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The Strange Art of Picking a TV Title
March 19, 2012 6:19 PM   Subscribe


 
"Twin Peaks" was originally titled "Northwest Passage". Make of that what you will.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 6:32 PM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


"My one cannot-be-changed edict was calling this show Lost."

-Lloyd Braun, former ABC Entertainment Group chairman.


"The price of greatness is responsibility."

-Winston Churchill
posted by sendai sleep master at 6:33 PM on March 19, 2012


Cougar Town was originally going to be called "You're Getting Old, Jerk," but it was just a bit too spot on.
posted by The World Famous at 6:37 PM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I recall the first four episodes of Seinfeld, aired as a 'summer replacement' in June 1990, WERE titled "The Seinfeld Chronicles".

And I personally think Lloyd Braun (not coincidentally the name of a character in 'Seinfeld') made the wrong decision with "Lost". "Nowhere" expressed more mystery and potential for weirdness.

And I recall one of the failed shows that tried to be 'The Next "Lost"' was titled "The Usual Suspects" (but had nothing to do with Kaiser Soze), and would've had a better shot with "Nowhere".
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:38 PM on March 19, 2012


When shows fail, it's really, really not because of the title.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:40 PM on March 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


At least with "My Mother The Car", it did exactly what it said on the tin...
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:40 PM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


So if they change the name, they can start making new seasons of "Better Off Ted," right?

I suggest "Lindabagel" or "Jabberwocky."
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:40 PM on March 19, 2012 [13 favorites]


So if they change the name, they can start making new seasons of "Better Off Ted," right?

I honestly don't see the problem with the title. BOT didn't fail to be renewed because of its 'cute' title, it failed because most people are idiots and have no taste.

KAAAAAAAA!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:43 PM on March 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


Grey's Anatomy is so appallingly tedious that it would still be my least favourite show on earth even if it was called Space Ninja Unicorn Wizards vs Vampirate Laser Gods.

also that would be offensively misleading
posted by elizardbits at 6:43 PM on March 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


Space Ninja Unicorn Wizards vs Vampirate Laser Gods.

If it did what it said on the tin, I would so watch that.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:45 PM on March 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


And yes, the failure of Better Off Ted (especially alongside the inexplicable popularity of Grey's) only serves to confirm my belief that the majority of humans on earth are fucking idiots.
posted by elizardbits at 6:45 PM on March 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


Then again, I really like iCarly so my argument may be invalid to many people.

many BAD people obvsly
posted by elizardbits at 6:47 PM on March 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I would think there would've been objections to the American version of "The Office" because a similar (but inferior) office comedy with a generic name, "Working" had failed. I can see one group of network vice-presidents pointing out all the Britcoms whose American versions changed titles (All in the Family, Three's Company, etc.) while another group pointed out that it wasn't the title, since ALL the series that starred Fred Savage as a grownup failed...
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:48 PM on March 19, 2012


I imagine naming a show is a fraught decision. Naming the show after its star or lead character means that actor can never leave without making the title meaningless (although Blakes 7 didn't seem to care.)

I can see why a generic name might seem attractive.
posted by AndrewStephens at 6:50 PM on March 19, 2012


ABC has opted for a safer route with the new GCB, adapted from author Kim Gatlin's book Good Christian Bitches. The Dallas-set drama, at one point titled Good Christian Belles, was the target of religious groups when it was in the development process. The latest name change was mocked by critics, who predict the acronym will leave viewers scratching their heads.

It made me sad, that's for sure. I heard about the pilot long ago (a theatre news site reported the story when Kristin Chenowith was cast), and thought, Good Christian Bitches??? I AM SO THERE! GCB just isn't the same :(
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:51 PM on March 19, 2012


They should just title 'Better Off Ted' as Veridian Dynamics
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:54 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the great examples of a series that suffered due to a name change was Adult Swim's "Frisky Dingo", which gave no hint to the insanity contained (including a homicidal character named Wendell). Its original title was supposed to be "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" (or "WTF"), but the network got scared and dropped the "Foxtrot", then discovered there was a rock band named "Whiskey Tango" that was very well trademarked...
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:55 PM on March 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I listened to the creator of Cougar Town on a podcast just a few weeks ago talking about the problematic name of the show. He tossed off several others that were better. He said he'd actually been given the opportunity to change it but they get a lot of viewers on DVR and if the name of the show changed they have to count on all the people who have a season pass to change it to the new show and it wasn't worth the risk.
posted by Saminal at 6:56 PM on March 19, 2012


