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TV in the 2000s: 15 Shows Canceled After Appearing in Bullz-Eye’s TV Power Rankings*

*Probably Coincidentally

Back in 2005, Bullz-Eye kicked off a regularly-recurring feature that’s become a staple of our site: the TV Power Rankings, which gives us a chance to offer up our opinions once every six months on the best that television has to offer. Now that we’re looking back at the entire decade in our TV in the 2000s feature, however, it gave us an opportunity to look back at all of the shows that have appeared within the Rankings over the course of its history, and when we did, it was a little eyebrow-raising to see how many of our favorite programs bit the dust almost immediately after receiving accolades from us. We’re pretty sure their cancellations weren’t our fault…or, at least, not entirely. Anyway, take a look back through the list with us, won’t you? If nothing else, it shows that we’ve got good taste, even if the average viewer doesn’t always share our opinions.

1. Arrested Development (Fox, 2003 – 2006) – “Even if this is indeed the end for one of Fox’s all time greatest shows, it is better to have loved and lost…oh, the hell with that, Fox is freaking nuts if they cancel this show.” So said David Medsker in February 2006. But did they listen to him? They did not. “We’re not ones to buy into the whole dumbing-down-of-society thing,” Medsker added, “but if this show gets canned while ‘According to Jim’ lives on, maybe there’s something to it after all.” Oh, yeah, there’s definitely something to it: “According to Jim” stayed on the air until June 2009.

2. Deadwood (HBO, 2004 – 2006) – When it was announced that Season 3 would be the last for the semi-historical look at the wild west, there was really only one name that John Paulsen could call the folks at HBO. We probably shouldn’t use it here, but if you need a hint, it starts with a “C” and rhymes with “sock pluckers.” “Everything about the show – the language, the acting, the story, the sets and the costumes – is colorful,” Paulsen observed in February 2007, “and whether or not HBO wants to admit it, they’re going to miss ‘Deadwood’ once it’s gone for good.” They must’ve been in some serious denial, then: creator David Milch reportedly agreed to do a proper wrap-up of the series through a pair of “Deadwood” movies” for the network, but things never really got beyond the discussion stage.

3. Invasion (ABC, 2005 – 2006) – The fall of 2005 was a good time in prime time for sci-fi fans, with each of the big three networks offering up an entry from the genre, but by the spring of 2006, their cheers had turned to tears. NBC’s “Surface” was permanently submerged after 15 episodes, while CBS’s “Threshold” crossed the point of no return after only nine episodes had aired. Give ABC some credit, however, for at least sticking with their entry for the full 22. “’Invasion’ started slowly, but has steadily ramped up the creepiness,” said John Paulsen in February ’06, acknowledging that, although it gave its audience lots of questions, at least it was providing them with more answers than “Lost” was. Unfortunately, there was still plenty to be answered when the show was canceled, and things got even more depressing when Tyler Labine talked to Bullz-Eye about what might’ve been. “(Creator Shaun Cassidy) had written this bible for the show, and he had written this amazing five-season arc,” said Labine. “We were just floored. Our jaws were literally on the floor after he explained it to us. We were, like, ‘Wow, we’re on for a really great ride!’” What a shame for us all that the ride ended as quickly as it did.

4. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC, 2005 – 2006) – Well, you can’t say that we weren’t honest about offering up both the pros and the cons of Aaron Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes look into a late-night comedy series. “The show is pompous, unrealistic and ridiculously left-wing,” admitted Jason Zingale in February 2007, “but it also makes for some damn good television.” Unfortunately, with an awful lead-in – seriously, who thought that pairing the show with “Heroes” was a good idea? – “Studio 60” didn’t develop enough of a following to earn a second season.

