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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Beware the Ides of May!

(Suck it, Shakespeare—I can fabricate ominous phrases, too.)

For those of you not hip to the inner workings of the TV biz, May marks the end of the traditional television season, when networks start cancelling underperforming series. In other words, they’re gonna kill your favorite show! It’s personal vendetta against you and your impeccable TV taste! I know; I’ve been there.

No amount of critical buzz, and especially no “Save Our Show!” online petition, can stay the execution of a barely watched gem. Many great series have been put down after only a single season, most infamously Firefly and Freaks and Geeks. Neither will be discussed here, because … infamy.

Instead, this month’s Content Shifter will turn you onto 13 under-the-radar shows that met their untimely demise after Season 1:

Terriers (Season 1 on Amazon and iTunes): This confusingly titled show was cancelled by FX in 2010. Ex-cop Hank Dolworth (Donal Logue) runs a low-rent, beachside private-detective operation in Ocean Park, Calif., pining for his ex-wife and generally slacking off. But when a small-time case leads to a big-time political scandal, and bodies start dropping, he’s in way over his head—and, like a terrier, Hank won’t let go. Thirteen episodes of SoCal crime-noir at its finest (and grungiest).

Action (Season 1 on Amazon and iTunes): In 1999, Fox produced a bitterly pointed, caustically funny dark comedy that took a Schwarzenegger-sized shit all over the Hollywood business of show, led by a scumbag character named “Peter Dragon” (Jay Mohr)—and yet somehow Action didn’t catch on. HBO or Showtime would have been a better home for Action (Fox only aired eight of 13 episodes, dumping the rest to cable), but glorious asshole Peter Dragon wasn’t built to last.

Wonderfalls (Season 1 on DailyMotion): Star Caroline Dhavernas once described her 2004 Fox series Wonderfalls as “Touched by an Angel on acid,” and I won’t even attempt to improve upon that. Dhavernas (later of Hannibal and obscure treasure Mary Kills People) and writer/producer Bryan Fuller created such a weird world of talking toy animals and existential angst that it’s a wonder that Wonderfalls managed to air 13 episodes on network TV. Best watched with herbal enhancement.

The Grinder (Season 1 on Hulu and Crackle): Again, Fox? Why you gotta cancel everything? In 2015-2016’s The Grinder, Rob Lowe played an actor who played a lawyer on a hit legal drama call The Grinder—follow? After the show is cancelled, Lowe returns to his small Idaho hometown to work in a law firm run by his attorney brother (Fred Savage); life-imitating-and-irritating-art shenanigans ensue. The Grinder was supremely stoopid, but still smarter and funnier than most everything Fox has produced since.

Constantine (Season 1 on CW Seed): After a rocky start in 2014, NBC’s Constantine (based on the DC/Vertigo comic book Hellblazer) evolved into a highly entertaining supernatural series … just in time to be cancelled after 13 episodes. British actor Matt Ryan injected sorcerer/demon hunter John Constantine with a snarky cynicism that did the comic justice; NBC just didn’t know what to do with him. Constantine, the character, lives on in The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow.

The Middleman (Season 1 on Amazon and Google Play): Another comic-book adaptation, 2008’s The Middleman was a goofy romp notable for its rapid-fire pop-cultural references, odd-fit home (ABC Family?!), and co-star Natalie Morales in leather pants (inappropriately, yet magnificently, bootylicious for a Disney channel). The Middleman (Matt Keeslar) battles alien and supernatural threats, Men in Black-style; Wendy (Morales) is his wiseacre apprentice; much big dumb fun is had.

Trophy Wife (Season 1 on ABC.com and ABC App): A party girl (Malin Akerman) falls in love with and marries an older man (Bradley Whitford), much to the dismay/disgust of her BFF (hey, Natalie Morales again) and his two ex-wives (Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins). Saddled with a divisive and misleading title, 2013’s Trophy Wife had a killer cast, sharp writing and critical acclaim to burn, lasting 22 episodes before the ax dropped. Whitford can’t catch a break.

