Commentarial Odds & Ends

posted Feb 6, 2012, 10:40 AM by Terrence Moss   [ updated Feb 7, 2012, 1:58 PM ]

Many of my media commentaries and reaction pieces are inspired by entertainment news from websites such as deadline.com, medialifemagazine.com and Marc Berman’s TV Media Insights (formerly MediaWeek’s Programming Insider). 

A lot of what I may want to respond to doesn’t warrant an entire article or essay so I’ve compiled a few largely unrelated musings into one reaction piece.

 

FOX 

I don't know what other night it could air, but Raising Hope is on the wrong night. It's a great show and definitely deserves a larger audience but it doesn't have the so-called "cool" factor of Glee and New Girl which air before it.
 
I just hope they don't toss it off to die on Friday. They could be given a Sunday try-out should newcomer Napoleon Dynamite turn out to be a dud. Either that or FOX needs a companion show to build a new hour of live-action single-camera comedies.

They’re sort of doing that now. In early March, Glee will go on another hiatus until later in the spring. Raising Hope will shift from its 9:30 post-New Girl time slot to open up the night at 8pm as a lead-in for the returning I Hate My Teenage Daughter at 8:30. I don’t know why FOX thinks Raising Hope can open a night, but at least it’s not cancelled. At 9:30, the Christian Slater-starrer Breaking In will air. Unexpectedly renewed for a second season, it’s been retooled into more of a workplace comedy with Megan Mullally joining the cast.
 
I understand that 22-episode series orders have to stretch out over a 39-week TV season, but there has to be a better way to accomplish this without the start-and-stop that hinders the growth of a new series or the momentum of a more established series. Even in the age of the DVR, all these programming moves are confusing.

House runs for several weeks then goes on hiatus only to come back into a new time slot, but only for a short amount of time because something else is going to come in and then it’s going to go back to that earlier time slot for another couple of weeks at which point they’re going to run the two-hour premiere of Torch with Kiefer Sutherland – as a teaser. Then it’ll return in six weeks to complete its run after or before House. Somewhere in there two episodes of Alcatraz airs.

I’m making the specifics up but who can keep up with any of that.

This is where limited series can come in. Most premises don't lend themselves all that well to a full-season let alone multiple seasons. Give them 6-10 episode orders, promote them, air them, let them run and then renew them for a later date or don't bring them back at all.
 
If they come across a hit, re-air and milk it for all the DVD, amazon and itunes sales possible.
 
It can't cost more than what they're doing now. It's a mess.

 

THE CW “NETWORK”
 
The CW needs to call it quits. How can their execs have such a hard time programming 10 hours a week when they're partially backed by CBS?
 

They regularly schedule encores – particularly of America’s Next Top Model, which is taking a breather for the remainder of the season. Its replacement, the reality series Remodeled, burned before it even had a chance to crash.

They copy themselves. What’s really the difference between Gossip Girl and 90210 besides location?

They rehash old favorites from the 1990s. Nikita was USA’s La Femme Nikita with Peta Wilson. The aforementioned 90210 and the short-lived Melrose Place were both on FOX.

Even former vampire slayer Sarah Michelle Gellar, now of Ringer, is a familiar face and name from CW precursors WB and UPN.

And now they’re planning a prequel to Sex and the City.

This targeting of specific demographics such as young females is the stuff of CABLE networks. And because those young females don’t watch TV in the same way the rest of us do, the CW’s collective ratings are only going to get worse.

I’m sure they’ve been trying to differentiate themselves from the old WB but I saw them as WB, Jr. from day one. Own it. Live it.

Or end it. I’m sure their affiliates can make better use of those primetime hours.

They could also turn themselves into a programming service from which local independent stations can purchase programming like in the good ol' days of 90s TV when Xena, Hercules and three of the four Star Trek spinoffs ran for several years.

 

SHADOWS OF THEIR FORMER SELVES 

The Lifetime Network has officially become network non-grata for me. I may not be their target demo but I used to watch it. However, the Dance Moms spinoff they recently announced is groan-inducing. Is this what a once great network wants to be known for? They'd rather go the way of Bravo, whose numbers may have improved but is no longer worth watching now that the Housewives and their ilk have taken over.

USA on the other hand, has found their niche without pandering to the catty bitchiness that has become a hallmark of popular reality television. They have deservedly been on top of the cable rankings for the last six years – a position Lifetime once held.
 
There was something sad about NBC repeating a 90-year-old woman's birthday special a couple weeks ago because it was their number one non-football show of the week.

Between the funny "Hot in Cleveland", the hysterical "Off Their Rockers" and her birthday special, Betty White is poised for one helluva an Emmy year in multiple categories.
 


BRAVO KRISTEN WIIG
 

Mark Harris, in this week’s Final Cut column from the current Oscar issue of Entertainment Weekly discusses the grumblings about Kristen Wiig not wanting to do a Bridesmaids sequel. Regardless, Universal wants one and they’re willing to move ahead with it without her.

Unnamed mouthpieces from the studio called her ungrateful. I call her smart. The studio should be asking for more original screenplays from her, not rehashing of the same material. Of course, the studios will probably get their way by leveraging one against the other so look for Bridesmaids 2 in 2013.

