Thursday, 11 August 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #780: Random Drippings From My Brain Pan


That's the word coming from 20th Century Fox TV, who are currently in talks with the former sitcom star to star in a new show called
Downwardly Mobile about a cash strapped, but optimistic working class family.

Let's take a look at this project's pros and cons.


FAMILIARITY: Roseanne Barr is familiar to TV audiences from her show that ran from 1988-1997. In the mindset of Hollywood marketing familiar somehow equals success.


FAMILIARITY: Roseanne Barr went from being the nasally drone of the American working class at a time when working class characters were rare on TV, to being a crazy rich woman with a raging power complex, and a voice that reminds people of fingernails on a chalkboard. Her recent foray into reality TV had a good start because of the aforementioned familiarity, but started fizzling out quickly when people remembered just how grating she can be.

CASTING/WRITING: The pitch of the show is that it's going to be her last sitcom done over for the 2010's. This forgets the main reason the original became a success: The supporting cast. She had really good performers around her, and catching that sort of lightning in a bottle a second time is going to be next to impossible, or supremely expensive, because whoever desperate enough to be willing to work with Roseanne is probably not going to be talented enough to carry Roseanne.

Also, who will run the show and who will write the show. Her original sitcom became a joke in Hollywood circles as the revolving door of writers and show-runners hired and fired at her whim. You think Charlie Sheen's going to have a tough time finding people to work on his show, well, Roseanne's going to have just as tough a time. Who is going to sign on to write a show that will give them nothing but stress for anything less than more money than the show will be able to afford?

CREATIVITY: As I said before, this new show is reportedly a rehash of her old show. When Roseanne debuted it was considered a breath of fresh air, the sort of working class comedy that had been all the rage in the 70s, but had fallen out of fashion in the upwardly mobile go-go 80s. Nowadays it's a tired old cliche that's been imitated to the point of parody, and it's pretty much fallen out of fashion again. Seeing her again, replaying the same character, just 15 years older, is not going to be more stale beer fart than fresh air.

My opinion. It's a bad idea, and will crash and burn badly, so it's pretty much destined for a greenlight, because Roseanne Barr is familiar, and that's all that matters in TV.

BLOG NOTE: I know that I posted a photo of Karen Gillan instead of Roseanne Barr for this article, but let's be honest: Who would you rather look at?


Pan Am, is competing with NBC's Playboy Club for most pointless and blatant Mad Men ripoff with its portrayal of the early days of the swinging 1960s. Except it's not going to be a complete picture.

Pan Am is going to cut out a lot of things that were big in the 60s, chiefly the ever-present elements of smoking and systemic racism.

Now let's look at the show they are ripping off inspired by, and how they handle such issues.
Mad Men simply presents them, while offering no direct or vocal judgement, because people at that time didn't judge such things, they just accepted them as the way things were. That's why Mad Men is almost like a time capsule sent from the era it is set in.

Pan Am, on the other hand, is reportedly going to avoid these issues, because they might cause some sort of controversy. Now such controversy could be used to illustrate how much the world has changed for the positive over the past 50 years, but ABC, and their parent company Disney, lack the testicular fortitude to impart that kind of lesson. All they want is rose-colored glasses nostalgia and Christina Ricci in a cute little stewardess outfit and/or 60s style mini-skirt, and hope that's all it takes to create a hit.

Call me when they do their obligatory: Stewardess becomes a hippy for a day episode if it's not canceled before that.


  1. Not Biff Hardcheeze or whoever,


    Am I the only one who remembers Coffee, Tea, or Me??

    It was a great book for it's time, and a trashy fun read. Now I am sure it is probably tame by today's standards but if I were the producer of Pan Am I would have the writers give it a read.

    If they skip on the smoking and the racism they're missing out on the tone of the era. I was there and remember. However, it was not the cartoon racism that you see today in rap videos and 'flash mob' riots. It was much more organic and nobody was obligated to beat themselves to death in self flagellation whenever it was mentioned.

    Don H
    Forks, WA
    Not saying it was better but it seems to me society was better integrated and more stable by the end of the 60s than it is today.

    Today, we are more segregated than ever. 700 channels instead of 3 on the tv, movies are no longer the weekly event for everyone, music is so segregated it is incomprehensible between genres. Our culture has gone down a memory-hole and I don't see a way back together.

  2. Aww, yay, look! It's Karen again!, yeah, that's all I really have to say.