5. Rome (HBO, 2005 – 2007) – In its first season, “Rome” turned up at #18 in the Power Rankings, but by the time Season 2 aired, it had leapt to #6. Not that such success earned the show a third season (it was apparently ridiculously expensive to produce, which you can absolutely believe if you’ve ever seen it, but at least the news of its cancellation came in time for John Paulsen to register his annoyance within the February 2007 Rankings. “As it turns out, ‘Rome’ isn’t the heir to the throne of ‘The Sopranos,’” he wrote. “Instead, sadly, it’s a bastard stepchild, just like ‘Deadwood.’” Creator Bruno Heller was probably even more pissed than Paulsen, having mapped out his vision of the series all the way through its fifth season, but as recently as December 2008, Heller was still sounding optimistic about the chances for a “Rome” movie. “I would love to round that show off,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. Hey, we’re behind you 100%, Bruno.

6. Four Kings (NBC, 2006) – If you don’t remember this sitcom, you’re forgiven, as it premiered in January 2006 and was gone by March. Still, it made enough of an impression to earn Honorable Mention status in the February 2006 rankings. “Four Kings” was created by David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, the duo behind “Will and Grace,” and featured Seth Green as one of its cast members, so you might think it surprising that it was off the air within seven episodes (and with a remaining six episodes still unaired). Looking back, however, the fact that the greatest praise Jason Zingale could heap upon the show in his write-up was that “it’s a worthy quick-fix until NBC finds a better alternative” should’ve given us a clue that it wasn’t long for this world.

7. Jericho (CBS, 2006 – 2008) – It was the little show that could, our “Jericho.” It started with an awesomely dark premise – a nuclear bomb goes off in the U.S., and we view the repercussions through the eyes of a small town in Kansas – and, after figuring out its direction (the attempts to meld some “Little House on the Prairie” aspects to the show were soon phased out), the series found its footing, kicked some creative ass, and was promptly canceled. But what’s this…? The show’s diehard fanbase made enough noise (and sent enough nuts) to get the show a 7-episode second season which lived up to everyone’s expectations and then some. Too bad the same couldn’t be said for the ratings, but those who actually tuned in for Season 2 know how many twists, turns, and outright shocks it included. There’s still talk of a possible “Jericho” movie. We can only hope.

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Blu Tuesday: Observe and Report, Wallace & Gromit and Star Trek

On the surface, this week’s selection of Blu-rays may not look like much, but there’s something here for everyone, including the latest from Seth Rogen, the debut of a couple cult classics, and a few box sets that most movie nerds already have on their radar. There may not be any really major titles being released today, but I’d much rather have the option to choose from a solid list like this any day of the week.

“Observe & Report” (Sony)

A curious mix between “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and “Taxi Driver,” Jody Hill’s sophomore effort isn’t the usual Seth Rogen laugh-a-thon, but rather a pitch-black comedy that only gets darker and more sadistic with each passing minute. This is the kind of film that usually divides moviegoers, and though I didn’t love it or hate it, I will admit that it’s Rogen’s strongest (and most mature) performance to date. It usually takes a while for a comic actor to branch off into more serious roles, but Rogen has been so overexposed lately that it’s nice to see him try something new. “Observe and Report” is hardly the kind of film that benefits from high definition, however, so Warner Bros. has made a point of distinguishing the Blu-ray edition from its DVD counterpart by making all of the extras – like a picture-in-picture commentary, deleted scenes and a gag reel – exclusive to this release. It isn’t exactly the smartest business practice, but HD fans won’t complain. At least we’re finally getting a little extra bang for our buck.

“Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection” (Lionsgate)

People may think of Tim Burton when they hear the words “stop motion animation,” but for my money, Nick Park is the king of the genre. His “Wallace & Gromit” shorts have earned a nice little following over the years, and though the feature-length “Curse of the Were-Rabbit” failed to take the franchise to the next level, it’s still a darned good film in its own right. Still, Park’s bread and butter (or crackers and cheese, if you will) has always been the shorts, and along with collecting his three previous films (“A Grand Day Out,” “The Wrong Trousers” and “A Close Shave”), the new compilation also features Wallace and Gromit’s latest madcap adventure, “A Matter of Loaf and Death.” To sweeten the pot, Lionsgate has also included a bevy of bonus material like commentary tracks, making-of featurettes and a hilarious episode of “Shaun the Sheep.” At only $20 bucks for the Blu-ray edition, it’s hard to imagine even the most casual fan not succumbing to such a great deal.

