Question: Love your column. While I am saddened by the apparent cancellation of Sons & Daughters, I am hardly surprised. The first time I saw it, I said pessimistically to myself, "This is an Arrested Development rip-off," but as the shows went on, I had the same thought, only in a more positive light. I normally love David Cross, but his character on AD always seemed a little forced to me, whereas Jerry Lambert (Don on S&D), playing seemingly the same role as Cross, was pure comedic gold. I think he was the most underrated character on the show, with every line superbly understated, and every selfish act completely hilarious as opposed to grating. The cancellation's timing is the only thing that really bothers me. Anyone who saw the fate of AD surely could've predicted the eventual outcome for S&D, but why would ABC hype it so much and bring it in for mid-season, just to show only a handful of episodes and then suddenly cancel it? Why even put it on the air? Did ABC think that America would become intelligent overnight and suddenly embrace a show like this? Is there any way they might "burn off" any remaining episodes, à la Joey or AD on a Friday or during summer? Please tell me we'll see at least one more episode somewhere down the road, and that I won't have to be content with watching American Idol, America's Next Top Model and According to Jim while I wait for the next short-lived smart comedy. Thanks.
Answer: First off, good call on singling out Jerry Lambert. I loved most of the cast, but he was always spot-on and I hope he gets another chance to emerge soon in a great comedy. Because you're right: Sons & Daughters never really had a chance. But still, I'm amazed that ABC allowed it to air 12 of the 13 episodes that were produced. (There was an odd episode left over, because of the show's back-to-back scheduling. Don't know if ABC will ever show it, but we can always hope for a complete DVD somewhere down the line.) It's hard to know how to analyze ABC's treatment of the show. On one hand, I'm glad they put it on the air while knowing it would be a tough sell. But they didn't know what to do with it, clearly, and they had no strong comedy night on which to support it because ABC's comedies are quite obviously in the toilet these days. I guess ABC hoped that critical acclaim (which Sons mostly got, but not entirely) might have helped it eke out an Arrested Development-like existence on the ratings margins. But it just wasn't to be. So let's be glad for the 13 episodes that were made (the same number, come to think of it, as the original Office, if you count the Christmas Special) and hope the next time a network takes a risk like this, the outcome will be happier.