Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Eastwick" gets hanged

ABC is burning "Eastwick" at the stake. The only prime time show I watch, "Eastwick" was just canceled after seven episodes. The show was cursed from the beginning.

First, I watch it. I watch it. I cancel things. "Eastwick" is only the latest casualty. I tuned in for silly reasons, namely Jaime Ray Newman, Paul Gross, and sex.

Jaime Ray Newman played Kristina Cassadine on "General Hospital." If it weren't for fan loyalty, I would never have watched "Eastwick" in the first place. I only started watching GH a few months ago, actually, after spending the last year or so watching clips of Newman's former GH costar Nancy Lee Grahn. I loved Nancy on "Santa Barbara" when I was a teen, and reconnected last year when I needed some distraction from the nightmares of school and general insanity.

Paul Gross is a god. Americans might remember him from "Due South," a show about a Canadian mounty in Chicago. I liked him best in "Slings and Arrows," a Canadian show so close to perfect my face is getting hot just thinking about it. He played Geoffrey Tennant, a nut job stage actor-turned artistic director who communicates with the ghost of his mentor/rival. The writing and acting absolutely crackled. Loved it.

And then there's the sex. "Eastwick" was the latest iteration of "The Witches of Eastwick." The book came first, and there was a rather successful movie, as well. Any time you put witches and demons together, you're probably going to get some sex. And I like sex. So I wanted to watch because I like to watch. And the show, in fact, had some fun and sexy moments.

A pleasant surprise was the humor. Well done. I was expecting more drama and fewer chortles. I'm sort of stingy with my laughter, but this show got me.

Also a nice surprise were the actors. Paul Gross and Jaime Ray Newman were known quantities for me, but I'd never seen Rebecca Romijn in anything before. She's pretty amazing. Also amazing was Lindsay Price, who I'd never heard of before. I'll definitely be on the watch for them, as well as Sara Rue, who isn't one of the witches, but the BFF for Lindsay's character.

So what killed this show besides me? There are a number of cliches we could blame, such as the line-up. It followed an entirely new comedy line-up on Wednesday. Maybe "Cougar Town" attracts a similar audience as "Eastwick," but I'm not convinced. I'm not watching "Cougar Town," a half-hour sit com about a forty-something woman lusting after much younger men, including high-schoolers. It's not funny to watch older guys have impure thoughts about young girls; it's equally unfunny when a woman is the lustful one. High school kids are just that – kids. Gross. Leave them alone. No, this show needed to follow something like "Desperate Housewives," which had a similar spunky, dramedic tone. And it definitely needed to follow an established series, preferably on a weekend, not be the last prime time offering on a mid-week night of all new shows.

Another problem is that "Eastwick" needed to leave the gates running, and it started at more of a meander. It's cool to do that in a book and let characters and story arcs develop. But on television, there's no time. You've got an hour to hook an audience and give them a reason to return. After the first episode, it was apparent this show would not make it. There was not enough punch, not enough to make me invest in those characters, and I really wanted to invest in them. I wanted to, so I did, and came back for every episode. But without that pre-existing investment, there was little reason to tune back in, unfortunately. After a few episodes, the show was starting to find its stride, and although it's not quite there yet, the potential exists for some really good stuff. There's drama, mystery, humor, all wrapped in and around a pretty quirky idea for network TV – that is, these three surprise witches summon the devil.

At least it's not another crime drama or hospital show. Or maybe that's why it didn't make it. Whatever the reason, I'll be sorry to see it go.


aims said...

You know they always cancel the good ones. I get so angry and throw tantrums but it doesn't do any good.

Remember when Jericho got canceled and everyone sent peanuts in? Well what they brought back was pure garbage and it should have remained as something good in our memory instead of the crap they threw at us for throwing peanuts at them.

Ah well.

Amy said...

Piss off, spammers.

Amy said...

But not you, Aims.