Friday, 5 January 2018

On the 8th day of Christmas…

… this blogger gave to thee…

… eight endings too soon…
… seven shoes to choose from…
… six party dresses…
… five gold rings…
… four living hinges…
… three books for reading…
… two felted tooties…
… and a day Binging with Babish.

New Years Day is when we traditionally make resolutions. My resolutions are the same every year and mostly revolve around trying to be a happier person, I could break that down into eight, but who wants to read about that. Instead, let’s go back to the first alternative I chose for Day eight, which was TV shows I like, with the twist of them being ones that got cancelled too soon, with no more than three seasons…

... here's a trailer for each show to start you off:

Agent Carter (2015-2016 | 2 Seasons)
Starring: Hayley Atwell, Enver Gjokaj, James D’Arcy, Chad Michael Murray and Dominic Cooper

Let’s begin with the most recently cancelled of these shows, Agent Carter, a TV spinoff from Captain America and the Marvel Universe starring Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter. It’s post World War Two, we’ve lost Captain America to the deep blue sea and Agent Carter is working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), which will eventually become S.H.E.I.L.D., whilst also trying to help Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) prove his innocence from supplying deadly weapons to the enemies of the United States.

The show ran for two seasons but was cancelled because of low views, despite good approval ratings for both the first and second seasons. There were rumours and hopes it could possible be picked up by an online subscription service such as Netflix, but in the end, as they killed off Peggy in Captain America: Civil War, they just let the series end. Plus it’s truly a shame that with female centric Marvel series being in the minority, it’s one of those, and a good one, which they cancel.

I can understand, suffering from a certain degree of Marvel fatigue myself, why Agent Carter was cancelled. If we go the first Iron Man movie and the new/current castings of classic characters began in 2008, we have had over the past ten years, thirty movies, with thirteen potentially coming in the next three years and another twelve plus television series based on the comics. It’s too much. Then add in DC adaptations and things get truly insane. So it’s not surprising that there are certain franchises that had to be culled and unfortunately that included Agent Carter, who I truly had a soft spot for. But isn’t that always the way…

…especially in this post. Yeah, this is gonna be a post full of good shows with crappy endings.

In The Flesh (2013-2014 | 2 Seasons)
Starring: Luke Newberry, Emily Bevan, Emmett J Scanlan, Harriet Cains, Ricky Tomlinson and Wumi Mosaku

As bad endings go, In The Flesh is a doozy, leaving their viewers on a huge cliff-hanger.

The BBC Three series takes place four years after the The Rising, where thousands of people who died in the same year suddenly crawled out of their graves and began marauding around the British countryside eating peoples brains. Now, rounded up and forcibly medicated, the government has started to rehabilitate the undead and allow them to be reintroduced into a society which is still doesn’t understand the PDS (Partially Deceased Syndrome) sufferers and generally, doesn’t want them. The series focuses on Kieren, a PDS sufferer who unless you knew he was wearing contact lenses and makeup to cover him deceased complexion, you’d be fooled by, but returned to his parents, to the home town full of people who didn’t understand him when he was alive, and definitely won’t try now he’s undead.

This series is about what happens after the cure that they’re always searching for in The Walking Dead and iZombie, is found and the fall out that happens when the undead must start living with what they’ve done. It was one of my favourite programs that BBC Three produced and got me hooked on Keaton Henson, who’s music featured heavily in both series one and two. In The Flesh was an unfortunate casualty of the BBC budget cuts which ultimately led to BBC Three being axed for an online-only alternative, again much like Agent Carter, receiving good reviews and accolades of best Mini Series and Best Writer – Drama at the BAFTA’s in 2014, but poor views. It’s maddening, not only because the show already broke my heart where they left it, but they left it on a cliff hanger, giving us a huge unresolved moment of screaming at the television.

Dollhouse (2009-2010 | 2 Seasons)
Starring: Eliza Dushku, Fran Kranz, Tahmoh Penikett, Enver Gjokaj, Dichen Lachman, Olivia Williams, Amy Acker, Reed Diamond, Harry Lennix, Alan Tudyk and Summer Glau

The Dollhouse is a facility where all your dreams can come true. If you have a fantasy, have a desire, they can aid you in achieving it. The Dollhouse is a futuristic escort agency which specialises in erasing their memories  and creating blank dolls, who can then be imprinted with temporary identities to fulfil their wealthy clients needs, whether they need to be mistress, assassin, councillor or best friend, they have a hard drive with all the skills and personality they’ll need. Most dolls, there to earn money, pay debts or escape themselves, remain in a wiped, happy and childlike blank state while they’re inactive, Echo (Eliza Dushku) is different. Echo has begun to retain memories and skills and is gradually becoming self-aware, and curious about who Caroline is. All while FBI Agent Paul Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett) is on a similar trail, searching for Caroline and the Dollhouse.  

