Rescue me: Five shows in danger
From the Boston Herald
We call them shows on the bubble--and make no mistake, these cult favorites are in danger of floating away forever. Here are five shows that need your lovin'. Because if you don't do something, they'll be gone forever and the TV landscape will be poorer for it.Arrested Development
Sundays at 8:30 p.m. on Fox
Come on people . . . isn't it time you were ``Arrested''?
Now in its second season, this Fox comedy is silly and smart, subtle and laugh-out-loud funny, all at the same time. Maybe that's because it wrings most of its laughs from the secret conviction so many of us share - that we're the only responsible, sane ones in otherwise crazy families.
OK, so your dad probably hasn't been sent to the slammer for fraud, grand theft and petty theft. And I hope your mom doesn't swill vodka for breakfast and occasionally dress your adult brother in a short-pants sailor suit.
Still, even while you're laughing at Michael Bluth's (Jason Bateman) impossibly messed-up clan, it's easy to sympathize with him. There he is, a 30-something widowed father, earnestly trying to help the family business recover from corporate scandal - but he keeps getting derailed by his thoroughly crooked father (Jeffrey Tambor), comically ruthless mother (Jessica Walter), three slacker sibs (Portia di Rossi, Will Arnett, Tony Hale) and hopelessly clueless brother-in-law (David Cross).
A man-eating seal in a yellow bow tie? An underhanded campaign for student-body president? A failed magician who gets married on a dare? That's just the last three weeks in the life of the Bluths. Note-perfect performances and hilariously droll narration by executive producer Ron Howard add to the laughs.
Low ratings almost sent this show to the scrapheap last season, but fan support and critical acclaim got it renewed. Good thing, too, since it went on to win five Emmys, including Outstanding Comedy Series.
This season has been even better than the first - but ratings are still low. Come on, people . . . it's time get behind ``Development.''
Write to Fox c/o FOX Broadcasting Co., P.O. Box 900, Beverly Hills, CA 90213. - LINDA G. KINCAIDAmerican Dreams
Wednesdays at 8 on NBC
NBC's ``American Dreams'' deserves a reprieve and a fourth season because there is no other show like it on the air.
Sure, the stunt casting (Paris Hilton as Barbara Eden!) is delicious. And who doesn't love seeing Third Eye Blind as the Kinks or Usher as Marvin Gaye.
Practically every singer on the Top 40 and every ``American Idol'' winner has stopped by ``American Dreams'' to impersonate a musical counterpart from yesteryear.
Set against the backdrop of ``American Bandstand'' and the tumultuous '60s, the show is a throwback to another television era - a time when there were quality one-hour dramas that could entertain the entire family. This season, the Pryor family deftly tackled everything from teen romance to corrupt local politics to civil unrest.
The series may be loose with the decade's time line, blending the era's significant events conveniently into the family's lives, but TV needs a show that understands how important the results of a high school essay contest are to a daughter, and a son's struggle after returning home from the Vietnam War. This dream should live on.
E-mail NBC at firstname.lastname@example.org
- AMY AMATANGELOVeronica Mars
Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on UPN
There are dozens of reasons why UPN should renew ``Veronica Mars'' for a second season. Here are a few:
It's a smart, funny, lovingly crafted, well-acted hour that realistically depicts the horrors of high school through the eyes of a former Miss Popularity (the radiant Kristen Bell).
At the same time, it's a gripping mystery, slyly nods to pop culture, sports a hip theme song by the delicious Dandy Warhols and features the only voice-over narration worth listening to in prime time. It's the best new show of the season after ``Lost'' and ``Desperate Housewives'' and often has been more adept than both those shows at parceling out its mystery for maximum intrigue while deftly following Veronica's private detective gig of the week.
But the only reason that should matter to UPN's head honchos is the simple fact that for the first time ever the basement dwelling net-let has a bona fide water cooler show on its hands.
