Fox Axes Rivers Cuomo's TV Show 'DeTour': Pros & Cons of Its Abandoned Pilot
Weezer frontman's show isn't headed to TV. Here's what was good and bad about the promising pilot.
Even though Weezer's Everything Will Be Alright In the End was its best studio album in years, it's not a piece of advice that applies to everything in the real world, as Rivers Cuomo himself recently learned.
The Weezer frontman's foray into the world of TV -- he was working on a potential Fox series about a rock star who abandons the limelight to get a college degree, not unlike a certain alt-rock superstar who attended Harvard off-and-on for many years -- has come to a screeching halt, according to a recent interview with Vulture. Even worse – we'll probably never see the pilot, which was finished before Fox passed on it.
"DeTour did not get picked up,” he told Vulture. “So that whole chapter is closed. It’s weird. In music if you make an album and your label decides not to put it out, you can bring it to another label and sometimes it can be a big success. At least it gets out. In TV, I’ve learned, it’s not like that. The pilot was made, completely finished, and we can’t show it to anybody! No one will ever see it. It’s a huge waste of money.”
Even if the DeTour pilot languishes in the vaults for years, Billboard got a hold of the screenplay for the pilot episode. Below, we've rounded up the pros and cons of a promising show that's worth more than its dead-on-arrival fate suggests.
The Music Jokes Aren't Too Insider-y
Even if Portlandia proved that niche jokes about the music world can hit a fairly large audience. DeTour seemed aimed for a larger demographic, but the barbs we're still appropriately sharp. When talking about the main character's choice to enroll in college at 32, the show didn't shy away from labeling it a mid-career crisis -- and noting most musicians just opt for a reality TV paycheck instead of hitting the textbooks.
It Boasts at Least 1 Very Unique Character
Most shows, even the great ones, base their main and recurring characters around a stable of archetypes we've seen before in one form or another. This is true for DeTour as well, but it did offer something different in the role of Lilly, a fairly harmless (but still obsessive) stalker who follows
Rivers Cuomo rock star Michael to college. Simply put, there aren't that many likable characters on network TV shows who fall into the category of "celebrity stalker." It would have been interesting to see where a character like this could go, both in psychological and comedic terms.
The Show Acknowledges the Main Character's Privilege
The protagonist's go-with-the-flow attitude is routinely mocked by supporting characters, with one of them even going so far as to point out that it's easy to tell others to stop worrying when you have an entire team managing the minutiae of your life. This is a lesson most musicians doling out Life Advice have yet to learn.
Every Girl Likes Him
Given that the lead is a rock star in a college setting, this isn't exactly unrealistic, but it still feels like male wish fulfillment for the viewer. Every female in the pilot exchanges an illicit smile or flirtatious word with the college-bound rocker, who at one point opens his door to find a naked girl in his bed (he dressed her and sends her away). In fact, the only girl who doesn't seem a romantic possibility for the lead is his stalker -- and her life is defined by being obsessed with him.
To quote Principal Skinner from the "Homer's Barbershop Quartet" episode of The Simpsons, DeTour is "a name that's witty at first, but that seems less funny each time you hear it." Also, it's essentially a single entendre. Yes, the main character is taking a life detour, and yes, rock bands go on tours, but touring has nothing to do with the series, and being in a rock band is basically just the character's backstory.
You Don't Feel the Main Character Has Much to Lose
As we pointed out in "pros," the show is fully aware of the main character's privilege. And it tries to offset that by mentioning he comes from a rather humble background. But acknowledging something doesn't mean the issue is settled -- and it's hard to feel the drama when the main character has an enviable safety net to fall back on. Hell, his label actually sues him to prevent him from going to college. It's difficult to get invested in a character whose options (graduate college or return to being a rock star) are win-win.
In a lot of ways, the pilot wasn't unlike Community: A cool dude leaves his career and returns to college, attracting a crew of well-meaning misfits in the process. But in Community, you felt that Joel McHale's character really had hit the bottom. Not so much with this guy. Like the girl in Pulp's "Common People," he's always got big money to return to: "If you called your dad [i.e., record label], he could stop it all."