Tag Archives: Jack Black

15 Shows That Never Existed That Were Cancelled Too Soon

Judge Dabney ColemanWith the impending return of the X-Files, Full House and, yes, Coach, we thought it would be appropriate to look back at fifteen series that never had the chance to capture the large, passionate audiences of those beloved shows. Sadly, they will never be rebooted. They were never even booted in the first place.

Sludge (CBS, 1983-1984): Dabney Coleman stars as veteran Salt Lake City Judge Sherman Lipschitz decides to use the power of the bench to combat environmental pollution when his son grows a third arm after swimming in the lake. A pre-Ghostbusters Ernie Hudson co-stars as Bailiff Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, with a cherubic Jerry O’Connell as Sherman Jr., the boy with the extra appendage. The series started strong, but suffered a huge ratings hit when it was accused by both Exxon and the EPA of being “wildly, willfully and dangerously inaccurate.”

Nine Lives (Syndicated, 1987): After crossing paths with a black cat on a Halloween, unemployed comic book artist Freddy Cheshire (Zach Galligan) wakes up to realize that he has developed feline-like reflexes and agility, as well as an insatiable hunger for Fancy Feast and a hatred of mice. By night he uses his new powers to fight crime, by day he transfers his recent experiences to his newest comic creation, Super Whiskers. Dom DeLuise appears as criminal mastermind and comic book store owner, Dom Dominos.

Whiskers (Syndicated, 1987): A retooled, comedic-approach to Nine Lives now features Freddy trying to hide his feline-leanings from his new roommates, including Matt (Matt LeBlanc), Steve (Steve Burton) and his big-crush, aspiring singer-songwriter Marisa (Ellen DeGeneres). Freddy can only reveal his special condition – and his true feelings for Marisa – to pet store owner and close confidant, Mr. Byrnes (Brian Doyle-Murray).

Where There’s a Will (NBC, 1984, 1987): After a car crash claims the life of greedy, self-obsessed estate lawyer Will Christman (William H. Macy), he’s sent back to earth to fulfill all the Last Will and Testaments he had blithely ignored over the years. Notable for featuring one of Orson Welles final appearances as the voice of God. Briefly resurrected in 1987 with Billy Baldwin in the lead role.

DOM! (Fox, 1989-1990): The late Dom DeLuise starred as Dom DiLorenzo, a retired Broadway actor who opens up his downtown Chicago apartment to his struggling progeny (real-life sons Michael, Peter and David), despite living alone for the past 30 years. With the womanizing, scheming, unpredictable Dom as the head of the household, it’s hard to tell who’s the father and who’s the son. But who says an old dog can’t learn some new tricks? A young Jack Black co-starred as the youngest DiLorenzo, Nick.

From Riches to Rags (NBC, 1987-1988): When the wealthy Sheraton girls – Cindy, Mindy, Lindsay, Winny and Barry – lose their parents in a freak Aspen gondola accent, they also lose their sprawling mansion in Beverly Hills. With their inheritance squandered by their father on his secret family, and nowhere else to go, the girls are adopted by lonely plumber Joseph Pulaski (Joe Bologna), and move into his two-bedroom basement apartment in the Valley. Slowly but surely they learn that there are some things in life that can’t be bought, and love is worth more than money. Executive produced by Robert Zemeckis and with a pilot directed by Clint Howard, the series premiered to big numbers, but never recovered after being pre-empted for Brian Boitano’s gold-medal winning performance at the ’88 Olympics in Calgary. Most remembered for Paula Poundstone’s role as oldest sister Barry, and Nora Dunn’s winning performance as Terry, a cold but caring social worker.

Drexell’s Class (Fox 1992-1993): Starred Dabney Coleman in the role of Otis Drexell, a fifth-grade teacher at fictional Grantwood Elementary School in Cedar Bluffs, Iowa, and a formerly  famous corporate raider who lost a large sum of money on a failed venture was subsequently arrested for tax evasion. At his court case, he was told that he would receive a suspended sentence on the basis he work as a teacher in the undermanned school until he pays his back taxes. This was a real show.

The Dog House (ABC, 1993-1994): Dabney Coleman returns (again) as gruff Detective Mitt Morgan, whose drinking problems lead him to bungle a murder case and convince his wife to throw him out of the house. Busted down to canine patrol, and living in his mother’s basement with his new partner, Bartleby, Mitt tries to put his personal and professional lives back together. But Mitt soon learns that the dog days are just beginning. Chi McBride co-starred as Mitt’s former partner and best friend, Chi and the late Jean Stapleton received her final Emmy nomination as no-nonsense widow, Louise Morgan.

