Tuesday, March 25, 2008

When Falls the Axe

Two big hype series are going away. They are both victims of low ratings, high expectations, and severe underachievement.

Amy Sherman-Palladino's "Gilmore Girls" follow-up, "The Return of Jezebel James" will not be returning; it has received the Fox network axe after only three episodes. The slots it was supposed to fill in coming weeks will be taken up by reruns of ratings powerhouse, "Til Death."

"Ratings powerhouse." Ah, the funny of me.

Meanwhile, over at CBS, the return of "Jericho" ends tonight. Fans managed to coerce the network into giving the show a second chance with a letter-writing campaign that resulted in truckloads of peanuts ending up on the network's doorstep. It doesn't appear that any amount of nuts will bring the show back for a third go-round.

The main thing these shows have in common for me is disappointment. After writing some of the sharpest, pop-culture-laced dialogue on TV for "Gilmore," Sherman-Palladino's next series was likely doomed to come up short. I liked "The Return of Jezebel James," but I'll admit it was more for the proficiency of the principals and the potential of the premise than it was for the programs presented.

Alliteration!

As for "Jericho," the core idea was fantastic: inhabitants of a small town have to cope when major American cities are attacked with nukes. Unfortunately, the show took a very dry, leisurely approach to the material so despite the extremity of the situation, there was never a real sense of urgency. "Jericho" should have been a disquieting political parable, mirroring our government's machinations, but instead, it wasted time on plots about selling the farm and buying it back. A true missed opportunity.

Though, that one-third flag hung sideways was a genuinely disturbing image.

So goodbye "Jez" and "Jer." You both should have been better.

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