TV That Doesn't Suck: When Good TV Gets Canned
One of those shows was Cupid.
If you haven't seen it -- and from looking at the ratings, we're betting you haven't -- it was the critically acclaimed show about a man who believed he was the god of love, banished to Earth until he united 100 couples. It sounds silly, but believe us, it was a wonderful show.
Recently we got the chance to speak to the show's creator and executive producer, Rob Thomas. In an environment where make people make their living by sticking to tried and true formulas, Thomas was willing to take a chance and make an intelligent show, one that didn't look like every other series to roll off the network assembly line.
"My battle cry around here is we don't make the 'Television Decision,'" he said. "That is, can we use your expectations of television to mess with what you get at the end of the episode?"
And that was one of the more endearing parts of the show. When you'd expect a happy ending, you'd get a downer. When you'd expect two people to make a connection, they wouldn't -- or not in the way you expected. The main characters made mistakes frequently. Sometimes, they were jerks. They doubted themselves. For the viewers, it was a refreshing experience.
"Sometimes the things we do scare the network," Thomas said. "Not that I'm slamming ABC, because they are very brave in airing this show in light of our ratings."
Well, not too brave. Because in the end, despite most critics must-see lists, it got canned. Placing fourth in your time slot can do that. Though it's fair to argue that airing a show only on Saturdays at 10 and Thursdays at 9 isn't exactly giving it a chance to grow.
"The stupid version of this show could work, and would probably get better numbers," Thomas said. "Especially considering the numbers we're getting." But I'd rather work on a dozen cancelled shows than be on a hit that I couldn't bear."
We complain a lot here at TeeVee about how the networks never take chances. Here's a case where one did. And yet ABC didn't have the balls to follow through. Sure, ABC will say they promoted the hell out of it. That they even gave it a chance in a second time slot. But the sad fact of the matter is, they didn't give it time. ABC seems to have forgotten most of the biggest hits of late took more than 13 episodes to catch on. Seinfeld, The X-Files, Everybody Loves Raymond -- none were exactly ratings giants when they were launched. If quality shows don't deserve a chance to grow, what does?
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