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.
[In Week Three of Cultural Learnings’ 59th Annual Emmy Awards Nominations Preview, we’re looking at possible contenders for the Lead Actor awards in both drama and comedy. Today, we present our fourth set of candidates. For complete listings for the Supporting candidates from the past two weeks, check out our For Your Consideration index]
Lead Actor in a Drama
Edward James Olmos (Admiral Adama)
Emmy voters like to pretend that Battlestar Galactica doesn’t exist, but I don’t really understand this perspective. The show is incredibly powerful television, and while its writing can be uneven I believe that its cast is always its strongest asset. And, as the pivotal figure at the center of it all, Edward James Olmos’ Bill Adama is the show’s rock if you will. This past season has seen Adama face a wide variety of different emotions, struggling to come to terms with his abandonment of his own crew on New Caprica and once again the betrayal of his son in a time of need. What Olmos brings to Adama, and to the show, is a sense of maturity; while the rest of the characters around him fall into various turmoil he is left to reassure and comfort all of them while also struggling with his own inner demons. That portrayal, voter ignorance or no voter ignorance, is worthy of Emmy consideration.
What makes Olmos so powerful in this role is that he has to wear so many hats (Note: none of these hats are literal, but I’d picture him in a nice fedora). He has to be admiral to the crew of the Battlestar Galactica. He has to be shrewd negotiator (And romantic tension partner) with President Roslin. He has to be father to Lee, and to more or less his adopted daughter Starbuck, but at the same time they are crew members and need to be treated accordingly. He needs to be friend and AA sponsor for Col. Tigh, and he also has to, you know, protect the entire flight from the pursuing Cylons. And, at season’s end, he sits on a tribunal which judges the guilt of Gaius Baltar in the mass murder of numerous humans on New Caprica.
And through it all Olmos is equal parts fatherly, orderly, strong, vulnerable, empowering, inspiring and just plain fantastic. There are parts of the show that we may criticize, but there can be no one who speaks ill of the performance from Edward James Olmos. Plus, he had a kickass moustache for a while this season. And all of those qualities, especially the moustache, make him worthy of Emmy consideration.
Episode Selection:“A Day in the Life” (Aired February 18th, 2007)
I don’t like this selection for one main reason: I didn’t particularly enjoy the episode. What frustrated me about this episode was that its gimmick, Adama’s wife comes back to haunt him in the present, just isn’t that engaging and seemed to be airing at a time when I really wanted the series to return to its more entertaining elements. However, I can’t deny that it perhaps contains the most dramatic and central performance that Olmos was able to give all season. It shows his tough life, having to balance all of those various roles while also struggling to come to terms with his past. It might not be my favourite episode (definitely isn’t), but I think that it has a decent chance with Emmy voters.
However, my selection would be “Unfinished Business”, where a series of boxing matches and flashbacks tell multiple stories, including Adama’s. Since so many BSG YouTube videos are fan shipper videos, I have to settle for a YouTube clip of this episode. Which is awesome.
It may have only lasted for six episodes, but Andy Barker P.I. was yet another perfect vehicle for Andy Richter that just didn’t catch on with audiences. While some may take this as final proof of his irrelevance, I like to view it as yet another example of society not quite “getting” Andy Richter. I don’t understand it: here, he plays an everyman, a simple accountant who finds himself wrapped up in criminal investigations that could not be more over his head. Watching him find delight in how he can connect accounting to the case (Being a P.I. isn’t so hard after all) is incredibly engaging, and Richter plays the perfect straight man. Straight men are often not appreciated enough within television comedy, and I think that this needs to change: as the innocent and yet incredibly intelligent Andy Barker, Andy Richter shines in a fashion worthy of Emmy consideration.
[In Week One of Cultural Learnings’ 59th Annual Emmy Awards Nominations Preview, we’re looking at possible contenders for the Supporting Actor awards in both comedy and drama. Today, we present our sixth set of candidates. For all candidates, Click Here]
Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Harve Presnell (Lew Steziak)
Andy Barker, P.I.
Not very many people watched Andy Barker P.I. It’s understandable: this midseason replacement came and went with only four airings in its timeslot on Thursday nights. Facing Grey’s Anatomy and CSI, the show failed to gain any ratings traction and never became a watercooler success. It is therefore somewhat unfortunate that the performance of Harve Presnell as Lew Steziak, a cranky old man who has long retired from the private eye business but finds himself being dragged back in. I don’t know what it is about Presnell’s performance, but he manages to capture jaded old man so very well without falling too far into senility. His performance is exactly what I’d like to become when I’m older: cantankerous, grumpy, angry, and yet aware that I could be less angry. And, while he’s certainly a long shot, I think that Presnell at least needs to be considered.