And the problem with a star leaving a show named after them happened to Valerie Harper's "Valerie", which after she quit, spent a half-season as "Valerie's Family" then limped on for another couple seasons as "The Hogan Family". The fact that this mediocre family sitcom survived as long as it did under ANY title speaks volumes.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:59 PM on March 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


And while "House" and "Castle" succeeded with their odd character names as titles, "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr." did not. But it was a Western after Westerns were considered dead, and aired in FOX's "Friday Death Slot".
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:02 PM on March 19, 2012


made the wrong decision with "Lost"

I disagree. "Lost" perfectly captures the writing on that show.
posted by never used baby shoes at 7:05 PM on March 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


Dan Harmon named his show Community so that it could continue after his characters graduate from community college, which shows some forethought.

On some podcast I heard recently (it might have been the episode of WTF with Dan Harmon or the one with the creator of Cougartown that Saminal mentions), the interviewee said that there is now a trend toward really mundane and cryptic titles, like House or 24 or Lost or Community or Smash. Apparently, research shows that a title that gives an indication of what the show is about is unlikely to draw viewers in, but it is likely to keep away viewers who dislike the title or dislike the genre they think the title signifies. In other words: try to make your title as unexciting as possible, because there is only the threat of alienation. This makes sense to me, but it's pretty much the opposite conclusion that this linked article draws. (e.g. ""You've got to have something that makes people say,'I want to check that out,' " says MTV programming chief David Janollari")
posted by painquale at 7:09 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, with the Lost one:

CONSIDERED: Nowhere
CHOSEN: Lost
Lloyd Braun, former ABC Entertainment Group chairman
"Years ago I was watching TV and a reality show came on NBC called Lost. It was produced by Conan O'Brien, and I thought, what a great title. A couple of years later, I was sitting on a beach in Hawaii and thinking about the movie Cast Away, which had been on ABC the night before. Wouldn't it be cool to do a show about people trapped on a deserted island and then marry it with Survivor and call it Lost? I pitched it at an ABC retreat, and we decided to develop it. The first draft comes in six months later -- it's not from [series creators] J.J. Abrams or Damon Lindelof -- and I see it's called Nowhere. I'm like: "What the hell? God forbid you use the title that the network exec wanted to use!" Ultimately, we started from scratch with J.J. and Damon. My one cannot-be-changed edict was calling this show Lost."


Am I dumb, or is the shorter version of this:
"I wanted to have a show called 'Lost', and I had this idea of combining two other things. I got a script from someone, but it had the wrong title, 'Nowhere'. So we got this completely other script with a completely different idea, and I slapped the name 'Lost' on it. THEREFORE: The show was originally called 'Nowhere' and it was originally a completely different show by completely different people!"
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 7:14 PM on March 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


STILL WAITING FOR AN EXPLANATION OF TERRIERS

THANKS IN ADVANCE
posted by shakespeherian at 7:17 PM on March 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


I will say that for a while before I finally watched (and loved) Better Off Ted, I thought, because of the "dead" pun in the title, that it took place in the afterlife or the titular character was an angel or something. They shoulda called it Science Dystopia Corporation, I would have been straight the fuck all over that.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:20 PM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


STILL WAITING FOR AN EXPLANATION OF TERRIERS

Me: HOLY SHIT, THIS SHOW TERRIERS IS THE BEST DETECTIVE SHOW SINCE ROCKFORD FILES AND MAYBE EVER
Friend: Wait, it's not about dog shows?
posted by Greg Nog at 7:22 PM on March 19, 2012 [13 favorites]


I recall the first time I heard there was going to be a sitcom titled "Cheers", I expected a comedy about cheerleaders.

Then when "Glee" was announced I thought, "no way this'll involve a glee club..."
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:22 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The Rockford Files" was one of the best misleading TV titles ever, because if there was one thing you never saw Jim Rockford do, it was filing.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:24 PM on March 19, 2012 [16 favorites]


I've always strongly believed that the Dabney Coleman one-season "wonder" Drexell's Class would have lasted a lot longer had the execs gone with one of the working titles: "Shut Up, Kids!"
posted by Chichibio at 7:25 PM on March 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


STILL WAITING FOR AN EXPLANATION OF TERRIERS

I was about to say this exact thing.

