Friday, March 22, 2013

What I'm Watching: Two Months to Go

NBC fascinates me.


If you don’t know already, they started the year at the top of the pile of the big four (NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox).  Granted, it was by a narrow margin, and it was mostly due to two shows: The Voice and Revolution.


Both of those shows went off the air in November.


And NBC?  It dropped to FIFTH place.  Behind Univision, which wasn’t even in the running.


And the truth of it is, they can’t staunch the flow of viewers as they slip-slide away.  The Office is ending this year.  30 Rock put up terrible numbers and also ended.  Smash came back and didn’t just tank, it taaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanked.


On one particularly bad night, a couple of their shows got eclipsed by the CW. 


(The CW is a whole ‘nother thing.  I don’t really know how they stay on the air at this point.  I mean, I can guess.  They keep their prices down, they produce most of their material in-house, so they can monetize it on iTunes and online and on DVD, and they probably keep most of the money from syndication as well…


(But yeah.  I don’t worry about the shows I like getting cancelled.  I worry about the channel coming to an end.)


How desperate is NBC?  They’re planning to UN-cancel The Sing-Off, most likely because the ratings, though terrible, are better than a lot of their current running programs.


(Another aside: They’re also going to get rid of Jay Leno, who has won his time slot almost continually for 21 years straight, to bring in someone younger.  Because that worked SO well last time?  It is the equivalent of having nine bad horses and one champion horse… and then shooting that horse in the face.)


At any rate, next week, their big bad voodoo shows are back.  The Voice is returning.  And Revolution is about to make a (triumphant?) return.


Of course, there are flaws in the plan.  Running The Voice twice a year just sounds like a terrible idea.  While it brings in eyeballs (or has, anyway) the three winners so far have made almost no splash in the actual music industry.  They probably would have gotten just as close to a having a record coming out if they’d won The Price is Right.


Eventually, saturation is going to set in, and it’s going to be sooner rather than later.




And then there’s Revolution, which has been off the air since November.  Nearly four months have gone by since anyone saw it.  There are no DVDs available.  You can pick up the show in Amazon and I’m guessing on iTunes, but it’ll cost you $30 to catch it in HD.


And I just learned that they cut the season order from 22 episodes to 20… probably because they realized that they want it to line up with The Voice EXACTLY in a desperate attempt to keep the show afloat.


In other words, even NBC doesn’t trust one of its biggest hits.


You want the truth?  NBC is scrambling at this point to hold onto anything that’s going to fill time.  They’ve got shows dropping off left and right, and sooner or later they’re going to have to choose to hold a line and try to rebuild.


On that level, however, I think they’re pretty much done now.  The Voice/Revolution combo might be a one-two punch, but it’s one that’s going to lose steam quickly.


They need to start building for next year, and they need to do it now. 


More on this further down the path.


American Idol:


I always forget that Idol has patches where they throw you six hours of programming a week, which is insane. 


I made my predictions, and then Idol did something fascinating, and told you where most of the contestants fell on the spectrum.  And Lazaro was number four.


Ugh.  Look, I don’t want to pick on the guy.  I suspect he’s dealt with that his whole life, and I understand that.  And I think he has a nice voice.  But he is in no way deserving of fourth place, which means he’s either getting a massive boost from Vote for the Worst, or people are responding to his sob story, and either way, something is borked about the show.


Especially if Amber, who really seems like she could be the next Whitney Houston, is sitting at number five.  (And then this week, is falling to the bottom three.)


If anyone was asking me (they ain’t) my biggest admonition to the performers would be to never, ever, ever, ever get out of your comfort zone.  Scotty spent the entire season singing country and won.  Phillip spent the entire season singing like Dave Matthews and won.


Do what you do, play it as safe as possible, win.  That seems to be the formula.


Hoo, mama, it’s going to be a brutal year. 


Modern Family:


Still funny.  I still expect the show to run for ten years, after which the kids can retire and never work again.  If only we all had that option in life.




I said last time I did one of these that I’d totally watch a Men of Letters show. 


You know what?  I think we’re watching it now.  And it’s a GREAT show.  It is, I think, getting near season three levels of greatness, and I’ve gone from liking the show a lot to loving the show again.  Because I know that each week it’s going to be a little scary, a lot funny, and a great way to kill an hour.


Bravo guys and girls of Supernatural.  You really accomplished something – making an eight-year-old show totally vital and fun.


The Vampire Diaries:


Recently, my wife hasn’t been as into the show, but when I press her about why, she really doesn’t seem to be able to pinpoint it.  Well, maybe a little.  The show is/was, at first anyway, about a girl and two brothers, and unfortunately the girl at the center of the show is, most weeks, the worst part of it.  This is not the fault of the actress, who is flat-out great, but because her character undergoes SO much drama that she spends most of her episodes either sad, angry, or mean.  She’s been more “fun” these last couple of weeks mostly by becoming completely amoral, which is the kind of thing that gets tiring quickly.


But if I had to guess what my wife’s primary aggravation is, it’s probably fatigue. 


It’s a fast show, it’s ALWAYS been a fast show, and even now it’s still trying to push along at Mach 6, and it can’t quite get there.  The seams show sometimes.  The character work gets a little sketchy.  (See above, re: main female character.)


The show is going an interesting place now, with an ancient being and a single dose of a “cure” for vampirism.  The show is trying to up the stakes (ahem) more and more, but…


I can really only see one way out of what they’re doing.  There’s talk of bringing back the dead, which would include all of the good people and bad people who haven’t totally moved on.


This would turn the show into more of a spin-off of itself, as the primary cast works to fight off all the suddenly-raised bad guys. 


