Good Shows That Got Canceled
August 12, 2008
After the high that was "Charlie's Angels" — I say this in all seriousness, that movie rocked — McG turned his eyes to television and gifted us with the one season wonder that was "Fastlane."
Long before he started being the Executive Producer Man behind the series portraying how pretty and effed up rich kids are ("The O.C."), former music video director McG created a series about things that dudes like.
Drool-worthy cars. Scantily clad babes. Ridiculous situations. Funny (on purpose) dialogue. Flashing cash around. Being a player. Great music. Hyper, ADD-style action. Freeze frames. Sudden outbursts of violence. Girls making out with each other. Leather pants. Big, shiny guns. Network? Fox, of course.
Essentially a "Miami Vice"-style buddy cop show, the slick series centered around the exploits of two mismatched, often bickering undercover cops — frequently shirtless, Tom Cruise sound-a-like Peter Facinelli as Donovan "Van" Ray and MTV’s Bill Bellamy as Deaqon "Deaq" Hayes — and their unamused, "more cojones than you fools" boss, Wilhelmina "Billie" Chambers (Tiffani "I’m not Amber anymore" Thiessen), as they straddled the line between law enforcement and criminal activity to take down the nastiest bad guys in Los Angeles.
Using police confiscated supercars, racing bikes, clothes, weapons, drugs and more — stored in the secret warehouse known as "The Candy Store" — they wrestled with a ring of diamond-thieving biker chicks (episode title: "Girls Own Juice"), stopped a team of female home invasion robbers with lesbian targets ("Strap On") and went after a meth-making porn kingpin ("Asslane"). You see where this is going.
But it wasn’t just gratuitous T&A with "Fastlane." They also had their versions of heartwarming tales, like the episode where Van and Deaq have to protect a bratty teen (Mischa Barton, who went on to woodenly play Marissa Cooper on "The O.C.") from an assassin or the one where the dynamic duo help Van’s father (an awesome counterfeiter) out of a little bind involving a Nigerian crime lord. Not to mention the time when Van and Deaq get Billie through a particularly rough undercover case where she ends up re-hooked on heroin, something she got addicted to while working on a previous undercover assignment.
Sure, the series was rife with action cliches, but where other shows employ them with eyeball-rolling lameness, "Fastlane" tackled them with amusing flair. An example? My pleasure! For the "win over a suspicious crowd that you clearly don’t belong near" schtick, they had Bill "MTV Jamz" Bellamy bust out a line dance to "Cat Scratch Fever" in a bar with a Confederate flag as decoration, while surrounded by a bunch of redneck toughs... who, of course, end up digging it hardcore. It’s funnier than it sounds, promise. Ditto for the scene where Van and Deaq are playing "Dance Dance Revolution" in an attempt to impress the leader of a Chinese Triad sect inexplicably called Mighty Blue.
At the time, McG said that "the goal of the show is to make it feel like an hour of film on television every week." While he totally succeeded, it appeared that TV budgets couldn’t quite handle it. Each of the 22 episodes reportedly cost production studios Warner Bros. and Fox $2.6 million to make, thanks to the crazy cinematography, special effects, licensed soundtrack — the Vines, 2 Live Crew, Wu-Tang Clan — and various exotic vehicles they used. Impressive guest starring gigs from the likes of Fred Durst, George Hamilton, Iggy Pop, Naomi Campbell, Tommy Lee, the late Isaac Hayes, Biz Markie and Dale Earnhardt Jr. also contributed to the high cost of each episode.
That, in conjunction with a ratings drop after being moved from Wednesday nights to the no man’s land of Friday nights, led to the series being canceled, leaving fans wondering WTF happens to Billie after a cliffhanger where she’s kidnapped and forced to do drugs. (Remember? She’s an ex-junkie!)
Fortunately for fans — and newbies who never watched it during its first run or on G4 where it’s sometimes aired — they’ve finally put "Fastlane" on DVD. It’s fullscreen instead of widescreen and they had to change up some music for licensing reasons, but all of that is a small price to pay to watch this highly entertaining series that was shut down way before its time. - Maxine Shen
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