This is the problem with a creative business run by bottom-lining executives. They’d rather pay out the ass for a sequel, a reboot or a remake rather than devote just a portion of that for unproven new projects. And they’re going to have to pay out the ass to get this cast back – particularly breakout Melissa McCarthy, whose performance in the movie garnered her an Oscar nomination.

I didn’t graduated from Wharton Business School, but that thinking sounds flawed to me. I’d rather risk less money on something new than bigger money on what may or may not already have a market.

A Bridesmaids sequel COULD be done with the focus shifted to McCarthy since her character wound up with a boyfriend by the end of the film. But why? What would be done differently that would connect to the earlier film without being derivative of it? And why even bother trying to do it without Wiig, also Oscar-nominated for the movie’s screenplay and whose own performance provided a strong emotiocomic core to the ensemble.

If she does agree to an unnecessary sequel, I hope it comes with a lucrative multi-picture deal for her in which she’d write, produce and star.


SPEAKING OF THE EW OSCAR ISSUE 

In that same issue, there was a request by Lynette Rice in her article “Brushing Up for the Big Night” for the short film prizes to be handed out in a non-televised ceremony.

I hope she produces a short film that winds up winning the Oscar. I hope she remembers this comment when she’s posing for pictures instead of speaking in front of a camera and thanking her parents in front of millions of viewers.

The Oscars are long. They are going to be long. Suck it up. The Super Bowl gets to run as long as it wants and no one complains. Like the Super Bowl, the Oscars are once a year. It’s a pageant. Granted, it can be streamlined but there’s a way for it to be done without shunting certain awards to non-televised ceremonies just because “people don’t care about those categories”. The Oscars job is to make people care. They just can’t seem to figure out how.

And let’s keep the tributes for the acting categories. People care about the acting categories because that’s how they get to see their favorite movie stars. Why rush through THOSE categories? They can save time by cutting the banter, eliminating the inane comedy bits and avoiding the unnecessary montages telling us why we should love movies.

 

THE SAG AWARDS (A WEEK LATER)

I’m glad Viola Davis (who gives the most dynamic acceptance speeches – this time signaling out Cicely Tyson and Meryl Streep), Octavia Spencer and the under-recognized ensemble went home with trophies. I know the Academy is chomping at the bit to give Streep a third Oscar, but they should have done that for Doubt in 2009 or Julie and Julia in 2010. This one has to go to Davis – especially since the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the Giants. Again.

I would have liked to see Demian Bichir shock everyone by winning at SAG. However, I’m very pleased with Dujardin’s victory.

Baldwin extended his own record of SAG wins with a sixth consecutive for 30 Rock as Outstanding Male Actor in a Comedy Series. Everyone wanted Carell to win for his final season on The Office but I can’t say SAG was wrong here.

Same for Betty White’s second consecutive win as Outstanding Female Actor in a Comedy Series for Hot in Cleveland – less than two weeks after her 90th birthday. She’s Betty Fuckin’ White. If anyone knows comedy, it’s Betty Goddamn White. If anyone should win for comedy, it should be Betty “I’m 90 and you can kiss my ass!” White.

These two wins follow her 2010 award for Lifetime Achievement.

 

COMPETITION FOR JON HAMM 

I recently saw The Artist and highly recommend it – particularly for the Oscar-nominated performances of the ridiculously handsome Jean Dujardin and the gorgeous Berenice Bejo. Over the last few years, Jon Hamm has topped my list of men who are too handsome to really exist.

However, Dujardin is the first to emerge as a legitimate threat to Hamm’s supremacy.

This takes nothing away from Hamm since he remains the only man for whom my straight and married with a kid former office mate would turn completely gay.

 

THE SUPER BOWL 

I am not sure whether to be angry at the Giants, a team I abhor, for winning or to be angry at the Patriots for losing. Regardless, WHDH in Boston will have one helluva rating for that final hour.

Poor Wexler must be kicking himself in the balls for that now-pivotal incomplete pass.

There were a lot of great ads this year, but none that really stood out like Betty White’s Snickers spot in 2010 and last year’s Darth Vader Chevy spot. That said, the Oikos spot with John “I look better now than I did 25 years ago” Stamos is my favorite from this year. The “Naked” M&M’s spot was another good one as were the Doritos “Man’s Best Friend” and “Sling Baby” commercials. Chevy also had a funny one with “The Graduate”.

As for MIA’s middle finger. Who cares? Most people didn’t see it as it was happening. One person at the Super Bowl party I attended mentioned it and that was only because there was either a censoring or a technical glitch immediately after. Like Nipplegate in 2004, it was a blink-it-and-you-missed-it situation. The only reason why it’s becoming a controversy is because of playback and the internet.

What about the children? Well, if they ask about it. Explain it to them and tell them it is not a good thing to do. Done. Simple as that. And then we can all move on.

Lastly, Giant #44’s fall into the end zone was a douchebag move. Score the goal and move on. Call it bitter grapes. Call it manners. Either way, he gets a major middle finger from me for it. 


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