Thursday, May 13, 2010

YOUR MOST DISCERNING GLASS EYE IS REQUIRED: Interesting question raised on this week's Firewall and Iceberg podcast, re: Bill Lawrence's desire to rename "Cougar Town" because, as Lawrence noted, "they find too many instances of testing of people saying they would never watch a show called 'Cougar Town' - I don't want to see some show about a 40-year-old woman nailing younger guys."

But then the question was, okay, what shows have successfully rebranded? "Sep" and Dan pointed to "These Friends of Mine" becoming "Ellen" and the rebootings of "Dragnet". To that list I can add the whole "Valerie" -> "Valerie's Family: The Hogans" -> "The Hogan Family" ado, and you can argue that "Mayberry R.F.D." was just a rebranded "The Andy Griffifth Show" without Andy Griffith, but surely there are other examples.

Related: what would you title "Cougar Town," and what other shows could use a different name?

36 comments:

  1. isaac_spaceman9:04 AM

    Cougar Town, a wonderfully silly show, deserves a chance. As I suggested on Alan's site, I would go with "Postmodern Family," which works on at least three levels.

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  2. jessica9:15 AM

    "Good Morning Miss Bliss" was retooled (a few cast switch-ups and emphasis on the students rather than the teacher) and became "Saved by the Bell,"
    I've heard that "Seinfeld" was originally called "The Seinfeld Chronicles."
    "8 Simple Rules for dating my teenage daughter" became just "8 Simple Rules" and, fun fact from WIkipedia... in France it changed its name to "Touche pas à mes filles" which means Don't mess with my daughters or Don't touch my daughters.
    As for "Cougar Town," someone (maybe Sepinwall?) suggested "(The) Family Jules," and that is the best one I've heard so far.

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  3. There was once a certain snobbery in saying that you remembered watching it when it was called "The Seinfeld Chronicles."

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  4. I believe "Family Jules" was a suggestion from Kristin Dos Santos over at E!, and it's great. "Cougar Town" isn't on the level of the big 3 half hour sitcoms that launched or relaunched this year ("Community," "Parks and Rec," "Modern Family") in part because the characters are a little too cartoonish, but it has shown the most growth over its first year, and has (like "Community") really effectively developed an ensemble that plays well off one another (and Dan Byrd remains the cast's secret weapon). The title is massive baggage, though, and should be rebooted. Wouldn't be surprised if ABC does a "Family" night next year with "Modern Family" and either "Middle" or "Cougar Town" paired with "No Ordinary Family" (the superhero drama they just picked up with Michael Chiklis and Romany Malco).

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  5. gretchen9:26 AM

    I will confess that the name dissuaded me from watching the show, even though I have lots of appreciation for the Scrubs team. A rebranding would be welcome. In the meantime, maybe I'll start watching the show in reruns? (My TV consumption has skyrocketed now that I spend so much of my life feeding the baby. Though I have to say that watching Parenthood while feeding my baby is a recipe for making me cry.)

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  6. Benner9:31 AM

    Nittany Lion town -- keep the cast but set it in State College, PA. Plenty of younger dudes there (not Joe Paterno).

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  7. cagey9:38 AM

    How about "Love Thy Neighbor"? Or just "Neighbors"? Or "There Goes the Neighborhood"? Nah, I say just keep it simple. "Family Jules" would work for me.

    I watched this show and really gave it a chance, but loathed the storylines about Jules chasing tail. The ensemble storylines kept me coming back, but eventually I gave up.

    In light of this news and some better reviews as of late, I have added it back to the DVR and will catch last night's episode at least.

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  8. RandomRanter9:38 AM

    I like "The Family Jules" better than anything I came up with. I do think the name turned off as many people as it attracted, and that it has turned into something much better than what it was.

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  9. Joseph J. Finn10:12 AM

    I';d argue that the retconning of Good Morning, Miss Bliss into Saved By The Bell is a pretty good example of how this can work for the better for a show (in popularity, at least, not in quality).

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  10. I recall that there was discussion among critics that had Sports Night been called something else, it may have done been in the ratings. Non-sports fans didn't want to watch "a show about sports".

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  11. DonBoy10:32 AM

    "The Family Jules" is clever, but the same people who don't want to watch a show based on what it's called might not want to watch a show that must be about testicles or something. All I can come up with is "The Dead-Enders", which is too down.

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  12. bristlesage10:44 AM

    I do not like "The Family Jules". Ugh, too cute by half. Indicates balls. Makes me think of that Gene Simmons show.

    I agree "The Dead-Enders" is a bit too down, but on that tip, there might be something to do with "Cul-de-Sac", since the main characters live on one, and I agree that there's something sort of inconsequential (in the very best quotidian way) about their lives.

