HollywoodFail! And here’s why.
Here’s the problem. When I first saw Jersey listed in the fall TV guide, I recognized immediately that it was inspired by one of my fave book series, the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich. So I looked forward to it eagerly.
First off, Stephanie Plum is a bounty hunter, while Jersey’s main character is a lawyer. This was probably a “marketing” decision on the part of the suits (those people who decided airing Firefly’s third episode first was a good idea) to make the series “more accessible” or else they ran afoul of some copyright issues. But if that were the case. instead of giving her another unusual, exotic profession, they went with lawyer.
So now we have “just another legal drama.”
Sometimes you can take something old and make it new again by giving it a different spin. How different was House than every other medical drama before it? And they did give her a Jersey background complete with a Jersey family.
Here’s where they went wrong. The main character was perfect. She never set a foot wrong. Never said the wrong thing, never did the wrong thing. Even when it looked like she was going to, it all worked out without any fallout. Stephanie Plum? Not so much. Stephanie is constantly screwing up. She says herself that she’s a lousy bounty hunter and the only reason things work out for her is luck. At least once per book she is covered with guck, handcuffed to something and left there, almost blown up, or loses a car. Our Jersey gal? Never a hair out of place.
The Jersey heroine’s family was warm and supportive, if a little invasive. Stephanie Plum’s friends and family are over-the-top wacky, complete with strange habits, inappropriate behaviours, and everybody carries a gun. Her friends include an ex-“ho”, a straight transvestite, her crazy grandmother, and a boss who’s rumored to have had inappropriate relations with a chicken. On Jersey, the boss is strong, handsome and supportive. Agreeing with all her suggestions, although he does hesitate a beat or two over the wilder ones.
Stephanie has two love interests–a good cop and a good security guy who does bad things as well. On Jersey, I couldn’t tell who the love interests were, but all the characters were warm and supportive and never made a pass at her regardless of how beautiful she was.
In short, Hollywood took the wonderful Stephanie Plum books and sucked everything that made them work right outta there. It’s a lesson on how not to turn a great premise into a TV show.
In contrast, let’s look at True Blood. It may not be following the plotline of the books, but it continues to capture the dark-yet-fun feel of the books.
Still, despite it’s flaws, I liked Made in Jersey and I’m sorry it got cancelled.