“Heroes was huge, possibly the biggest TV hit since Lost; yet only three seasons later it would be cancelled despite a vastly improved final season”
While perhaps not surprising given the quality plummet in season 2 and 3, it is still a little hard to believe that NBC has actually cancelled Heroes. Remember in season 1 when it was pretty much taking over the world and has its eyes on galactic dominance? It was huge, possibly the biggest TV hit since Lost, yet only three seasons later it would be cancelled despite a vastly improved final season. Unfortunately for Heroes, it was just too little too late, and season 4 actually did a good job or redeeming the series from the cesspool it had become, but it became apparent all too quickly how the show would descend into mediocrity again once season 5 had been renewed – but that never happened. The cliff-hanger of Claire exposing her ability to the mass media and therefore the world would have had certain repercussions, but really, would it have lead to anything we hadn’t seen before? It seems doubtful.
FlashForward meanwhile was a show that lost me around mid-season with it’s endless list of characters and boring protagonists. Seriously did anyone actually like Joseph Fiennes in that show? A classic example of bad casting – if they’d got the right man for the job, I might have just stuck around, but between his shouting and general douche-bag behaviour, I just couldn’t stomach it anymore. From what I’ve heard from others who persevered, things did improve and were given a huge boost by the guest appearance of James Callis as a Rainman-esque brainbox. Ultimately though, neither this nor anything else could stop ABC from cancelling the show they so desperately wanted to make the next Lost.
And let us not forget Veronica Mars, the star-making vehicle for Kristen Bell. To this day, Bell asserts that if she had the funds to do it, she would fund a Veronicas Mars movie herself. That’s some devotion.
Amid this graveyard of cancelled TV shows past present and future, is there a common thread to be found? As far as I can tell, the answer is decidedly no. Different problems plague different productions. For Deadwood and Rome, it was the cost of producing the show balanced against the ratings and the sales figures. For Heroes, it was a decline in ratings due to shockingly poor writing at a crucial point in the show’s history. For Veronica Mars, it was simply that the show appealed to a select, dedicated audience, but with its extensive geek in-jokes and winks, it would have been extremely difficult for it to break into the mainstream. FlashForward, plain and simply, suffered from ludicrous expectations, but the bottom line is ABC have no one to blame but themselves. Pitching a show as the next big thing before it even airs is a hell of a standard to set yourself and it was therefore inevitable that FlashForward collapsed under its own weight.
IT IS hard making a movie that will make people in one room laugh. It is probably 10 times harder creating a comedy that a global audience will find, well, funny.
Speaking to the international press about their latest movie You Again, on-screen mother and daughter Jamie Lee Curtis and Kristen Bell were both at least confident that one of the best things about the movie is that it is relatable.
Not because of the cliched American high school theme per se, but the fact that this comedy touches on some common life issues – like insecurities, acceptance and, yes, betrayal.
“To me high school is about betrayal for the first time,” Curtis explained. “You go (whispering), ‘I like him’, and the next thing you know it’s written on the wall.
“That (the betrayal of trust) to me is the real high school trauma.”
Steering quickly back to Disney’s latest, which also stars Sigourney Weaver and Betty White, the 51-year-old actress added: “It’s not the funniest movie ever made, but it’s funny, light and fun … cute.” And that says a lot coming from a former Scream Queen and star of the cult runaway hit A Fish Called Wanda.
Bell, who plays the once-traumatised-teenager Marni, is equally comfortable flitting between genres. Her roots are in musical theatre, but one would have to credit her TV roles in Veronica Mars and Heroes, and, more recently, her stint at the movies with comedies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Couples Retreat and When In Rome for her rising popularity.
And while she, too, admitted that stereotypes in this, her latest rom-com, are a little severe, the story is something people will “get”.
She said: “Everybody has a ‘mean girl’ … because we as human beings are innately insecure and I think it (the comedy) speaks to that.”
Commenting on why she decided to make this film, the 30-year-old said, “It’s hard. There are scripts you love that speak to you and may not speak to anybody else but you. It’s a constant process of trying to figure out what other people will like, which is a losing battle in my opinion.”
“Sometimes, when you’re an executive and you’re green-lighting movies, you may green-light the stupidest movie ever and it may make $150 million,” she continued. “I mean, you never know, and that’s why I would never want to be an executive.”
How very true.
Was it difficult to relate to a character like Marni?
Kristen Bell: No, because that girl lives inside me even today. I’m sure that girl lives in all of us. Everybody feels ugly at points. And when you get your hair and make-up done, you feel great … Like right now, I feel wonderful because I had a really talented make-up artist this morning.
Do you like doing comedy more than other genres?
Mmm, at this point, yeah. I mean it depends on the day you ask me, because sometimes I’m like craving for something dramatic.
Still, isn’t there a bit more satisfaction as actor when you’re also able to be that funny?
I don’t know if I’m that funny. I hope that I am! But I think comedy’s harder. I see amazing comedians and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, how do they do it?” Because your brain has to work really, really, quickly, and you have to very much be in the moment. I do think comedy is harder than drama.
Do you think more could have be done with this hilariously talented ensemble if it wasn’t a Disney movie?
Oh, wow, well … I don’t know if a lot more could have been done. I mean, I think the comedy is on the broader side and it’s still very funny … I don’t know, but I think we did a good job with what we had, and that we did have to make it a certain rating. I don’t necessarily know if we would have gone dirtier …
But you had Betty White!
She gave us enough dirt off set. What did she say to me one time? She said the word “pecker” and I thought I was going to lose my water. That was really funny.
You Again is in cinemas now.