Spuds (ABC, 1988): After the smash success of Dynasty, Executive Producer Aaron Spelling turned his Midas touch to a sprawling potato farm in Idaho’s Sun Valley and the filthy rich but morally bankrupt Van Vondren clan. Family patriarch Geoff Van Vondren (John Aniston), who inherited the estate from his late father under suspicious circumstances, struggles to keep his house in order and to cover up all the secrets – including a second wife, a mistress, a shady deal with a Russian vodka company, and hypertension – that could ruin him. Aniston famously broke his Days of our Lives contract for the opportunity to portray Geoff and act with his daughter, Jennifer, in her first television role. The family was rounded out by Shelly Duvall as Geoff’s jilted wife Yvonne, Daniel Baldwin as eldest son Carmichael, Rick “Ricky” Schroeder as youngest son Michael, Dick Van Patten as the ghost of Gerry Van Vondren, and Temla Hopkins as Geoff’s jilted lover, Sadie, and later featured a visit from Ted McGinley as Geoff’s cousin Clay Fallmont, a reprise his Dynasty character. Despite the all-star cast, it was more famine than feast, as the show was unable to capitalize on its popular lead-in (Battle of the Network Stars), and was soon banished to Saturday nights. The show ended on a cliff-hanger, with the Van Vondren family facing a hostile takeover from arch rival Oral-Ida Corp.

S.P.U.D.s. (Fox, 1995-1996): Following the brilliant but canceled The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Fox and Executive Producer Carlton Cuse re-teamed for the farcical action-comedy S.P.U.D.s (Shelly Potato Uniformed Division). Cuse once again set the story out west, but this time in the small, potato-loving town of Shelly, Idaho. Bruce Campbell also returned, starring as Captain James “Jim” Progresso, a former NYPD detective who was dismissed from the force for insubordination (and an unfortunate incident at the Thanksgiving Day Parade) and moves out to Idaho for a fresh start heading up Shelley’s potato protection squad. Yes Dear’s Anthony Clark co-starred as bumbling Deputy Dave, along with Marcia Gay Harden as hard-nosed local policewoman Diane Schmatz and California Dreams’ Kelly Packard as Julienne, the Mayor’s daughter and Progresso’s romantic foil. The infamous season (and series) finale found most of the town being destroyed by an at explosion at the annual Spud Day Festival, a deliberate and somewhat spiteful decision by producers who knew that cancellation was imminent. The story was continued, however, in a 6-part limited comic book series penned by Cuse and illustrated by Campbell himself, which followed Progresso and his trusty Golden Retriever Russet on a quest for revenge that turns the Idaho potato fields into the killing fields.

Gängers (WB, 1998-1999): In his last major role, Dom DeLuise returned to primetime as successful businessman Dom DeDavinci, whose life is turned upside down one when he encounters his doppelgänger, local chef Paul LaViolette, played by real-life celebrity chef and DeLuise’s close friend, Paul Prudhomme. Brothers from another mother, Dom and Paul get the sibling they never had, and, by swapping jobs, a new outlook on life. Designed to pick up where Sister, Sister left-off, the series never clicked with the WB’s more urban demographic, and the show was pulled after the controversial episode “Strange Bedfellows” in which Dom and Paul sleep with each other’s wives (Wendie Malick and the late Wendie Jo Sperber).

Cat’s Cradle (Fox, 1999): Rebounding quickly after the cancellation of The Single Guy, Jonathan Silverman stars as Gregg Greenberg, a recent widower and struggling architect who lives in an Upper East Side apartment with his nine-month old son Glenn and tabby cat Elvis Pawsly. With Gregg barely finding the time to watch his son and meet his deadlines at a fledgling design firm, it falls on Elvis to take care of little Glenn when Gregg’s not watching. Home Improvement‘s Debbe Dunning played building superintendent and object of Gregg’s affection, Debbe, and Corey Feldman provided the cool-dude voice of Pawsly. A flood of letters from concerned parents, public advocacy groups, PETA and the American Humane Society, as well as a stunning lack of jokes, convinced Fox to ax the series only four episodes into its run. However, its final episode, “You Aint Nothing But a Pound Dog,” featured television’s first and only canine-feline pregnancy scare (until the most recent season of Girls), and won no awards. Despite a public plea (and particularly graphic threats) from Feldman, Cradle was quickly replaced by a seventh weekly airing of episode of Cops, and ratings immediately skyrocketed.

