I used to think that it was painful getting bad reviews as a novelist. I had no idea that it’s even crueler when you’re in the TV business. Although I’m not involved with “Rizzoli & Isles,” the new TV show based on my series, I can’t help wincing when I see some of the breathtakingly ill-informed attacks critics have hurled against the show.
And the most common attack seems to be about the name of the show. Rizzoli. And. Isles. “What numbskull comes up with a stupid title like that?” they ask. “Why couldn’t they come up with better names?” says this article, proposing some better alternatives. And this blog.
“Worst Name Ever,” seems to be the theme on TV message boards. Critics have said it sounds like “A restaurant,” or “A wine cooler,” or “A law firm.” They just don’t get why anyone would call a show by that name.
Their prediction? This show is sure to fail because it has a stupid title.
Now that “Rizzoli & Isles” has debuted to the best-ever ratings of any scripted cable show, and has held its ratings in its second week, it’s time to look at just how wrong those critics were. And why.
I’m astonished by the ignorance of the pundits. They certainly can’t call themselves journalists if they didn’t know that the show is based on novels whose characters are named … yep! Rizzoli. And. Isles. And don’t they know that to change the names of those characters (as New York Magazine suggested) would, um, make the show NOT based on the novels which attracted the producer in the first place?
Did they not realize that those names may actually have been one of the reasons many viewers did tune in? That many of those viewers are readers of the books, which have been read by millions of readers? That’s a pretty hefty ready-made audience.
(Those same pundits would probably have thought that a movie with “Harry Potter” in the title was stupidly named, too.)
What it tells me is that too many TV pundits don’t read books. They’re ignorant of the book audience. They’re ignorant that, yes, fictional literary characters do have millions of fans. They’re so wrapped up in their TV world, that they don’t realize there’s an audience out there beyond their tiny little sphere of knowledge.