Recasting Cancelled Shows: What If That Chick From "Orphan Black" Had Been In "Dollhouse"?
The other day friend of the site and Pajiba technical advisor Corey Atad dropped this little plum on his Twitter feed: “If only Tatiana Maslany had been the lead in Dollhouse instead of Dushku.” Holy f*ck. If you’re not watching “Orphan Black” (and why aren’t you?) then you might not know what a soul-shakingly great idea this is. But if you are, and if you were a quasi-reluctant fan on Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse,” then your whole world just got rocked. Sometimes when shows are cancelled before their time it’s a genuine head scratcher. You can’t fault the quality of “Pushing Daises,” “Freaks and Geeks,” “Arrested Development,” “Sports Night,” “My So-Called Life,” or “Party Down.” And you certainly can’t fault their casting. Though, personally, I was always more of a fan of Lynch-era “Party Down.”
In those instances the blame is usually laid at the feet of the “average” American TV watcher. It’s easy enough to put the burden on some phantom “Two And A Half Men”-loving Mountain Dew-guzzlers. But sometimes, sometimes, you can find the faults in shows that were cancelled “too soon.” Yes even something you love dearly might be guilty of a blemish or two. In the case of the following shows you can (at least) place some of the blame on some really shoddy performances. What if they had been cast differently? Would these shows still be with us?
Kristen Wiig As Harriet Hayes In “Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip”: Sorkin’s follow-up to the “The West Wing” was his insider baseball dramedy starring Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford. It’s hard to argue with that duo (despite Perry’s weak track record). But where the show really faltered was in the basic premise that the “SNL”-esque show within the show they were putting on every week was, well, funny. (This, by the way, is also a problem I had with “30 Rock.” Though I’m not sure “TGS” was supposed to be good.) Anyway, much was made of the comedic talents of Sarah Paulson’s Harriet Hayes. Paulson, talented though she is, was not the right fit. Wiig, however, would have been perfect and I think she and Perry would have been able to muster a little more chemistry.
Taran Killam As Ben In “Ben And Kate”: Speaking of “SNL” cast members, it might be too early to bust Killam out of late night sketch jail. With so many cast members leaving next year he’s poised to snatch the lead male performer slot which usually leads to feature films. That being said, “Ben And Kate” was such a sweet and lovely show and if someone stronger had been in the Ben role it might have stood a chance. Nat Faxon (Jim Rash’s writing partner) is very talented behind the camera but in front of the camera he had the Jim Carrey labrador comedy dialed up to 11. And it didn’t work.
Paul Wesley As Duncan Kane on “Veronica Mars”: I think even the most die-hard fans know that Teddy Dunn was wrong wrong wrong and boring as Duncan Kane. If you want someone who is CW handsome and can brood like a mother*cker, then look no further than “The Vampire Diaries” Paul Wesley. He also knows a thing or two about love triangles. Of course, the Duncan problem was neatly solved in Season 2 so if we’re really looking to blame for the cancellation of “Veronica Mars” we need look no further than…
Fran Kranz As Piz In “Veronica Mars”: Piz. Hateful horrid Piz. Boring, floppy-haired Piz. You needed someone with a lot of nerdy charm to make us buy him as a feasible Logan Echolls rival. Of course, Logan Echolls is his own worst enemy and there were many many problems with Season 3. I could have done without Piz in general. But if we had to have a wise-cracking nerd, Kranz would be at the top of my list.
Tatiana Maslany As Echo In “Dollhouse”: Speaking of Kranz, he was one of the many many great aspects of Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse.” Along with the stellar Olivia Williams, Enver Gjokaj and Reed Diamond he almost, almost made the show bearable. But the massive black hole of talent that was Eliza Dushku pretty much ruined any chance Whedon had. The concept was interesting, the show could have been amazing. Maslany who plays at least 6 characters perfectly on “Dollhouse” would have been just the thing. My heart weeps for the TV greatness that might have been.
Anna Kendrick As Karen Cartwright In “Smash”: Okay “Smash” is a mess in general but the main issue is that the show wants us to buy Katherine McPhee as a talented charismatic lead. And. Wow. No. Her rival played by Megan Hilty blows her off the stage at every turn. So maybe if they had given us something a little better, a little Kendricksier to work with, the rest of the mess would have fallen in line. Maybe.
As a “Smash” palate cleanser enjoy this video of Kendrick singing Cups. It’s adorable.