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mckennl reminded me of
, a show that pretty much no one watched, and with good reason.

Jericho had a terrific premise and tons of potential -- it was about the reaction of citizens of a small town in Kansas to a nuclear attack on America. The idea was to make a small, personal drama (love, loss, and conflict amongst the residents of a small town) set against a huge, epic struggle (the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust), blended with the teased-out enigmas and mythology of a show like Lost (the town of Jericho is cut off from any communications with the outside world, and we don't know who launched the attack or why, whether or not the U.S. fought back or was occupied, or even whether or not other nearby towns and cities survived, leaving tons of mysteries to be solved).

Unfortunately, the show stunk. The actors were uniformly bland and uninteresting, from uncharismatic lead Skeet Ulrich on down; the personal dramas were boring; the dialogue was a blend of dull, predictable and overblown; the characters aren't particularly interesting; and the mysteries are teased out way too slowly. For me, it ended up being a wash; I quit watching a bit more than halfway through season 1. Maybe it got better after that; I don't know. I do know that angry fans noisily petitioned the network until they gave in and produced a second (half-)season, but its ratings were even worse than the first and it, too, was canceled. I never saw a minute of the show after episode 14; by then it had so thoroughly squandered what I thought was tons of potenial that I gave up. I can scarcely remember a show that had so much potential and delivered on it so little.

How about you? What's a movie, TV series, book, comic, or other entertainment vector that you thought had tons of potential possibilities and more or less squandered it all? What are some of your biggest entertainment let-downs? (First person to mention Star Wars gets an ax in the neck.)


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Jun. 17th, 2008 07:48 pm (UTC)
Hehhhhh, although I do watch it every week, I feel this way about the new Doctor Who. Every week is just me enjoying a four-five minute stretch and then enduring ten minutes of "Yes, I know, all relationships are sex and love in the (god help me) Who-niverse" and then an angelic choir and a page and a half of the script dedicated to talking about what a badass the Doctor is. A bit of a waste

I also feel this utter sense of exhaustion every time they cut a new slice out of the Twilight Zone/Outer Limits loaf. I don't know if they're too indebted to the original series to acknowledge that a sense of humor plays a very large role in making the series work as an ongoing thing. There's also the reverential, glacial pacing of any of these episodes, drawing out obvious conclusions to the point where it's interminable.

You know what though? After The Wire, all television seems kind of stupid.
Jun. 17th, 2008 07:59 pm (UTC)
It's the weirdest thing: I have a lot of friends who are into the new Dr. Who, but every time I ask them, look, is this show actually any good?, they equivocate like crazy. I think it's probably just a holdover from liking the idea, the reruns of the old show, and the mythos, because people sure are big fans of the show while never actually seeming to enjoy it very much.
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Jun. 17th, 2008 07:49 pm (UTC)
1. Enterprise. Don't hate me, I thought the premise was pretty cool. Then space terrorism happened, and then there were Nazis. Damn it!

2. Sliders. I liked the first season. I didn't like the rest.

3. The Narnia movies thus far. Bad acting! Bad! Also, bad script. Makes for funny cartoons, though.

4. Every Star Trek video game ever made.
Jun. 17th, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC)
1. Enterprise. Don't hate me, I thought the premise was pretty cool. Then space terrorism happened, and then there were Nazis. Damn it!

Don't you mean, "then the first episode happened"?

I was just waiting for Scott Bakula to go, "fuck it, I'm outta here", and disappear in that Quantum Leap effect....

/ is a dork.

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Jun. 17th, 2008 07:53 pm (UTC)
Stephen King's Dark Tower series is pretty much the definition of "wasted potential".
Jun. 17th, 2008 08:01 pm (UTC)
Man, true. There's such a rich mythos, all kinds of great potential for world-building and depth of character and history, but it all bogs down in King's writing tics, cliches, and unwillingness to lay off the screeching and settle down into some good solid speculation. Oh and also the worst ending ever.
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Counterpoint. - calamityjon - Jun. 17th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Jun. 17th, 2008 08:01 pm (UTC)
Profit was a series that aired several years too early, and probably shouldn't have been on broadcast television in the first place. A show about a charming sociopath climbing the corporate ladder by any means necessary might have had a much better chance on premium cable in the era of The Sopranos, The Wire, and Dexter.
Jun. 17th, 2008 08:04 pm (UTC)
Now, see, I really liked Profit. I'll admit that it was hobbled by the demands of prime time, but I think it was more in the brilliant-but-canceled column than the wasted-potential column.

However, Adrian Pasdar, who starred in it, did go on to have a big part in Heroes, which is almost the very definition of wasted potential.

Edited at 2008-06-17 08:07 pm (UTC)
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Jun. 17th, 2008 08:08 pm (UTC)
Great big chunks of Twin Peaks, Season Two.
Jun. 17th, 2008 08:16 pm (UTC)
See, now, there you just got a show that had absolutely no reason to exist after a certain point, but the network made it keep going so the primary creators got bored and left, leaving the thing to fall apart.
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Jun. 17th, 2008 08:09 pm (UTC)
OOOH, GREG THE BUNNY! Do I ever wish that show was as edgy as it clearly thought it was.
Jun. 17th, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC)
I never saw that, but I felt sort of the same way about "Robot Chicken", which was done by some of the same guys.
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Jun. 17th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)

Mr. Brooks, believe it or not. Replace Kevin Costner and Demi Moore and you have a beautiful guilty pleasure. But those two dragged the movie down like a drowning Cub Scout.

TV series

Tie between Bionic Woman (the new series) and The Sarah Connor Chronicles.


Terry Pratchett's The Color of Magic failed to move me enough to pick up any others, though my friends keep insisting it gets better.


