I could see it happening…alas, if only I weren’t there to see it.
Wave goodbye to all the nice, well-meaning shows, folks. Perhaps I could save careers and lives by sticking to DVD sets or TV Land reruns, but I refuse to live with my head in the sand, or to turn on TV Land if I can help it.
Here’s hoping more than one of them isn’t terrible, and that at least a few of the Nielsen commoners can finally agree with me on anything. The power to stop my TV show killspree is ultimately in their hands.