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Tilting at Windmills

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January 1, 2006

TV BLOGGING....A few years ago, I was among at least 12 people who were deeply disappointed by the cancellation of Matt Groening's Futurama, yanked mercilessly from the air after just five entertaining seasons. If you were one of the 12, however, you'll be pleased to know that there's talk of a comeback.

After better-than-expected DVD sales, Futurama may follow in Family Guy's footsteps and make it back onto the air.

"Three months ago, I would have said we were going to start tomorrow," says writer David X. Cohen, who collaborated with Groening on Futurama. "And one month ago I would also have said we were going to start tomorrow. So ..." He pauses. "My current estimate is that we're starting tomorrow."

On a related note, I was one of at least seven people saddened by the news that Arrested Development was no more, but was heartened by rumors about interest from another network.

Will the pay-TV environs of Showtime be a friendlier place for the Emmy-winning comedy "Arrested Development," which just got canceled by Fox?

Word around town this week is that Showtime is in talks to pick up the comedy about a chaotic family. Sources stressed that the talks are still exploratory and that it would be a big financial commitment on Showtime's part to pick up the show in its current form with a large ensemble cast that includes Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor, Portia de Rossi, Jessica Walter and Will Arnett.

And as long as we're talking about television, does anyone have any guesses as to what The West Wing will do with the Santos campaign in light of John Spencer's recent death? Crazy thought: Sam Seaborn has been in Congress -- the show left some ambiguity about his departure -- and will join Santos on a "youth/handsome ticket."

Steve Benen 2:17 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

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I wonder if Firefly might make a comeback based on DvD and Serenity sales.

Posted by: Tlaloc on January 1, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

TV shows I'd like to see:

Out of Iraq

Survivor: Into the Gates of Hell*

*that be Iraq thanks to Bush and his cronies

Stealing the Fire (energy giants gloating at all of you sustainable energy wimps)

Being Poor

Sucking up to the Rich

Toxic Minds (or how corporate America is poisoning our DNA)


Posted by: Tom Nicholson on January 1, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Firefly might make a comeback based on DvD and Serenity sales.

From your keyboard to the TV gods' ears....

Posted by: Steve Benen on January 1, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Over at Kos we were discussing the West Wing/John Spencer/Sam Seaborn issue. The concensus seemed to be that Rob Lowe (Sam) left the show under less than happy circumstances, and his return is unlikely

I'd love to see a Santos/Seaborn ticket, though. Sam was always one of the best characters on the show, even if Rob Lowe is a Republican.

Posted by: Ryan at The Higher Pie on January 1, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

I thought Sam Seaborne lost the congressional race.

Posted by: cf on January 1, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Sam was supposed to come back to the White House after his campaign's "inevitable" defeat, which has always led me to believe that he pulled out a miraculous victory that they never talked about.

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on January 1, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Firefly is dead as per Josh Whedon last month.

Serenity ticket sales BLEW.

and the movie was a big big let down to me too... (not that that matters.) borrrrrring.

He's dead jim.

Posted by: me on January 1, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Steve - Dream on.. Sam Seaborn too much like Matt Santos for a balanced ticket. Maybe the tall whats-her-name who was the communications director for a long time...

Posted by: dave on January 1, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

I've been trying to sell my idea for a reality TV show filmed in a cancer clinic in Bangledesh, but producers keep telling me that it's too real.

I'm open to ideas about how to liven it up. I was thinking about different contests the patients or their families could go through to get treatment, or maybe how home viewers could decide who gets a modern treatment and who gets leaches.

Posted by: B on January 1, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

West Wing reality: Sam lost the congressional race, returned to the white house, the president promoted him into the white house counsel's office (since his speechwriting duties were being capably covered by Will and it was time for Sam to have more responsibility in terms of policy), and for some reason we never saw him again.

Real reality: Rob Lowe wasn't happy.

Neither reality offers much hope for Sam returning to the show, I'm afraid.

Posted by: Evan on January 1, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

West Wing:

My father-in-law thinks they'll tap CJ. Personally, I'm betting on Ed O'Neils PA governor - after all, Santos' defining convention moment was telling people to lay off the guy.

Posted by: Phalamir on January 1, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

The strangest thing about the plight of Futurama, Family Guy, Arrested Development, even The Wire, is that they are all very popular with people in their mid-twenties, especially among my friends from college. I thought this was a demographic that the most highly prized by advertisers, so why do these shows get the axe so quickly?

Posted by: matt w on January 1, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Futurama making a comeback? awesome! remember that the crucial demographic piece that is missing there, however, is the religious aspect. The young crowd today that advertisers are trying to target and attract are generally 20 something, and have a religious conviction. It is quite possible that Futurama jsut doesn't meet that profile.

Posted by: Chris on January 1, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with cf. I don't think there was any ambiguity about Sam losing his congressional race.

Posted by: Scott E. on January 1, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Don't know if I'd call a five-season run for "Futurama" being "axed so quickly." That being said, the "Futurama" DVDs are definitely worth buying, if only for the great commentaries and features.