Authority. For a series that billed itself as "the one where superheroes really change the world," it sure boiled down to a lot of punching people until they explode.

other entertainment vector

Blackalicious never really reclaimed the critical peak they reached with Nia and Blazing Arrow.
Jun. 17th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)
Terry Pratchett's first two Discworld books (The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic) were pretty much just a parody of standard high-fantasy tropes. It wasn't until the third book, Equal Rites, that Pratchett really seemed to decide to do something new and interesting with this world he'd patched together. I'd consider Color to be the weakest of the various entry points to the series; Guards! Guards! or Small Gods are the ones I'd recommend.
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Jun. 17th, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
All these post-Battlestar Galactica "re-imaginings" of terrible 70s shows like Flash Gordon, Bionic Woman and Knightrider. These were so stupid yet loaded with potenrial weirdness to begin with they were begging to be given some kind of Alan Moore Swamp Thing/Marvelman mythic make-over by some budding but warped genius. Well, maybe not Knightrider.... I don't think I even got through any of the pilots....
Jun. 17th, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)
I second Enterprise -- I'm suffering through it now, and boy is it rough. The only way to not hate every episode (of seasons 1 & 2, anyway) is to pretend that they're TOS eps. And that Bakula is doing a Kirk impression, awkward pausings and all.

But I'm not all that enamored with the idea of a prequel, anyway: the real tragedy was Voyager. One crew, stranded for maybe 70 years? What remarkable character development you could explore with that premise! And yet . . . nothing. I mean come on, ONE couple hooked up (I'm not counting last-episode shenanigans)? SERIOUSLY? I liked the idea of pretty much every character on that show, but they never did anything with ANYBODY except Seven.
Jun. 17th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
One of my hugest beefs with long-form serial fiction (which means, in practical terms, TV and comics) is when they write up all these distinct characters...AND THEN HAVE THEM STAY EXACTLY THE SAME FOR 100 ISSUES/EPISODES. Thanks a lot, folks! Way to use that potential, not having anyone change or develop for the fictional equivalent of a lifetime!
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Jun. 17th, 2008 08:18 pm (UTC)
There was a Mary & Rhoda reunion special in, like, 1997 or something, and I would really have liked that to be good as I'm a big Mary Tyler Moore Show fan and Rhoda is so clearly the best character on that show, but it sucked.

I know this has happened to me many times with books, and I might actually sound intelligent for a change if I could think of any damn examples, but of course I can't.

Jun. 17th, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC)
Oh oh oh, also, that movie Prime with Meryl Streep. I don't think any movie with Meryl Streep should be ALLOWED to suck, and then it was around the theme of therapy, which I love. But the therapy scenes were disgustingly misrepresented, and the acting sucked -- even Streep was off her game -- and we actually wound up walking out early because it was just so terrible. It got decent reviews, but I cannot see why at all.

The movie Puccini for Beginners should have been a cute lesbian movie but was just kind of a lame lesbian movie.
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Jun. 17th, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC)
Seconded, thirded, fourthed.
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Jun. 17th, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC)
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Sam Rockwell in crazy Chuck Barris spy stories? You should be able to tie a string to the steering wheel on that one and just take a nap.

Intolerable Cruelty
Exactly one fucking scene in that one felt like a Coen comedy.

I'm sure there are others, but those are off of the top of my head.
Jun. 17th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Intolerable Cruelty is the one Coen Brothers movie I'd actually characterize as a bad film. Even The Ladykillers has some great moments, but I could barely make it through IC.
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Jun. 17th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
Star Wars is just too obviously a crappy letdown to be worth mentioning, huh? Or maybe it just doesn't count as something with potential.

As for squandering tons of potential, I'd like to nominate every South Park episode I've ever seen. Each one sets itself up as a potentially really smart satire, but then the writers start throwing all grades of shit in every direction they can think of and end up with a show that only pretends to be satirical, and in fact has nothing to say about anything.

Fantastic Four. The Royal Family of the Marvel Universe deseves better treatment. Jessica Alba's tits only cheered me up a little.

Blues Brothers 2000. The original Blues Brothers is one of my favourite movies of all time, and the sequel brought in John Goodman (which seemed like a good choice) and featured as many great R&B and Soul musicians than the first one. But having done that, the filmmakers forgot to add jokes, character motivation, and a plot.

On reflection, I think my reply here really has less to do with great potential than with high expectations.
Jun. 17th, 2008 10:15 pm (UTC)
I've seen plenty of South Park episodes that I found legit hilarious -- like the Heavy Metal homage, or the J-Lo episode, or Mecha-Streisand -- mostly because their ridiculous absurdity overwhelmed the whole "aren't we edgy" smirkiness. But they've dropped so many tone-deaf political "insights" -- guess who's responsible for war-on-drugs scare tactics? "ultra-liberals"! And come on, that whole smoking episode begged to have the ultra-lame "Butt Out" school anti-smoking program revealed to be backed by tobacco companies to encourage kids to smoke -- that I can't believe people still go apeballs over how "sharp" their satire is.

And Blues Brothers 2000 is in my burn-it-and-send-it-to-hell file. I think Dan Akroyd's self-righteous "if we give up now, The Kids will listen to soulless techno and rap and top 40" bullshit monologue sealed it for me. Hell, it made me come close to hating the original movie, which takes a pretty hefty effort.
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Jun. 17th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
John Kricfalusi: a guy who revolutionized TV animation, acted like an unprofessional dick, and ended up making the ugliest cartoons ever made (see the Adult Party Cartoon Ren and Stimpy).

Also, Gadget Hackwrench.
Jun. 17th, 2008 09:21 pm (UTC)
O.C. and Stiggs - the National Lampoon story it's based on is a hilariously cruel and nihilistic take on the whole Fast Times genre, the Altman movie is a par-for-the-course 80's teen comedy.
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