Much like the products of the Tyrell Corporation, television shows aren't built to last. It's something the British figured out a long time ago, often molding the structure of their programming to fit content, as opposed to the American practice of doing the exact opposite. BLACKADDER produced only 24 episodes across a four-year span and people are still clamoring for more. By comparison, THE X-FILES produced more than 200 episodes, and people were praying for its quick death during the show's final seasons.
BUNHEADS is the latest series to be cancelled before its time. It's not a show I paid much attention to, but I understand the many stages of grief its fans will be experiencing in the weeks ahead. Denial, Depression, Anger and Bargaining will all lead to the inevitable online petitions (which will be roundly ignored by the network heads.) Acceptance will probably not make an appearance in this particular melodrama.
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I have a stoic attitude about television cancellations. Yeah, I'm disappointed, but I usually manage to move on with my life. Things like the DARK SHADOWS comic series from Innovation helped to ease the cancellation sting, but the death of one series actually motivated me to move my ass off the couch ... at least for a day.
The fall from grace experienced by the DAVID LYNCH soap set a speed record for pop culture phenomena. Launched in 1990 during my final weeks of high school, the show was America's Favorite New Thing for about 15 minutes. All of that came to a crashing halt in the end of the final episode of the first season. Expecting some kind of resolution to the mystery of Laura Palmer's death, audiences were instead treated to seeing one of the show's main characters gunned down. Fans and critics began to get the feeling that Lynch and his creative staff were jerking us around for their own cruel pleasures, and the second season saw a greatly diminished audience tune in for its premiere. TWIN PEAKS took steps to remedy the audience's frustrations, but it was too little, too late. The show slowly limped toward cancellation in its second season.
Sure, we got the FIRE WALK WITH ME feature in 1992, but I'm about the only person who seems to have liked it. Since then, TWIN PEAKS has been dead dead dead, save for the pieces of pop culture nostalgia that sometimes rise to the surface.
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And the rally was a blast. Even though we all gathered together because of the death of something we loved, there was a celebratory feeling about the event. Even better, the "Save Twin Peaks" rally was dominated by young women dressed as Audrey Horne, with a few log ladies added for local color. It was like an Irish wake, only with more cosplay.
But TWIN PEAKS died, anyway. When you consider that networks usually treat successful TV shows the way Barnabas Collins treated women, maybe it was for the best. For television programs, it's better to live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse, because the alternative is to go out like SCRUBS.
|There was once a time when I didn't want to punch Zach Braff in the throat|
Had the 1991 DARK SHADOWS continued into a second season, it probably would have improved. I liked where the show was going, and there was enough talent involved to eventually right its many wrongs. But, while the writers were beginning to find their collective voice, there was still the problem of network meddling. NBC clearly didn't understand how the show functioned, insisting on a ridiculous "contemporary" subplot as a device to remind audiences that the 1790 storyline wouldn't last forever. Maybe things would have improved, but maybe they wouldn't. We'll never know.
And that's OK. When a show leaves the air and has us wanting more, it's done its job. It shouldn't matter if that exit happens after one season or a dozen. The lesson of BLACKADDER is that more isn't always better. More is just more, and quantity never makes up for quality.