The Week In TV: Terriers Put to Sleep, the Walking Dush, The Closer Closes
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Despite the warm weather, I spent part of the weekend watching The Muppet Christmas Carol and doing my best not to cry when Scrooge watches his younger self get dumped. (I lost.) This was the week in TV Land:
• Well, the inevitable has come to pass: FX has canceled Terriers, the critically loved but virtually ignored series about a pair of unlicensed private eyes in a Southern California beach town. If you didn't know that's what the show was about, don't feel bad: Despite the protestations of FX president John Landgraf, the title was a terrible one that was a little too vague and didn't conjur the right vibe for the show or give any clue as to what it might be about. (The central characters were scrappy and unwilling to let go of something once they sank their teeth into it, which is a pretty sizable metaphorical leap for a title to make, especially when you're sharing a field with shows that hit the nail on the head title-wise, like, say, The Walking Dead.)
Still, even though the show was a good one, this is a business, and it's refreshing in a way to hear Landgraf talk so bluntly about loving a series but having no choice to cancel it if the numbers are as anemic as they were for Terriers. As he told reporters on a conference call, "This isn't the first good show we've had to cancel, and it won't be the last." The series' ratings were so low that you could double the weekly viewers and still be below the levels hit by Dirt and Over There, which FX similarly canceled. This is just another example of how brutal it can be to find a good show and watch it die. At least we got 13 strong episodes.
• A whole day after I wrote about Eliza Dushku's upcoming adventures in the land of dull TNT procedurals, it was announced that The Dush has exited the project. Whither goest thou, Dush? Were you afraid the show wouldn't live up to the level of Tru Calling?
• Speaking of TNT: The Closer, starring New York native Kyra Sedgwick doing the worst Southern accent you've ever heard, will end after its upcoming seventh season. Sedgwick's contract is up and she's tired of commuting between her home in New York and the Closer studios in Los Angeles (which is the kind of problem you and I dream of having), so she's decided it's time to move on. TNT can't be happy about this. It's one of their trademark shows as well as the most popular basic cable series ever, and Sedgwick even won an Emmy for her portrayal of the cartoonish-sounding title character. Here's hoping they can hang in there with Leverage and Men of a Certain Age.
• Last week's season finale of The Walking Dead was a pretty solid end to the initial six-episode order, and it continued to trim down the cast even as it forced the survivors to keep moving. (I also liked the specific mystery of Dr. Jenner whispering something to Rick shortly before the group left the doomed CDC; my guess is that someone in the group is infected, and Jenner knows it.) AMC had to be happy with the show, too: the episode drew 6 million viewers, 4 million of which were in the coveted 18-49 demo, a higher turnout for that group than any other basic cable show has ever seen. It's no wonder the network's willing to bring it back for 13 more episodes and let Frank Darabont hire and fire whoever he wants. They've got a genuine pop culture hit on their hands, one that will go on the shelf next to Mad Men and Breaking Bad in terms of impact, if not overall quality. I guess we're all officially over vampires and into zombies now.
• Showtime has released a trailer for The Borgias, their upcoming drama about Pope Alexander VI, who pretty much bribed his way into the papacy at the end of the 13th century. The trailer's vibe is over-the-top, to say the least: if the show turns out to be this breathless and quasi-campy, it might be hard to take seriously.
• NBC is developing an hour-long drama about women working as bunnies at Playboy clubs in the 1960s. On the surface, this seems like a halfway decent idea and an interesting way to explore the way gender roles have changed publicly and privately over the past 50 years, but then you remember that Mad Men is already covering this pretty well and it all starts to seem kind of redundant. Plus when's the last time NBC really pushed the envelope in terms of emotional honesty and gritty drama? This doesn't really feel like a show they can pull off, and it might wind up as empty and unfulfilling as the centerfolds themselves. It'd be a lot more interesting to do a documentary-style show about a fading softcore porn king dealing with the decline of his industry and a series of decisions that have turned him into a silk-clad punch line. Someone get on that.
• SNL's still pretty hit-and-miss, but the Stefon segments are always entertaining, and Saturday's was no exception:
• The week ahead is pretty light, but don't forget to watch Ricky Gervais: Out of England 2 on HBO this Saturday at 9 p.m. CT. Gervais' last stand-up special was great, so this one should be worth your time.