Bulworth (UPN, 2001): Perfect Strangers’ Mark-Lynn Baker returns to television in this small-screen adaptation of the “hit” film, taking on the title role. After narrowly surviving his assassination attempt – picking up where the film left off – Sen. J Bulworth retreats to his home town of Modesto, CA with new main squeeze Nina by his side (Stacey Dash, stepping in for Halle Berry). While recovering in his parents’ guest house, he recaptures his love for local politics and decides to run for city council. The incomparable Marion Ross and Al “Grandpa Munster” Lewis co-star as Bulworth’s parents, whose old-school perspective clashes with Bulworth and Nina’s interracial relationship, often to hilarious results and Flavor Flav appears as Bulworth’s campaign manager and hype man, Flav Flavor. Pulled after only one episode in response to very valid complaints by the NAACP, among other many justly outraged organizations.

Splitsville (ABC, 2000): The Alphabet Network’s entry into the great bowling alley-sitcom wars of 2000 (see: NBC’s beloved but barely-watched Ed), Splitsville starred Joe Bologna and Annie Potts as a recently divorced couple who agree to joint custody…of their bowling alley. The late William Hickey earned a Golden Globe for his guest appearance as Bologna’s father, Col. Mickey T. Splits, despite passing away three years prior. Infamously, it’s widely considered the death knell of the first incarnation of TGIF, particularly due to rabid unpopularity of Bologna’s signature dance “The Split,” which was a thinly veiled ripoff of “The Urkel” (itself a thinly veiled ripoff of “The Bartman”).

Dabney (NBC, 1995): Dabney Coleman comes back to the small screen as an author of do-it-yourself books who leaves New York City to run a bed and breakfast in a small, rural Vermont town that features no shortage of colorful, eccentric characters. Production was stopped immediately when producers were informed that this is the exact plot of Newhart. 

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‘Survivor: Caramoan’ – Brodeo Clowns

Survivor Caramoan Team BroOn Survivor, such as in life, if you don’t learn from the past then you’re doomed to repeat it. We see this time and time again, as if to illustrate to young, aspiring players what not to do, teaching us lessons while we watch from our couches. Don’t get involved romantically, don’t go home with an Idol in your pocket, don’t throw challenges. Watch, observe, absorb, and if something doesn’t work, don’t try it again. However, while the power of history is strong, it is no match for hubris; it cannot outlast, outwit, or outplay the person who believes that they can go right where others have gone wrong.

Last week on Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites 2 Legit 2 Quit, Corinne believed that she could turn the game on its head, upend her alliance and install herself as new Queen of the island. But, even with the numbers already in hand, she got too confident, too sure, and talked too much. She flew too close to the sun and not only were her wings burned, so was her blue bikini. She had the opportunity to make a gigantic move, but overreached, talked to Dawn, and became the author of her own demise. Hopefully, one would think, that the other players would take notice and not commit the same mistakes. However, this is Survivor. History repeats itself. But, thankfully, in oh so different and mind-blowing ways.

Continue: Bro down or bro, down?

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‘Survivor: One World’ – Karma Right Back At Him

For the last few seasons we’ve become increasingly irritated by the presence of God, or, rather, some players’ insistence that he (or she!) has some influence on the game of Survivor, from Matt justifying his repeated exile to Redemption Island as part of Jesus’s plan to Brandon Hantz invoking the will of the Lord in his quest to purge Mikayla from the game (and maybe the Earth) because of her fictional harlot tendencies.  For one season we can deal with these bible thumpers, but as it became a consistent aspect of the game, it became grating, obnoxious even.  Sure, God may love Survivor, but as a true fan he would never get involved.   When it comes to Survivor, God is agnostic, and if he had a dog in the fight, it wouldn’t be someone from the God Squad, it would be a rough and tumble champion, like Sophie or Lt. Tom Westman.  But even if God had a rooting interest, we were sure that he (or she!) had no impact on the game, just like he has nothing to do with Tim Tebow (unless sending him to the Jets is God’s idea of a holy hilarious joke).  However, after this week’s Survivor: One World! we’ve changed our mind.  Because if that wasn’t divine intervention, if that wasn’t an instance of God reigning down vengeance from above, we don’t know what is.

