what i watched
music friday: 2017

the karen sisco award

[The introduction is largely copied from previous years.]

In 2010, I started a new tradition. I called it the Karen Sisco Award, named after the short-lived television series starring Carla Gugino. Sisco was the character played by Jennifer Lopez in the film Out of Sight, and the series, which also featured Robert Forster and Bill Duke, was on ABC. They made ten episodes, showed seven, and cancelled it. Gugino was ridiculously hot (no surprise there) and the series, based on an Elmore Leonard character, got about as close as anyone did to Leonard’s style until Justified came along.

When I posted an R.I.P. to the show, my son commented, “Every year there is a new favorite Daddy-O show that gets cancelled mid-season. … You have some sort of fixation with doomed shows, did it start with Crime Story or does it come from your upbringing?” (In fairness, Crime Story lasted two seasons.) The Karen Sisco Award exists to honor those doomed shows.

Previous winners were Terriers (2010), Lights Out (2011), Luck (2012), Agent Carter (2016), and Sweet/Vicious (2017).

And in 2018? There is no winner.

For one thing, it's hard to know when a series is cancelled. Some shows get a two-season order before any episodes have aired. Many cancelled shows get rescued ... Sense8 lasted two expensive seasons on Netflix before getting cut, only to revive for a final movie-length episode due to fan uproar:

Later tonight, another cancelled show, Timeless, which also lasted two seasons, will get a two-hour finale. Timeless might have been a Karen Sisco winner after its cancellation after one season, but the cancellation only lasted a few days before NBC reconsidered. And Deadwood, one of the greatest shows of all time, which ran its final episode in 2006 after three seasons, has been revived with the original cast for a two-hour movie to appear in 2019.

There are two patterns at work. One is like what happened with Sense8 and Timeless, a fairly instant chance to close loose ends. The other perhaps speaks to a certain lack of imagination ... it's when old and popular shows are rebooted, or, like Deadwood, just continued. With all of this, the question of when a show is finally finished is messy at best.

It's also true that the catalogs of the big streamers mean a lot of shows never go away.

So, most of the shows I mentioned in my earlier wrap-up of 2018 TV are either still with us, or properly ended. In fact, the opposite problem remains ... a show like Shameless will seemingly last forever, no matter if it's still worth watching.

With all of the great television in the still-active era of Peak TV, it may not be necessary to single out shows that only lasted one season. So many people have yet to watch The Americans, which means you have a lot to look forward to. And you can still catch up on some of the best shows still out there ... Atlanta, Killing Eve, GLOW, Outlander, Vida. It's hard to mourn shows we've lost when there are still so many that have so far gone unseen. Sense8 only has 24 episodes ... you can binge that. Vida, which just finished its first season, only has 6 half-hour episodes ... if you can find it, you can watch the entire season in three hours. And you can always find recent classics like Rectify. Or Sweet/Vicious, for that matter, since if anything it is even more timely than it was when it ran.

And don't sleep on Peggy Carter, who knew her value.