Category Archives: ABC

2007-2008 Fall Premiere News – ‘Boston Legal’ sets its date

ABC has finally gotten around to announcing that their Emmy-nominated Drama series, Boston Legal (featuring Emmy nominee William Shatner), will premiere its fourth season on September 25th. The episode will be a special 90-minute episode (Which apparently David E. Kelley wasn’t happy with, which makes this all really weird), and will air at 9:30 after Dancing with the Stars before settling into its 10pm timeslot.

This date has been added to Cultural Learnings’ Fall Premiere List, which has all the details on when your favourite show debuts this fall.

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Filed under 2007 Fall Preview, ABC, Boston Legal, Television

Pilot Previews: How ‘Cavemen’, ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and ‘Aliens in America’ Confront Stereotypes

[Regardless of what I think about some of the fall pilots, there are three comedies that each deal with prominent cultural stereotypes to very different degrees. Rather than review them individually (I’d be overly mean to some of them if I did), I figure I’d run them down in relation to their ability to deal with these sensitive cultural issues.]

Cavemen (ABC)

Culture in Question: Prehistoric Man (Cavemen)

Yes, Cavemen deals with the stereotyping of a non-existent culture, and there is a distinct problem with this: the writers are not capable of forgetting real cultural stereotypes in the process. The entire series basically boils down to stealing every single African-American sitcom joke and just transferring it to these hairy neanderthals. The Cavemen feel out of place at a country club, they feel that their crime is more reporter than white crime, and they worry about interracial marriage.

Cultural Impact: Setting the clock back decades. By presenting a culture of exclusion to a level not seen since the 70s, it’s basically making North America out to be this cultural dead zone incapable of accepting other cultures. And while racism is still a serious issue, ignoring any of the past three decades of advancement is just insulting to the efforts of the civil rights movement.

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Culture in Question: Geek Culture

While certainly not attempting to prescribe a moral to the state of geek culture, The Big Bang Theory does attempt to represent it. In the process, however, the geek turns into a complete sitcom stereotype: they play World of Warcraft, they watch Battlestar Galactica (w/ Commentary) and they don’t know how to talk to girls. This, in the mind of sitcom writers, is a geek in a nutshell.

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Filed under 2007 Fall Preview, ABC, Aliens in America, Battlestar Galactica, Cavemen, Television, The Big Bang Theory, The CW

Pilot Preview: ABC’s ‘Pushing Daisies’

I was trying to explain the premise of ABC’s Pushing Daisies (Premiering on Wednesday, October 3rd at 8pm EDT) to my boss shortly after watching its pilot, and I must admit that the task was quite difficult. Said boss is the epitome of the casual television viewer, so I was trying to word things in such a way as to catch his interest.

I eventually was able to use my knowledge of his own personal world views to frame the show as a morality tale about actions and consequences with a whimsical and ultimately happy twist. At a certain point in this conversation, I resolved myself to the belief that ABC will never be able to properly market this wonderful television program.

I also, however, resolved to help them out as much as possible. Pushing Daisies is a heartwarming and wonderfully told fairy tale that, without doubt, is the best pilot of the 2007-2008 season. And I’m going to tell this to anyone who will listen.

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Filed under 2007 Fall Preview, ABC, Pushing Daisies, Television

Detention: Rob Thomas departs ABC’s “Miss/Guided”

News has broken today that Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars, has split from ABC’s midseason comedy “Miss/Guided” only a month after agreeing to run the show.

Zap2it.com – ABC’s “Miss/Guidance” Seeks New Guidance

No, it doesn’t appear to be in order for him to devote more time to that Veronica Mars comic book; rather, the split appears to be for a variety of good reasons.

Okay, so let’s recap this entire situation for just one moment:

Step 1:

ABC picks up comedy pilot, Miss/Guided, starring Judy Greer, for midseason at the last minute. The pickup was a bit of a surprise, but seemed like a decent pilot at first glance.

Step 2:

Rob Thomas, newly available after Veronica Mars went under, is hired to run the show as an executive producer. This was hailed as good news, considering it kept a great producer on television.

Step 3:

ABC, deciding that it doesn’t have enough generic comedies premiering this year (Carpoolers, Cavemen), turns the show into a more straightforward comedy. More specifically, ABC are dumb and are turning the show into That 70s Show: Modern Edition by bringing in that show’s producer to run things.

Step 4:

Rob Thomas leaves the show, citing creative differences. More specifically, I believe his real reason is something along the lines of “ABC doesn’t want a good show, and I don’t want to be part of a bad one.” That’s my assumption, anyways.

So after this entire saga, the question remains: what does this mean for both Thomas and the show?