Every time I have suggested this show to a friend, and it's happened at least three times, there is a variant of this conversation:

"You should watch Terriers. It's on Netflix. Really good."

"Is it about dogs?"

"No. It's a buddy-cop show about private investigators and there's a season-long storyline and then individual plots that tie into it in each episode."

"Why is it called Terriers, then? Is there a dog in it?"

"Yes, but.... Forget the dog. The guys are scrappy and resourceful and determined, you know, like terriers are supposed to be."

"That's a dumb name."

"JUST WATCH THE GODDAMN SHOW ALREADY."
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:29 PM on March 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


My other problem with Terriers is that I'm from San Diego so I keep trying to figure out what part of town they're in even though they're actually in a fictional place named after a part of San Diego but my brain ignores that and is like 'Wait so they drove for twenty minutes so they must be near National City now right?' and then they're at the beach and I go 'WHARG' but admittedly this is really my problem and not the show's.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:32 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


GCB is great, and I'm glad they're not just straight up calling it Good Christian Belles. That phrase is completely misleading. Let it be called GCB, and then people can go to ABC's website to find out what that stands for.
posted by Night_owl at 7:33 PM on March 19, 2012


(On preview, @shakespeherian, Greg Nog, and BitterOldPunk)

The first comment on this article is simply "Terriers," which refers to the short-lived FX dramedy about a pair of unlicensed PIs. The show was critically well-received, but was cancelled after the first season. I have no idea if the name led to the show's cancellation, but I'm sure the author of the article would suggest the possibility.

Anyway, the guy who created and wrote the pilot for Terriers is a screenwriter named Ted Griffin with several other works under his belt. Mrs. Bureaucrat's parents had occasion to meet Griffin's mother when they drove to a neighboring state to buy a new dog...

That's right - Ted's Griffin's mother breeds terriers - Kerry Blues to be exact - and it was well known among her clients that her son had named the show in honor of the dogs (I believe it may have originally been a working title) and that she had, naturally, discouraged him from changing it after-the-fact.

"Thanks a lot, Mom!"
posted by FreelanceBureaucrat at 7:34 PM on March 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


I wonder if New Amsterdam would have made it a full season or two if it had been titled New York. Though the title New Amsterdam was brilliant.
posted by Mitheral at 8:21 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Manimal. There's a show that did what it said on the tin.
posted by stargell at 8:59 PM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I imagine naming a show is a fraught decision. Naming the show after its star or lead character means that actor can never leave without making the title meaningless (although Blakes 7 didn't seem to care.)

I recently went through a much smaller-scale version of this, working with my agent to retitle a book that I'd been working on for over a year before we went on submission to publishers because the other agents at her agency hated my working title (Daughter of Earth, for a young adult sci-fi title about a girl on a generation ship). The process took two days and was ridiculously exhausting. My biggest fear was that I'd end up saddled with a generic, one word, abstract title, which is all the rage in my genre right now (Matched, Crossed, Insignia, Delirium, Scored, Above, Variant, Divergent . . . you get the idea). I can't find all the titles we went through, but there had to be well over a dozen, from Errant Star to Across this Blue Vault (I dunno, I used to write poetry). I half-hated almost everything we came up with, and it was incredibly stressful but last minute I hit on something I loved (Starglass, which happens to be trendy but also relevant and most importantly sparkly) and we went on sub with that.

The scary thing is the publisher could always change it (though I have title consultation built into my contract), because it's hard enough spending a year with a book in your head as one title only to have it change once, much less twice. I think I'll stab myself in the eye with a fork if it changes again, and especially if it's changed via executive order by committee--which is the case when these things happen once a book gets to marketing, not unlike how things work in TV, from the sound of the article.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:05 PM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


One of the great examples of a series that suffered due to a name change was Adult Swim's "Frisky Dingo"

One of the great things about the refreshingly bizarre creators of that show is that you can really see them learn and evolve through their creations. Sealab 2021 was fantastic, had a name and a setting with an exisiting history to work with, but suffered by being stuck in a concept after a while and the death of their best voice actor; Frisky Dingo, even with its title problems, was far more fluid, completely reinventing itself in season 2 with a near total concept change but kept the characters fresh and the weirdness going, and now Archer has shown itself to be a matured, quite adept comedy and has struck a fine balance between bizarro and spy office comedy, with a title that doesn't confuse people and adds a touch of 007 class. Their ability to learn and creatively adapt to larger audiences in a way that doesn't turn off their existing fans is a rare thing.