The Good Guys (Season 1 on Amazon): Case in point: The Good Guys, a 2010 Fox (ugh …) series that was 50 percent buddy-cop drama and 210 percent lunacy, featured a mustachioed Whitford at his freak-flag funniest, only to be shut down after 20 episodes. Dallas detective Dan Stark (Whitford) is an old-school, loose-cannon cop who hates “computer machines” and “smarty phones”; Det. Jack Bailey (Colin Hanks) is his by-the-book partner. A cop show for people who hate cop shows.

Warren the Ape (Season 1 on Amazon and iTunes): This whole column could be about single-season MTV shows, but 2010’s Warren the Ape (an unlikely spinoff of equally unlikely 2002 Fox series Greg the Bunny) was easily the most eff’dup. Thespian monkey puppet Warren’s career spirals into drug-debauched chaos following the cancellation of Greg’s hit kids’ show, leading him into exploitation flicks, cheap porn and, worse, off-off-Broadway theater. Dr. Drew (as himself) is no help.

Death Valley (Season 1 on Amazon and iTunes): Another one-and-done MTV series, 2011’s Death Valley followed the twilight cop cases of the Undead Task Force, charged with policing vampire, werewolf and zombie crimes in the San Fernando Valley. MTV wasn’t the place for a bloody blend of dark comedy and genuine horror; Death Valley probably would have lasted longer than 12 episodes on Syfy, or any other cable outlet. Still, it gave Tania Raymonde’s (Lost) eyebrows a chance to be funny.

Quarry (Season 1 on Max Go and Amazon): Quarry was the Memphis-barbecued second season of True Detective everybody really wanted—too bad it went unwatched on Cinemax instead of HBO proper. This ’70s crime-noir series was grittily crafted and spun with jarring twists, and Logan Marshall-Green’s seething performance as a Vietnam vet-turned-reluctant hitman should have won all the awards. Instead, Cinemax cancelled Quarry after an eight-episode run in 2016.

Moonlight (Season 1 on CW Seed): Not so much “good” as “so hilariously bad it’s ironically good,” 2007 CBS vampire drama Moonlight was either a ripoff of Angel or an attempt to cash in on pretty-vamp Twilight mania. Whatever the plan, it didn’t work: CBS staked L.A. private dick Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin) after 16 ridiculous episodes. Even funnier than a vampire detective was his girlfriend, a “famous” “Internet journalist.” In 2007? And she’s not on TMZ? Please.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker (Season 1 on Amazon and iTunes): Now here’s a supernatural investigator and a real journalist, Carl Kolchak! Kolchak: The Night Stalker only lasted 20 episodes over 1974 and ’75, but actor Darren McGavin’s rumpled Chicago newspaper reporter inspired myriad sci-fi series over the decades—most famously, The X-Files. Sure, it looks cheesy now, but Kolchak was groundbreaking, disturbing stuff in the post-Exorcist ’70s. Warning: Avoid the 2005 reboot, as it suuucks.

Bill Frost talks about television on the TV Tan podcast (BillFrost.tv) and tweets about it at @Bill_Frost.

Published in TV

The French have always enjoyed a reputation for being much more blasé about matters of amour than Americans, yet the election of new French President Emmanuel Macron, 39, has been accompanied by publicity on his wife, Brigitte—and the fact that she’s 64 and his former high school teacher.

Older men with younger women, too often called “trophy wives,” have long been socially accepted with a wink and a nod, while older women with younger men are derogatorily called “cougars,” with varying degrees of disapproval. Celebrities like Cher, Demi Moore and Madonna have brought these relationships to the forefront, all too often with tongue-in-cheek negativity—but the presumption of sex as the key attraction is particularly demeaning to older women in serious relationships with younger men.

Social acceptance can be a big factor. Cindy Gallop, a web entrepreneur, points to sexism. “It makes people very uncomfortable … to see the gender equation reversed,” she recently told The New York Times. “Out there in the world are many, many younger men who would love to date older women, but would never do anything about it because there’s this appalling societal double standard.”

When such couples do come together, what challenges, beyond social acceptance, do they face?

June Pariano, a La Quinta resident, is married to Chuck, 6 1/2 years her junior. “We’ve been married 23 years this July,” she says, “and we were together about four years before that. I was divorced when Chuck came to work in the same company. I never dated people I worked with, but he was a very good salesman!