Read on: What goes The Worst comes around…

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On the Last Day of the Year: The Best Show of 2010 and Nine Other Good Ones

Unbelievably, we’re about to enter our third calendar year in existence.  It seems like just yesterday we were scrambling to put together our best of the decade lists (which makes sense, because we didn’t actually post one of those until this week).  In 2011 we hope to be even more timely, on-point and just plain better.  Until then, let’s try to end 2010 on a high note with our not-at-all anticipated Best Shows of the Year:

1. Community: This was an absolute no-brainer.  Far and away Community was the most original, ambitious, rewarding, warm, funny, creative, fearless show of 2010.  It was just a little over a year ago when the show delivered its holiday episode, “Comparative Religion” (featuring mustachio’d Anthony Michael Hall), and we began to feel then that the show was truly building towards something special.  When Community returned in January of this year it began what should be considered one of the greatest runs of any comedy series in television history, playing “can you top that?” with itself from week to week.  Solid episodes like “Investigative Journalism” with Jack Black,  “Physical Education” with a nearly naked Joel McHale, and the truly superb Goodfellas tribute “Contemporary American Poultry” culminated in the single best episode of 2010 across the board, the paintball-splattered, action movie homage masterpiece “Modern Warfare” (we know that we’ve already proclaimed the greatness of this episode, but it’s worth doing over and over again).

Keep reading: More on why Community is the best show of 2010. And 9 other good ones…

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‘Survivor Nicaragua’: Ow, Quit It

First off, if there’s one thing that Jeff Probst hates, it’s quitters.  The man just has no tolerance for Survivor competitors who travel all the way to a remote island or exotic locale, endure the worst possible conditions they will ever experience, and then quit when the end is in sight.  Especially when those spineless deserters take away a perfectly good shot at a million dollars from hungrier, more deserving players on the jury (or armchair survivors at home).  Jeff HATES that.

Which is why it was so surprising, and so frustrating, that Probst gave NaOnka and Purple Kelly multiple chances to reconsider and stay in the game.  Jeff, if they want to go, let them walk.  Benry and Fabio understood; if NaOnka and Kelly want to get up and walk out and in turn improve that male twosome’s chances then so be it.  Don’t stand in the girls’ way, Jeff.  As far as we were considered, when Purple Kelly and NaOnka announced their intentions to leave following the Reward Challenge Jeff should have stripped them of their buffs right then and there.  But that didn’t happen.  And to instead allow NaOnka to not only stay in the game but also attend the reward was just insulting, infuriating.

Keep Reading: We get a couple things off our chest. And did you know that Dan was on Laugh-In?

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(Belated) This Thanksgiving We’re Thankful For Jason Segel

It dawned on us a couple of weeks back when we caught Forgetting Sarah Marshall on TV (and cemented this past weekend when we suffered through The Muppet Christmas Carol on The Hub), that we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jason Segel, as he’s almost single-handedly saved the Muppets.

Read on: The dark days of the Muppets and Segel as their Moses

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More Muppet Casting News, But Still One Glaring Omission

The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made casting news just doesn’t seem to stop.  Last week were ecstatic to report that Paul Rudd is on board (along with Jon Krasinksi, Ed Helms and Jack Black among others), now comes word that Billy Crystal, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Alan Arkin have agreed to cameo (although, if we had our choice of Alans we’d prefer Alan Alda.  Actually, our first pick would be Bill Hader as Alan Alda.  But with Hader’s Apatow/Segel ties – roles in Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express and Forgetting Sarah Marshall – it’s probably only a matter of time before he’s on board).

But with the deluge of casting news – it seems like nearly all of young Hollywood is going to pop up in the film – there remains one name we’ve yet to see, one actor who would truly make The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made the greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made.  We’re talking, of course, of…

Charles Grodin, DUH!

Before all is said and done, Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Michael Cera, Jack McBrayer, Tony Danza, Chi McBride, Michael J. Fox, Johnny Knoxville, Scott Wolf, Tom Hanks, Tina Yothers, Alan Thicke Jason Bateman, Bobby DeNiro and a host of others might pop up in the film.  But, Grodin, that would be the big get, and he’d really bring this thing full circle.

Charlie, thoughts?

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Via NY Magazine’s Vulture

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