What Was the Worst Case of Executives Meddling With a TV Series?
Today, I’m looking for what you think was the the worst case of executives meddling with a TV series.
Pop Culture Theme Time is a feature where I put a question to you to see what you think about a particular theme. I might later revisit the theme for a future Drawing Crazy Patterns or Top Five.
So long as there have been TV shows, there have been TV executives meddling with said TV shows. However. sometimes, the meddling is particularly egregious, so I’m looking for examples of what you think was the WORST case of executive meddling with a TV series. Note that canceling a show doesn’t count!
My pick is Twin Peaks, whose ratings slumped in early Season 2, so the network determined that audiences were mad that the show had not yet solved who murdered Laura Palmer, so David Lynch was forced to resolve the murder, basically the linchpin that the whole series worked around! With the mystery solved, ratings fell even further and the show was canceled. A really bad decision.
That’s my pick. What’s yours?
And feel free to suggest future Pop Culture Theme Time topics to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
4 thoughts on “What Was the Worst Case of Executives Meddling With a TV Series?”
There are many examples, but I’ll cite NBC’s “THE MAGICIAN,” which starred Bill Bixby which aired one season from 1973-1974. The premise was actually similar to many pulp comics: a stage magician who solved crimes due to personal reasons, aided with (inherited) wealth. The first half of the season established that Tony Blake (Bixby) would help anyone, anywhere, and he lived in a Boeing 737 jetliner named “Spirit” to allow him to literally travel wherever a mystery took him. He also drove a white Chevy Corvette, which also had “Spirit” on the license plate, which was as obvious as Speed Racer’s MACH-5. He was aided by his pilot, Jerry (Jim Watkins) as well as reporter Max Pomeroy (Keene Curtis) and his computer savvy, wheelchair bound son Dennis (Todd Crespi). One of the main gimmicks was that Bixby, an avid amateur magician, performed live tricks on the show without special effects.
Midway through the first season, though, things changed drastically. Midway thru the first (and only) season, they ditched the jetliner and housed Tony in the Magic Castle, a real life club for magicians in California. The Pomeroys were also dropped from the series entirely, and while Jerry still aided Tony, since he didn’t need a pilot anymore, his role was more limited. The series also stopped showing Tony aiding strangers and instead the victims he helped were usually old friends, personal peers, or ex-lovers. No reason has ever been given for these changes, and theories are just conjecture. Despite being a critical darling (which inspired the creators of other shows, especially X-FILES), these changes didn’t help and NBC axed it after one season. Supposedly, some of the plots were later adapted for another series, CHARLIE’S ANGELS.
Season 2 of Friday Night Lights
The fascinating thing is that the writers insisted that the network DIDN’T tell them to do those plots, but I agree, I think that they are being overly coy, and the network heavily IMPLIED that they needed to change things up.