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Filed under ABC, Miss/Guided, Television, Veronica Mars

Why the 2007 Fall Pilots are Leaking, and Why the Networks Should Embrace It

Over the weekend, online pirates were pleased to see that the flood was beginning: torrent sites across the internet began posting leaked screener copies of the 2007 pilots from FOX’s much-discussed Terminator spinoff Sarah Connor Chronicles (Pictured) to ABC’s buzz-worthy drama Pushing Daisies. I can only speculate, but I imagine that some people at the networks might be upset to see this. However, part of me really hopes that there is a certain number of employees who realize that these pilots leaking onto the internet is not the end of the world. In fact, it might be the best thing that happened to these shows. And the networks should have been putting them online themselves.

These pilots are leaking because the DVD Screeners sent to critics weren’t going to just sit there after being watched, and technology has reached a point where uploading shows is apparently quite easy (I’ve never done it myself). It is telling that the pilots uploaded thus far are the ones that are getting the most buzz in internet circles: fanboys are concerned over Sarah Connor Chronicles, critics are abuzz about Bryan Fuller’s (Wonderfalls) Pushing Daisies and NBC’s Chuck (From O.C. Creator Josh Schwartz), and Kevin Smith (Clerks) directed The CW’s Reaper (The first pilot to leak).

On the one hand, uptight network executives are probably concerned that their premiere ratings might go down as people watch the show ahead of time, or that bad buzz will take down the series before it can even get started. To those executives I make the following case: premiere ratings don’t matter, and the audience watching these shows online will not penetrate the casual mass of fans who make Two and a Half Men a comedy sensation. What you want to be doing is creating a fan base, something that this actually helps far more than it hurts.

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Filed under 2007 Fall Preview, ABC, Andy Barker P.I., Chuck, FOX, NBC, Pushing Daisies, Reaper, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Television, The CW

The Highlights and Lowlights of the 2007 Emmy Nominations

The nominations for the 56th annual Primetime Emmy awards have been released, and the result is a whole lot of frustration. While there are certainly some attributes in these categories that certainly warrant some sort of positive feelings, the overall impact is limited with some rather vile mistakes made by the voters. Yes, I said mistakes. Let’s take a look at the Best and the Worst of the nominations.

Best Category

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

This one is simple, really. While there were some other categories that had either too many familiar faces or the wrong mix of people, Supporting Actor in a Comedy gets it just right. Jon Cryer is the token nominee for the popular vote, but then you’ve got four awesome comedic talents: last year’s winner Jeremy Piven along with new (And fantastic) fresh faces in Rainn Wilson, Kevin Dillon and Neil Patrick Harris. I really can’t argue with any of these selections. I would have liked to see Justin Kirk in there, but it’s still a great category.

Runner-Up: Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Worst Category

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Three Grey’s Anatomy actresses, two Sopranos actresses, and perennial Emmy favourite Rachel Griffiths. It is clear that the men are where the new talent is making an impact, because these nominees couldn’t be much more predictable. The lack of new talent (Elizabeth Mitchell for Lost, Hayden Panettiere for Heroes) is the biggest problem, and I really hope that this can change in the future.

Runner-Up: Outstanding Drama Series

Most Surprising Nominee

Michael Emerson (Lost) – Supporting Actor in a Drama

I had written off Michael Emerson, one of my early picks, after Elizabeth Mitchell failed to crack the Top 10. However, it appears that Emerson was able to make it in, and with 6 nominees in his category worked his way into the fold. This was likely supported by Terry O’Quinn’s tape, which featured Emerson heavily. It is most deserved, and the most pleasant surprise of the morning.

Runner-Up: Boston Legal – Outstanding Drama Series

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Filed under ABC, Award Shows, Battlestar Galactica, Dexter, Emmy Awards, Entourage, FOX, Friday Night Lights, Gilmore Girls, Grey's Anatomy, How I Met Your Mother, Lost, Scrubs, Television, The CW, The Office, The Sopranos

The 2007 Emmy Awards Nominations: Lost Snubbed, Sopranos Praised

After months of coverage and more than a little bit of analysis, it is has finally come down to this: this morning, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences have officially announced their nominations for what their voters believed to be the best in television over the past year. Are they right on the money, or are they off the mark once again?

The Big Stories

– Lost and Friday Night Lights snubbed, although Lost dominates in Supporting Actor with Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson! Woo!

– The Sopranos leads with 15 nominations.

– Battlestar Galactica and Lost each garnered writing and directing nods on the Drama side, while 30 Rock and The Office dominated the categories in terms of Comedy series.

– There’s a lot of snubs all over the place, I’ll go into more detail tomorrow, but Michael C. Hall is the worst one. Yes, worse than Lost.