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Weekend at the Multiplex, Pt. II: The Power of Family Defeats Robot Rehash + the Palm Goes to…. (Updated)

The long holiday weekend is barely halfway through here on the west coast, but the numbers gurus have already spoken. Both Variety and megablogger Nikki Finke report that “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” outgrossed “Terminator Salavation” by 53.5 to 43 million smackers, proving once again the power of family films and that I am, at best, a very mediocre prognosticator. It also indicates that McG’s name and talents may not be pure box office gold.

In other news, in what turned out to be a battle of movie bad boys of various types, the coveted Palme D’Or (that’s Golden Palm to you and moi), has been awarded at Cannes after a week of some very divided audience and critical responses. Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” elicited reactions ranging from reasonably positive to angrily disappointed. “Antichrist,” the new horror film/domestic drama from the personally disliked but often genius-level brilliant Lars von Trier (“Breaking the Waves,” “Dancer in the Dark”) crossed some deep psychological lines in terms of graphic violence and human genitals, leading to a raucous screening and deeply appalling many while eliciting some truly unusual, often more positive, reactions from writers. (Roger Ebert’s take, for one, is certainly worth a look.)

Not too surprisingly, the winner was another overage enfant terrible entirely. Ironically enough, he himself has been simultaneously applauded and despised for the first version of “Funny Games.” The second, English-language, version was mostly just despised for its manipulations and made Bullz-Eyer David Medskar talk of punching its maker in the face, which I’m sure he intended as a metaphor.

That winner would be Austria’s 67 year-old Michael Haneke — often regarded as the world class director most in need of a hug, as well as a punch. He picked up the Palm for “The White Ribbon” a dark (of course!) black and white pre-World War I drama. Haneke has had some out-and-out success apart from “Funny Games” with 2005′s genuinely compelling and thoughtfully upsetting “Caché,” which Ron Howard once considered remaking but, perhaps fearing David’s reaction, choose to make the movie version of “Arrested Development” instead. Probably a wise move, in any case.


UPDATE: Brandon Grey of Box Office Mojo has the final figures “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithinsonian” raked in $70 million on 7,000 screens and “Terminator Salvation” earned $53.8 million on about six-hundred fewer screens. Also, NPR’s hourly newscast this morning suggested that some of T4′s weakness, especially here in Southern Cal, might be related to the ongoing NBA play-offs. Could be, I suppose. That’s what I get for being a guy who writes for an online men’s mag who’s also a complete ignoramus about sports.

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Weekend at the Multiplex (Updated)

Christian Bale contemplates his eyelineHey folks. Now, if anyone out there remembers the series of “Multiplex Mayhem” posts I was writing back in the dark days of the late, late Bush Administration, I’m returning in a different, and briefer form. For this week and next, I’ll be covering the weekend box office, and then, starting next month, there will be more from me on movies in general here, and that’s all I’m saying for the time being.

This big movie Memorial Day weekend, though no longer the official start of summer movie season, brings us too major tentpole releases from the big studios: Warner’s “Terminator Salvation” and Fox’s “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.” The PG-13 Terminator reboot attempt is directed by McG, who Bullz-Eye’s Jason Zingale (who kinda sorta liked the movie) terms a “poor man’s Michael Bay.” Other critics were less charitable, and the film is getting easily the worst reviews in the entire history of the “Terminator” franchise, with the Rotten Tomatoes crowd giving it an underwhelming 35% “fresh” and generally seeming a little angry with star Christian Bale for walking into their collective eyeline. Not that any of that will matter to weekend grosses — and I do expect this to be the big winner of the long holiday weekend. However, if audiences agree that it really is inferior to prior “Terminator” flicks, it’s possible there will be a bigger drop-off later than expected. Still, at last night’s midnight’s screenings, it raked in a cool $3 million from the Red Bull drinking legions.

