Category Archives: FOX

Pilot ‘Previews’ and Pilot ‘Reviews’: Television Media and the 2007 Fall Shows

Recently, major entertainment websites and print media have begun to receive their DVD Screeners for the fall’s new shows. With only a glimpse of the shows being revealed at the Upfronts nearly four weeks ago, journalists are now getting a chance to see the entire episode that convinced a major network to give that show a spot on it schedule. However, they can’t tell you what they really think about them: based on Screener regulations, they are only able to offer a “preview” of the pilots. There will be no reviewing of this fall’s new shows as long as the Screener people get their way.

Now, while I haven’t quite been able to find any documented reason for why this is, allow me to speculate. I believe that the studios are afraid of the power that journalists wield when deciding whether a show is good or not. They fear that critics might be, well, critical of the work that they’ve done, and that said criticism will reduce the potential of that show in the fall. It’s a win-win for the studios, they believe, if all people can offer is vague commentary on the episode. Take for example TheTVAddict’s “preview” of Sarah Connor Chronicles (Pictured), FOX’s midseason entry:

THE GOOD: The action packed pilot had this TV Addict on the edge of his seat for the entire hour.

THE BAD: How exactly are they going to keep the action quotient up each and every week? If the season finale of HEROES taught us anything, it’s that with great power comes great respon… err, I mean – it’s that television budgets aren’t very conducive to an action packed weekly series.

For studios, they see this as fantastic: the good comment does little but help the show, and the writer isn’t able to offer enough substantiation for their complaint for it to feel definitive in the eyes of viewers (And let’s face it, that’s not even really a bad thing. Just a cautionary warning). These studios believe that they’ve found a way to protect their pilots from the savagery of the internet.

But what differentiates a preview from a review? Does it mean that you can’t be negative, or that negative comments are frowned upon? Or can you not discuss any details of the pilot? Or are you unable to offer examples of anything? And are people even paying attention to these guidelines? Well, let’s find take a look and find out just what that difference is.

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Filed under 2007 Fall Preview, ABC, FOX, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Television

‘Lady or a Tramp’: Donald Trump as Role Model for Young Girls

‘The Apprentice’ was designed as an opportunity for Donald Trump to spread his business knowledge…on paper. In reality, it was all an attempt to spread his massive ego. I don’t know if it is because he’s delusional, but Donald Trump seriously believes that he is the moral guideline for the nation. And it is this side of Trump, this side of self-involved tomfoolery, that emerges within FOX’s in-development ‘Lady or a Tramp’.

Series, which will combine the competition and self-improvement aspects of reality television with the sizzle of the tabloids, is an adaptation of the British series “Ladette to Lady.” On that show, party girls are sent to the U.K. charm school Eggleston Hall, where they are taught “how to go from throwing a kegger to throwing a tea party,” Goldman quipped. Girls are required to wear tweed skirts and pearl necklaces, and taught the finer points of skills like flower arranging and needlework. Contestants then face challenges in those areas, with one girl expelled from the school at the end of each episode. “Tramp” will follow a similar format and also show ample footage of the girls partying.

Now, Variety notes Trump’s attempts at self-improvement, but I believe that this is once again a feeble attempt to extend his fame. Producers of the show are quick to admit that they’re cashing in on (I’d say exploiting) the tabloid rumours swirling around Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, and really that’s all that is occurring here. And it’s mildly alarming.

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Filed under FOX, Reality TV, Television, The Apprentice

Summer TV Preview: The Return of FOX’s ‘The Loop’

I was up late at night trying to get to sleep and stumbled upon something on my snowy antenna reception in my dorm room that caught my attention: much as I had, months earlier, stumbled upon an episode of The Office (US) that got me hooked on the show, this series became of interest. That show was ‘The Loop’, a comedy that debuted on FOX last year to, well, not so great numbers despite an American Idol lead-in for a brief period. After catching up with the series, I found it to be an entertaining little diversion with an incredibly engaging lead actor in Bret Harrison. However, when it was surprisingly renewed for a 2nd season, there was talk of changes, and a fair amount of people worried that the show would lost its integrity when it airs two episodes tonight at 8:30 EDT and 9:30 EDT on FOX.  I am not one of these people.

The reason I was unconcerned is that the reboot of the show maintains all of the elements I liked, and gets rid of elements to which I felt little to no connection. The show was designed as a young executive who, despite moving up in the corporate world, still exists in the world of his youthful friends. Thus, he was stuck between two worlds: it was a decent concept, let’s be honest, but the problem was that it was the corporate world that was the most entertaining. Philip Baker Hall was hysterical as his out of touch boss. Mimi Rogers was bitingly funny as his Milf co-worker, and most importantly his over-educated and resentful secretary was the source of the show’s most consistent comedy.