– Rainn Wilson and Jenna Fischer break through as supporting contenders for The Office, which garnered a whole lot of nominations once you factor in writing and directing.

And the Nominees Are…

Oustanding Drama Series

The Sopranos

Heroes

Boston Legal

Grey’s Anatomy

House

Oustanding Comedy Series

The Office

Entourage

Two and a Half Men

30 Rock

Ugly Betty

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Filed under 24, ABC, Award Shows, Battlestar Galactica, Brothers & Sisters, Desperate Housewives, Dexter, Emmy Awards, Entourage, FOX, Friday Night Lights, Gilmore Girls, Grey's Anatomy, Heroes, House, How I Met Your Mother, Lost, Monk, My Name is Earl, NBC, Reality TV, Scrubs, Television, The Amazing Race, The Office, Ugly Betty, Weeds

Reviewing the Series Finale: Traveler – “The Exchange”

ABC’s Traveler never had a fair chance. Simply getting a debut following Grey’s Anatomy wasn’t nearly enough to give the show a shot at engaging a summer audience that are sticklers for easy, breezy television. Traveler isn’t easy, but it certainly is breezy enough. The series moved at a blistering pace to fit an entire season’s worth of action into a single, short eight episode season. The show’s pilot was a blistering piece of work, an action-packed hour of mystery and intrigue.

It is perhaps, then, interesting to see that this finale is really about the reunion of Jay and Tyler with Will Traveler, this time with very different circumstances than in the pilot. Once three friends on a road trip across America, they’re now fugitives on the loose with the FBI on their trail, and one of them isn’t who he said he was. This isn’t a finale about action, but about emotional payoff for its characters. The dynamic of the three young males is perhaps the most important one, but Marlowe’s payoff has been equally choreographed. And let’s not forget the Porter, a mysterious character who needs an explanation. So, the Traveler finale had a lot to prove.

And, well, it did as you’d expect: a solid finale to a solid series. That is, until its ending.

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Filed under ABC, Television, Traveler

For Your Consideration: Drama Series – “Lost”

Outstanding Drama Series

“Lost” (ABC)

Here at Cultural Learnings, we did a lot of coverage on the post-hiatus portion of Lost’s third season, which is of course considered to be its strongest. As a result, for the purposes of this post, I’m not going to go into that too greatly, and will instead provide links to my reviews at the bottom of the page. I want to instead focus on the season’s first six episodes, the ones that caused millions to abandon the series and the ones that people call “uneven” or “awful”. Because, even if they don’t reach the pinnacles of the show’s final throes in May, I strongly believe in the quality of the prologue to this season.

While there were certainly pacing issues, the intention behind those first six episodes was a smart one, and the work done by Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse and the entire cast of Lost during that period is still worthy of Emmy consideration.

I don’t quite understand the hate for the first quarter of Lost’s third season. The episodes are certainly lacking part of the show’s most personable elements (The disconnect between Jack/Kate/Sawyer and the rest of the characters is responsible), but as six hours of dramatic television there’s some strong stuff here. But after the show was snubbed last year for what I think was also an Emmy worthy season, I think it deserves a nomination even more this year. And, perhaps against popular opinion, I think you can find evidence for that in its opening six episodes.

A Tale of Two Cities, the season premiere, featured the fantastic cold open to Juliet’s book club and the Others’ perspective of the crash of Oceanic Flight 815. The entire episode is basically Jack, Sawyer and Kate, along with us viewers, finding ourselves in a world we’d never seen, and the effect is strong.

YouTube – “A Tale of Two Cities”

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Filed under ABC, Award Shows, Emmy Awards, Lost, Television

For Your Consideration: Comedy Series – “Ugly Betty”

[As part of Cultural Learnings’ For Your Consideration Emmy Nominations Preview, the next two weeks will feature 7 Drama Series and 7 Comedy Series worthy of Emmy consideration. Check back daily for a different series, with drama and comedy alternating positions. For all of Cultural Learnings’ Emmy Coverage featuring Supporting and Lead Acting candidates, check out our For Your Consideration Index.]

Outstanding Comedy Series

Ugly Betty (ABC)

There are certain shows that are all hype and no follow through; they launch in September to rave reviews and high ratings, but immediately falter and fail to pull you in. For a brief period, I felt Ugly Betty was that show. And then, something clicked: the soap opera elements of the show’s plot were given resonance, and the series returned to its characters and settings that made it a success in the first place. And that’s really the hallmark of a series’ first season: does it end in worse or better shape than when it started. With perhaps the strongest melodramatic finale of the season (Take that, Grey’s), Ugly Betty proved that its initial success was no fluke, and its growth makes it deserving of Emmy consideration.

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Filed under ABC, Award Shows, Emmy Awards, Television, Ugly Betty