By David Hiltbrand, The Philadelphia Inquirer –
So “Made in Jersey” starring Janet Montgomery was the first series to get canceled. I suppose I should have seen that coming. If there’s one thing the last decade of television has proven conclusively it’s that American audiences simply will not put up with a TV show that has a British or Australian lead actor pretending to be one of us.
The series also featured as the law firm’s chief partner Kyle MacLachlan, who is something of a show killer. But I was kind of hoping that casting winning character actor Felix Solis as the firm’s crafty investigator, River Brody, would make up for MacLachlan’s bad juju.
Still, I was surprised by the announcement. I never viewed “Made in Jersey” as vulnerable. It was anchored in the protective harbor of Friday night, where expectations are low and programs — particularly on CBS — are historically given ample time to find their stride.
Two episodes and out? That’s insane. Especially since “Made in Jersey” was beating its primary time slot competitor, NBC’s “Grimm.”
You can’t tell me it was the concept. Shows set (if not shot) in Jersey continue to wash up in prime time like the bottles of hooch rolling over Nucky’s shoes in the Atlantic City surf at the opening of “Boardwalk Empire.”
Starting next month you can see “Jersey Brides” on TLC, an unflinching look at the often harried life of the proprietors and staff of Bijou Bridal on Rte. 17 in Paramus.
For all these reasons, the cancellation just doesn’t make sense. Something definitely don’t smell right (a phrase you often hear in Paramus). “Made in Jersey” had better numbers than the lousiest new sitcoms: “The Neighbors,” “Animal Practice” and “Guys with Kids” — and they’re still around.
It was doing better than a number of other one-hour dramas both old (“Bones”) and new (“666 Park Ave”) that are still with is. And it was virtually doubling the audience for “Mob Docto,”r which is still on life support. Of course, just about everything has been killing “Mob Doctor” — except the programming executives at Fox.
—A quantum shift. The cast looks familiar, but what is this show airing in the old “Fringe” slot?
I’ve followed this weird science phantasmagoria raptly since it started, but now as it rumbles toward its fifth season finish line, it has jumped tracks and changed directions.
The parallel universe that the writers spent so much time developing is gone, along with many characters and plot branches.
Suddenly it’s 2036 and a reawakened Peter and Olivia are living with their grown daughter Etta (Georgina Haig). Huh? Who?
Together they’re fighting the despotic rule of the Watchers. Wait, weren’t the Watchers our cosmic allies all this time? It was the shape shifters we were always worried about. Where’d they go?
It’s a really bizarre and disorienting experience to see a show so thoroughly altered on the fly. On the plus side, if you’ve never followed “Fringe,” you can watch the final season without having to catch up. It’s ending fresh.
—What’s a title, Alex? Do you remember a sitcom called “The Knights of Prosperity”? Probably not, even though it offered American viewers a first look at a pre-”Modern Family” Sofia Vergara.
I’ll bet you would have remembered it — and it wouldn’t have been so quickly axed — had it stuck with its planned title, “Let’s Rob Mick Jagger.”
What I’m saying is that a title can make or break a show. Which is why I’m predicting, sight unseen, that ABC has a hit on its hands with a just-announced sitcom project, “Michael Bolton’s Daughter Is Destroying My Life.”
—Now batting. New York Yankee captain Derek Jeter was hobbled after fouling a baseball off his instep during the American League playoff series against the Orioles this week, but he was still getting around prime time pretty good.
On “Partners,” Joe (David Krumholtz) had to deal with the fact that his fiancee Ali (Sophia Bush), before they met, had spent a couple of torrid weeks in Vegas with Jeter.
A night later on “The Mindy Project,” Shauna (Amanada Setton) is bragging about going to the hottest club in Manhattan. “Drake showed up with a white tiger,” she enthuses. “The tiger left with Derek Jeter.”
Get your head in the game, Derek!