IMO "Serenity" burned way too many bridges (the wrong ones) behind it for a workable comeback. Then again, look at how many "Planet of the Apes" films they did after they blew up the Earth.

Posted by: tbrosz on January 1, 2006 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

I really can't believe more people watched Futurama than AD>> you must have the seven and the twelve mixed up. If anyone at showtime is monitoring the internest, I would subscribe if SHO showed AD.

Posted by: Jim on January 1, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

According to the Wikipedia entry:

It was never revealed definitively whether Sam won or lost the election, although a poll showed he was losing to Webb by a wide margin in the heavily Republican district when he last appeared on the show.
Some argue that Horton Wilde won posthumously only because Republicans had devoted their efforts to other Congressional campaigns after Wilde's death. With a high-profile Democrat like Sam running in a race occurring separately from all the other concluded Congressional campaigns, the Republicans, eager to rebound following Bartlet's landslide victory and to give him any kind of defeat, would have redoubled their efforts to win that county. Additionally, throughout the relevant episodes, the characters constantly make reference to an overwhelming likelihood of Sam's defeat, given polling data.
Others argue that the show has a recurring theme of underdogs winning unexpectedly against the favored candidate, such as during Bartlet's initial Presidential campaign (where Senator John Hoynes, who became Bartlet's first Vice President, was the expected winner) and Wilde's campaign (where Wilde's death was assumed to have given the election to Congressman Webb) and thus it would be thematically inconsistent for Sam to not have won the Congressional seat. Additionally, if Sam lost, a continuity problem arises with regards to why Sam would not have returned to the Bartlet Administration, given his pending promotion to Senior Counsel to the President.
Since his departure, which occurred because actor Rob Lowe wanted to move on, Sam was mentioned in a few episodes on the show, yet viewers were never made aware of his fate. In June 2005 it was reported that Rob Lowe may return as Sam for five episodes in November 2005 [1], but through December 2005 no new episodes with Sam have been aired. It remains to be seen whether the character will return later in the show's run.
December 2005 also brought unexpected death of John Spencer, who played Bartlet's Chief of Staff and Matt Santos' running mate Leo McGarry, which creates an opportunity to bring Sam back as Leo's replacement on the Democratic presidential ticket. This scenario presupposes that Sam won in the 47th, and that actor Rob Lowe would be willing to return under these unusual circumstances. Sam's presence on the ticket would put electoral college prize California into serious contention, even though it is the home state of Republican presidential candidate Arnold Vinick.

Posted by: DonBoy on January 1, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Give me a fucking break. What utter crap.

Posted by: Chris Brown on January 1, 2006 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

I have a feeling that West Wing has big things planned for Janeane Garofalo's character. In fact, in an attempt to help promote Air America, they'll be bringing on other stars as guests: Jerry Springer as the leader of a Focus on the Family style group and Sheldon Drobny as a absent-minded but brilliant media strategist. But, wait! Even Randi Rhodes will be popping in as the decorator of the White House Holiday Tree.

In addition, Arianna Huffington will make a surprise guest appearances.

-- HuffAndBlow

Posted by: TLB on January 1, 2006 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Bender is my favorite. The programmers at Fox are idiots.

"Bite my shiny metal ass !"

Posted by: VJ on January 1, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

I am definitely one of those futurama fans who jumped for joy upon reading this news. There are several older plotlines that still have some threads that can be worked out.

As far as west wing goes, I feel like Baker (Ed O'neill) is a good possibility - but as for a dark horse candidate, how about Will Bailey's dad? We've never met him, so they can pick any actor they'd like - and we know he was supreme allied commander of NATO.

Posted by: Zoidberg on January 1, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: Don't know if I'd call a five-season run for "Futurama" being "axed so quickly."

Fair enough, except... the "fifth" season was actually leftovers from the fourth season. FOX kept the show in a Schiavo-like limbo, barely promoting it and frequently bumping it for football. For example, during that "fifth" season, only four new episodes aired during the first five months of 2003.

Posted by: Grumpy on January 1, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Futurama was where all the good Simpsons writers went to.

I also find it better than Family Guy because I am offended way to much by FG, and because FG is just to frenetic for me. To me "funny" asides, etc. Futurama maintains a much more coherent narrative and it's funny because of its characters.

So yeah... Futurama rocks, Family Guy is a juvenile joke.

Posted by: MNPundit on January 1, 2006 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

I think the emotional issues represented here were best dealt with in the David Letterman After School Special "They Cancelled My Favorite Show."

I mean, I still mourn "Nicholls", and "He And She". Life goes on, guys; don't think of it as a too-short series but a real long movie.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on January 1, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

The only things that I could hear coming on the heels of 'Futurama is coming back' that could make me any happier would be:

Fallout 3 is available in stores now!


Hostile mobs of incensed citizens stormed the Whitehouse today and dragged the entire administration into the light of day. Dick Cheney shrieked once then burst into flames, the rest will be tried for crimes against the American people.

