The Week In TV: Outlaw Thrown Out of Court

Categories: Film and TV

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Smits: Disbarred by fickle ratings
Jimmy Smits is out, Justin Bieber won't die, and I'm not allowed to use the name Jerry Bananaseed. This was the week in TV Land:

• I think I'm done with The Office for a while, or at least the type of comedy that manifests itself in hateful extended pauses. It was great for a while, and even novel when the original Office became a hit. But it just feels tiring and unoriginal now, mainly because there are only so many ways a story can be constructed to set up those 15 awkward seconds when no one speaks and everyone on the show and at home has to just suffer. Last week's Office, "Andy's Play," was a cute enough half-hour that got lost every time Michael had to make some big dumb gesture. I'm not at all writing off comedy based on discomfort. I'm just weary of those series or stories that revolve around the endless silences and cringe-inducing gaffes. There's no laughter there, just sorrow. I'll take Community any day.

• Speaking of no laughter: I watched my first episode of Outsourced last week. I'd avoided it for fear it would turn out exactly as it did. More jarring than the predictable and unfunny jokes was the longish stretch in which two characters talked for a minute or two in which no punch lines were even attempted. It was a scene suited for an amateur drama, not a sitcom (even a bad one). The series' biggest mistake is, in every way, not bringing the funny.

• We're a few weeks into the fall season, which means the networks are handing out death sentences or extensions to their new series based on the viewing habits of the fickle public. NBC has stopped production on Outlaw, in which Jimmy Smits plays a Supreme Court justice who resigns the bench to be a lawyer again, because fighting for his beliefs on a national stage would presumably have been too easy. Three episodes have aired so far, and there are five more ready to go, but if the ratings don't improve, there won't be any more coming. On the survivor's side, though, Fox's Raising Hope has earned a full-season order, adding a back nine to bring it to 22 for the year. No word on the others yet.

• This week in Hollywood Is Out of Ideas: Hot on the heels of the previously announced remake of The Munsters, word came down last week that two major TV producers are working on new versions of classic TV shows. First up, it's Ronald D. Moore, the creator of the modern reboot of Battlestar Galactica, and his reported new take on The Wild Wild West. The 1960s TV show is best known to today's audiences as inspiring a deeply flawed movie starring Will Smith and a giant mechanical spider. I hasten to add that this news is coming from Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello, whose news should be taken with choking grains of salt, and who will soon be taking his mix of quasi-reportage and breathless hyperbole to MMC. Anyway, if Moore's show does take off, expect it to start with a bang and then offer progressively worse stories until dying an ugly death after four seasons.

The other remake in the works is Wonder Woman, this one spearheaded by David E. Kelley. This could wind up making for an interesting take on the character. Superhero stories now tend to be thickly coated with existential angst, but Kelley's got a track record of mixing plenty of irreverence with his dramas, which might be just the thing to set the show apart from the pack. I'm not saying the thing has to be a cartoonish take on the story, but it might be nice to mix some self-aware humor with the heroism.

• This makes me happy:

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