Overthinking Everything: Epic Fail. Please.

I will be honest - I can be a spiteful bastard sometimes.  So to commemorate the start of another destined-to-be-mediocre network television season, I have decided to pick out three shows that I would like to see fail in some way and why.  I don't watch a lot of network television (it's really only three or four shows, half of those only casually), but because it's the most ubiquitously advertised, they're the ones you're expected to weigh in on, viewable or no.  So here are three I don't want to see in next year's returning list.

Revenge (ABC): A woman goes back to the Hamptons under an alias to exact revenge on those responsible for framing her father for a crime he didn't commit.  In other words, Electra Complex meets Count of Monte Cristo.
Why It Should Fail: Overadvertisement, creepy undercurrents.
Allow Me to Explain: I am one of the people who justifies the entries for "Hype Aversion" and "Hype Backlash" on TVTropes; when I see the same TV show advertised on every Septa bus near my office, every lower third crawl on my shows, and before every movie I saw last month, I start to hate it on principle.  There's nothing wrong with another variation on Count of Monte Cristo - in fact, I think it should be a plot that's used more often, because it's a very solid concept with lots of room nonetheless to personalize your version (I'm thinking of a telenovela version called "The Stepmother" that was actually pretty good).  But this one's personalization is... Daddy's Little Girl.  I think that any woman who is that obsessed with Daddy - not just trying to posthumously clear his name (which is noble) but being prepared to whack people, having a tattoo after his favorite infinity-symbol sand doodle, and pretty much build your life on what Daddy wanted - is not only unrelatable but actively creepy.  I don't like the way our culture thinks the Electra Complex is okey-dokey and keeps perpetuating it.  Here, it's taken a solid concept and covered it in an unremovable veneer of ickiness; if I could ignore the series, I would, but ABC's ad blitz has more than made that unlikely.

The X-Factor (Fox): Because we don't have enough talent shows between American Idol and America's Got Talent, Simon Cowell feels the need to bring us another one.
Why It Should Fail: Overadvertisement, just plain unnecessary.
Allow Me to Explain: No.  No, we do not need another goddamned talent show that runs too long, with too much filler, too many "special guest" acts that aren't part of the contest, too many failed attempts to build careers out of the winners, and too many nights eaten up from the schedule to block out actual creative shows.  If this pre-empts yet another night of Glee, I don't mind; if this pre-empts Raising Hope, I will have to kill all involved, and since Fox hasn't realize that two-thirds of Glee's audience has bailed out of frustration with its tweeness, guess what will happen.  Also, Cowell's ads have taken over the ad breaks (even for the local news!) and keeps appearing in those ever-irritating lower thirds.  Once again, between the sheer unnecessariness of it, the likelihood of it devouring the schedule like a televisual black hole, and the overabundance of ads, I want it to bomb badly.  Which, judging from the fact American Idol is still on and still treated like it's relevant, probably won't happen.

Once Upon a Time (ABC): There's a hidden world of fairy tales characters living in the real world and trying to hide their presence while struggling to survive.
Why It Should Fail: Naked rip-off of a work they optioned & dropped, making it extra questionable.
Allow Me to Explain: A couple years ago, Time-Warner and Bill Willingham optioned Willingham's creator owned vertigo title Fables; the concept of Fables is exactly what I described for the show.  ABC rejected it... and then this was announced.  They crossed off the names, switched out a Wicked Witch for the Adversary, and then pretended that this is something new & daring.  Yes, a similar concept was done with the Tenth Kingdom, but that was unique enough from Fables in its approach that it stands on its own (about the only thing they had in common was Big Bad Wolf in some form as a main hero); but the new show is exactly the same, down to where your main hero is Snow White!  The similarities between the way ABC has treated Willingham and how McDonald's tried to treat Sid & Marty Krofft in a landmark copyright case are staggering, and if Willingham won't site this case in a legitimate plagiarism trial (which he really, really should), then I can only hope the mainstream TV audience stays away in droves.  Plagiarists shouldn't profit - EVER.

Will any of these actually fail?  I don't know - the networks have never faltered when being relentlessly annoying with advertisements or aiming at the LCD.  But if that last one succeeds in any way, I will be pretty mad, and I can only hope that comic fandom rallies around Willingham the way MSTies rallied around the writer-director of "Clonus" when Michael Bay tried to rip him off.  The first two are just irritating, but the last one is a downright injustice.


  1. I usually get pretty excited around the new fall season, but I'm really unaware of most of the new shows coming out this year. I felt like Once Upon A Time seemed awful Fabley when I first heard about it. I was unaware of the Willingham/Warner thing...not cool.

    Glad there's some Raising Hope love out there, though. Great show that gets no press.

  2. I heard Fables was optioned a while back and that it had been rejected; when I saw the preview for Once Upon a Time, it was so outrageously wrong that I actively wanted to yell at someone. Willingham really shouldn't stand for this, but I haven't heard anyone else object.

    I'm glad to hear someone else likes Raising Hope. Fox is so in love with Glee's forced wit that they forget it exists.


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