Posted by: Eric Paulsen on January 1, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

It's nice to see the revival of "Futurama." If only something could be done to save the subtle, overlooked "King Of The Hill," which is probably too laid back for the "Family Guy" frat-boy crowd.

Posted by: Vincent on January 2, 2006 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

Completely agree with the comments from Zoidberg and MNPundit. There's nothing clever about FG, just titillation for teens. I guess Fox had to find a cartoon to replace Married with Children. I'm stoked to learn that Futurama might return.

Posted by: DevilDog on January 2, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Wow someone else who remembers the fallout RPG series (not the crap that came after it). My friends and I have been wondering how a fallout MMORPG would sell.

Firefly isnt coming back, Whedon said whether or not the movie made money he wasnt going to bring it back to TV.

As far as West Wing, as much as I love the show, it may be time to end things. The race is coming to a close soon, and we have no idea what has already been filmed, so they may be able to get through the election. In that case the classy way to handle things would be to show the process of transition to the new administration, whoever may win, and close out the series finale with the inauguration of the new president.

Posted by: clyde on January 2, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

Any possibility of a return of Futurama is good news!

Posted by: Kevin on January 2, 2006 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK










Posted by: 航班查询 on January 2, 2006 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

I nominate Admiral Fitzwallis (ret.), Bartlett's former JCS chairman, for the open spot on the Santos ticket. Recent episodes have made a thing of Santos' problems with black voters... plus there's the gravitas.

Posted by: Ryan on January 2, 2006 at 5:10 AM | PERMALINK

I nominate Admiral Fitzwallis (ret.)...

That character would be an excellent choice if he hadn't already been killed off a season or two ago.

Posted by: YooHooligan on January 2, 2006 at 6:16 AM | PERMALINK

If you are disappointed by a tv show going off the air, you may need to reevaluate your priorities. If you are disappointed by more than one show ending its existence, you need to get a life.

Posted by: buck turgidson on January 2, 2006 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

Firefly has good DVD sales, but the movie did poorly, so don't expect to see it again.

Posted by: Ridolph on January 2, 2006 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

The programs you mentioned are insipid. That you can find any humor in them is a tribute to the laugh-track.

Posted by: Harmony Edwards on January 2, 2006 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

That's rich. Claims of "inspidiness" coming from someone with the name "Harmony".

You know what else is insipid? Claiming that you have the "one true view" on what is funny, and what isn't. Try some new material, Bushie.

Posted by: jb on January 2, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK


None of the shows being disussed have a laugh track.

Posted by: Matt on January 2, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

None of the shows being disussed have a laugh track.

And AD is with a single camera.

The thing is with AD, I've had friends who never watched it, were given a DVD of the first season and were hooked.

TV viewers are fickle these days and highly mobile, just because they like something on Monday nights doesn't mean they schedule their lives around it anymore.

Posted by: ChrisS on January 2, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

They had the same debate about what happened to Sam over at Ezra's site a couple months ago. As for John Spenser, isn't it possible the episodes giving us the election result are already in the can?

Posted by: bobbo on January 2, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

[isn't it possible that the episodes giving the election result
are already in the can?]

The fan sites are pretty detailed about episodes that have
been filmed, and these go through episode 15 (they have
aired through 9, and the whole season is 22). Gov. Baker
of PA is the most logical choice for VP candidate to replace
McGarry, because he is already prominent (hence there is no
sense of desperation), he ended the convention on good terms
with Santos (unlike VP Russell, who in any case wouldn't want
to stay VP), and might help deliver PA, which is established as
a key swing state.

My daughter and I have been watching season 1 on DVD -- it's
certainly a lot better than the post-Sorkin product, but my main
feeling still is of how much I love these people and what they've

Posted by: DaveMB on January 2, 2006 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

With the death of Leo McGarry, Senator Lloyd Russell (first season) makes a return and is soon picked to be Santos' VP running mate after giving a rousing eulogy at McGarry's funeral. Russell eventually married Mandy Hampton, whom he was dating before he fired her. This makes for renewed sexual tensions between the VP's wife and Santos' Chief of Staff, Josh Lyman!!

Posted by: ascap_scab on January 3, 2006 at 3:16 AM | PERMALINK

Ed O'Neill makes the most sense. But I'd like these two considered:

1)Nancy McNally. She has as much foreign policy expertise as Leo, if not more. However, the ticket would be Caucasianless, and of course Caucasianless things cannot be taken seriously.

2) Toby's ex-wife. I don't want her picked, actually. I just want Josh to leak her name to the press and call her in for interviews, just to drive Toby up the ever-lovin' walls.

Posted by: howlless on January 3, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Santo's new Veep? Ed O'Neill makes the most sense. But I'd like these two considered:

1)Nancy McNally. She has as much foreign policy expertise as Leo, if not more. However, the ticket would be Caucasianless, and of course Caucasianless things cannot be taken seriously.

2) Toby's ex-wife. I don't want her picked, actually. I just want Josh to leak her name to the press and call her in for interviews, just to drive Toby up the ever-lovin' walls.

Posted by: howlless on January 3, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK



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