Sunday, March 22, 2009

Maybe some "Dead" things should just stay dead

In the last few years, since the advent of reasonably-priced complete season (or series) DVD sets of many TV shows, I have altered my TV viewing habits -- I rarely follow episodic TV as it is aired, preferring to purchase the DVD sets and watch a complete season over the course of several days. In this manner, I've enjoyed series like "Deadwood", "Rome", "Pushing Daisies", "Reaper" and "The Wire", to name a few.

Recently, I picked up the complete "Dead Like Me" series, which included the two seasons of the show and the special TV movie. I think I gave it a shot mostly because I really like Mandy Patinkin as an actor, especially from his role as Inigo Montoya in "The Princess Bride". I was pleasantly surprised by this show -- it started a bit slowly, but really came into its own about halfway through the first season, and was really developing into a fascinating meditation on life and death, grief and regret. It's unfortunate that it was canceled.

But perhaps equally as unfortunate was the abysmal TV movie of "Dead Like Me", which was apparently put together four or five years after the series was canceled. The producers got most of the cast back together, which I guess is some kind of achievement, but could not/did not get Mandy Patinkin to return, nor the actress who played "Daisy Adair". The latter was disappointing (the replacement actress just didn't "get" the character, nor did she have the right "look"), but the former was a disaster -- Patinkin's absence really pointed out that he was essential to the core appeal of the show.

But even worse was the writing. I'm not sure what happened, but it really seemed like whoever wrote this TV movie basically forgot all of what made the show interesting. It made me glad that I had come late to the show, and was not one of its devoted fans who had waited five years after the series cancellation... and were rewarded with this dismal offering. -- PL

15 comments:

Neil said...

I agree. Thanks to TIVO, my viewing habits have changed as well. THat, and most networks cancel TV shows WAY too early, so why bother watching them first run when they might be gone within 4 weeks?

I just recently picked up SCRUBS, season 1 after only catching a little bit of it while flipping channels. I know the show is well into season 8, but so far I'm loving it. It's that level of 'stupid smart comedy' that I just love :).

Reaper is one I've been meaning to get a season set of, assuming volume 1 is out. It looks good from the one episode I saw. Who'd want the Devil for a boss anyway? :)

The only show that I gave even halfway a decent chance live this season was Knight Rider, and that's only because I'm a devoted fan of the original show. The producers 'new direction' made the show a joke for the first 9 episodes, with lots of T and A thrown in at random moments, and useless extra characters. But once the network stepped in and fixed those problems, it got to be a pretty good updated version of the old show. I hope it makes it for Season 2

Poppy Robbie said...

Haha this is great that you wrote a piece about this, Peter, because I also am a fan of Dead Like Me, highly enjoyed the two series seasons (I recieved them both as gifts a few years back and fell in love with it). Then, last month when they came out with that movie I was very excited about it because I've been hoping they'd relaunch the series. However, both I and my girlfriend were quickly disappointed to learn that "Rube" was not even in the movie. Then, adding insult to injury that casting switch of the Daisy character was HORRID. Not only did she not look anything like her, her mannerisms did not even closely match anything relating to the original Daisy character that had been developed with the last actress. I think that might have bugged me even more than the absence of Rube. The movie indeed seemed rushed and the entire feel of it was off. No Post-Its, no Waffle House, no Rube, no Daisy...A total let-down.

The only saving grace for me was the bits of interaction between George and her sister. That alone, however, was not enough for me to recommend anyone picking up the movie - fan or not.

Quite a shame...

-r

Cap Blackard said...

The sad fate of Bryan Fuller's television shows...

Now that "Pushing Daisies" is also canceled after its second season it seems like the man can't get a break. I'm pleased that he declined involvement in the "Dead Like Me" movie, but miffed that the studio went ahead and made a piece of crap anyway. (But, of course they did.) Hopefully the life after death of "Pushing Daisies" holds a brighter future. Fuller said HE is looking into a movie and has been in talks with DC to move it into a comic book format. It would be great to have the story go on, (Fuller said it would eventually have some connection to both "Dead Like Me" and "Wonderfalls") but the cast of Daisies so fully embody their characters I can't help but think something fundamental would be lost in moving the story to the comic world.

