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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Friday, June 09, 2006

The Gong Gone Show

Now that it's June, the axe has fallen yet again on many great and underrated tv shows. I notice that is around this time that people will also reflect on all the great television shows that never quite made it past a season or two. These are the shows that are gone, but not forgotten.

But what about all the great shows that never quite make it, period? These are the shows that are gone, but not remembered, and with good reason.

That's why I say bravo to the Bravo network for trying to damn the man. A few weeks ago, Bravo decided to unearth an idea to air great shows that never got a chance to air. In most cases, these shows got the green light to film a pilot and maybe even a few episodes, but after that most sit on a shelf somewhere collecting dust, never to be heard from again. Of course there is one exception--someone becomes famous from said show and it's rereleased on a Blockbuster DVD compilation for all the new fans of the flavor of the month. But I digress.

The biggest misconception is that shows that never make it to a network are crap. Sometimes this is true. But then again some make it to the network and they are still crap. You know the shows I'm talking about. Every year, inevitably a few premieres leave you scratching your head, wondering how this program above all other piloted programs, somehow received a stamp of approval. Once again nepotism rears its ugly head.

One of the shows Bravo decided to air was a little ditty from 2003 called The Jake Effect. While this show had the makings of a hit, it also had one big strike against had a shitty name. The Jake Effect just does not scream "Watch me!" Instead it quietly whimpers, "I'm having an identity crisis, watch me out of pity!"

The only good I learned about shows like The Jake Effect is that if you want your show to succeed, do not, under any circumstances, put Jake in the title. If you don't believe me just ask my witnesses to the crime: Jake 2.0 and Jake in Progress. Jake and the Fatman unfortunately, was unavailable for comment.

Anyway, The Jake Effect was the story of a disgruntled lawyer named, you guessed, it Jake. He was played brilliantly by comedical gifted actor, Jason Bateman. Ironically when I was a child, I mysteriously hated Bateman for all the same reasons I love him now. Back then I found him to be annoying and self absorbed. Now, some 15 years later, I find it to be irresistable and inviting. It's a hate/love relationship I've now come to terms with.

So Jake is this lawyer who is feeling burnt out and disconnected from any good in the world. This is why he decides to throw the book at his law career and instead, hit the books as a teacher. His best friend roommate and fellow lawyer, Nick Case (Felicity's Greg Gunberg) narrates the show and watches as Jake succeeds (and fails) from the sidelines. A name like Nick Case and he's a laywer? Strike number two.

But what comedy would be complete without a little romantic chemisty? Enter the goofy yet sexy Nikki Cox as Liza, Jake's new crush at the high school where he now works. Of course they are stuck in the "friend zone" but you know that they are meant to be more in 15.5 episodes or so, had those episodes ever been made that is.

The bad thing about watching shows like this, whether they get to air or not, is because of the "can't keep the puppy" syndrome. Puppies are cute, but everyone knows they become even harder to resist once you've had them living in your home for awhile. You might not want to love the puppy, but you know you end up loving him anyway.

But then your mom abruptly decides you can't keep the puppy for reasons that all seem like hogwash to you. Suddenly, all of your dreams of endless days playing catch and taking long walks have been snatched out from underneath you.

Let's just say I never my mom never let me even have that puppy come to visit, but I have a feeling I have an inkling what that feels like after watching way too many good shows go down the drain. They made me love them. I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to do it.

So the good news was that for all of us tv watchers who think the Neilsen ratings ain't nothing but a bunch of numbers, this concept of airing the "unairable" like the rest of the episodes of Love Monkey or all of the episodes made of The Jake Effect is great. But then reality sets in and you realize, I got to see the whole show, but I'll never get to see it again. This is when you wonder if you were better off not knowing the puppy ever existed at all.

If you're anything like me and still have a morbid fascination to undo the past, check out Bravo's Brilliant But Cancelled website. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll rue the day some tv ex took these shows away.

Just like in life, maybe tv shows get cancelled for a reason. After all, if The Jake Effect had aired and stumbled its way through a season or two, Jason Bateman might never have joined the cast of Arrested Development, a part he was truly born to play. Sure, The Jake Effect seemed like it could have grown into a great show, but Arrested Development is a GREAT show.

I mean was. Was a great show, cause it was cancelled, too.

Huh. That cancels out that theory.



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