On the other hand, IIRC, Dave Willis says that Aqua Teen Hunger Force was named that because "Three Guys in an Apartment and Stuff Happens to Them wasn't an easy pitch to make", and paired with a rap theme song because: "We wanted to come up with some really hardcore rap to give the show street cred, a tough feel and to scare white people at home."

Finally, while the title of the show I'm about to name is technically accurate, it fails to warn viewers of the pain, agony, regret and embarrassment that comes from making the mistake of actually watching Automan. (I've brought up Automan before, but dammit, the people must be warned!)
posted by chambers at 9:12 PM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Manimal. There's a show that did what it said on the tin.

That show bothered me. Aren't we, in the end, all really manimals?
posted by deliquescent at 9:19 PM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


This thing's fucking adorable.
Although concept, quality and cast play pivotal roles, executives acknowledge that they're often swayed by a great name as they're making decisions about what to pick up or pass on.
According to Jim made it to syndication. Because According To That Talentless Braying Leech Who Was Never Funny just didn't, you know, pop.
"It's very challenging," acknowledges Dana Walden, chairman of 20th Century Fox Television, which produces Modern Family, Glee and the midseason comedy Don't Trust the B-- in Apartment 23. "You want to be loud and provocative; on the other hand, you don't want to be so loud and provocative that you're alienating a certain segment of the audience."
Thanks, guy who greenlighted Don't Trust the B-- in Apartment 23. I'm sure you were late for your morning hot yoga session as you thought through all the ramifications of that one. Challenging indeed. Until there's a Nobel for this stuff, you'll simply have to be staggeringly well-compensated for greenlighting Don't Trust the B-- in Apartment 23 and suchlike.

According to Fucking Jim made it to syndication. There is no slop trough too low and greasy in this game. It's cute as hell, though, to hear them jaw over it all like retreivers who've been thrown a rawhide bone.
posted by gompa at 9:30 PM on March 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


When shows fail, it's really, really not because of the title.

I don’t know, I was thinking as I was reading that article that I had never even considered watching Cougar Town because I had a bad impression of it. But the only thing I know about it is the name, and I’ve seen billboards.

Naming things is hard, bands, records, movies, books, whatever.

Apparently, research shows that a title that gives an indication of what the show is about is unlikely to draw viewers in, but it is likely to keep away viewers who dislike the title or dislike the genre they think the title signifies. In other words: try to make your title as unexciting as possible, because there is only the threat of alienation.

I somehow figured this out 25 years ago trying to come up with band names. Aerosmith is great, easy to say, tells you nothing, doesn’t bother anyone. On the other hand I’ve had a couple different people say to me "I don’t care if Deathcab for Cutie is the greatest band ever, I’ll never know because of that name". Of Montreal, Minus the Bear; bands I will never hear.
posted by bongo_x at 9:37 PM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I will say that for a while before I finally watched (and loved) Better Off Ted, I thought, because of the "dead" pun in the title, that it took place in the afterlife or the titular character was an angel or something. They shoulda called it Science Dystopia Corporation, I would have been straight the fuck all over that.

I've got to agree. My reasons for not watching initially weren't exactly the same, but they were definitely related to the title.
posted by asnider at 9:42 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


THOSE WERE NOT GOOD TIMES AT ALL
posted by Sys Rq at 9:54 PM on March 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


LOST was indeed originally written by a different writer. The network didn't like the script that came in so they gave the idea to JJ and Damon.

I worked at FOX when they developed HOUSE. We did focus group testing and people had no idea what the name meant and thought it was a home show. NBC was developing a similar idea at the time, that show's working title was MEDICAL MYSTERY or something like that. We tried to come up with a different title (Rx?) but we couldn't come up with anything so HOUSE stuck. You wouldn't believe how many people miss the fact that the show is about House (Holmes) and Wilson (Watson) so it isn't really random, just a little nod to the detective-nature of the stories.