If you ask me about cancelled TV, there are three particular writer/directors whose shows I almost always expect to enjoy, but equally expect to be cancelled after about two seasons. Josh Whedon has had long term TV series before, Buffy The Vampire Slayer ran for seven seasons, Angel for five, but after* these, Firefly got two seasons and a movie (Serenity) and Dollhouse, the subject here also got two and no movie. It was almost cancelled after season one due to low ratings, but the fan response helped in its renewal, it’s near death also pushed the creator to accelerate the story line, make it darker and with the assumption that it would be cancelled at the end of it’s run, give the fans who petitioned it continue, an ending which would satisfy them.

Dollhouse, was a strange show, the first season underwhelming compared to the second, improving as soon as there were fewer date scenarios and more self-aware revolutions, but the concept was a good one. I’m a sucker for Josh Whedon, I generally like what he produces, but sometimes having favourite actors is to his detriment, and while Fran Kranz (Topher), Alan Tudyk (Alpha), Enver Gjokaj (Victor) and Dichen Lachman (Sierra)were all engaging and well cast, I don’t think Dushku necessarily was. I love her as Faith in Buffy, I do, but as Echo, I think in comparison to some of the other cast, or Tatiana Maslany, who plays multiple clones in Orphan Black to great effect, she was flat and each different character was just not different enough.  Never the less, I can watch Dollhouse over and over again, if only for Victor being imprinted as Topher, which is perfect and hilarious to watch. If you like Josh Whedon, give it a go, it’s an underdog and you’ve got support and underdog.

* I’m excluding Marvel's Agents of  S.H.E.I.L.D. despite it technically being a Josh Whedon because personally I don't think of it as a Joss Whedon show in the same way Buffy, Firefly and Dollhouse are.

Cockroaches (2015 | 1 Season)
Starring: Daniel Lawrence Taylor, Esther Smith and Jack Whitehall

Tom and Suze (Daniel Lawrence Taylor and Esther Smith) are nineteen, they’re young and in love and dreaming of where their future will lead them. Then, the new announce that there is an incoming nuclear strike heading towards everyone, so thinking they’re about to die, what else do you do except throw caution to the wind and forget about condoms. But what are the chances, you’re one of life’s cockroaches, and you survive! Great. So, ten years later, emerging from the Suze’s parents basement/bomb shelter, you’ve got a kid, you’re about to turn thirty and now you’ve got to wander around what’s left of England searching for people, supplies and how to survive when you’re now the parents and you’ve no idea what’s been happening.

Cockroaches, was a very short-lived ITV comedy series was one of those which suffered from repeatedly being moved around the schedule and parked up late at night. I only ever saw a few episodes on TV, missed more than I saw and bought the DVD as soon as it came out because I found it so funny. It’s not a serious apocalyptic drama, you’re not going to get The Walking Dead, this is a very British apocalypse.

Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip (2006 | 1 Season)
Starring: Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford, Amanda Peet, Sarah Paulson, Simon Helberg, Nate Corddry, Timothy Busfield, Steven Weber and D. L. Hughley

What happens when the current producer of your late-night show has a meltdown live on air? First you fire him and then you higher his protégé’s and former writer and producer back to fix the mess. Or at least that’s what the newly appointed network president, Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet) has done, much to the chagrin of her boss who fired them. Matt Albie (Matthew Perry) and Danny Tripp (Bradley Whitford) are returning back to the show they loved and watched deteriorate as management got involved and have to bring the ratings back up, navigate wrangling actors, writers block, being a recovering drug addict and alcoholic (Danny), an ex-girlfriend who you’re still in love with but who is still pissed at you (Matt) and management still trying to call the shots. All while trying to bring the funny!

Number two on the least likely to succeed series creator, is Aaron Sorkin. Partly, I think, because if you compare all of Sorkin’s shows side by side, Sports Nights (1998-2000), The West Wing (1999-2006), Studio 60 (2006-2007) and The Newsroom (2012-2014), you can’t deny that they are all the same show, The West Wing being the most successful and long running. Whether it’s backstage at a nightly sports show, backstage in a newsroom, backstage at a late-night show, or in the West Wing of the White House, you’re always backstage, you’re always in amongst the workings of something bigger and you’re always invested in the friendships and love lives of the characters. I have no problem with this. I have repeatedly stated that I am a huge fan of these shows, so for me it’s a schtick that works and Studio 60 always makes me happy when I watch it. It’s also, unfortunately, the shortest run of the group.

Studio 60, isn’t the best Sorkin series you could watch, but the relationship between the actors within this show is something special.

Dead Like Me (2003-2004 | 2 Seasons)
Starring: Ellen Muth, Mandy Patinkin, Callum Blue, Jasmine Guy, Laura Harris and Cynthia Stevenson

Whilst walking back from lunch to her temp job as a file clerk, Georgia Lass (Ellen Muth) stands in the middle of street staring at something falling from the sky. George is a college dropout, with no real direction or want for direction in life, she’s not happy so of course her life would end in the shittest of manners, by being hit by a toilet seat re-entering the atmosphere from the Space Station Mir. Now she’s dead, she’s been dragooned into becoming a grim reaper, so she joins her new boss Rube (Mandy Patinkin) and the other reapers to take the souls of the people who, like George, are about to die in painful and traumatic ways. All of which are handed out on post-it notes over breakfast. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need a day job, so George is still stuck in the temp office.