WHITEHAWK said...

Do you like the show Dexter as well Peter? The serial killer one - not the cartoon.

Vaughn Michael said...

I've yet to see this show but I do find it funny that this sort of thing was brought up as many people feel this way about TMNT at times.
I guess I can sort of see peoples gripes about voice actors not being used, as it'd be the same if you switched an actor and they didn't know anything about the character.
It's like when random people are allowed to make movies or take over properties when they don't know diddly squat about the characters or stories that seround them.
-Vaughn M.

PAAATE said...

While the movie wasn't near as good as the show I still think it had it's moments. But.. Still not near as good.

And it definitely was a let down, after I had waited about 2 years for it to happen

But yeah, DVD-sets are great. You can enjoy great cliffhangers (I love cliffhangers) without actually having to wait :D Well, mostly... There was a cliffhanger at the end of one of the seasons of The X Files that I hated... Because at the moment I didn't have the money to buy the next season.. Bah! :)

PL said...

" WHITEHAWK said...
Do you like the show Dexter as well Peter? The serial killer one - not the cartoon."

Yes -- I bought the first two seasons last year and really liked it. In fact, I went on to buy the complete series of "Six Feet Under" because I was so impressed with the actor who plays Dexter, Michael C. Hall. -- PL

Matt said...

Patinkin as Rube WAS that show. He was the only reason I really watched that show. Producers shouldn't have gone any further with that movie with Patinkin not returning. Understand peanut?

Lea said...

If you haven't seen it may I humbly suggest trying out the CW show Supernatural.

The first three seasons are out now on DVD and it is one of the most well written paranormal dramas I have ever seen.

Neil said...

Hey Peter,

Do you watch Terminator, the Sarah Conner chronicles? Curious as to what you think of it.

Personally, I think it's the most interesting action show on TV, but if they do have plans for an ending, it's either going to totally ignore the 3rd and 4th movie, or it's going to be a bit of a disappointment :)

PL said...

"Lea said...

If you haven't seen it may I humbly suggest trying out the CW show Supernatural.

The first three seasons are out now on DVD and it is one of the most well written paranormal dramas I have ever seen."

I do like that show, and have watched the first two seasons. I have the third season set, but have not watched it yet. It's on the list, though. -- PL

PL said...

"Neil said...

Hey Peter,

Do you watch Terminator, the Sarah Conner chronicles? Curious as to what you think of it.

Personally, I think it's the most interesting action show on TV, but if they do have plans for an ending, it's either going to totally ignore the 3rd and 4th movie, or it's going to be a bit of a disappointment :)"

I picked up the first season on DVD and liked it, for the most part. The one big criticism I have of it is that I think the casting of the "Sarah Connor" character is way off. Lena Headey does not remind me at all of Linda Hamilton. -- PL

Jeremy said...

I'm with you on getting the season sets, it's awesome to not have to live by the cliffhanger!! you got a great list of shows there, but Rome for me was just impeccable!

The S said...

Ugh... ABC recently canceled two of my favourite shows, Eli Stone and Life on Mars (the former of which has TMNT1's Shredder, James Saito, as a regular character). It makes me sad that they don't give any of these shows time to find their audience. Or maybe it's just that people on the whole aren't able to follow a show that toys with your head.

On the note of Princess Bride; friggin' classic. The only person I know who hasn't seen it, refuses to see it (a co-worker).

Dead Like Me was a decent show... I only caught a few reruns in syndication. I didn't know they did a TV special, but it looks as if I didn't miss much.

WHITEHAWK said...

PL - " Yes -- I bought the first two seasons last year and really liked it. In fact, I went on to buy the complete series of "Six Feet Under" because I was so impressed with the actor who plays Dexter, Michael C. Hall."

Yeah I loved Six Feet Under - the writing for that show is brilliant and the surreal take on death and life is very unique - got into that show because the writer is the brilliant Alan Ball conceived the idea for film "American Beauty". Michael C Hall was the best actor in 6'under by far - the closet homosexual David.