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  13. DonBoy10:48 AM

    I got there through Cul-de-Sac, which I thought was both too French-y and also, since I was cracking about "Jewels", I couldn't stop seeing "Sack" in it. (Specifically "The Cul-de-Sac crew", which....wait,am I crazy or was there some dialogue about someone in-show calling the group that, and then someone else said "no, don't"? And if so, I bet that was a joke about trying to rename the show in the first place.)

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  14. Andrew11:06 AM

    "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" was retitled "Two Guys and a Girl" for the second half of its four season run. (Should the original title have had a serial comma? This show ran for four years?)

    How many of these examples didn't go through some major change that necessitated the name change?

    Chicken/egg problem: Would Cougar Town have been picked up if was titled something less ridiculous than Cougar Town, but would it have more viewers if it wasn't called Cougar Town?

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  15. Joseph J. Finn11:12 AM

    Seriously, Ryan Reynolds had a show that ran for four years?

    But this does remind me of the short-lived (2 seasons) "Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane", developed as Zoe Bean and renamed for the second season as "Zoe..."

    (Speaking of that show, why hasn't anyone snapped up Michael Rosenbaum for anything since he left Smallville?)

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  16. isaac_spaceman12:17 PM

    Is there a dislike button? The jump in quality from Good Morning Miss Bliss to SBTB was stunning. SBTB basically launched an art form, as particular in its requirements as kabuki, that dominated weekend morning TV for a decade. If I say Jesse Spano or AC Slater or Zack Attack or Kelly Kapowski or Screech or Mr. Belding, there is a good chance that you'll know who I'm talking about. That's six characters -- how many shows of that era can you say that about?

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  17. Joseph J. Finn12:30 PM

    See, now that's good satire. ;)

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  18. isaac_spaceman12:39 PM

    Man, I'm about to throw down, AC Slater-style.

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  19. Jim Bell12:47 PM

    And "Joey" was just friends without all the friends and with Adrianna from the Sopranos who had to die in the woods in order to be a friend, because she was not longer "a friend of ours" which made Chris sad.

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  20. Jim Bell12:47 PM

    no longer not not longer.

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  21. Paul Tabachneck12:50 PM

    How about when "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" was rebranded "Babylon 5?" Oooh, SNAP!

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  22. it's easier if you think of 2 guys and a girl as Nathan Fillion's first TV series.

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  23. I never followed this show. Was this because the pizza place was demanding $1 million an episode and the producers refused?

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  24. Marsha1:59 PM

    I've got your back, Isaac.

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  25. Marsha2:00 PM

    One of my prized possessions is my Sports Night pilsner glass that says "It's about sports. The same way Charlie's Angels was about law enforcement."

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  26. Benner2:02 PM

    poor Lisa Turtle . . .

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  27. J. Bowman2:08 PM

    The w and I have discussed this (briefly) a few times. Since the show has lost its original conceit (i.e., the chasing younger men), it might as well be called something else.
    And I do watch it. Mainly because it's on after Modern Family and there's nothing better and I'm not ready for bed yet, but it has its moments. I don't find Jules herself that funny, but she makes a great straight (wo)man for the rest of the cast. Plus, Ian Gomez looks exactly like he looked the first season of Drew Carey, and that just boggles my mind.

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  28. Joseph J. Finn2:20 PM

    Will there be a Zack freeze frame?

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  29. Joseph J. Finn2:22 PM

    Now now, they were both fine shows and can co-exist peacefully. Even if DS9 was the better show.

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  30. Anonymous3:11 PM

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  31. Stryker3:17 PM

    The only way I'd watch this show is if it was named "The show about a 40-year-old woman nailing younger guys."

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  32. isaac_spaceman3:39 PM

    She's unmemorable for a reason. Her only defining character trait was that she was rich. Jesse was touchy-feely, sneaky-hot, and had the highlight of the entire series, the I'm-So-Excited drug dance meltdown. Kelly was unsneaky hot. Zack was the impossibly oily operator with the comb in his back pocket. Slater was the gayest man on television (dancer/wrestler? do the math). Screech was the most perfectly cast archetype of the pet outsider. Belding was a parody of television principals. Lisa just had nothing going for her.

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  33. bill.4:55 PM

    No, each season they pretty much reinvented the show.

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  34. patricia5:38 PM

    Isaac, is it wrong that I could read what you write about SBTB all day long? I've found both of these disquisitions of yours quite entertaining.

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  35. Joseph J. Finn5:43 PM

    Seriously. I don't even care that much about SBTB (though the actors reuniting for a Saw/SBTB crossover on Robot Chicken was hysterical) and I loved reading both.

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  36. MidwestAndrew6:40 PM

    My wife definitely can't get past the Cougar Town name, even though I like it. I don't think it's ever really been about being a cougar, in particular, which is just a stupid/silly concept on its own. If Community and Modern Family weren't taken, I'd suggest those. How about just "Neighborhood" or "Porch Swings" or "Block Party"? Actually, Block Party might work.

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