THE KNIGHTS OF PROSPERITY
ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE OCT. 17; ABC (U.S.) AND OCT. 21; CTV (CANADA).
PULLED BY THE NETWORKS AFTER THIS COLUMN WENT TO PRESS. NOW SCHEDULED TO PREMIERE IN JANUARY.
BOTTOM LINE: BETTER HOLD YOUR NOSE.
What's in a name?
Sure, a rose by any other name may still smell as sweet. But sometimes,even a bunch of title changes can’t keep a lousy TV show from stinking up the place.
By Eric Kohanik
Sometimes, a title can make or break a TV show.
A title has to reach out and grab a viewer’s attention – and hang onto it.
A lot of shows have one-word titles: Survivor, Supernanny, Vanished, Jericho and Kidnapped are examples.
Of course, it helps if that single word also has only one syllable: Friends, Cheers, Cops, House, Bones, Shark and Lost.
Sometimes, a one-word title is accompanied by “The” – The Office, The Unit, The Apprentice, The Bachelor, The Sopranos – presumably to distinguish the show from others around it.
Sometimes, titles use acronyms – letters that form a single word but stand for many more: ER, CSI, NCIS and M*A*S*H.
And sometimes, the acronyms are paired with “The” – like The O.C. – creating a double whammy.
Sometimes, titles use numbers to stand out: 60 Minutes, 24, 20/20, 30 Rock, Nanny 911 – and even the wacky Numb3rs.
And, sometimes, titles just rely on simple clichés: Without a Trace and Close to Home are a couple of examples of current shows that took that route.
Producers and TV networks spend a lot of energy coming with the right titles. Sometimes, the original ends up getting tweaked: Seinfeld started out as The Seinfeld Chronicles, for instance. And, this season, Justice started out as American Crime, the title of the show within the show.
Perhaps the wildest title exercise this season stems from The Knights of Prosperity. It’s a horrible new comedy series that casts Ottawa native Donal Logue as a schlubby, middle-aged janitor who recruits a group of losers to rob Mick Jagger’s luxury apartment in order to finance their individual dreams.
Jagger’s guest stint is the only good thing inthe pilot episode, which tends to come offmore like a cheesy made-for-cable movie.
The series was originally pitched to ABC assomething called Let’s Rob Jeff Goldblum. When Goldblum didn’t materialize but Jagger showed interest, the title was changed to Let’s Rob Mick Jagger.
Then, after someone realized that title would limit things – after all, what would happen after they robbed him? – the title was changed to Let’s Rob…, leaving the dooropen for others to be robbed in the future.
Ultimately, it became The Knights of Prosperity, which is what the would-be thieves end up calling themselves. But even when executive producer Rob Burnett was promoting the show to the press in Los Angeles back in July, he still wasn’t sure about it.
“If anyone has suggestions for a title, we’reopen to them,” Burnett quipped before providing a more serious explanation. “We felt The Knights of Prosperity was, at least forus, the best way to market this.”
The title stinks – but then, so does the show. Maybe Burnett is onto something.
Sometimes, no amount of title-changing can make a bad show good.