If we had our way, all reality television shows would be abolished, but they’re here to stay, for better or for worse (most likely, worse). That said, there were plenty of shows that started out this season with potential that fizzled quickly. Then there were the shows that plain sucked from the get-go. This list highlights this season’s top five shows – which includes some non-genre shows – that deserved to be cancelled and should be cancelled.
The premise was an aspiring filmmaker documenting the lives of high school seniors in 2000, getting all their dreams and aspirations on record. A decade passes and life doesn’t turn out for these late twenty-somethings as they wanted it back in high school (does it ever?). The characters were clichéd stereotypes: the jock, the wallflower, the rich kid, the snob, the nerd, the beautiful girl, et al.
Yes, it’s not a genre show but it was pretty hyped up before its premiere and the show bombed badly. The show was cancelled after its second episode because ratings were in the sewer. This mockumentary deserves to be put on this list for that reason.
This cheap super-hero knock-off was not for the lactose intolerant, it was so cheesy. The Cape was about the titular character (David Lyons) who in his alter-ego of Vince Faraday was a decorated cop that had his reputation destroyed as he was believed to be the villainous Chess (who was really powerful business tycoon Peter Fleming, played by James Frain).
Faking his death, Max hooked up with the mysterious blogger Orwell (Summer Glau) and the Carnival of Crime led by Max Malini (Keith David). Max gave Vince a cape with which he fought crime. You felt very sorry for Lyons, Glau, and David because they really tried to make it work, but the writing was poor, the dialogue was bad, and many of the characters were cookie-cutter clichés. The cheesiest episodes of the Batman series from the 1960s were better than this. Ratings were so bad, that NBC cut the episode number from 13 to 10; however, the 10th episode could be seen only on NBC’s web-site.
Chase was yet another formulaic police procedural drama produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who’s best known for the CSI franchise in terms of his TV work. The show revolves around U.S. Marshal Annie Frost (Kelli Giddish) and her team that tracks down dangerous criminals in Texas. Each episode opened up with Annie and her team chasing (no pun intended) down a criminal before getting the assignment of tracking down the episode’s main criminal du jour. The dialogue was stilted and it was hard to see Annie run after convicts (in cowboy boots, no less) and be able to take them down, regardless that they’re twice her size (at least Buffy had super-powers). The characters really had no depth to them, despite giving Annie daddy issues that were never fully explored. NBC ordered a full season (22 episodes) that was later reduced to 18. It then pulled the show and recently started showing the remaining episodes after several months on Saturday nights.
STATUS: On the Bubble.
The Powell family – patriarch Jim (Michael Chiklis), matriarch Stephanie (Julie Benz), daughter Daphne (Kay Panabaker), and son J.J. (Jimmy Bennett) – gain super-human powers after a trip to the Amazon Rainforest, making them a cross between the Fantastic Four and the Incredibles. At first, they try to conceal their powers but Jim likes being a super-hero. Turns out, they’re not the only people with super-powers. Stephanie’s boss Dr. Dayton King (Stephen Collins) is giving people super-powers, but it’s later revealed Mrs. X (Lucy Lawless) is the true mastermind.
What hurt this show was that it was turn between being a family-friendly show with done-in-one episodes or a serial drama with dark overtones. It was very awkward and the creators couldn’t find a balance between the two. Plus, the family used their powers a lot to do housework or they used them for the wrong reasons. For instance, Daphne uses her telepathic powers to get past the vice-principal when cutting class but not to scan the minds of people with duplicitous intentions, such as Eric Balfour’s Sabretooth wannabe. It was just hard to suspend disbelief sometimes. In a hackneyed finale that a comic book hack-job wouldn’t even think of: Dr. King acquires the Powells’ super-powers and fights them. The show had potential, but it was sadly squandered.
STATUS: On the Bubble.
This show is more like “The Non-Event.” In the networks’ futile yet never-ending quest to find the next Lost, we have The Event. The show centers around a group of ageless aliens who look like humans, the bulk of which have been detained by the United States government for the past 67 years since the end of World War II. Some of the aliens, however, have assimilated into human society. The President (Blair Underwood) wants to release the aliens and announce their existence to the world at large, but various parties don’t want him to do this for obvious reasons. Thus, an assassination attempt is planned and a software engineer named Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) learns of this while on the lam with his girlfriend Leila (Sarah Roemer) with whom he has reunited. Both Sean and Leila become reluctant participants in a conspiracy that is very convoluted.
The show started off with promise, but just didn’t go anywhere. The tension isn’t there, too, as the aliens just don’t seem that threatening. It also got confusing, especially with all the flashbacks that were eventually cut out from the series. Then NBC goes and yanks it for several months, which is not a smart thing to do to a serialized drama with so many intricate plotlines, let alone does wonders for the ratings. The Hollywood Reporter’s Barry Garron said it best: “The effort required to follow the story goes well beyond what most viewers might be willing to give.” Agreed.
STATUS: On the Bubble.