Television Review: Make or Break TV 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4

Last month, I was thinking of how to cover Make or Break TV (TVTropolis: Monday, 9:00 PM ET/PT; Thursday, 12/6/8 PM ET/PT).  I was going to do a Blogcritics article about it, but it’s been four episodes and I can’t see how a review now is going to be timely enough for that site.  I’m being “considered for a spot at TV Verdict,” even though it’s taken ten weeks for said consideration, so not the droids I’m looking for there.

Now that I’m more heavily pushing with SEMI-REGULAR UPDATES, a review of Make or Break TV is fair game for the site.  The only two shows I’m watching religiously this season are this and The Critic.  Make or Break TV is a buried gem in the bevy of horse manure and Seinfeld reruns that is TVTropolis.

Make Believe Media puts out shows that are at least watchable – I like Very Bad Men, for instance.  Make or Break TV could conceivably become Make Believe Media’s flagship series, it’s that good.  If you like television ephemera and you’re Canadian, you’re probably already TiVoing this show.  I can’t be the only one.

Max Headroom: What a strong debut episode.  The topic is interesting, the show genuinely influential and the backstage patter enlightening.  Even the Canadian content is acceptable here, since Max Headroom and Matt Frewer made each other.  Why the hell hasn’t Max Headroom come out on DVD?

I lost a little respect for Max Headroom producer Brian E. Frankish when he trotted out the “won’t play in the Midwest” line – Moonlighting was similarly unconventional, and that show killed in the ratings.  Max would verbally rip that man to piec-to p-p-pieces.

All signs pointed to Max Headroom the fad outstripping the show in popularity.  There was a time when that stuttering fucker was everywhere.  He even semi-successfully shilled New Coke (“Catch the Wave!”), buying the running joke of soft drinks some time on store shelves.

I didn’t like executive producer Peter Wagg’s assessment that Max Headroom failed due to the differences between British and American humour.  The character was just overexposed.  He rated a multi-page cover story in fucking Newsweek.  He was the Macarena of 1986-87.  When a pop culture phenomenon reaches Macarena-like levels, it needs to die for everyone’s sanity.

Max Headroom is Make or Break TV‘s best subject so far.  The debut episode delineates exactly what to expect from the show, although Make or Break TV is a bit formulaic.  It’s still ten times more watchable than Reality Obsessed.

The Lone Gunmen: Another strong entry in the Make or Break TV series.  Show creator Chris Carter and executive producer Frank Spotnitz give good interviews, and the Lone Gunmen actors are fun to watch.  This definitely made me want to check out The Lone Gunmen.  Luckily this show is on DVD, a luxury not afforded Max Headroom.

In retrospect, Fox moving The Lone Gunmen to Friday nights after leasing it The X-Files‘ timeslot was the worst move the network could have made.  This isn’t surprising, considering how Fox handled Futurama and Family Guy.  That network can make some fucking stupid programming decisions, like actually airing Hole in the Wall.

I’m not fond of the show animations for this episode.  For instance, the narrator mentions The Lone Gunmen riding off into the sunset, and there’s a wide shot of a television weakly illuminated by a spotlight against a black background.  It just makes for a cheap storytelling device.  The Lone Gunmen is interesting enough to stand on its own, thank you very much.

Aside: Dean Haglund, who played Richard “Ringo” Langly, shills his badly-drawn comic book during the course of this episode.  Haglund’s a ham on cheese.  He just doesn’t know when to let go of his claim to fame.

Lonesome Dove: The Series/Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years: It is not necessary to cover both seasons of the Lonesome Dove television franchise.  Canadian television is full of shows that only lasted one season, and yet Lonesome Dove: The Series/The Outlaw Years gets an hour’s material devoted to it.  Why?  Is Make or Break TV meant for an American audience or is the Lonesome Dove fanbase that hardcore?

I will admit that Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years deserved an episode – a case can be made for Lonesome Dove being one of the few shows that benefitted from edgier material.  The Lonesome Dove: The Series episode was just boring and the weakest of the four episodes shown thus far.  I guess Make or Break TV wanted to maximize those Scott Bairstow and Eric McCormack interviews, but you can get too much of Suzanne de Passe and Robert Halmi.

Free tip, Make Believe Media: next season – and there better be a next season as Make or Break TV could go five seasons easy with its premise – cover The Vacant Lot, Four on the Floor, Mom P.I., Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie and/or Learning the Ropes.  Hell, I’ll even accept Custard Pie.  Those shows are far more interesting to me than Lonesome Dove: The Series.  I just don’t care how Eric McCormack and Scott Bairstow were bad at riding horses.

Aside: the “star power” injected into Lonesome Dove: The Series struck me as unintentionally hilarious.  Paul Le Mat, Suzanne de Passe’s ex-husband!  Jack Elam!  Billy Dee Williams!  Diahann Carroll!  Lee Majors!  Robert Culp!  Dennis Weaver!  Honestly, was that list of washed-up stars and character actors going to impress anyone?  At least there’s no mention of Bret Hart, so that’s a positive.

Next week, Make or Break TV covers Supertrain.  That show should be fucking awesome.  Make or Break TV has a handle on which cult television shows people would be interested in knowing about, Lonesome Dove: The Series notwithstanding.  Quark, EZ Streets and The New Adventures of Beans Baxter are upcoming subjects.  Even Unsub looks interesting.  This show has loads of potential, and I hope that potential is exploited to its utmost.

C. Archer
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