Number three on our least likely to have a long running series list, is the subject of the next three, namely Bryan Fuller. Though Dead Like Me lost Fuller due to creative differences after only five episodes, the comedy was created by him, so it counts as part of this trio of excellent short series.

Despite Fuller’s departure, Dead Like Me is a weird program, with funny, caustic characters who you end up loving because they’re flawed and despite it’s deathly subject matter, it’s still positive. But promise me, you’ll never watch the movie Dead Like Me: Life After Death, because it put shame to a good show.

Pushing Daisies (2007-2009 | 2 Seasons)
Starring: Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Chi McBride, Kristin Chenoweth, Ellen Green and Swoosie Kurtz

There are two things pie-maker Ned (Lee Pace) wants in life, to make pies and not have the incredibly inconvenient super power to being able to bring people back from the dead. It seems like this could be a good power to have, but with most super powers, there are caveats, one touch brings someone back to life, but unless Ned touches the person a second time within a minute, they’ll stay alive and someone else will die. Then, confronted with the body of his childhood sweetheart, Chuck (Anna Friel) he revives her and can’t bring himself to have her die all over again… even if that means he can’t ever touch her without her dying again. So instead they solve murders with PI Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) by waking people up and simply asking what happened. Logical really.

Of all three of the Fuller offerings in this post, this is by far the most colourful, upbeat and at times sickly sweet of them. Yet it’s still completely focused on death! All the while making you fall in love with the pie-maker.

No, seriously, if you watch Pushing Daisies, you will fall in love with Lee Pace. Why else would there be a million different GIFs of Ned smiling on the internet, if it's not to make you go a little weak at the knees?

Hannibal (2013-2015 | 3 Seasons)
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Laurence Fishburne, Gillian Anderson, Caroline Dhavernas,  and Richard Armitage

Just to warn the people in my life who love Hannibal, I will probably butcher the explanation of it, it’s not on purpose, I’ll keep it short, but honestly, I’m just bad at writing synopses…

Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), an FBI criminal profiler is recruited by Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) to help investigate a serial killer. Worried that the investigation is taking its toll mentally on Graham, who as a way of understanding the criminals they’re hunting, visualises himself in their role as murderer, Crawford introduces him to Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) a forensic psychiatric who is also secretly a cannibal and the serial killer they’re hunting.

In Fuller’s interpretation of the classic Hannibal story, the relationship between Hannibal and Will is the back bone, from the manipulation of Will and the FBI by Hannibal to help him remain concealed as well as one step ahead, to the almost dance and love affair that they engage in, where Will wants to capture Hannibal, but also doesn’t really want too. The relationship between the characters, as well as the actors is incredibly compelling. 

Plus, it’s beautiful, as Bryan Fuller productions generally are, as well as being ill-fated. Hannibal last three seasons before it was cancelled, on a literal cliff hanger, due to – like most of these shows – low ratings despite critical acclaim. However, unlike the others, there is a glimmer of hope in the darkness, and as of 2017, when Amazon’s exclusive streaming rights ended, it was possible for formal discussion on the revival could begin. When the series was initially cancelled, Fuller began talks with both Amazon and Netflix to continue on, however because Amazon already had the streaming rights and wanted a very swift turn around, these talks were unsuccessful, and unfortunately their prior deal also excluded Fuller continuing discussions with Netflix.

But it’s amazing what a passionate creator, lead cast and fan base will do, and for the past two years they have kept up the campaigning and passion for the series to return and only time will tell whether it will be revived. I hope it will, because if shows such as Family Guy; Futurama; Community; Arrested Development; Gilmore Girls; The Mindy Project; The X-Files; Will and Grace; 24, and many more can be brought back from both the brink and complete cancellation, I think it’s about time Bryan Fuller was given a second chance, and if it’s going to be any of his shows, it should be Hannibal.

(Super fan, how did I do?)

Now, around Christmas, with all our family around us, one of the things that my sisters and I find difficult is the subject of conversation and how it always falls towards politics, the war or death. My sisters and I don’t want to talk about that, politics ends in arguments and war and death end in depressing the conversation. We want to talk about books and TV and random rubbish because it’s Christmas and at Christmas we should be talking of enjoyable things.

I think that’s part of why the eighth day post turns to TV or films so often, because they’re enjoyable subjects which we can all get to take part in the conversation.

So, do you have a favourite cancelled TV show? Do you have a favourite show which you think deserves revival or at least a movie? If so, share and enjoy?

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Part nine tomorrow or there abouts…

Link || Agent Carter | IMDb | Wikipedia
Link || In The Flesh | BBC | IMDb | Wikipedia
Link || Dollhouse | IMDb | Wikipedia
Link || Cockroaches | IMDb | ITV
Link || Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip | IMDb | Wikipedia
Link || Dead Like Me | IMDb | Wikipedia
Link || Pushing Daisies | IMDb | Wikipedia
Link || Hannibal | IMDb | Wikipedia

Listening: New Year's Day - Taylor Swift

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