TV's Biggest Turkeys of 2010
by Kim Potts, posted Nov 25th 2010 2:00PM
Here's hoping your Thanksgiving table includes the juiciest, most tender turkey you've ever tasted (or, for you meat-adverse celebrants, the most jiggly Tofurkey you've ever tasted).
And here's hoping you enjoy that turkey more than these TV turkeys, 2010's most glaring examples of boob tubing gone wrong.
Ellen as 'American Idol' Judge
No one's really at fault ... Ellen DeGeneres is among the most likable celebs in Hollywood, she's a big 'American Idol' fan and hiring her to fill the 'AI' judge seat vacated by Paula Abdul seemed like a good, or at least potentially good, idea. But there's one other thing about Ellen 'AI' producers, and presumably Ellen herself, forgot to consider: She's also nice. Too nice, it turned out, to give negative feedback, or even constructive criticism, when either were necessary, which made her an ineffective, awkward, and worst of all, boring 'Idol' judge last season.
J.Lo and Steven Tyler as New 'AI' Judges
Yeah, yeah, apparently we're not supposed to refer to her as "J.Lo" anymore ... whatevs. It actually isn't the fact that Jennifer Lopez (there!) and Aerosmith frontman Tyler have failed as judges ... we don't know that yet. It was the terrible handling of their hiring; producers allowed rumors to swirl, with more than a dozen names -- Chris Isaak is the new 'AI' judge! No, it's Justin Timberlake! No, it's Katy Perry! No, it's Rick Springfield! No, it's Lady Gaga! No, it's Madonna! Etc. -- bandied about as potential judges. The constant speculation gave time for fans to a) discuss and dismiss pretty much every potential judge as not being a worthy Simon replacement (which, let's admit, is pretty much true), and b) make the whole new-judges issue so tiresome (especially on the heels of yet another lackluster 'AI' season) that, to paraphrase Phil Collins -- yet another rumored judge contender -- we just don't care anymore.
NBC Cancels 'Law & Order' ...
... when the show had just one season left to break the record for the most seasons airing in primetime. 'Gunsmoke' ran for 20 season (though for more episodes), which is the same number as 'L&O' when NBC canceled it last May. The show has spun off four U.S. series -- three of which are currently on the air with new episodes -- and, between its revolving casts, New York City locales, "ripped from the headlines" plots and that iconic scene change noise, has earned a spot in TV and pop culture history. Yet, the network still couldn't give "The Mother Ship" series one more season to break the record.
'Boardwalk Empire' Arrives! ... Meh
HBO, drama about organized crime in Atlantic City, Martin Scorsese directing the pilot, gobs of cash to make the production look like Prohibition era Atlantic City, Steve Freakin' Buscemi as the lead ... how could it lose? And yet, while it definitely isn't a loser -- it was renewed for a second season well ahead of its Dec. 5 season one finale -- 'Boardwalk Empire' just hasn't proven itself to be must-see TV. Acting's good, sets are good, Buscemi's good, but there have been weeks where we've DVR-ed an episode and not made time to watch it before the next one aired. Just, you know, meh.
Like 'Boardwalk Empire,' and so many of the shows that debuted this fall, 'Outsourced' isn't terrible. On the other hand, in a comedy block the includes 'Community' and '30 Rock' -- two of the best, sharpest comedies on the air -- and an admittedly less great version of the once-great 'The Office,' 'Outsourced' sparks the "Which of these things is not like the other?" question about NBC's Thursday night line-up. And it's only going to stand out even more once 'Parks and Recreation' -- which experienced the complete opposite of a sophomore slump during its second season -- returns to for its third season on Thursday nights in January.
'The Office' Workers
Speaking of the Dunder Mifflin-ites, even an arc featuring the fantastic Timothy Olyphant couldn't stop all the splashing (that would be our not-so-subtle reference to shark jumping) this season. We found Michael Scott pretty much irredeemable after last season's 'Scott's Tots,' in which we learned he'd concocted a years-long ruse that allowed a bunch of students to think he would pay their way to college (which, of course, he was not). In this seventh season, we're finding almost everyone in the office as annoying as Michael finds Toby. The exceptions: Pam, but only when she's in more assertive office manager mode; Darryl, who, if the show is to make any sense when Michael (Steve Carell) leaves at the end of the season, will become the new boss; and, surprisingly, Dwight, who, free of that ridiculous season 6 plot with Ryan to "get" Jim, is plotting, nerdy and creepy -- in a funny way -- once again. In short, he's once again the man we all find so endearing, despite his foibles, that we keep a bobblehead version of him on our desks.
'Undercovers' Should've Remained Just That
Wouldn't have thought 'Alias' creator J.J. Abrams could take two such pretty, talented leads and turn out a boring spy show, but here you have it.
The 'Moonlighting' Syndrome Hits 'Chuck'
Thank goodness for Morgan. Because (speaking of gorgeous, but boring pairs), the coupling of 'Chuck' spies Chuck and Sarah has been the least fun part of the show's fourth season. We'd still eat several feet of Subway sammiches to keep the show on the air, but the Charah relationship ... so far, not even worth noshing that little package of apple slices.
