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2014 Cancellations Part 2: CBS Comedies

May 17, 2014

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The Crazy Ones

Like The Tomorrow People, my initial thoughts about The Crazy Ones were that the show would flop. I thought that they would rely too much on Robin Williams and there wouldn’t be room for any actual plot.  Once I started watching the show, however, I found that the characters were complete in their own right and the storylines held up on their own without relying on Williams to bring all the funny by himself.

I really can’t say why the show didn’t catch on. The ratings just weren’t there for CBS and I guess the younger generation of viewers (myself excluded) didn’t have the built in Williams fan base to keep it going.

 

Friends With Better Lives

This James Van Der Beek comedy looked like it had all the right parts to ensure its success. A Friends-like set up from the creators of Friends, a cast with TV veterans Van Der Beek, Majandra Delfino, and Kevin Connolly, two very pretty people, Brooklyn Decker and Rick Donald, and a sardonic character with a punchline for every occasion, Zoe Lister Jones.

They even had the lead in of being scheduled right after the series finale of How I Met Your Mother. While this seemed like a great idea, it turns out, not so much. Many fans were incredibly angry about how HIMYM ended and they would have carried that ire into watching the pilot of FWBL. To add to the problem, the FWBL pilot just didn’t wow. It was merely OK. I watched the next episode hoping it would get better and it really did! But after a mediocre pilot, the show just couldn’t quite recover and got canceled after five episodes.

The real problem for me is that I didn’t understand how this group of friends went together. Delfino and Connelly are married, and Van Der Beek is Connelly’s business partner.  Decker and Donald are engaged. And Lister-Jones stands alone. With ensemble comedy shows like this, you have to give the characters commonalities right away, and strong ones, or else why do we care?

In addition to that, the dynamic wasn’t quite there. Decker and Donald are there to be pretty, but they don’t add much to the group dynamic. Also, Delfino isn’t pregnant in the pilot, but is in subsequent episodes, a dramatic change that doesn’t really track through. And Lister-Jones is the clear standout. Her dry sardonic delivery doesn’t fit in a group dynamic. She needs to be the ironic voice of reason for her erratic best friend, but no one is erratic enough on their own, so her wry wisdom gets spread too thin amongst the other characters.  Someone needs to give that girl a leading role on her own show. I’d love to see her as a deadpan bitch of a boss with a soft side we rarely see (sort of Sandra Bullock in The Proposal).

Ultimately, I think the show got off to a bad start and wasn’t given any time to find itself, but I can’t fault CBS for axing it.

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