Television is a fickle business. Every fall, new shows are introduced, they're hyped in commercials, and we're all encouraged to tune in to what is usually advertised as "the next big hit". However, more often than not, the show is cancelled, and for the average viewer, all of a sudden one day their new favourite program just disappears from the TV altogether.
Every so often, there really is a big hit - like Survivor, or CSI, or Lost, or Prison Break, or Grey's Anatomy - but more often than not, the "hot new shows" are flops. It's a business based on how many viewers tune in and how high their ratings are. Sometimes a show is just destined to fail, no matter how wonderful the actors are or how inventive the premise is. If it's put in a timeslot against a guaranteed hit, then the show has basically no chance of survival. People tend to stick with their tried and true favourites. It's disappointing to become attached to a new show, and get involved in the storyline, only to have it ripped away unexpectedly. For that reason, many viewers just don't even bother in the first place anymore.
I've been a victim of this unjust process more than once. A few shows in particular spring to mind: Jack & Jill, American Dreams, Jack & Bobby, and Reunion.
Jack & Jill was a show that I started watching in high school, and I immediately loved the characters. Jack was the girl, Jill was the (hot) guy, and each week I tuned in to see what they and their wacky friends were up to. At the end of season 2, we were left with a cliffhanger - Jack & Jill had a huge fight, and broke up, but the big secret Jack was keeping was that she was pregnant with Jill's baby. However, due to low ratings, the show never returned, and I was left feeling extremely ripped off.
American Dreams was, and still is, one of my favourite shows of all time. Sara got me hooked on it in college. I tuned in initially just to see this guy that she raved about: Will Estes, who played the shy jock, JJ Prior. The show, set in the '60s, revolved around JJ and the rest of his family, including his sister Meg, who was a regular on American Bandstand. By the third season, JJ was off in Vietnam fighting for his country, while Meg was dating a bad boy and highly involved in anti-war protesting. At the end of that season, JJ had been returned safely home to his young girlfriend and the son he had never before met, while Meg was running away with her boyfriend. And there they left us. No more American Dreams.
Just a year or so ago, I happened to catch a few minutes of a new show called Jack & Bobby, and I was instantly hooked. At first, I was confused by the show. It was set in present day and followed the lives of two brothers - Jack, the high school stud athlete, and his younger brother Bobby, a shy and geeky boy who yearned to be cool like his brother. However, at the beginning and end of each episode, there would be a sort of inteview with some American politician, but the year was 2025. I eventually figured out that the show was a sort of "Back to the Future" kind of experience, and at the end of that first season, it was revealed that Jack would one day, many years later, be killed in a car accident, while Bobby would go on to be come President of the United States. And just as I was starting to grasp the show, it just vanished from my TV.
Last but not least is Reunion. I started watching it mainly because the gorgeous Will Estes, who I had last adored as JJ from American Dreams, had turned up again, but this time as a young man named Will caught in a sort of murder mystery. Each episode represented an entire year in the lives of a group of friends torn apart by the mysterious death of one of them. At the end of each episode, a new twist in the case was revealed, and it was to go on for 25 episodes until the murder was finally solved. Sounds interesting, right? It was. Unfortunately, not enough people thought so, and the show was cancelled after about 12 episodes. Talk about leaving a person hanging!
It's a cruel sort of punishment, to become enthralled in a show and its characters, only to have them torn away from you. It's disappointing, after investing so much time and energy into a storyline. That's why I tend to be very careful about the shows I "get into". For instance, I refused to tune into Lost or Prison Break because I was sure they were just going to be flashes in the pan. Now they've gone on to become super-hot shows that everyone watches, but I'm too far behind in the storylines to just jump in and get caught up. Even Grey's Anatomy was a bit of a fluke - I just happened to watch an episode one night last year with my dad - believing it to be just another one of those stupid doctor shows - and lo and behold, I loved it, so I continued watching, then filled myself in on the back-story by purchasing Season 1 and Season 2 on DVD this past summer.
So this all brings me to the point of tonight's blog: Two weeks ago, I watched the debut episode of a new show called "Friday Night Lights". I saw the movie a year or so ago, and loved it, so I took my chances on the show. Sure enough, I was very impressed, both in that first episode, and again last night. It focuses on the trials and tribulations of a small town high school football team that is the town's sole pride and joy. It's a town that literally shuts down on game nights - store owners put signs in their windows that say "Gone to Game", while teenage boys are in the spotlight much like pro athletes and movie stars would be. The show centers on these boys and their coach, and the pressures they are put under to succeed. The oppressive need to win and the expectations of everyone from the mayor, to their parents, to their girlfriends, and to the children looking up to them - it all weighs heavily on these boys, and how they handle it is indeed fascinating to watch.
I should have been more prepared today when I read on the Jam! Showbiz website that the show is pulling in low audiences and poor ratings. I should have known. But instead, I felt my heart sink. Once again, I'm destined to lose a show with a great storyline and intriguing characters. That's why I'm making this plea to you, my friends and fellow bloggers: Watch Friday Night Lights next Tuesday.
Give it a chance.
And if you like it, spread the word to others. I just think this show needs - no, deserves - a fair shot. Maybe, just maybe, if I can get word out that there's a hot new show on TV that everyone should be tuning in to, then maybe, just maybe, I won't have to get cut off in the middle of yet another story that I've already immersed myself in.
If it doesn't work...well, I'll always have the movie to watch over and over again. And perhaps this time, I might learn my lesson and not bother with that "hot new show" next year. It's just not worth it.
But I'm gonna give it one last shot. Check out Friday Night Lights. I promise, you won't regret it.
PS - There likely will be no blog Thursday night, as I'm heading out to Scotiabank Place to watch the Sens take on the Calgary Flames. However, I'll write on Friday about the game and I'll try to get in a re-cap of Survivor and Grey's at some point this weekend. It's going to be a busy one, with Car Rally on Saturday (yay!) and Caden's 1st birthday party on Sunday (holy crap, how fast can a year go?!), but I'll try to fit it all in. Until then...Have a great weekend, all!