Top Five Fridays: Short-Lived but Brilliant (Continued)

by Beal

I cannot express how truly difficult dwindling this category down to a mere five programs was for me, but I did my best. So many great shows were savagely canned, ripped from the airwaves and crushed by the powers that be, despite their super-potential. Perhaps I shouldn’t get so upset about TV cancellations (and thank god for series on DVD), but the fact that the following shows were quashed while The Nanny aired for a solid six seasons, is a tragedy of epic proportions.

5.  All American Girl – 1 Season – 1995

allamericangirl-lrgI literally have not seen this show since it aired 14 years ago, but what I remember, was that it was hilarious. It starred Margaret Cho as Margaret Kim (creative!) a Korean-American twenty-something whose traditional family and modern lifestyle created the perfect juxtaposition for classic sitcom hi-jinx to ensue. She has a zany (like the zaniest thing I’ve ever seen on television) grandmother who I can only describe as super-Korean. I think part of this show’s intention was to break down racial stereotypes surrounding Asians, but hey, two steps forward, one step back, either way, Grandma was funny. And so was the show, as it also starred comedian Judy Gold, as Cho’s best friend and guest starred Jack Black, Vicki Lawrence and David Cross, and also OPRAH (who isn’t funny, but noteworthy nonetheless)! Behind the scenes, things were apparently less comical. Cho was asked to lose weight (she lost 30 lbs in 2 weeks to film the pilot) because he face was “too round” and despite allegedly being a show based on her comedy routine, producers kept insisting she wasn’t “Asian enough” and hired a consultant to “help” her. Also, in the final episode that aired, which was a clandestine attempt at a new pilot, Cho’s Asian family was entirely eliminated, and out of nowhere, she was living Friends style with a group of twenty-something clowns–Cho was allegedly then told that she was “too Asian” for this format. (Note: This clip doesn’t do the show justice-or maybe it does, I was in elementary school when I last watched it-but options were limited).

4.  Dirt – 1.5 Seasons – 2007-2008

dirt_ver2This show, which aired on FX was the trashiest, smuttiest thing I ever watched on basic cable. I guess they were limited in language, but they made up for that with wanton drug use and gratuitous sex aplenty! It starred Courtney Cox (who also exec produced the show with husband Officer Doofy Arquette) as Lucy Spiller, the editor-in-bitch of “DirtNow” magazine, a super distasteful, yet glossy and well produced, celebrity tabloid. Story lines surrounded Lucy (who was somewhat of a frigid bitch), her longtime friend and paparazzo, Don (a functioning schizophrenic who did NUTS shit in every episode, such as chopping off his own thumb to gain access to a celebrity in the hosptial) and “fictional” celebrities whose antics were of the “ripped from the headlines” school of television. Keep in mind, this is during the Britney Spears totally loses her shit and shaves her head era as well as the peak of Lohan and Hilton’s reign of terror in Hollywood, which made for some JUICY episodes.

3. The Comeback – 1 Season – 2005

the_comeback-showI consider it a travesty, not only that this show only lasted a single season, but that only a handful of people I’ve encountered, ever even heard of it, because it is hysterical. Created by Lisa Kudrow and Michael Patrick King (SATC), the show is a mock-celeb-reality show, for which Kudrow is PERFECT. She plays Valerie Cherish, a former TV star who is making a, you guessed it, comeback, with a new, hip show Room and Bored. Although she believes she is playing one of the central (mod/young) roommate characters, she is actually cast as the “cool aunt,” which actually is a jogging suit wearing fuddy duddy who lives upstairs while the primary cast, scantily clad, engage in wacky behavior downstairs. The producers have ZERO respect for her, and as a total has-been she has no leverage, yet somehow, in her crazy, delusional, washed-up actress mind, she still feels relevant and behaves as such, despite everyone around her mocking her every move. She walks a fine line between sooo lovable and completely pathetic. I don’t know who Kudrow was channeling when she created this character and most of the time I’m torn between laughing and cringing. Is she kidding us or herself? As long as she’s got the part, who cares? The following clip is from my favorite scene in the show. Valerie’s fat/ass/hole producer forces her to do like 20 takes of a pratfall (knowing she has a bad back) in a cupcake costume, just for his own amusement. The following day she is to appear on Leno, and instead of discussing her triumphant return to television, all he does is show the infamous vomit clip. . .