It’s not even that Presnell had a huge dramatic moment, or that he had the most hilarious line possible. He just had this way about him, this delivery, that continually brought something unique to this comedy. Although only airing for six episodes, the show created many unique characters who made up quite the team, but I think I’d most like to meet a real life Lew Steziak, in the flesh. I would put the performance up there with an acting master class by any means, but from a comic perspective I think Presnell brings just the right amount of everything to the role. And, well, I can’t really expect much better than that from a 74-year old, can I? Not likely.
Episode Selection: “The Lady Varnishes”
In this episode, perhaps the wittiest of the show’s takeoffs of old murder mystery films (The Lady Vanishes), this episode features Amy Sedaris as a one-legged (She has a wooden leg, which she varnishes) as a long lost love of Lew’s. It’s a cute episode, and Presnell is good in it with Ed Asner as his arch nemesis as well. However, Andy Barker isn’t big on the YouTube. So, head over to NBC.com to watch the complete episode, and enjoy this clip of Presnell from the hit musical “Paint Your Wagon”.
Brothers & Sisters is a show about an extended family dealing with the death of its patriarch and all of its other problems. This family is a bloody mess, and they all know it. As a result, I always feel the worst for those who chose to be a part of it. They married these people, and found that they had married into a crazy house. As a result, I also feel the most for these actors who have to react in a natural fashion to the problems that this situation creates. And, as a result, I have chosen to highlight John Pyper-Ferguson, who plays Sarah Walker’s husband Joe, for Emmy consideration.
NBC had a motto heading into this season: “first be best, then be first.” It was quite the slogan, don’t get me wrong, but it was also a flawed strategy considering they have only seen two dramas survive their development season and one of them is limping into the end zone instead of high-kicking their way into it. It was a year that was supposed to slow the network’s decline, and yet the shows that were struggling last season just kept struggling. NBC is still sitting in the basement among the big four networks, and they need a good development season quickly. While Heroes has certainly been a big success for the network, there’s also very little question that it isn’t enough: they need something big, and they need it soon. They can be best all they want, but if people aren’t watching NBC is only going to fall further. And, based on their pilot selections…well, the jury remains out on whether NBC is capable of rising to the occasion.
NBC has bumped “Andy” from its Thursday schedule this week and moved the show’s final two episodes to the barren wasteland that is Saturday night network primetime. The remaining two episodes of the show will air back-to-back at 8 p.m. ET Saturday, April 14.
“Scrubs” will take over “Andy’s” 9:30 p.m. time period a week earlier than originally planned (Thursday April 12th)
This indeed signals the end of Andy Barker, but this does mean that all of the show’s six episodes will be seen on NBC, which is great for Canadian viewers who were unable to access to episodes on NBC.com. In fact, I have to wonder whether the episodes being available on NBC.com ahead of time were perhaps detrimental to its ratings success. The show was never going to gain enough hype to really catch on, so perhaps those extra thousands of viewers could have been useful? Either way, it was an interesting experiment.
So, now it’s only Scrubs which is currently on the bubble in terms of NBC comedies…perhaps we’ll be waiting until the NBC Upfronts before we get a good idea of where things are headed, and our answer might be found just days later over at ABC.
[Editor’s Note: Andy Barker has officially been cancelled by NBC, and it’s final two episodes will air this Saturday, April 14th on NBC.]
Well, we’ve now had the opportunity to view three episodes of NBC’s midseason replacement comedy Andy Barker P.I., and it’s rather unfortunate that the show has absolutely no chance at a future. At the end of its five episode run (One episode will remain online-only), the show will undoubtedly be shelved and never seen again barring some form of Conan-fellatio by the good folks at NBC. This has been a foregone conclusion from the very beginning; while a similar six-episode order was what ended up resulting in ‘The Office’, Andy Barker just hasn’t had the same level of cultural impact or creative prestige to justify renewing it in spite of its low ratings.
And, in the end, I think that this is rather unfortunate. While it is not the smartest comedy on television right now, it is a triumph of strong casting, self-indulgent writing (this is a good thing) and attention to detail. Its premise of an accountant turned private eye is perfect for star Andy Richter, and the writing has done well at satirizing detective show cliches as much as physically possible. Co-star Tony Hale has relished in yet another supporting role which often overshadows the lead, and the rest of the cast round out a universe in which one imagines someone like Andy Barker living. Even though it uses all sorts of sitcom constructs (Lunch at Wally’s, Bedtime with Andy and Jenny), it all seems like one giant homage to what was once so prevalent in television comedy.
However, considering how positive I’m speaking about Andy Barker, you’d think that this would be a positive ‘Save this Show’ post or something of the sort. Considering I’m willing to sacrifice ‘Scrubs’ for ’30 Rock’, you’d think that I’d be more than willing to sacrifice something else in favour of a show I genuinely like. And, well, you’d be partially right. However, the reality is that NBC has a problem right now, one which no one could have foresaw two years ago: after losing ‘Friends’ and ‘Will & Grace’, and the failure of ‘Joey’, NBC has nonetheless found itself with too many comedies.