I remember reading an early draft of Gray's Anatomy when it was called Surgeons. I can't remember if the character's name was always Meredith Gray, my instinct is that it was not, but the name was changed to make the title work. I could be wrong.
posted by buzzkillington at 9:58 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


P.S. "STORY: 9 Do's and Don'ts for Picking TV Titles"? How about some consistency in apostrophe usage, The Hollywood Reporter?

*Titles sitcom "Don't's"*
posted by Sys Rq at 9:59 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dogs feature prominently in several episodes of Terriers, but none of them are terriers.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:08 PM on March 19, 2012


Naming things is hard, bands, records, movies, books, whatever.

Some societies seem to have a knack for it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:12 PM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


You wouldn't believe how many people miss the fact that the show is about House (Holmes) and Wilson (Watson)

Mind blown!
posted by TwoWordReview at 11:10 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


STILL WAITING FOR AN EXPLANATION OF TERRIERS

"Yes, but.... Forget the dog. The guys are scrappy and resourceful and determined, you know, like terriers are supposed to be."

Wasn't about the third or fourth episode where Hank and Britt are sitting in the truck brainstorming about what to call their PI business, and they go on to describe all the characteristics of a terrier, and you sit there waiting for them to say "I know, Terriers!" but that moment never comes? The writers were fucking with you.
posted by eddydamascene at 11:32 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do enjoy the show How I Met Your Mother, except that they keep dragging out the meeting your mother aspect, and it makes me not watch even though I would watch the shit out of the Barney-Stinson-Is-Awesome-Show.
posted by fragmede at 11:57 PM on March 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The TV Set
posted by P.o.B. at 2:06 AM on March 20, 2012


So if only it had been called "Serenity the Firefly Class Spaceship" we'd have been ok? Sniff.

I'll get me coat.
posted by howfar at 2:28 AM on March 20, 2012


You wouldn't believe how many people miss the fact that the show is about House (Holmes) and Wilson (Watson) so it isn't really random, just a little nod to the detective-nature of the stories

I wrote an article about House early in the first season, having only seen the first two episodes. Flailing around for an 'angle', I decided to pun around with the title some, but the House/Holmes comparison was right in the first paragraph. I'm proud to say 'I got it'. (But less proud of my later paragraph comparing the character to Doogie Howser.)
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:47 AM on March 20, 2012


NBC's Lost was aptly
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:55 AM on March 20, 2012


... named. It was an adventure race where teams were dumped in the middle of nowhere to race back to a known landmark. It was unlucky in that it was uncompelling, and came out around 9/11, and that The Amazing Race came out at the same time.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:01 AM on March 20, 2012


I'm sure one of the reasons Treme did not do as well as it might have done, on this side of the Atlantic anyway, is that a) nobody here know what it means / has heard of the place b) nobody can pronounce it - "What's that new Treem show?"
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:10 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Err... I had always assumed that Better Off Ted was exactly what it sounded like, a shitty uninspired generic sitcom, entirely because of the name. I only found out what it was actually about by googling it after reading this thread.

I remember trying to get people into Firefly while it was still on the air. "Firefly? What's it about, some detective named George Firefly?" "No, it's about the ragtag crew of a spaceship in a dystopian future." "WHAT?! Why is it called Firefly?!" Good fucking question, guy.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:11 AM on March 20, 2012


Friend: Wait, it's not about dog shows?

I had been living out of the country when Dog: Bounty Hunter first aired. Come back to hear some of my friends talk about it and it sounds like the craziest show ever.

Later, I found out it's not about a *dog* who is a bounty hunter.

Greatest disappointment of my life.
posted by sonika at 5:01 AM on March 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


I actually really liked the article, but part of me can't help but cynically think "medium that's part art, part business, part focus group, part appeasing executive whim, and a bit of dumb luck finds that deciding to name its product is part art, part business, part focus group, part appeasing executive whim, and a bit of dumb luck."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:13 AM on March 20, 2012


When shows fail, it's really, really not because of the title.

Sports Night i rest my case
posted by DU at 7:37 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Zorak: ...My show's not a comedy, it's a horredy. It's called Blood Dumpster.

Space Ghost: Your pilot gave me nightmares! This is 22 minutes of a guy running down a tunnel.

Jack Black: This is a show?

Zorak: Yes.

