Dead and Gone
2012’s TV dead pool strikes early and often
Every fall, casual viewers and industry insiders alike engage in a little game. They try to guess which of the new TV shows is so bad or so badly placed (or both) that it will be the first to get canceled. If, for fall 2012, you put your money on CBS’ “Jersey Shore”-meets-“Ally McBeal” show “Made in Jersey,” then consider yourself an ace prognosticator. Less than four weeks into the new season, CBS executives gave the low-rated Friday night show the ax.
Shortly after that, NBC jumped on the “Hey, hey, hey, goodbye” bandwagon and had its veterinary sitcom “Animal Practice” euthanized. This is a more high-profile killing than CBS’ since NBC optimistically debuted “Animal Practice” in the prime, post-Olympics slot. The show’s “sneak preview” in August—immediately following the summer games’ closing ceremonies—pulled an impressive 12.8 million viewers. When it officially premiered in September, though, only 5.19 million viewers returned. And the ratings only dropped from there. To anyone who saw the show, the cancellation comes as no great surprise. It wasn’t particularly funny. Although Justin Kirk from “Weeds” was the top-billed actor, even the network knew the show’s biggest draw was Crystal, the capuchin monkey who starred in The Hangover movies. How stinging is this cancellation? It will be pulled on Nov. 14 and replaced with “Whitney,” a show that has earned nearly universal scorn—but slightly better numbers.
The swift, deserved extinguishing of “Made in Jersey” and “Animal Practice,” however, is nothing compared to the rare, much-dreaded pre-cancellation of Dane Cook’s new sitcom, “Next Caller.” Earlier this month, NBC—a network in desperate need of some hits—announced it was dumping “Next Caller” before it even hit the airwaves. For a brief period (2004-2008), Dane Cook was the hottest comedian on the planet, thanks to a lot of not-very-discriminating, let’s-assume-stoned college students. Like last night’s beer buzz, his presence has faded rapidly. In May, NBC announced it was ordering six episodes of a sitcom in which Cook would play a foul-mouthed, chauvinistic DJ at a satellite radio station who’s forced to share co-hosting duties with an uptight feminist. As hilarious as that sounds, NBC reportedly was not pleased with the show’s “creative direction.” They stopped production and will not be airing any of the episodes. This is the third unaired sitcom for Cook, who shot “Humor Me” in 2004 and “Cooked” in 2005.
So with networks quick to lower the boom this season, which series should now be quaking in their boots? FOX’s “Mob Doctor” has been panned for its ridiculous premise, but the ratings aren’t critical yet. Ratings for CBS’s half-gay sitcom “Partners,” on the other hand, are anything but fabulous. ABC’s supernatural soap “666 Park Avenue” isn’t scaring up much business and will probably be condemned after Halloween. Lastly, ABC’s excellent submarine thriller “Last Resort” is doing just mediocre in the ratings. It’s also a terribly expensive show and in possible danger of being sunk. Enjoy ’em while you can, viewers. Before they’re Dane Cooked.