2. Jesse – 2 Seasons – 1998-2000/Samantha Who? – 2 Seasons – 2007-2009

jesse-showAlright, so technically this are two different shows or well not technically at all, it IS two different shows, but their similarities are enough that I will talk about them simultaneously here. What the fuck? Is my first question. Fine, Jesse wasn’t the greatest show in the world, but it was definitely funny, and fairly well written, way better than say, Caroline in the City, which lasted twice as long. AND it starred the lovably funny Christina Applegate as a single mom, living in Buffalo, serving up coldbeer and laughs at a German bar (where she wore traditional garb) and honing in on her hot neighbor Diego (Bruno Campos). In its second season, they retooled the show, making Jesse a nurse and the story lines revolve around her friends, rather than her family. CANCELLED. Seven years later, Applegate got re-tooled again as Samantha Newly on Samantha Who? a WONDERFUL sitcom about a self-centered bitch who is hit by a car, suffers amnesia and gets a fresh start. Yes, it sounds kind of lame, but well, it wasn’t, it was fresh and funny and well-written, so much so that Applegate was nominated for an Emmy, for christ’s sake. (PLEASE let this be one of those New Adventures of Old Christine scenarios where the show is cancelled, but then un-cancelled because of Emmy nods.) It also starred Jean Smart, a comedic gem in her own right, as Samantha’s mom. In every episode “new” Sam tries to do the right thing, gets flashbacks of her old self, and despite her best efforts, usually does the wrong thing, but this time, for the right reasons. Fuck you ABC, this show was GOLD! When will TV execudicks understand?? Cast Christina Applegate, and the rest will fall into place. In the meantime, I’ll begin writing the screenplay for Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead 2: Sue Ellen’s Revenge.

1. Freaks & Geeks – 1 Season – 1999-2000

freaks-n-geeks_l4When this show was cancelled, after less than one season, I lost ALL FAITH in humanity. In what world can THE BEST SHOW I’VE EVER SEEN be canned after 12 episodes?? The show aired on Friday nights, a place where TV shows go to die, but I was there, home on a Friday night at 8 p.m. to watch the premiere, five minutes in I was hooked and half a year later DEVASTATED. After a fan campaign a few more episodes aired in July of 2000, but that was hardly enough. It was like, oh, your whole family died in a tornado? Well, here’s your dead neighbors cat, at least you have each other. NOOOOO! The moment this show exited airwaves I began researching possible DVD releases, and finally Shout! Factory listened to the disenfranchised masses and put ALL 18 episodes in a boxed set for the viewing public. You better believe that I was at the record store the DAY it came out, plopping down my $50 to see EVERY episode uncut, commercial free and full of laughs and love. Although I am deeply saddened that only one season of this groundbreaking and uber-realistic show [Seriously, never have I seen a show that like, REALLY looked and felt like high school. Some viewers were turned off by its honesty, but every character (sans Neil) was like, amazing.] exists, I am partially overjoyed because so many of them went on to make other amazing pieces of entertainment. I’m sure the guy whose red rubber stamper finally nixed the program’s production is cursing himself right now, and living a lifestyle similar to that of Millie’s creepy, fake ID making, cousin, while executive producer Apatow has made box office millions with films starring various members of the Freaks & Geeks cast who’ve for the most part moved on to bigger (not better, but perhaps more prominent) roles. Single tear. . .


2 thoughts on “Top Five Fridays: Short-Lived but Brilliant (Continued)

Add yours

  1. The first season of Dirt was good, but when it came back it was horrid. I couldn’t watch it. I was like, did all the writers quit?! Sad but true :/

  2. First season was better, and actually, the second season was a victim of the writer’s strike, so to answer your question, yes, they did. HOWEVER, the episode where Don gets tied up in that congress woman’s basement is so twisted, but so entertaining. Also, the Britney Spears doppleganger, LOVE!

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