Sunday, March 30, 2008

You Mean You're Not Interested In Children's Book Editors?

If you were meaning to kick back and enjoy watching all the highjinks and shenanigans that go on in the editorial offices of a children's book publisher, well, sorry, but you missed your chance. The Return of Jezebel James has already been cancelled.

I think the show had a number of problems.

1. The kidlit publishing humor may have been too insider. For instance, in the last episode that I saw there was a running gag about what appeared to be a fundamentalist family from the mid-West whose homeschooled son (dressed as a Viking) is being courted by HarperCollins (the real publisher setting for the office-based portion of the show) because he's written a manuscript considered very desirable. Now, I may be wrong, but I'm assuming that this was some kind of reference to Christopher Paolini, who was homeschooled and has talked in interviews about dressing in costumes to promote his first book in schools after the family had it self-published. Was that too inside a joke? And too mean-spirited, since the family was portrayed as rubes and the boy as some kind of oddball savant?

2. We've seen the professional woman wanting a baby at all costs scenario before. Many times before. What little humor was to be had from that situation has already been done.

3. Convincing your sad, directionless sister who appears to have no means of support to bear your child just isn't funny.

4. The title of the show really had nothing to do with anything. The editor character had lifted the idea for a book called The True Adventures of Jezebel James from her sister, who had had an imaginary friend called Jezebel James when she was young. The editor had farmed out the idea to a writer, which is another insider joke, but only if you're familiar with book packagers. But Jezebel James really has nothing to do with what's going on in the lives of the characters in the show. It just left viewers sitting in front of their TVs going, "Wha?"

And then they must have turned the channel because, as I said, the show has already gone off the air.

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