Note: Song 21 in my 322-part series. (Due to laziness on my part, I’ve been inaccurate in my song count. However, I corrected that tonight and now actually have a record of the songs I’ve done.)
Song: A Conspiracy
Artist: The Black Crowes
I’m not typically one who gets caught up in television shows getting cancelled. It happens, mostly because I tend to enjoy shows that seem to develop a niche audience and can’t ever break free. Despite being off the air for more than a decade, I still miss Aaron Sorkin’s SportsNight (less successful than West Wing but more successful than Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip.)
But there is one show that I’m still upset no longer graces the airwaves, and I’m willing to embrace a conspiracy to make myself feel better about it.
It all started back in 2004 when NBC decided it wanted to keep both Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno, promising Conan he could have The Tonight Show in 2009. As someone who watched neither, I didn’t really care so long as Jon Stewart was still on the air. Well, 2009 rolls around and NBC comes up with this cockamamie scheme to move Leno to 10 p.m. every weeknight, which drastically reduces the amount of primetime programming hours available.
|His name is Earl|
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a plucky little show debuted in 2005 about a man who discovers Karma, not the stripper down by the airport who performs with Mystique, but the cosmic force that, as it’s explained ‘do good things, good things happen. Do bad things, bad things happen.’ It provided such life lessons as “I realize now that faking your death to break-up with someone is not exactly thoughtful.” Sure, My Name Is Earl, kind of went off the rails when they put Earl in prison and then had him lapse into a coma, but it was still better than pretty much everything NBC had on the air at the time (and still.)
So here’s my theory as to why it got cancelled. Secretly Jay Leno hated My Name Is Earl. Hated the show more than he hated Conan O’Brien. Hated it more than the Coke Zero brand managers hate Coke. For the sake of continuity, let’s not ask questions like ‘why he hated the show?’ because asking questions not based in wild speculation with no facts to back it up only does things like make conspiracies crumble. Just go with the premise, the way people who go to Creationist Museums go with the premise that the Earth is only 6,000 years old and evidence to the contrary is part of a conspiracy by the devil to make people question the existence of God. (Your evil spirit and omnipotent deity, much like your mileage, may vary.)
Because of that hatred equal to the intensity of the burning of a thousand suns, Leno devised a plan to relinquish The Tonight Show to Conan, but create a show at 10 p.m. that would eliminate valuable prime-time programming slots and My Name Is Earl would be cancelled as a result. It was the perfect plan. Making things even better for Leno was My Name Is Earl ended the season with a cliffhanger and the show’s legions (ok, at that point, dozens) of fans would never find out who Dodge’s father was.
To that extent, Leno’s plan worked perfectly. My Name Is Earl didn’t make the fall schedule, Leno’s ratings sucked to the point that NBC gave him his old job back, resulting in Conan going to TBS, which was probably good for TBS, not so much for Conan.
Unfortunately, I’ll never know if Earl completed everything on his list. How did he make up for wasting electricity? What can you do to make up for stealing pine tree air fresheners? I’ll never know, and it’s all that bastard Jay Leno’s fault.
I probably shouldn’t have written this immediately after finishing Bill Carter’s “The War for Late Night” about the Leno/O’Brien fiasco. Oh well.
Next song: I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For