Thursday, July 5, 2012

Two-Card Monty

I reported several weeks ago on this blog that "Unforgettable," a CBS police drama about a detective with a rare condition that allows her to remember everything to the finest detail and featuring Australian actress and former "Without a Trace" star Poppy Montgomery in the lead role, had been canceled, and I reported it with the following irreverent remark: "Apparently, people forgot to watch it."
Most of the 239 million Americans 18 and over did forget to tune in to "Unforgettable," but twelve million people still watched it regularly, and on any other network - especially NBC (motto since 2004: "Proud As an Albatross") - that would be a sign of success. But for CBS, "America's most watched network," such numbers are actually only so-so, and so the network felt it was justified by cancelling "Unforgettable." Why stick with a show with merely decent numbers when you have the opportunity to air shows that can get great numbers?
Because the twelve million people who watched "Unforgettable" would rather watch that show, that's why.  Viewers complained to CBS about the cancellation, and at least two basic cable networks expressed interest in picking up the show.  Faced with this reaction to their cancellation decision, the CBS bosses reversed  their decision and renewed the series.  But without any place for it in the fall 2012 lineup, CBS decided to bring it back for the summer of 2013.  This is very rare indeed.  Broadcast networks rarely air first-run episodes of scripted shows in the summertime - when I was a kid, in the days before basic cable, a summer replacement series meant a variety show hosted by the late Bert Convy or the Starland Vocal Band - but basic cable channels have changed the equation, with channels such as TBS premiering new shows in the summer season. 
So, while "Unforgettable" fans - who comprise more people than the population of the state of Ohio - are happy now, CBS looks a little foolish for its hasty initial decision to cancel the show.  And Tea Partiers must be really ticked off.  Imagine - a foreigner working in the United States getting her job back so soon after losing it?
Anyone angry about foreign actors playing Americans on American television will really feel their blood boiling over when they learn about another Montgomery - British actress Janet Montgomery - playing a lawyer born and raised in New Jersey.  As I also reported on my blog back in May, Janet Montgomery plays a first-lawyer in a New York City law firm with a blue-collar Garden State background.  I find it hard to believe, still, that they couldn't find an actress from New Jersey to play such a part, but then, maybe New Jersey actresses don't want to play New Jerseyans for fear of being accused of "not really acting."  (Has New Jersey native Meryl Streep ever played such a role?) 
Be that as it may, I still take a dim view of a Brit trying to play "Joisey."  (They couldn't at least get an American actress from one of the other 49 states?)  As far as I'm concerned, the only "Jersey girls" British actresses should play are women from the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel.  But don't expect CBS program schedulers to get that. They're too busy cancelling successful shows.

Reg - "You do a lot of this sort of thing, do you?"
BBC Man - "Quite a lot, yes, quite a lot.  I'm mainly in comedy.  I'd like to be in Programming Planning, actually, but unfortunately, I've got a degree."
--BBC-skewering dialogue in a Monty Python sketch     

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