No trip to Disney World for 2014-2015 ABC TV series casualties

No trip to Disney World for 2014-2015 ABC TV series casualties

Last week’s ABC non-hit list not quite as bad as NBC or Fox fiascos. "Cristela," "Forever," join "Manhattan Love Story" and "Selfie" as gone...and quickly forgotten.

More ABC shows joined last fall's "Selfie" on ABC's Island of Misfit Series. (ABC promo for now-canceled "Selfie")

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2015 – For our current episode of “America’s Biggest (Network) Losers,” let’s bring ABC into our CDN Hall of Shame. ABC didn’t see fit to axe nearly as many series as NBC or Fox, but a couple of promising newbies did bit the dust on this now Disney-owned network. Maybe it’s time to revive the Mouseketeers.

Here’s our latest list of ABC TV series casualties.

“Resurrection”: ABC’s supernatural series in which dead people get re-animated—as governed by certain rules–opened with a splash as a spring 2014 replacement series, prompting the network to order 13 more episodes for the current season. But, as with life itself, the concept apparently has already come and gone, at least as far as viewers were concerned. As in, nobody watched Season 2. So now there won’t be a Season 3.

“Revenge”: On the opposite end of “Resurrection” is (or was) “Revenge” was all about killing. Or at least about putting the central character’s long list of Hamptons-dwelling enemies in various states of dysfunction.

The series had a good run of 4 seasons, but gradually tuckered itself out, with plot twists reminiscent of “Bobbie’s Dream” in the original “Dallas.” It just got too ridiculous. So, right around the time the series bizarrely tied up the loose ends with its current season finale, ABC terminated the whole thing.

“The Taste”: Another “reality series cooking competition” apparently ran out of episodes after Season 3. So there won’t be a next one.

“Cristela”: At the start of the current season ABC was high on this sitcom series’ chances. Or maybe they were. Our heroine, a young Mexican-American woman named Cristela and portrayed by—surprise—Cristela Alonzo struggles to climb the ladder of success to become a practicing attorney while still playing a major role in her unruly and boisterous extended family.

In some ways, “Cristela,” set in Dallas, was ABC’s attempt to go after what’s now presumed to be a primary new demographic—Hispanic Americans and/or illegal south-of-the-border immigrants who watch American TV.

It’s been a shame over the years to see the networks slice and dice lefty-promoted racial and gender types as a central motif in their programming choices. This serves to reinforce the damaging perpetuation, by Hollywood’s 21st century American Marxists, of the “class struggle” meme, emphasizing how terribly different and perpetually incompatible we all are. But there it is.

In the case of ‘Cristela,” however, actress/writer/series originator Alonzo was trying to create a show closely based on her own early family struggles when she, as a young woman, attempted to lift herself out of poverty and into a recognized upper-class profession. As such, the show simply placed a Latino stamp on the good old American ideal.

Aside from the mandatory villain, Cristela’s racist white male boss (apparently based on a real life character), the series didn’t focus on knee-jerk leftist stereotyping. As a result, and because of its novelty, it got decent numbers during its launch last October.

But maybe ABC wasn’t all that committed to the Latino demographic after all. First of all, they slotted the show for Fatal Fridays, which for any new series (and many old ones), creates a quicksand-like situation to begin with.

But things got worse, something noted in a statement by Cristela herself. She mourned her show’s passing publicly just a few hours ago, as detailed in Deadline. Building on those Freaky Fridays, here’s her money graf:

“[‘Cristela’] was a multi-cam sitcom that SOMETIMES aired on Friday nights. I say sometimes because a lot of times we were pre-empted for more important things like an Easter egg hunt happening in real time. Kidding. In reality, we were preempted for other things like a documentary on a parade and some other things I can’t remember. I think one night was a show about Christmas lights?”

When a network treats a new series like this, stranding it on Friday and then pre-empting it whenever it feels like it, that shows the studio bosses just don’t care. And so, after April 17ths final episode, “Cristela” disappeared forever. Last week’s ABC announcement just stated the obvious.

“Forever”: Here’s a winning concept. A New York City (where else?) medical examiner dies in the early 19th century. Except that he doesn’t. He comes back to life, again and again, and apparently can’t die for long. Hence the series title.

The writers for this series must have been tapping the British well again, likely resurrecting the timeless leader of the secret and originally Cardiff-based anti-space alien and time warp defense force called “Torchwood. It’s headed up by the American Captain Jack Harkness, who, incidentally, cannot die. That interesting proposition played out in many ways in Torchwood and could not have gone unnoticed here.

But, as in the too-close-to-the-British-original “Gracepoint,” fans who like this stuff had probably already OD’d on “Torchwood,” or perhaps even on re-runs of “X-Files.”

In any case, while “Forever’s” Dr. Harry Morgan may still be alive, his series is deceased and that is that.

“Manhattan Love Story” and “Selfie”: These fall under the categories of “old news” and “gone and best forgotten.” Both shows debuted last fall and were in trouble right out the gate with the usual coveted demographic, the 18-49 crowd who are apparently the only people on earth who buy products from advertisers.

“Manhattan Love Story” was just that, a “romantic comedy” based in Manhattan. Stereotypically, it explored the budding (or not) romance between a young woman from flyover country who’s come to New York to make it there rather than anywhere. She falls for a “native New Yorker” with a history of serial “love ‘em and leave ‘em” relationships.

What an original concept, selling a 1950s concept of love and romance to a generation that apparently doesn’t care for either. Which is apparently how they voted with their remotes, distinguishing “Manhattan” as one of the first new sitcoms to get the axe last fall, getting cut from the schedule barely 7 weeks after it was launched.

Remaining episodes in the can were exiled and sent to Hulu for the delectation of the show’s ten remaining die-hard fans, and the show was officially terminated in its entirety this past January.

“Manhattan’s” cell mate and lead-in Sitcom, “Selfie” fared even worse, proving that there’s little support from network TV viewers for a show about a narcissist. (Unless, of course, it happens to be them.) After a bad social networking experience, “Selfie’s” heroine hires a PR expert to help her with her online image.

When series writers try to surf a social network fashion craze, they end up about as successful as tween retailers generally are when they go big on the next big fashion craze that isn’t.

This stupid idea for a comedy series was put out of its misery barely a month after its debut. Its remaining episodes were joined on Hulu a few weeks later by the aforementioned “Manhattan Love Story.”

Both series were doomed in part by their lame concepts, but also, once again, by ABC’s lack of care for these new kids on the block. Lacking known stars and getting approximately zero PR, they didn’t really have a chance. But few, we suspect, were sorry to see them go.

The big question is, why did ABC choose to air this wobbly pair of new series when it didn’t care about them anyway? I often think, wouldn’t it be nice if I had that kind of money to throw around? But then it occurred to me: maybe the Disney empire needed a lot more tax write-offs than I do.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17