Posts Tagged ‘ primeval ’

Cancellations good and bad

We’re coming up on the time in the television calendar known as the ‘up-fronts’ it’s where the various networks introduce their schedules for the following year, it helps them sell advertising and also sell to the international broadcasters. In the weeks leading up to the presentations, news and announcements start to trickle through not only about the new shows, but also the old shows which are being cancelled to make space in the schedules. Watching the news roll in made me think about shows I loved and lost and I realised that while there were a number that I really missed and who’s cancellations made me angry, there were a surprising number that I actually accepted happily.

Five cancellations which made me cross…

1Firefly
I’ve written plenty about why I think Firefly is one of the greatest shows of all time, and in many ways maybe the reason it will forever live in people’s memories as such is that was cancelled so early. In fact it was pretty much doomed from the start, miss-marketed and mucked about by the networks – it never really had a chance. Inevitable though it may have been, it didn’t make me swear any less when the announcement came in though.

2The West Wing
You might say that at seven seasons The West Wing had a pretty good run at it and I should be happy with what I got. But the frustration was that after a disappointing couple of years, season 7 was really turning things around. Preparing to re-launch itself with a new president, a new bipartisanism and new characters, season 8 would have been West Wing: The Next Generation. That we didn’t get to live with President Santos is compensated for by the knowledge that the character was partly inspired by a young senator named Barrack Obama.

3Wonderfalls
Wonderfalls was just one of a string of series from Bryan Fuller that died the death (Pushing Daisies is listed below, Dead Like Me almost made the ‘disappointed’ list, and Heroes almost made the ‘not so much’ list). The first episode introduces Jay, a cynical philosophy graduate who lives in a trailer and tries to avoid her crazy family. Then a small toy lion starts talking to her and giving cryptic instructions that eventually seem to help people out. It was weird, but had some great characters, a real charm and was hilariously funny. It was pulled off the air after only four episodes and I was very cross.

4Angel
Angel was similar to The West Wing in that after a few years things were getting a little stale and there had been some miss-steps with storylines. But they were turning things around, introducing a new situation, new characters (although not necessarily new actors) and a new mission. Personally, I found it breathed new life into the show, and many agreed with me because the ratings actually went up. Sadly it seems that a spectacular amount of internal politics at the network caused the show to be rather unexpectedly cancelled. At least they were able to wrap up their stories, and Angel got to fight his dragon.

Carnivàle
Carnivàle was a peculiar series, set in a dustbowl era freakshow with a complicated and intricate plot centred on the battle between good and evil and the very nature of those labels. The problem is we will never know how the battle would develop, what all the subtext and hints were leading up to, because the show was cancelled two years into its six year plan, making the first two seasons feel a bit of a waste of time.

… and five that I didn’t mind
1Veronica Mars
The first season of Veronica Mars is one of the best seasons of television ever made. The second wasn’t quite as good. The third was worse still. In a desperate attempt to save his at risk show Rob Thomas proposed a few years into the future to when Veronica is a new agent with the FBI. The problem was that in making that proposal he lost my support, because he declared that Veronica would be the only character to make the jump. Without her dad to stable her and Logan to unbalance her, I wasn’t really that interested.

2Studio 60
I was so excited about this show; Aaron Sorkin, Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford, Thomas Schlamme all came together to produce a brilliant pilot. But then something went wrong and I’ve never quite worked out what happened. There were no spectacular failures, things just didn’t quite gel together; the romances felt creepy and annoying, the supposedly hilarious show-within-a-show just wasn’t funny, and the tone was often too preachy and smug. By half way through it was pretty clear that the show wasn’t likely to be picked up, and I was more disappointed about the wasted potential than I was about the actual cancellation when it finally came in.

3Dollhouse
Another cancellation that I met with faint sadness rather than anger. Once again despite a great collection of ingredients, the mixture just didn’t work. Maybe the network hadn’t realised they were buying a show with some pretty deep philosophical considerations and tried to re-engineer it, leaving a mishmash that satisfied no one; but maybe it was just a show that was never really going to work at all. Due credit to the network, they gave it a second year when no one, not even Joss Whedon himself had any hope, but the writing was on the wall by halfway through and with an acceleration of the plot we got to see how it would all play out. By the end I was satisfied that the series was finished, rounded out and enough.

4Pushing Daisies
The popularity of the first season of Pushing Daisies reaffirmed my faith in humanity. This was a bizarre idea: weird plots, quirky dialogue, random spontaneous singing and a peculiar visual style and yet it was a critical and public success. I adored it. But something happened during the second season and I just fell out of love with it. Others did the same and the ratings died. When it was cancelled I was a bit sad that there was no place for a show like this in the schedules, but I was unlikely to have watched the next season anyway.

Primeval
Primeval managed a pretty impressive deterioration, from the really enjoyable first season which dropped just enough hints of a complex time travelling background story to make it more than just disposable dinosaur fun. But by season three most of the original cast had left and when the major storyline was resolved I was left shouting “is that it?!” at the TV. The show was cancelled and I felt all was right in the world. As it turns out though, other countries love the show, so a whole mix of channels have invested money to save the show. Of all the show’s that deserve saving, this is probably the worst!