I can’t say that’s my favorite idea, but it would take the show into a new place at the time when it kind of needs to go to one. 


We shall see how it plays out.




Here we must talk about NBC again.  Community was always kind of half-dead show, shunted to Friday until they decided to mid-season it.


And the ratings haven’t been great.  There was a solid drop, a slight uptick, a big uptick, and now it looks like it’s gone down a bit again.


But there’s nothing else to take it’s place.


1600 Penn is dying.  The Office and 30 Rock are over at the end of this season.  NBC has to build something, and they need to do it now.


So… I still think Community has a shot at one more season.


And I’m good with that.  I got down on the first episode of the new season for not quite “getting” the show, but since then it’s shaken out the cobwebs and started offering episodes that feel like Community in its normal groove.


It’s imperfect, but it’s also a show in its fourth season.  This was probably inevitable no matter who held the reins.


Great?  By no means.  But there’s a whole LOT of good, and that’s enough for me.


The Big Bang Theory


I keep saying this show is just okay, and in some sense that’s not fair.  This last week brought us an episode about Howard and how his dad ran away.


What it demonstrated is that the cast can really bring A+ performances when the material warrants it.  And it showed that the writers can do more than make nerd jokes.


So good job guys.  My only request is that you remember you can do that.  Thanks.






I might have told this story before, but I need to tell it again.


A few months ago I went on YouTube and pulled up Don’t Stop Believin’, as performed on the pilot episode of Glee.


There were, and are, so many things to talk about from those three or four minutes.  Placed up against the episode from last week, they don’t even seem like the same show anymore.


I mean, consider the characters: Finn, Rachel, Artie(!), Tina(!), Mercedes(!).  The cheerleaders who eventually became part of Glee were still mostly random mean girls.


Sue actually kind of made sense.  Will was a sad sack with a confusing life instead of… whatever he is now.  Some guy who seems to have no adult friends, who did something in Washington, I guess.  Who…


You know what?  I just dunno, man.


Equally ridiculous are the now-constant attempts to explain why people aren’t there from episode to episode.  The obvious real-life answer is, of course, they can’t afford that much cast.  But, ugh.  This is a problem that stems from a fixable issue.


Namely: It’s time to cut some dead wood.


Like, say, all the kids who graduated and moved on and finished their emotional arc pretty well and correctly and fairly.


But you know what?  Let’s take a minute and talk about what I do like about Glee:


I occasionally still enjoy the musical numbers.  I’d guess about half.  My primary complaint is that I feel like they take fewer and fewer chances with their choices, often just remaking music videos and giving us the exact same song we heard on the radio, but with different voices.


On the other hand, once the show is off the air, I don’t know where I’m going to hear whatever is sitting at the top of the musical charts these days.  So I’ll let that at least partially go.


I think I’m the only one, but while I don’t like Jake all that much by himself, I do like him with Marley and I do like him with Puck. 


Surprisingly, I also kind of like Kitty with Puck.  It’s random and odd, but they have a surprising chemistry.


Not sure what to make of that, really.


What else do I care about?  The Unique storyline seems to be trying very hard to go somewhere, and it might yet make it.  Sadly, Degrassi is doing something similar and making Glee look stupid.


I do kind of like the whole Sam/Blaine friendship.  Actually, I’ve gotten to really like Sam in general.  He’s sort of becoming The Fonz of the show, inasmuch as he can be sprinkled nicely through the show and raise the entertainment bar by 16%.




They gotta wipe the cast.  All the old students need to go.  New York needs to go.  If they want to cameo one of the oldies from time to time, okay, but no more than one visit per person per season.


There’s talk of a season five now, and in my darkest hour I must admit I will watch it.  I’ll watch until the end. 


But when I watch Don’t Stop again, I’ll feel a little sad that we’re never gonna get back to those innocent, carefree days again.  When we thought we might get a Tina episode that didn’t suck.  When Rachel Berry was totally obnoxious but more fun because she didn’t get what she wants all the time, whether it’s a boyfriend or to not be knocked up or to get into the school of her dreams.


You know, maybe that’s what bugs me – the fact that the show is trying to “very special snowflake” these characters.


As a high school student, one of the things that really stuck with me was the woman who came back to speak at a “what to expect in college” seminar.  She flat-out said that one of the hardest things to deal with was how you went from being the star, and from being important, to being the very, very, very small fish.


I think there’s a great story in that idea.  What if Rachel got to school and discovered that everyone WAS better than her?  What if she didn’t get into the school at all?  There’s a much more interesting dramatic show in our “big three” trapped at home and trying to figure out their next move, realizing that high school is genuinely over.


They kinda-sorta did it with Finn, until the show let him off the hook and put him in charge of the Glee club.


Heck, we even know there’s a local community theater on the show, why not get them involved in that, and have them try to work out what they’re really going to do with their lives?  I would have even been fine with Rachel eventually getting into her big, fancy, school, but mostly I want her to fail for a while.


Yeah, yeah.  I know.  None of that is going to happen.  Such is life.




I went on and on about how sad I will be when this is gone, and how much sadder I will be if this show doesn’t eventually grab and keep an ever-expanding audience. 


Suffice to say, if you’re not overly averse to adult situations and graphic violence, it’s a brilliant, brilliant show. 


We’re only a week and change from April now, and soon shows will start to slip off the air.  Spartacus only has three episodes to go, which clears the path for us to watch Game of Thrones.  Walking Dead only has a couple more week to kill (hah!) and then we’ll be into May, and it will finally be time to watch all the Bunheads and Parks and Recreation episodes I’ve been hoarding.


Who knows?  Maybe we’ll finally finish watching Lost this summer…



No comments:

Post a Comment