Fans obsess over who killed Lily Kane, who sexually assaulted Veronica and what drove Veronica's mom out of the home she shares with her lovable gumshoe dad (Enrico Colantoni).
Considering all of the gaping creative holes in its prime-time programming, it should be easy for UPN to see it's got a good thing going with ``Veronica.''
Aside from the trashy ``America's Next Top Model,'' UPN can't boast of a single true hit, and only the long-running sitcom ``Girlfriends'' could be considered top quality. (Sorry, ``Kevin Hill,'' you're good, but not as great as ``Veronica.'').
The Trekkies already are mad at UPN for canceling ``Enterprise;'' does the network really want more angry fans protesting outside the studio? Just as ``Buffy'' slayed new fans by word-of-mouth, more viewers will want to know about life on ``Mars.''
Go to upn.com and click on the ``contact us'' link. - SARAH RODMANJudging Amy
Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on CBS
Don't judge, but I love ``Judging Amy.''
Yet the CBS drama, which is supposed to air Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. (half the time, it's not even on) seems to be on the skids, probably making way for the next reality brain drain like ``Nursing Home 911'' or ``Toddlers Gone Wild.''
This would be a big mistake - unless you're the editor of a pretty famous author I know who actually misses important deadlines because she is glued to the regular show and reruns on TBS and The Hallmark Channel - but I digress.
The point is ``Judging Amy'' needs to go on.
Why? Mostly because of Tyne Daly, who plays the salty social worker (and Amy's mother) Maxine Gray. She's who we want to be in lousy, stressful situations, offering sage advice while downing a few glasses of wine. Or if we don't want to be her, we want to be related to her, so we can invite at least one person we like to Thanksgiving dinner.
And we enjoy judging Judge Amy Gray (Amy Brenneman), who blunders and sputters and makes mistakes like we all do - she sleeps with the wrong guys, is sometimes a parental train wreck and still lives with her mother.
Plus, we really want her to end up with Bruce (Richard T. Jones).
In the midst of dehumanizing dramas out there - where the story du jour usually involves bloodied women or victimized children, ``Judging Amy'' is just the opposite, a show with family and heart.
And Cheech Marin.
Go to cbs.com, and click on feedback link at the bottom of the page. - LAUREN BECKHAM FALCONEBoston Legal
Sundays at 10 p.m. on ABC
If the Michael Jackson trial were televised, perhaps only then could we live without ``Boston Legal.''
Nah. We'd still need it.
Prime-time network schedules are chock-full of law and order and highly technical investigations (both medical and crime scene varieties). That's what makes the comic relief of ``Boston Legal'' so refreshing, even if its hourlong plots manage to sneak in some preachiness each Sunday night.
As if we should expect anything less from creator David E. Kelley.
His handiwork - quirky plots, stellar guest stars and laugh-out-loud moments - is evident here. But Kelley found something truly special in bringing Hub native James Spader to the small screen as the shady-yet-heroic lawyer Alan Shore.
Spader's Emmy win last year was no fluke.
He breathes life into every episode of ``Boston Legal,'' even if Kelley and his writers haven't quite figured out where the show should head next. As it stands, the show definitely needs to balance Spader and William Shatner - ``Denny Crane!'' - with the underused Mark Valley, Monica Potter and Rhona Mitra.
On the bright side, Candice Bergen and Betty White are back on series TV, and each week features another fabulous guest star, whether it's Carl Reiner, Shelley Long or the Rev. Al Sharpton [related, bio] riding to the rescue.
When the show returns from hiatus (tentatively April 22), you must see Rupert Everett's three-episode arc and Heather Locklear's turn as ``The Black Widow.''
If nothing else, you'll see the Hub represented onscreen with pride each week. At least three episodes have name-dropped the world champion Boston Red Sox or New England Patriots. And that's always worth watching.
Write to ABC at 500 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank, CA 91521-4551. - SEAN L. McCARTHY