Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The flameout of "Jezebel James"

Even if the end was inevitable - because the show was in many ways just bloody awful - this is still an awfully harsh fall from grace for the creator of the often sublime "Gilmore Girls."

After airing only three episodes (over just two weeks) of the only seven episodes ordered, Fox has indeed already pulled the plug on Amy Sherman-Palladino's new show, "The Return of Jezebel James." To give credit where it's squarely due, this news was broken by TV-obsessed Michael Ausiello here.

There were a number of factors going against this show from the outset, but though it pains me to say it, the biggest problem was easily Parker Posey. It wasn't that she's not Lauren Graham - because there can of course only be one of those rather perfect human specimens - but a whole other problem.

Posey could keep up with ASP's rapid-fire dialogue, which hasn't seemed to slow down much at all, but in order to do so she had to adapt the mannerisms of a meth addict, which along with being thoroughly annoying just didn't gel too well with her New York book publisher persona. Lauren Ambrose fared better by playing it a little more cool, but still ended up often looking nothing but awkward.

The second big killer was that laugh track, which is easily the worst I've heard in many years (though I don't watch many sitcoms.) Why do networks still use this? It never sounds real, and when it's turned up very loud in all the wrong places - as on "Jezebel James" - it just points out how unfunny the show really is.

If I can digress a bit, it was great to see Sarah Chalke on "How I Met Your Mother" - another show that should just dump its laugh track - last night. Britney was, as I guess should have been expected, just pretty darn awful, but Chalke was just as charming as she's always been on "Scrubs." Could she be the secret "Mother" in this puzzle? Probably not, but that would indeed be pretty friggin cool if so.

But, getting back to "Jezebel James," the real shame here is that buried beneath all its obvious faults was the foundation for a pretty good show. The relationship between these two sisters with almost entirely different views of the world could well have developed into something very interesting, but for once at least I can't blame Fox: The gap between potential and payoff was just too wide with this one. R.I.P. Jezebel James.

The "Cadillac" of movie casts?

I've recently added Blackfilm.com to my morning reading list (in place of the froggy site Cinempire.com, which has just fallen off precipitously of late), and it's definitely a welcome addition.

As might be expected, they tend to track the minute details of movies that others pay little attention to, as they're doing with the rather fun-sounding "Cadillac Records," which is quickly attracting quite an A-list cast.

The newest addition is Gabrielle Union, who I'll admit to being smitten with ever since "Bring It On." She'll play Geneva Wade, the girlfriend and later wife of Muddy Waters, being played by the great Jeffrey Wright.

Written and directed by first-time feature (but long-time TV) director Darnell Martin, the story is about Leonard Chess, the legendary founder of the South Side Chicago blues label Chess Records, who will be played by Adrian Brody. Also confirmed for the biopic are Cedric the Entertainer as Willie Dixon, Beyonce Knowles (heard of her?) as Etta James, Eamonn Walker as Howlin' Wolf, Columbus Short as Little Walter and, easily one of my favorite actors working today, Mos Def as Chuck Berry.

Mos Def as Chuck Berry? It just doesn't get much cooler than that, so definitely keep your eyes on this one. Peace out.

8 comments:

jeremy said...

Well, we knew that Jezebel couldn't last. And I think that the format really showed the limits of ASP's writing. Personally, I found Ambrose annoying and Posey likable, but still the words they were saying were just baaaaaaad.
But, Miss Guided is pretty decent . . . and looks like it could get decent-er.
(Still, I miss the heyday, when Battlestar Galactica was good, and Arrested Development and Veronica Mars were all on the air.)

Reel Fanatic said...

I think you're right about Miss Guided, Jeremy ... The writing is very good, and I just adore Judy Greer

Debbie said...

I'm not surprised about it being cancelled. I was pretty disappointed with the three episodes I watched but was willing to wait it out in hopes things improved. I got into Gilmore Girls in its third or fourth season and when I finally saw the pilot and first couple of episodes I wasn't too impressed. The timing on the dialogue was off. I hoped that would be the case with this and it would get better.

Debbie said...

I'm not surprised about it being cancelled. I was pretty disappointed with the three episodes I watched but was willing to wait it out in hopes things improved. I got into Gilmore Girls in its third or fourth season and when I finally saw the pilot and first couple of episodes I wasn't too impressed. The timing on the dialogue was off. Things obviously improved with that. I hoped that would be the case with this and it would get better.

J. Marquis said...

I have a big crush on Sarah Chalke. She's funny and gorgeous.

Neel Mehta said...

I, too, exercised patience in watching the three episodes of Jezebel James. Its problems were many -- the sitcom approach was but one -- and I'm not sure it could have ever gelled. I have a strong affinity for Parker Posey, Lauren Ambrose, and Scott Cohen, but I don't really see them meshing together on the same show. It was like they cast the show based on a wish list than potential chemistry.

Interesting that someone mentioned Miss Guided, a show that actually thrives on the half-hour format.

Michelle said...

Well written article.

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