“Men’s roles are different now than they were when I was growing up,” says June. “When I was a teenager, I would never have thought of dating a man six years younger, but as you get older, it doesn’t make that much difference.”

Pam, also a resident of La Quinta (who asked not to use her last name), was married to a man 15 years younger. “I was divorced with grown kids when we met; I was 42, and he was ‘almost 30,’” she says. “I never noticed any problems about acceptance by any of our friends, but his family had some trouble with the fact that I was divorced with children.

“Things that mattered to me culturally were not the norm for him, because he grew up in a different era. He had come up during the ’70s, when men came to believe they shouldn’t do anything for women, even like holding doors open. Also, he had no experience with having children, and that was a big difference in our world view. On ordinary things, we were compatible, but our differences went beyond choices in music or what television shows to watch. For example, I often had difficulty relating to his friends, because they had such limited experience compared to me. We didn’t have much in common.

“I must admit our age difference mattered to me more than it did to him in the beginning. It bothered me sometimes that he was so young-looking!” she laughs.

For June, the awareness of her 6-year age difference with Chuck became apparent when they were dating. “I didn’t really know he was that much younger,” she says, “but we were at a baseball game, and they were playing music on the loudspeakers. I asked him to guess the year that song was a big hit, and when I told him, he replied with, ‘I was only 12 years old then.’ I couldn’t believe it!”

I’ve been dating a man six years younger for almost six years. Our age disparity hits me when we discuss our different music tastes and cultural references. My younger brother is my guy’s age. While I was into anti-war protests, my brother was in the Air Force in Vietnam; my music was ’70s rock, folk and jazz, while my brother was into Elvis. With my guy and me, it’s often the choice of Bob Dylan and the Stones versus Paul McCartney and Diane Schuur, or Toy Story versus Trainspotting.

June notes: “Sometimes people kiddingly say I’m ‘robbing the cradle,’ and yet they take for granted that for men, it’s often the case that when their wives reach a certain age, it’s time to get rid of them and get a younger one. There’s still a double standard.”

Pam sums it up thusly: “The differences go beyond whether our choices of music or TV are compatible. Our values were based on different eras. There were no ‘cougars’ back then, but I’m not sure society has changed all that much about what is considered ‘normal.’”

The French president’s marriage was dissected in The Daily Mail, with a newspaper column portraying Macron as a “mummy’s boy” who needs his wife to wipe his mouth and smack him for misbehaving. Ms. Macron was called a “menopausal Barbie,” and he was referred to as “teacher’s pet.”

Here in the U.S., Match.com funded a survey of more than 5,000 U.S. singles and found that 26 percent of women were open to dating men at least 10 years younger. According to Match’s Helen Fisher, “Men want a companion, and we are seeing the rise of women as intellectual partners, as sexual partners, as soul partners.”

If even the French haven’t evolved to the point where ridicule is not an appropriate response to an older woman-younger man relationship, is there hope that in the United States, we are beyond such stereotyping? Alas, not yet.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal,” and her radio show airs Sundays at noon on KNews Radio 94.3 FM. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

Dexter (Sunday, Sept. 22, Showtime), series finale: Since it has been going head-to-head with the fiery final episodes of Breaking Bad every Sunday, Dexter has become an unfortunate study in How Not to End a Series. Dexter (Michael C. Hall, obviously already checked out) could have split Miami long ago with Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski), but instead, he just had to stick around to take out the Brain Surgeon, his dullest serial-killer nemesis since, well, the last one. (Not to sound like a, blech, TV critic, but it’s been quite a vanilla streak since the Trinity Killer.) And sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) and her ridiculous season-long “journey” from lost lush to reinstated cop could have been its own telenovela, La Suerte Puta. Still, The Only TV Column That Matters™ is just as curious to see how the eighth and final season of Dexter concludes as you are. Will Dex finally be caught, executed or just sail away? Will Deb die, and Hannah live happily ever after with Dexter? Or vice-versa? Who’s li’l Harrison going to kill first? Let’s all find out together, remember the good times, and never speak of Seasons 5-8 again.

