TV Improvement 2013: Renaming TV Shows

We are in the tail end of the TV doldrums. Pretty soon, premiere week will be here, and we’ll be off to the races. Until then, we’re stuck with very little to say outside of some methamphetamine producers in the southwestern part of the United States. With so little to discuss, what’s a television columnist to do? Dust off an old column gimmick of course! It’s been over a year since we did an edition of TV Improvement. I think fans of The Mentalist are still calling for my head somewhere, but it is what it is. However, they have no need to get their blood up because I’m tackling an entirely different issue today.

Many things can derail a promising television series. Bad plot, bad acting, bad timeslot, or bad network can all possibly contribute to a show failing to reach their full potential or failing on a massive scale. One overlooked issue that can befall a promising show is the title. It seems trivial, but we’ve seen it too many times (RIP, Terriers) for the issue to be ignored. With that in mind, let’s make some TV shows better.

Cougar Town

Why change is needed: Just because it’s a popular choice for this column doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The title of the show is so hideous that even the show’s creators take shots at it in the opening credit sequence. It’s the perfect storm of not only failing to communicate what the show is about, but leading people to erroneous assumptions about the show. People seem to think ABC’s new show, Trophy Wife, is coming for its corner, but it can’t even come close to touching Cougar Town. It not only holds the title belt for worst show name, it has laid waste to all challengers for its belt.

The New Name: Friends with Wine

The Reasoning: At first glance, this name seems like a safe, but uninventive, alternative to the current title. That assessment isn’t totally wrong, but consider the brand recognition. Shows with “Friends” in the title and featuring Courtney Cox have historically done quite well for themselves.

That being said, if you wanted to call the show “Middle Aged Wine Enthusiasts”, I’d definitely listen.


Watson and Holmes - Elementary

Why change is needed: I understand the reasoning behind this name. You’re doing a show about Sherlock Holmes, you need something that conjures up famous moments and lines from the great series penned by Arthur Conan Doyle. There’s no denying at some point all of the cool kids have said “Elementary, my dear Watson”. However, that line has lost its cache as the years have passed (leave it to CBS to be stuck in a past time). Therefore, we need a new name for this series that still captures everything we need to understand about Sherlock Holmes and his process.

The New Name: Deduction

The Reasoning: When describing Holmes’ abilities during season one, nothing was discussed more than his powers of deductive reasoning. It’s so firmly in the fabric of the show, that the change wouldn’t cause much of an uproar in the fans of the show (the comments may prove me wrong).

The Mindy Project

Why change is needed: Because of all the discombobulation with the original title, the show had to settle on a title that made little sense in the moment and doesn’t make much more sense now. Mindy did not undergo a ton of change in the opening season. If anything, she ended up doubling down on her ideas of romanticism and sought men who fit that mold. She may not be Annie from Sleepless in Seattle, but she’s not far from it.

The New Name: Mindy’s World

The Reasoning: As the show progressed in the opening season, it became less and less of an ensemble piece (as all the pieces moved around) and became more of a two-hander with Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina. Obviously, the show is still Mindy’s show, therefore the title has to give her the recognition.

New Girl

Why change is needed: Quite simply, the “Girl” is no longer “New”. The phrase, or any variation, is not uttered by anyone on the show. The show has moved on, therefore, the title should move on as well.

The New Name: Life in Progress

The Reasoning: A big assist to the Czarina on this one. She thought “Progress” should be a part of the title, and she’s 100% right. We’re looking at a group of 30-somethings who have found different ways to bungle their lives to this point and are now seeking different ways to improve them. Unlike a lot of comedies, the show is not stationary. A lot of the crew either has or is trying to improve themselves in one way or the other. Face it, you really like this one.

Orange is the New Black

Why change is needed: It’s just trying to hard to be cute. Plus, we’ve done an effective job of running the phrase “X is the new X” into the ground.

The New Name: I Went to Prison

The Reasoning: It’s incredibly simple, but it works. The show has a very strong ensemble, but we’re still telling the story through the lens of Piper. In addition, the use of flashbacks makes it seem like someone is telling us a story as opposed to us being voyeurs into someone’s world.

Once again, we’ve stepped in and improved shows. This time, a simple title change is all that was required. Are there other shows that need a name change? Feel free to drop your suggestions below.