The sequel to 2006′s entirely unacclaimed “Night at the Museum” should also do well regardless of notices because it combines the only sure formula for box office success — a kid-friendly production that offers something, anything, to parents as well. In this case, Ben Stiller and a very strong supporting cast, even if the result had Roger Ebert squirming in boredom and remembering one of the truer critical refrains of all time:

I found myself yet once again echoing the frequent cry of Gene Siskel: Why not just give us a documentary of the same actors having lunch?

Still, the parents I know are mostly grateful for any movie that doesn’t involve CGI rodents eating their own feces, and at least this one encourages kids to go to museums.

And there is another option, that is the latest, at this point entirely unreviewed Wayans Brother’s spoof film from Paramount and MTV, “Dance Flick,” which at least has a reasonably funny trailer and Amy Sedaris (sister of writer/public radio superstar David Sedaris, frequent comedy companion of Stephen Colbert, before he was having portions of space stations named after him). Carl DiOrio says it will do well if can break out of the euphemistic “urban market”? Young folks looking for a comedy will likely go if they can’t get into something else, but something tells me that both “urban” people and their paler “suburban” friends will have other films to watch considering that, new releases aside, “Star Trek” and “Angels and Demons” are still very strong at the multiplex.

In limited release, we have Steve Soderbergh’s “The Girlfriend Experience” starring thinking man’s porn star Sasha Grey in a sexy but non-porn role which makes it something of a must for cinephile horndogs the world over. And because I’m the retro-guy who occasionally likes the same movies your grandma does, I feel compelled to mention both “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story,” about the guys responsible for the vast bulk of the pre-”Little Mermaid” Disney songs, and the Noel Coward adaptation “Easy Virtue,” which looks like it would go down very well with a nice dry martini made with a good, dry English gin. But you’ll want to see Sasha, won’t you?

UPDATE: Apparently some disagree with what I thought was a conventional-wisdom friendly guess about the weekend’s winner, since “Terminator” is such a time-tested franchise. Nikki Finke says it will be neck and neck but those famed “insiders” are predicting immense numbers for “Museum.” We’ll see.

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TV Roundup: “Terminator: TSCC” canceled, “Scrubs” and “Chuck” news, and much more

- Fox released it’s fall schedule. “Dollhouse” was renewed and “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” wasn’t. President Kevin Reilly said it wasn’t an either/or situation, but that the bet on “Dollhouse” was a bet on its producer Joss Whedon. I want to hear from people who watched both shows — was “Dollhouse” better? Because “Terminator: TSCC” was damn good down the stretch. (On a side note, how long do you think it will take Summer Glau to find another role? Hint: Not long.)

- Fox prez Kevin Reilly is apparently a big fan of Tyler Labine (who plays Sock on “Reaper”). Labine is set to star in the comedy “Sons of Tuscon,” which debuts in January. Clearly, this is not good news for “Reaper” fans.

- Ponderously, ABC renewed “Scrubs,” which only plans to have Zach Braff for six episodes. What’s the point?

- NBC renewed “Chuck” for 13 episodes, but it came at a price. There were significant budget concessions, so fans might notice that parts of the supporting cast may disappear at times. I stopped watching early in the season because it was getting kind of silly (and that whole Chuck/Sarah dance was getting tiresome) — did it get significantly better down the stretch?

- According to creator Noah Hawley’s Twitter page, “The Unusuals” won’t be back for another season. However, CBS did renew “Cold Case” for another season.

- Fox has renewed “Bones” for not one, but two years, according to Variety.

- CBS picked up a Chris O’Donnell-led spinoff of “NCIS” which is going to “focus on undercover ops instead of forensics.” Wait, wasn’t that the premise of “The Unit”?

- If no one watches “Samantha Who?” and it gets canceled, does it make a sound? Juuuuust kidding. (Not about it being canceled.)

- “The Office” creators (and I’m talking about the original UK version), Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, inked a deal with HBO to produce an animated comedy based on their podcast about their unusual friend, Karl Pilkington, whom they seem to think is the most fascinating man in the world. (And coming from those two, that’s high praise.)

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