Lessons Learned From '$#*! My Dad Says'
Lesson numero uno: Pairing The Shat and a concept that sprung from a 140-character idea does not necessarily a great sitcom make. In other words, you can stuff a whole lot of funny into a Twitter feed, but try expanding that out into a 35-page script, and, as we see, it's a little tougher to maintain the funny.
The 'Lone Star' State
Really, viewers? Cancellation after two episodes ... you couldn't even tune in for a few weeks? As a collective audience, we have only ourselves to blame that the best new network show of the fall season was kaput in two weeks. P.S. -- Remember 'Shasta McNasty'? Ran for 22 episodes.
'Outlaw' ... Case Dismissed
The idea of Jimmy Smits coming back to primetime in a legal drama was almost as exciting as Tom Selleck coming back to primetime in a cop drama. But the execution of that idea ... far different, which is why 'Outlaw' was yet another fall 2010 show that was sent to the cancelation heap, no room for an appeal.
'The Jay Leno Show'
Gone. And forgotten.
Jay Leno Returns as 'The Tonight Show' Host
But, according to those ratings, still apparently forgotten.
'Saturday Night Live' Wiigs Out
We're sure 'SNL' star Kristen Wiig has her devotees, and though she's not our fave, she does occasionally drop some funny into the mix; her Target Lady is a gem. But the show has continued to give her more and more of the spotlight, which is frustrating on its own when that means less screen time for people like the underutilized Kenan Thompson. Making it even worse: Most of her characters are the same. Gilly, Penelope, travel agent Judy Grimes and movie-reviewin' Aunt Linda ... all slightly different versions of a character whose main purpose is to annoy.
'Dancing With the Stars' Voting = FAIL
The just-concluded 11th season has been the show's most controversial because of some curious voting that sent high scorers like Brandy and Kurt Warner packing, while bottom-dweller Bristol Palin remained in the game. Viewers blamed it on everything from a wonky voting system by ABC to a plot by Sarah Palin-supportin' Tea Partiers, but in the end, at least we were all spared the national tragedy and shame a Bristol Palin victory would have brought. (Wow, it hurts to plant your tongue so firmly in your cheek.)
'The Good Guys' Underwhelms
Another show with a good pedigree -- it was created by 'Burn Notice' creator Matt Nix -- and a great cast in Colin Hanks and Bradley Whitford as the titular buddy cops, 'The Good Guys' are just that ... good, sorta. Okay. But kinda caught between the '80s and present day, not just in the characters' minds and styles, but in the vibe of the show. Again, it's certainly not a bad show, but it's a show you probably wouldn't make the time to watch, even if it wasn't relegated to Fox's Friday night lineup.
No Big Laughs on 'Mike & Molly'
We love Melissa McCarthy almost as much as we love Keri Russell (see below), and we are among the many who agree that that Marie Claire blogger was an idiot, but the bigger disappointment about this show is that insensitive bloggers don't have to make fat jokes ... the show does it for them. We didn't expect the series was going to ignore Mike and Molly's weight ... they did meet at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. But, at their core, they're really just a couple of sweet, kinda kooky people with some issues, trying to navigate the dating world, i.e. they're just like nearly every other person trying to navigate the dating world, no fat jokes needed. The good news: There's still potential for 'Mike & Molly,' as series creator Mark Roberts told EW.com he's always planned to move away from the weight jokes as the show goes on.
Talkin' About 'My Generation'
The mockumentary, done so well by shows like 'Modern Family,' 'Reno 911!' and 'My Life as Liz,' is fraught with the danger that a series is almost certainly going to be compared to those successful examples of the genre. That's probably what did 'The Generation' in before it even premiered, and led to its cancellation after only two episodes had aired. For the record, we kinda liked the show, and have continued to watch the unaired episodes on Hulu.
The Real Housewives of D(on't) C(ontinue) This Show
O.C., NYC, NJ and Atlanta ... we had yet to meet a 'Real Housewives' cast that wasn't the perfect excuse to procrastinate for an hour of reality TV watching, followed by several minutes of post-show Twitter snarking. Then ... hello, 'Real Housewives of D.C.,' a show that was supposed to revolve around Washington insiders. Sadly, the closest any of those housewives got to real D.C. power players was the now-infamous White House party-crashing of the now-infamous Salahis. Thank goodness for the new Beverly Hills 'Housewives,' who've ushered in a return to the good old-fashioned designer-clad backstabbers, ostentatious parties and ridiculous catfights we've come to expect and love from the Bravo franchise.
The Gosselins: Where Are They Now?
Still in the tabloids, but, thankfully, less and less frequently on our TVs.
'Running Wilde's' Un-Arresting Development
We're putting a little asterisk next to this one. Its pedigree -- created by 'Arrested Development' creator Mitch Hurwitz and starring 'AD' alums Will Arnett and David Cross, as well as 'Felicity' TV goddess Keri Russell -- had us expecting a lot more from the show, and, right out of the box, underwhelming was the best word to describe it. And we continued to feel that way about the show ... until the Nov. 9 'Best Man' episode, a quick, clever romp that recalled the best of what we loved about 'AD' and delivered on the fun chemistry we had expected from the pairing of Arnett and Russell. Unfortunately, it may prove to have come a little too late to save the show from the chopping block.