No second chance for 'Old Christine' -- but can other ditched shows live again? [Updated]
Much like its title character, "The New Adventures of Old Christine" went trolling for new matches when it got dumped by CBS. But unlike Julia Louis-Dreyfus' finally hooked-up single mom, it didn't find a new TV soul mate.
The story doesn't always end this way -- there have been plenty of times that networks have picked up the discards from their competitors. Several cable channels are circling "The Life and Times of Tim," an HBO animated series that reportedly won't be returning for a third season.
It's worked in some cases: "Girlfriends" spinoff "The Game" has had a new life on BET ever since the CW punted it to the curb. Other times, though, it might have been just as well to take a pass on those sloppy seconds. "Scrubs," anyone? [Updated at 4:48 p.m.: This post originally referred to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but that show was not cancelled; it jumped to the WB for financial reasons.]
TNT rescued "Southland" after NBC initially loved it, then abruptly dropped it off a cliff. (They had to make room for "The Jay Leno Show" at 10 p.m. Good call!) Though the L.A.-set drama isn't a ratings powerhouse, the cable network recently renewed it beyond the 13 already-produced episodes it acquired from Warner Bros. TV.
NBC also canceled "Medium," the Patricia Arquette psychic crime-solver drama, and CBS immediately swooped in for the save. The show is produced by CBS Television, so there's a good reason for the pickup, but it's also become a mainstay of the network's Friday night schedule, outlasting its "Ghost Whisperer" lead-in.
It's a no-brainer that studios and production companies would shop their ditched wares. Why not try to keep the party going, once talent's in place and episodes are shot? Then there's fan fervor, fueled by the Internet and social networking, which can breathe new life into a show written off as dead.
Fox found out after canceling "Family Guy" that there were loads of Seth McFarlane fans out there willing to watch reruns on Cartoon Network and buy millions of DVDs. The network -- which technically axed the animated series not once but twice -- brought it back with new episodes several years ago and has it locked down until 2012. Thanks for keeping the fire stoked, Adult Swim!
Fox and ABC sniffed around "My Name is Earl," the Jason Lee sitcom that lasted four seasons on NBC, before passing. Money's always an issue, and Lee has a new gig anyway, TNT's upcoming quirky cop show, "Memphis Beat," where he can probably wear less flannel and get rid of Earl's redneck 'stache.
For shows that get rescued, it can be tough to shake off the stink of cancellation -- doesn't that mean they failed? But they might have just been misplaced to begin with, not working because they didn't fit in at their network. Since it's too late to suggest the revival of "Arrested Development," I'll just throw this one out: "Better Off Ted" should live to see another day. How about it, HBO?
As for "Old Christine," for the record, fans can find the show in syndication in the fall on Lifetime and broadcast stations -- but they'll be repeats, not new "New Adventures."
-- T.L. Stanley
Photo: From left, Hamish Linklater, Wanda Sykes, Dreyfus and Eric McCormack in the season/series finale. Credit: Michael Ansell / Warner Bros.