Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Life Unexpected's Unexpected Demise (maybe)

Okay, fine - I'll admit it. I'm a fan of CW's Life Unexpected. I was going to keep quiet about it, (sort of how I kept quiet about being a Gilmore Girls fan a few years back), but I just learned that the network hasn't ordered additional episodes this year which doesn't bode well for another season. It's not my favorite show on TV, but I do watch it semi-regularly and it definitely deserves at least another season. The episodes are fun and engaging. The characters are quirky. I have a huge crush on Shiri Appleby. It takes place in my hometown (and current residence) of Portland, Oregon. And even though I'm bummed that they do their actual filming in Vancouver, BC, they do fill the show with a bunch of Portland b-roll.

I'm a TV producer myself, (even though it still feels like a lie when I write it), and I'm currently in the midst of post-production for a new TV show. And it won't be perfect. I'm learning new things everyday and it's an exciting experience, but I know it won't be as good as I want it to be. I learn new things every episode and by the time I've learned all these things it's too late to re-shoot or rewrite earlier episodes. But future episodes will be better, and if there's a chance to do a second season then I'll really be able to incorporate all the things I've learned. A show can't be perfect on it's first go-round, but that's what networks are making their decision based on. Or at least they are now. Back in the 80s and early 90s they used to give shows a few seasons to let them find their groove. Many popular shows didn't start out quite so popular and many horrible shows ran for years before they got taken off the air. Hello Larry, (another show based in Portland and starring MASH's McLean Stevenson), might be one of the worst shows I've ever watched but it lasted for two whole seasons. Now, for a quick musical pick-me-up let's watch the intro for season 1 of Hello Larry:

And because I can't help myself, let's watch the intro to season 2 and spot all the changes they made, (including a recast daughter and the addition of a Harlem Globetrotter), to try to unsuccessfully improve the show:

If Hello Larry can get two full seasons, can't we at least get the same for Life Unexpected? What's the rush to get it off the air? So the CW can race to produce a slew of other shows which may find mild success before they take them off the air for yet another show?

And the thing that upsets me the most when I think about Life Unexpected being canceled is how they're breaking up a happy TV family. Not onscreen but off screen. It's clear by watching the twitter feeds how well the cast and crew get along and enjoy working together. I've visited quite a few TV show sets and that's not always the case. I don't think people realize that canceled shows = lost jobs. Sure, CW will be hiring for their replacement show soon but it still sucks losing a job - especially one you really like.

So what now? Do we petition CW? Send VooDoo Doughnuts to their offices? Stage a rally in Portland's Pioneer Square? I'm up for all the above, though I'm not sure if I'm motivated enough to chair any of these efforts. Unfortunately I've been through losing a beloved TV show too many times before. R.I.P. Aliens in America and Andy Barker P.I and Greg the Bunny and of course, Freaks and Geeks. We hardly knew ye, and I hope that Life Unexpected doesn't join you in the TV graveyard quite yet...

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