By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Arrested development: Two years ago, at a cost of around $3.5 million an episode, HBO began production on a new hour-long series called 12 Miles of Bad Road, set in Dallas but shot mostly in Los Angeles. The series was to be the latest from the co-creators of Designing Women and Evening Shade, Linda Bloodworth and Harry Thomason, and it was due to debut on HBO this spring. TV trade mag Broadcasting and Cable wrote that Bad Road was "viciously funny and infinitely accessible," but last week, the program was administered its last rites, as HBO shut 'er down and sent the producers packing with no explanation.
Thomason didn't take kindly to being told to git by the new suits at HBO, so he did what plenty of good producers have done under the same circumstances: He sent six episodes to TV critics in hopes their kind words would interest another network in the program, which starred Lily Tomlin and Mary Kay Place as big-wig Dallas real estate agents riding herd over a screwball family consisting of a horny son (played by the brilliant Gary Cole) who's big buds with Jerry Jones, one daughter who's living in a tour bus parked in a Preston Hollow manse's driveway and another shacked up with her ex in another pricey piece of Dallas real estate.
"We hope HBO reconsiders and puts it on. That'd be the best solution for everyone," Thomason says. "We just want to move it, and if there's anyone out there that likes it, it'd be nice of them to help us to move it. Trust me, it would have been good."
Well, we ain't gotta trust Thomason—he shot Buzz all six episodes, and truth is, the sumbitch wasn't half-bad. A little broad for our tastes—like the "retard" daughter who wants more than anything to be an Idlewild deb, or the gold-digger named Montserrat who talks like a Bond villain, or the way in which every single character cops a store-bought Texas accent. In other words, it ain't exactly The Sopranos.
Still, it's dopey fun—Dallas turned on its cowboy hat, with Tomlin as the wise ol' lefty channeling pal Ann Richards, while the rest of the family is up to its ass in shenanigans and nonsense. And you have to admire the way the producers tried their best to make the show seem like it had genuine Dallas roots, with its copious references to Harry Hines Boulevard, Keller's, Preston Trail Golf Club (depicted here as an all-white haven in which men with chesticles roam the restaurant) and, no shit, even good ol' "Sheriff Valdez." And Kinky Friedman even shows up, playing a private party in Possum Kingdom. That Buzz don't buy for one second.