Friday, March 25, 2011

What the #$%&@ does F/X have to do to have a successful show?


What in the world does F/X have to do get people to watch its shows? In the past year, the network has aired easily the two best new shows in my book, "Terriers" (R.I.P) and "Lights Out," and in each case they've been rewarded with one-season wonders.

Not that that's all that odd, or even surprising. Many of the best TV shows of the last 15 years or so, "Freaks and Geeks" and "Firefly" in particular, have failed to catch on with enough people to please the bean-counters. That doesn't, however, make it any less maddening.

In the case of "Terriers," I could at least understand it. That show was a true oddity, a P.I. comedy-drama of sorts that ambled at its own pace and just had a skewed sense of humor that was never going to be everyone's viewing choice. But with "Lights Out," which officially got its cancellation order last night, I just don't get it.

Not only is it easily one of TV's best dramas on the air right now, but what else has even been on until this week or so with new episodes at all? I was hooked on the show from the start because I'm just a sucker for good boxing stories, and this was certainly one. Starting out with the tale of a former champ trying to make an unlikely (mi hermano says impossibly unrealistic given the age of star Holt McCallany) comeback against the fighter who knocked him out five years earlier, the show added to that a seedy family saga that somehow manages to make even the real world of boxing seem honest and upright by comparison.

And it contained the two best short-run performances I've seen on TV dramas in the past year. First up came Eamonn Walker (who it took me a long time to remember played Howling Wolf in the truly great little flick "Cadillac Records"), who completely took over two episodes as the mystic trainer Ed Romeo. And just this week, the always-welcome David Morse took a tragic turn as a truly punch-drunk former champ.

I don't think "Lights Out" will have the cult following of the one-season wonders mentioned earlier, but I'll certainly miss it, and will buy it when it comes to DVD. Looking at the numbers, however, it's really hard to get too mad at all at F/X. Here, courtesy of AICN, are the numbers for Tuesday nights from Jan. 11-March 22 (this week):

3.8 (2.2) (2.3) (3.8) (4.4) (3.6) (4.2) (4.6) (2.3) (4.1) (4.5) NCIS
3.2 (2.2) (2.6) (3.2) (3.9) (3.3) (3.5) (3.8) (---) (3.3) (3.7) NCIS LA
3.0 (2.7) (2.9) (2.4) (2.7) (2.7) (3.0) (3.3) (3.2) (2.9) (3.2) Biggest Loser
2.5 (2.5) (2.0) (1.9) (2.2) (2.1) (1.8) (2.1) (2.3) (2.1) (1.9) Teen Mom
2.1 (1.2) (1.3) (2.2) (2.0) (2.0) (2.2) (2.2) (---) (2.1) (2.3) Good Wife
2.0 (4.2) (4.6) (---) (4.4) (4.2) (4.6)(11.1) (1.5) (1.5) (1.7) Glee
1.8 (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) Best In Film
1.7 (1.7) (2.2) (1.8) (1.9) (2.4) (2.2) (2.4) (2.3) (2.8) (3.6) The Game
1.5 (0.9) (1.0) (1.2) (1.4) (1.5) (1.5) (1.1) (1.1) (1.8) (1.5) No Ordinary Family
1.4 (2.2) (2.7) (3.3) (2.4) (2.2) (2.7) (---) (---) (---) (---) Raising Hope
1.4 (---) (1.5) (1.1) (1.2) (1.0) (2.2) (---) (1.3) (1.6) (---) Let’s Stay Together
1.0 (---) (1.2) (1.9) (2.1) (1.9) (1.9) (2.2) (---) (2.1) (2.2) Parenthood
1.0 (1.5) (1.5) (---) (1.6) (1.4) (1.9) (---) (---) (---) (---) Traffic Light
1.0 (0.8) (1.0) (---) (0.8) (---) (1.0) (---) (---) (---) (---) Top Shot
1.0 (---) (0.8) (0.7) (0.8) (1.0) (0.9) (0.8) (0.8) (0.9) (1.1) Hardcore Pawn
0.9 (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) NBA Basketball
0.6 (0.5) (0.7) (0.6) (0.6) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) Real Housewives Miami
0.5 (0.4) (0.5) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) Million Dollar Listing
0.3 (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) Destination Truth
0.3 (0.2) (0.5) (0.6) (0.6) (0.7) (0.7) (0.8) (0.9) (0.3) (0.4) Hellcats
0.3 (0.3) (0.4) (0.4) (0.3) (0.3) (0.4) (0.4) (0.4) (0.4) (0.6) Lights Out
0.3 (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) (---) Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen
0.3 (0.3) (0.4) (0.7) (0.9) (0.8) (0.7) (1.2) (0.9) (---) (0.4) One Tree Hill

Yes, you really did have to dig pretty far to find "Lights Out," and by the way, what in the heck is "Marcel's Quantum Kitchen"? So, R.I.P., "Lights Out," and if you like the show as much as I did and do, tune in for the final two episodes to see if Lights finally gets his rematch with Death Row.

OK, enough of that depressing stuff. Starting this Sunday (of course) for you folks like me who get HBO is "Mildred Pierce," and you can certainly count me as psyched for it. A five-part miniseries based on the novel by James M. Cain and directed by Todd Haynes, it stars one Kate Winslet in the titular role. The story, already made into a 1945 movie I haven't seen, is about a working mother who separates from her cheating husband during the Great Depression (0r at least, the first one) and tries to keep her family together as she eventually goes on to open three restaurants and a pie-selling business. It's most certainly a whole lot more epic and just better than I'm making it sound here. Keep an eye out for Guy Pearce as Mildred's wealthy playboy lover Monty Beragon, and enjoy these two clips to whet your appetite, the first an episode one preview and the second a 30-minute making-of special. As for me, I'm off to work and then to see Zack Snyder's "Sucker Punch" this weekend, and frankly hoping it doesn't just make my eyeballs melt. Peace out.



4 comments:

jeremy said...

I wonder if Mildred Pierce will be really boring. I mean 5-day mini-series seems a little bloated. Mr. Haynes has never been one to shy away from over-the-top, so I'm hoping all 5 days can manage large melodrama.

Reel Fanatic said...

I know what you mean, Jeremy, but I'm still fairly confident that Haynes can find enough to play with to make it worth tuning in for all five days

Justin said...

That was some intensity Walker brought to Ed Romeo. I found that character so interesting and am sorry to see him leave the story.

Reel Fanatic said...

Given the ratings, I don't think keeping him around could have salvaged things, Justin, but with two episodes left, here's hoping that Lights somehow persuades him to come back for the big fight (if there even is going to be one at this point)