Recently I decided to spend some time watching TV shows that did not last.
First up – Bunheads. The title alone put me off, and then the fact that the creator is one and the same guilty party responsible for The Gilmore Girls. I know Gilmore was a really popular, beloved show – but for all the chances I gave it, I could not get into it. I realized eventually that it’s just Lauren Graham I don’t like (at all), not the show. (Graham seems to play a version – without much variation – of the same kind of ditzy, neurotic, irresponsible and not-put-together person in everything she is in.) I enjoyed the first few episodes of Bunheads, but eventually it grated on my nerves. I enjoyed some of the pop-culture references (they’re everywhere! Notably, I enjoyed a nice reference to Stringer Bell from The Wire and a couple of references to the worst movie ever, Footloose, which seems to be an uncontrolled phenomenon on TV these days, most recently on Modern Family). and some of the rapid-fire dialogue, although this trademark rapid-fire talk is part of what eventually grates. No one talks this way in reality, and if they did, I would be tempted to commit some kind of assault.
Alas, Bunheads lasted for just one season, so I only needed to plow through a limited assortment… relief. On the whole, even though I was relieved when the end came, I think it was an entertaining show while it lasted. It’s hard to tell whether the show was gone too soon or was around just long enough.
Another show that had an almost criminally limited run was Lone Star. It lasted for only two episodes (yes – two episodes!), so it is not possible to assess whether it was good or not. It had promise, though, and it only started to show. I decided to watch the two existing episodes because of James Wolk since it’s hard not to love the guy after watching his roles in Mad Men, Political Animals and more recently The Crazy Ones (by far the best aspects of that mediocre show). Wolk’s role in Lone Star seems to have been training ground for his role as Bob on Mad Men. (His character’s name in Lone Star, coincidentally enough, was “Bob” also.) Wolk’s role in Lone Star as the ultimate con man was not quite believable yet, especially for a guy who had supposedly been pulling cons all his life. Actually, maybe his performance was spot-on because no matter how long his character had been living his lifelong con, he was never comfortable with it. Lone Star’s Bob fooled a lot of people – the too-cute smile and slightly awkward charm – would not have been enough to carry him through the kinds of cons he was successfully running – not slick enough to mask his reality. By the time Wolk walked into the role of Bob Benson in Mad Men, he had mastered the cool, easy veneer and milquetoast cover that made Benson seem non-threatening and ultimately outstanding. But we only got two episodes of Lone Star. I am tempted to call it a gem – but we did not get enough of it to really find out.