Shows that could have been Emmy contenders

A look at canceled freshmen skeins

New shows often have to fight for Emmy notice, but the job gets even harder when you don’t make it to a second season.

That’s the burden facing several members of the frosh class of 2006-07. While they boasted small-but-loyal audiences, as well as some decent reviews, these shows never really got a chance to click with the masses.

Making it harder for canceled freshmen is the fact that studios don’t feel the need to mount a campaign on their behalf, since there’s no chance the skeins will return. On the other hand, Emmy voters sometimes like to stick it to nets, nominating canceled shows in protest — and, as in the case of “The Ben Stiller Show” in 1993, actually awarding dead skeins a statuette.

One failed rookie hoping for some TV Academy love this year came from two-time Emmy host Conan O’Brien, who exec produced old pal Andy Richter in NBC’s “Andy Barker, P.I.” Peacock didn’t seem to know what to do with (or how to promote) the show, which had Richter playing an accidental gumshoe.

Crix, however, praised “Barker” for its easy charm, with Diane Werts of Newsday noting its “quietly observant character detail, solid sleuthing, play-it-straight absurdity and sneaky ‘Airplane!’-style parody riffs.”

Reviews were more mixed on “The Class,” a CBS comedy that suffered from the opposite problem that plagued “Barker.” CBS heavily hyped the high-profile laffer from the former producers of “Friends” and “Mad About You,” but that left some auds disappointed by early episodes that weren’t amazing.

Viewers who stuck by the show, however, witnessed a transformation as the jokes got funnier and the characters more interesting. “The Class” also deftly borrowed from the reality show (and sudser) genres, constructing serialized storylines that made episodes feel more like events.

ABC also had trouble luring auds to two of its most promising laffers: “Big Day” and “Knights of Prosperity.”

“Big Day” was also serialized, with the entire season taking place on a couple’s wedding day. The skein’s rich assortment of characters and mix of heart and laughs made the whole thing feel like the sort of well-done romantic comedies that used to be common at the multiplex.

“Knights,” which focused on a ragtag gang of would-be robbers, also had its fans. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Tim Goodman loved the show for its “goofy charm and outsize ridiculousness.” It couldn’t steal away enough viewers from the competition, however, and quickly faded.

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