By Christina Murphy
We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of “A to Z,” the recently canceled sitcom that chronicles the fated relationship of Andrew and Zelda. Fitting for the fate of the actual series, it is set up as an investigation into a relationship that we learn has ended. When NBC announced it’s cancellation at the end of last month the Internet rushed to its defense, pleading to let the show get to episode Z. As of now, #SaveAtoZ has not convinced the network to air anything past episode M.
I kept hearing how the show was really great but it was just doomed to fail in its timeslot of Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. I’ve seen this happen to countless other shows, I loved them but were canceled due to poor scheduling, so I decided to give “A to Z” a shot and write a post-mortem review to assess the fairness of the show’s cancelation.
The show’s largest competition was ABC’s Thursday night line-up, which features three straight hours of Shonda Rhimes-produced television programs. For those of you who do not know, Rhimes is a force. She is the pumpkin spice of the entertainment industry. If you put her name in the opening credits of a show, the world just has to try it until they ultimately become obsessed with all things Shonda. It’s pretty easy to see why viewers are so obsessed; she creates over the top dramas with strong female leads who live lives that viewers could only dream of emulating.
This certainly put “A to Z” at a disadvantage, but I hardly think we can attribute the shows failure entirely to Shonda Rhimes’ Thursdays. The show is kind of dull and doesn’t really have anything that makes it stand out from the rest of the shows in its genre. Zelda is a high-strung lawyer with a troubled past, Andrew is the naïve romantic type and fate brings them together to form an unlikely romance. The show’s stars, Ben Feldman (“Mad Men”) and Cristin Milioti (“How I Met Your Mother”) have great chemistry and are very likeable characters. They both have a very close best friend, one being a sloppy overweight loser and the other being a sassy British single girl, respectively. It essentially follows the framework of just about every romantic comedy ever created. The show does fine in the “romantic” department, it’s the claims of “comedy” that are troubling to me. All of the jokes throughout an episode are stale. Actually, there aren’t really any jokes at all so much as just moments that are intended to arouse laughter, but wind up falling pretty flat.
The thing I was most disappointed with was, well, the point of the show. The fact that you know the ending of the show takes away from the viewing experience. Much like how I started watching this show, knowing it was canceled, we are introduced to a couple that we know are not going to make it. There is no incentive to keep watching if you know how it ends, especially if you know it’s going to disappoint.
People like to think that there is a beacon of hope at the end of every series they watch. For example, fans stuck around for 10 years waiting for the moment where Ross and Rachel would finally share a warm embrace and promise to make it work, despite their insurmountable differences and past failed attempts. If there is one thing America likes, it’s a good will they/won’t they scenario. “A to Z” couldn’t provide us with that, they could only give us a “won’t they.” And where’s the fun in that?
Needless to say if a viewer is given the option between another rom-com or the frenetically entwined murder mysteries of Shondaland, they’re probably going to go with the latter. “A to Z” combines the doomed romance of “500 Days of Summer,” the typical romantic comedy of every Meg Ryan movie and the alphabet play of “Sesame Street” to create one truly unsatisfying sitcom. May it rest in peace.