Lessons Of Cop Rock , Unlearned: Viva Laughlin Cancelled

Blasted by critics as a "train wreck," "horrid" and "totally botched," not to mention possibly the "worst show in the history of television," Viva Laughlin, CBS's Nevada-set musical/mystery drama series, just became the first scripted casualty of the fall TV season, and good riddance. Starring a lifeless Lloyd Owen -- not to be confused with ex-Croupier Clive Owen -- as an aspiring casino entrepreneur being investigated by the local PD for murder, the series failed to capture the quirky brilliance of Blackpool, the 2004 BBC serial from which it was adapted, and audiences took note and stayed away. Which is a shame, because the original Blackpool was awesome television, and that's not just because I have a massive crush on co-star David Tennant. Like Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective before it, the gimmick of both shows was that characters would routinely break into lip-synced pop songs, such as Kenny Roger's "The Gambler" or Elvis' "Viva Las Vegas," but whereas the UK version created a tone that was equal parts campy and dramatic, without taking itself too seriously, as seen in this interrogation scene between Tennant's PI and David Morrissey's casino-owner wannabe...

...the American version seemed devoid of any joy or emotion. And I'm not just talking about guest star Melanie Griffith's Botox-blitzed face. Modern musical numbers, a la the song-driven one-offs from Buffy or Scrubs, require a certain amount of irony or tongue-in-cheekedness that's absent from Laughlin producer Hugh Jackman & Co's knock-off. Native Brit Owen also seemed to have a difficult time mastering his American accent, unlike his compatriots on House, Bionic Woman, and Life.

But BBC America fans, never fear. I'm sure next season will bring another American studio attempt to bring a popular Brit-com over the Atlantic and fail spectacularly (game shows, however, are a completely different story). In fact, the U.S. has a pretty good track record for getting successful UK series lost in translation; for every Office, there's a Coupling, Cracker, or Men Behaving Badly. Then again, maybe such series have just been in the wrong hands. Paging Ben Silverman!