Beyond The TV Grave -- FOX’s Pasadena

Written Asking if Timing is Key by Bridger Cunningham

What a difference an era-changing event such as the terrorist attacks on 9/11 made to our country, including our television viewing habits.  FOX's Pasadena was saddled with the misfortune of debuting 17 days after these horrific events, leading to poor ratings and an untimely cancellation.  Years later, the show earned additional notice as a similar series centered on dark secrets, Desperate Housewives, became a runaway hit for ABC.  Did FOX do this show a disservice by not relocating it to Spring 2002 to allow viewers to let their wounds cool?


Image result for pasadena - mark valley natasha gregson wagner balthazar getty
The series centered on teenage Lily McCalister (Allison Lohman), who begins to dig deeper into her family's dark history following witnessing a tragic suicide.  Martin Donovan and Dana Delany played her parents, Will and Catherine, as well as film star Christopher Marquette as her brother Mason.  Mark Valley, Natasha Gregson-Wagner (Natalie Wood's daughter) and Balthazar Getty (Brothers and Sisters) also populated the cast as Catherine's siblings in the cursed Greeley family.


Following the tragic events of 9/11, television viewers sought lighter fares and viewed Pasadena as too grim and dark.  The series finished the weakest among FOX's seasonal deliveries, scoring a 2.73 rating in 121st place among the 153 TV programs that season.  FOX pulled the series after 4 episodes on November 2, 2001.

Similarity to ABC's Desperate Housewives

3 seasons later, ABC debuted a similar premise with Desperate Housewives on October 3, 2014.  The series also revolved around hidden secrets, yet offset the dark tone with whimsical music and a hearty helping of humor and satire.  Like Pasadena, the series launched with a suicide, as well as a dark family secret.  Delany's involvement in Pasadena perked interest from ABC, who later hired her to great acclaim as she played similarly named Katherine Mayfair from 2007-10.

Later Airings

In subsequent years, international airings reached the countries of Romania, Colombia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Mexico, Slovakia, Serbia, New Zealand, Denmark, Russia, South Africa, China and Israel between 2003-04.  After Desperate Housewives became a headline grabber, cable outlet SoapNet aired a complete marathon of Pasadena episodes in early 2005.

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