Amazon Links
A positive side effect of a show you like being cancelled is that the price of the dvds drops dramatically, most of these are available at massive discounts. Also I’m shamelessly trying out Amazon associates ;0)
Firefly – The Complete Series [2003]
The West Wing – Complete Season 1
Angel Season 1
Carnivale: Complete HBO Season 1 [2003]
Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip – The Complete Series [DVD]
Pushing Daisies – Complete Season 1 [2007] (just 6 quid)
Primeval : Series 1 [2007] (just 3 quid)

Advertisements

All things weird and wonderful all creatures good and bad

A mixed year for science fiction, but the fact that there’s enough shows out there to have a range is good news. Whether you call it sci-fi, SF, ‘genre’ or SyFy (although I’d really rather you didn’t) it’s now an enthusiastic part of the schedule. The slightly daft fact for me is that I’m not actually watching the two “most popular” sci-fi shows on US network television. I gave up on Lost back in season 3 when I lost faith that the writers knew what they were doing. I’ve heard that the most recent season is back on form, but I’m going to wait until the series finishes to make the call as to whether to go back and watch the whole thing again. As I mentioned a couple of days ago I watched the pilot of Fringe and didn’t get on with it. However I do plan to pick it up at some point.

Even without Doctor Who British sci-fi had a pretty strong year in terms of quantity, if not necessarily quality. I’ve already mentioned the really excellent Being Human, on the flip side we have the spectacularly disappointing final season of Primeval – a show which I started watching because of the fun idea of dinosaurs tromping through modern shopping centres. Then they introduced a complex and interesting timetravel-esque storyline which made me think there was more to it than just the cgi dinosaurs. But in season 3 the cleverness disappeared, several of the original actors disappeared and my will to care disappeared along with. The resolution of the big threat was absolutely ridiculous and made the previous two seasons seem a bit of a waste.

Then there’s Torchwood. I’m always faintly nervous watching Torchwood as for some reason I really like it, despite the fact that season 1 was pretty rubbish. However season two had really picked up in quality and I was intrigued by the new formula of 5 episodes in 5 nights although vaguely of the opinion that there was no way it could possibly pull it off. By the end of the first episode I was watching with my mouth open, astounded at the quality of writing, acting and story. It reminded me a lot of Battlestar in the way that I thought it was absolutely superb, but I’m not sure I want to watch it anymore. If it comes back it’s a completely different show and that makes me a bit sad. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the ‘resolution’ of the main plot was pretty bloody stupid, but that didn’t seem to matter as much to me as it maybe should of, so I’m shoving the point in brackets.)

Two big SF shows came to an end this year. I can’t say much more about Stargate Atlantis than it was a fun way to spend 45 minutes. That’s not a bad thing, a little bit of froth was definitely needed to balance out the weight of Battlestar Galactica. It seemed to take them an extraordinarily long time to get through just 70 odd episodes of Battlestar, although any faster and my brain might have exploded. The final season continued to excel and managed a mostly satisfying resolution to all the stories and mysteries (the final cylon was absolutely inspired – I never saw it coming), although I found the character resolutions less than satisfying. There were (as always) a few decisions and directions that didn’t really seem consistent to me, but I’m willing to put up with those for the otherwise superbness of the show and the fact that it did at least End.

Speaking of things that should maybe just end… Heroes continues to struggle along. I adored this show in its first season but it’s been going downhill ever since. I didn’t hate season 2 as much as some, more disappointed at the decrease in quality than actively thinking it bad, but the first volume of season 3 may have edged into that category. The writing was sloppy and all over the place with holes you could drive a truck through. Almost everything about the show now just irritates me, from wildly flip-flopping character choices to the over use of lip gloss! I’m a couple of episodes into the next volume and I’m hating it. I watched episode 15 with a housemate last night and we spent nearly twice as long bitching about it afterwards as we had watching it. I’ll stick it out until the end of the season for the sake of completeness, but unless there’s a dramatic turnaround, I don’t think I’ll be watching the next season.

My favourite new discovery of the year is Supernatural, I picked up season 1 for just eight quid on dvd and in less than two weeks I’d burnt my way through the whole four seasons. It starts off as a fun series with cool ideas and great characters, but the fourth season takes it to a whole new level which the writers pull off with style, skill and humour. I’m really looking forward to the fifth season, the show was apparently always planned to be five years and the pacing has been perfect for it, although I’d be sorry to say goodbye to the characters at the end of the year.

Primeval: Season 1

ITV’s answer to Doctor Who, Saturday evening family entertainment with dinosaurs instead of aliens. It’s a fun series once it settles down a bit and embraces the silliness. It’s hardly competition for Who as the writing is nowhere near as good, the acting is a bit dubious in places and even the special effects are somewhat naff. However compare it to Torchwood and it does considerably better mostly by not taking itself seriously. Now if only they’d show more of the dinosaurs and less of the actresses in their underwear…

Advertisements