Mom, Hostages (Monday, Sept. 23. CBS), series debuts: Moneybags CBS can afford to throw crap at the wall and see what sticks, and they’re certainly taking advantage of it with Mom. A recovering-alcoholic comedy? How edgy—so what if Rude Awakening already did it 15 years ago? It’s not that Anna Faris and Allison Janney aren’t good; it’s that the Chuck Lorre sitcom hackery around them is so far from even “meh.” Same goes for Hostages, a political drama that should be at least tolerable due to the presence of Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott. Nope.

The Blacklist (Monday, Sept. 23, NBC), series debut: Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), one of the FBI’s most wanted, suddenly turns himself in and makes an offer to help them catch even bigger fish, including a previously untouchable mega-terrorist. The one condition: For no (yet) given reason, he only deals with a specific new profiler fresh out of Quantico (Megan Boone). Like her character, newcomer Boone is mostly crowded off the screen by vet Spader’s Acting!, but The Blacklist is instantly slick and engrossing. She’ll likely get a full season to up her game, as the show’s only Monday competition is ABC’s Castle (now rolling its Jazzy into Season 6) and CBS’ Hostages (again, nope).

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Tuesday, Sept. 24, ABC), series debut: Since the pilot was withheld by Marvel and ABC, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the only new fall TV show I haven’t seen—and it’s also the one I’m most looking forward to … so their ploy worked, damn it.

Trophy Wife (Tuesday, Sept. 24, ABC), series debut: A single party girl (Malin Akerman) falls in love with and marries an older man (Bradley Whitford), much to the dismay/disgust of her best friend (Natalie Morales) and his ex-wives (Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins). With the exception of the equally smart ’n’ sassy Super Fun Night (premiering Oct. 2), Trophy Wife has the best setup, cast and writing of any new ABC comedy. It also has the worst title and time slot (after ABC’s middling new The Goldbergs and against Fox’s The Mindy Project), so expect some Cougar Town-ish indifference from viewers.

Season Premieres This Week

Friday, Sept. 20: Last Man Standing, The Neighbors, Shark Tank (ABC)

Monday, Sept. 23: Castle (ABC); How I Met Your Mother, 2 Broke Girls (CBS); The Voice (NBC)

Tuesday, Sept. 24: NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Person of Interest (CBS); Chicago Fire (NBC)

Wednesday, Sept. 25: The Middle, Modern Family, Nashville (ABC); Criminal Minds, CSI (CBS); Revolution, Law and Order: SVU (NBC).


NEW-RELEASE ROUNDUP FOR SEPT. 24!

Apartment 1303

A creepy Detroit apartment is driving tenants to commit suicide—sure, it’s the apartment, not the living-in-Detroit part. Then Mischa Barton (remember her?) shows up to investigate the death of her sister and her own career. (Phase 4)

Hannibal: Season 1

An FBI agent (Hugh Dancy) teams up with a psychiatrist (Mads Mikkelsen) to catch serial killers—and since the profiler-shrink just happens to be Dr. Hannibal Lecter, things get bloody weird from there. How’d this get on network TV? (Lionsgate)

I Spit On Your Grave 2

In the sequel to the 2010 remake of the 1978 revenge classic (follow?), a brutalized New York model (Jenna Dallender) settles the score with her attackers in the most twisted and violent ways imaginable. Don’t forget to smize! (Starz/Anchor Bay)

Iron Man 3

In the sequel to the 2010 sequel to the 2008 superhero epic (follow?), a brutalized Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) settles the score with his attacker, with an assist from Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow). Aw, cute. (Disney/Marvel)

Redemption

In yet more revenge news, a former Special Forces officer (Jason Statham) sets out to avenge the murder of his friend, but soon finds himself sucked even deeper into the London crime underworld. No, you haven’t seen this one before. (Lionsgate)

More New DVD Releases (Sept. 24)

2 Broke Girls: Season 2, American Dad: Vol. 8, Bloody Homecoming, Euro Trapped, Family Guy: Vol. 11, Fill the Void, Hawaii Five-0: Season 3, The Kings of Summer, Law & Order: SVU: Season 14, Modern Family: Season 4, The Neighbors: Season 1, South Park: Season 16, V/H/S/2.

Published in TV