Space Ghost: And what's with your character, the guy with the blades? What's that?

Zorak: The Dumpsterkeeper.

Space Ghost: Who's gonna identify with the "dumpsterkeeper"? I mean, maybe if he were in a motorized wheelchair you'd have some sense of sympathy for him.

Zorak: Well, it tested well.

(beat)

Zorak: I mean, really well.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:40 AM on March 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


Now that we have that settled, can someone explain why the cover art for Terriers on Netflix looks disturbingly like the cover art for Tremors?
posted by entropicamericana at 7:49 AM on March 20, 2012


THOSE WERE NOT GOOD TIMES AT ALL

Ironically they were, Sys Rq. I watched it from the POV of a middle-class white boy in a small town, who never worried about my father's employment, the rent, or crime. And I always envied the love in that family.

Which was, of course, the point.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:57 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


sonika: Later, I found out it's not about a *dog* who is a bounty hunter.

Greatest disappointment of my life.

"OK, boy, here's his last check that bounced. Sniff it, boy. Sniff it! ... Have you got it, boy?"

(Spunky, medium-haired mutt with a spot over one eye and a flag tail bounds out the window)

"He's on it!"

(chase ensues... dog barks at door, then runs around side of house and follows man running out back, with bandanna tied around head... man gets in car, drives away... dog takes shortcut and leaps onto car from overpass walkway. Man is startled, swerves into lightpole. Dog leaps off just in time, and pulls unconscious man by arm from car.)

"You did it boy! Another tough nab by... waitaminnit... That's not our suspect. Uh-oh!" (comedy cue plays)

(Dog drops one ear, looks forelorn, looks away.)
posted by IAmBroom at 8:03 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I remember reading an early draft of Gray's Anatomy when it was called Surgeons. I can't remember if the character's name was always Meredith Gray, my instinct is that it was not, but the name was changed to make the title work. I could be wrong.

I always thought the name was a reference to the book. I guess that alone was too subtle for the non-medical professionals. Disappointing.

I've never watched the show, so wasn't aware a character shared the name.
posted by howling fantods at 8:33 AM on March 20, 2012


"What's that new Treem show?"

In all seriousness, this is the first time I've come across the possibility that it isn't pronounced this way.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:34 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


And don't even get me started on the whole "The Girlie Show" / "TGS with Tracey Jordan" fiasco.
posted by The Deej at 8:34 AM on March 20, 2012


I always thought the name was a reference to the book.

It references both the character's last name AND the book, as they are spelled differently.
posted by elizardbits at 8:44 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


it is still the terriblest thing ever to terrible
posted by elizardbits at 8:44 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


STILL WAITING FOR AN EXPLANATION OF TERRIERS

Should've been called Beach Dicks.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:30 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chiming in that Better Off Ted's unfortunately generic title was the reason I ignored it too. Not that my watching would have mattered since I'm not a Nielsen family, but still. It's only after the AV Club posted a clip of Jabberwocky that I checked it out on Netflix and realized I'd missed out on an awesome show. It's not really news, but it is kind of amazing to realize how much presentation makes a difference to whether or not people pay attention to something.

Veridian Dynamics: We're Sorry. You're Welcome
posted by missix at 10:08 AM on March 20, 2012


Not only did I assume Better Off Ted was a terrible show because of its title, but no matter how many times I'm contradicted I go right back and completely forget that it's actually supposed to be good. I'll probably have done it again by tomorrow morning. Also, Raising Hope.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 2:03 PM on March 20, 2012


Well, now I feel like I should give Better Off Ted a chance.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:05 PM on March 20, 2012


Well, now I feel like I should give Better Off Ted a chance.

You should! It's a quirky office-comedy, but at some point when I was watching it, I realized it might be taking place in a near-future corpocracy, and an additional piquantly-darker layer suddenly seemed to materialize.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:11 PM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think Lost was a good title. You can, if you're so inclined, see its two meanings: these people are physically lost in a plane crash, and every single one of them has emotional baggage and are/were lost in their lives. Ok, the second one is a stretch I suppose, but I always assumed that was why they chose that title.

Nowhere would've been a decent title for the first few seasons, until the point that they discover that the island, actually, isn't nowhere, but somewhere in the South Pacific (though it can move around...I think?). So that would've been literally incorrect.
posted by zardoz at 6:11 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


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