|Why "Life's Work" Didn't Last|
|As with everything on TV, "Life's Work" had a lot of tough obstacles to face from the start. Here's a few reasons that it didn't make it in the fast paced world of TV:
First of all, it's lead-in show, Roseanne, which was in its' final year, took a major dip in the ratings. The way they say it works is that if you watch Roseanne, you're going to watch the show that follows it, but you won't tune in just for the new show. Roseanne's previous season was supposed to be the last, but they (like "Murphy Brown") unsuccessfully tried to have a spectacular talked-about final season. All they talked about in Roseanne's case was how bad it was. A further blow came when John Goodman, who played Roseanne's husband Dan, left the show for the majority of the season. The storyline had the Conner family winning the lottery and enjoying their newfound wealth during wacky adventures, the near-break up of Dan and Roseanne when he has an affair, the arrival of Darlene and David's daughter, and the most misunderstood final episode of all time. Towards the end of the season, ratings improved slightly but not enough to save Life's Work. Following "Life's Work" on Tuesdays, were "Home Improvement" and Michael J. Fox's new "Spin City," both of which flourished in the ratings.
Moving on: ABC = Sitcom Death. Despite the fact that most shows get better as they mature and the actors become more comfortable with their characters, ABC is notorious for cancelling shows after just a few episodes have aired (for that matter, ALL of the networks are doing that these days...). I could go on for pages about this, but I'll move on. . .It is also heavily rumored that the head of ABC at the time didn't care all that much for the show or the female lead.
"Life's Work" went on "hiatus" (a word TV junkies like me loathe) after airing the episode "Neighbors" on January 27, 1997. During February Sweeps they replaced scheduled episodes of "Life's Work" with "The Drew Carey Show." After Carey's Tuesday run was over, reruns of "Ellen" were shown, and finally, Dan Ackroyd's daft sitcom "Soul Man."
When the 1996 season started, ABC had a post-board for each show through their AOL website, where fans and critics of the show could share thier opinions. To everyone's surprise, Lisa Ann Walter began posting from time to time, answering questions and giving some info out about the show and cast. Shortly after "Life's Work" officially went on "hiatus," a guy named Joe (credit where credit is due) and the people who had been posting banded together to try to save the show. There was an internet petition; and a letter-writing campaign, which got huge support in Chicago (where a local paper was backing it) and Massachusettes. Right around the time they brought the show back, someone at ABC got wind of the post-board and it was promptly turned into a restricted area.
Finally, on May 27, 1997, ABC was so annoyed at the attention brought to the show that they put it back on the air with three unaired episodes and summer reruns. The networks like to "burn off" unaired episodes and reruns of lower rated shows during the summer, when people have seen all the reruns of the higher rated shows. Shortly thereafter, "Life's Work" was officially cancelled, despite the fact thier ratings had considerably improved. In fact, according to reasearch, "Life's Work" had a better Q Rating than "The Drew Carey Show" and held onto 90% of the audience that watched "Roseanne," whose ratings had also slightly improved (Even "Spin City" didn't hang onto that much of "Home Improvement"'s audience).
Sadly, the cast and crew had to seek out their new life's work, and "Life's Work" was forgotten.... But obviously it wasn't completely forgotten or you wouldn't be reading this!