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Filed under FOX, Reaper, Television, The Loop

For Your Consideration: Supporting Actresses – Autumn Reeser and Jane Krakowski

[In Week Two of Cultural Learnings’ 59th Annual Emmy Awards Nominations Preview, we’re looking at possible contenders for the Supporting Actress awards in both drama and comedy. Today, we present our second set of candidates. For last week’s Supporting Actor candidates, and an index of all candidates, Click Here]

Supporting Actress in a Drama

Autumn Reeser (Taylor)

The O.C.

I’m basically going really far out on a limb here, but there is a definite theme with today’s selections and Autumn Reeser fits right in. Introduced as a stuck up villain for Mischa Barton’s Marissa who hooked up with the evil Dean Hess (It was embrassing for all involved), Taylor was a character left as almost purely one-dimensional…but then something happened. As the third season progressed, she began to change; her mother was seen as a tyrant, and she began to pursue a friendship with Seth, Summer and the gang. As the show progressed into its 4th season, now Marissa free, Autumn Reeser was made a regular cast member. And, as a result, she became the scene stealer the show was clearly looking for. She was smart, funny, insanely charming, and she managed to make a relationship between Taylor and Ben McKenzie’s Ryan work far better than it should have. Basically, Autumn Reeser was one of the main reasons for The O.C.’s creative resurgence, and even though it’s a long shot and I once found her insufferable, I am going to put her under consideration for an Emmy Award.

The challenge for any new regular cast member, even one who was recurring before, is integrating into the existing cast. This, it seems, was Reeser’s calling. She managed to have memorable scenes with pretty much every single character. She had fantastic banter with Kirsten and Sandy, unconventional girl talk with Summer, the usual humour from Seth, and, of course, an actual relationship with Ryan. There was even some fantastic Julie/Taylor moments in there as well. And every single time, she stole the scene: when Taylor was in a scene, chances are she was the focal point.

And yet, Reeser always gave her a certain vulnerable side, never quite becoming entirely the neurotic mess Taylor usually is. On a show that often fell apart, Taylor was always consistent in her actions, and I think that any Emmy voters who see an episode of The O.C. for Emmy consideration will see her as a shining beacon of hope amongst teen soapiness. Even as an admitted fan of the show this season, I know that she has little chance of standing out. But, she basically knocked every scene out of the park, and in terms of supporting performances I can’t help but consider her seriously. A lot of things saved The O.C. this year, but Autumn Reeser deserves a large portion of the credit.

Episode Selection: “The Sleeping Beauty” (Aired November 30th, 2007)

This episode isn’t actually her Emmy submission, as she decided to submit one of the more dramatic performances from the utterly awful story arc with her French husband showing up. However, this early season episode proved to me that this reboot of the show could work, and basically make the Taylor/Ryan relationship believable in one fell swoop. She has funny scenes with the Cohens, with Kaitlin Cooper, and of course with Ryan. She is funny, engaging, heartbroken, nervous…it’s a tour de force performance, and isn’t all caught up in annoying French husbands like she is in The French Connection. She manages, here, to be an emotional connection for the audience. The fact that she makes a contrived relationship work in this manner is deserving of Emmy attention, simple as that.

YouTube“The Sleeping Beauty”

Supporting Actress in a Comedy

Jane Krakowski (Jenna)

30 Rock

I have said some unkind things in the past about Jane Krakowski’s Jenna. I believe, at multiple points, I wondered whether she was really necessary for the show’s dynamics after she was absent for a few weeks. And, to be honest, the show was better without her. However, in retrospect, I think that my favourite 30 Rock episodes feature Jenna in some capacity. It’s weird, because while I dislike her character in comparison to Liz, Jack, Tracy…she’s still a part of this cast. She’s almost always the butt of the joke, but I think that you need someone like that to be around. Often the victim of poor writing, when the writing was good Krakowski always lived up to the material. While part of me feels she was extraneous to the show’s best elements, the episodes that featured her brought some of the show’s best comedy. It wasn’t the most individualistic comedy performance of the year, but I think it should at least be considered.

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Filed under 30 Rock, Award Shows, Emmy Awards, FOX, NBC, Television, The O.C.

Cultural News Bytes (June 4th) – On the Lot Format Shift, Spurned Pilots Find New Life

‘On The Lot’ Cuts Back

If you turn on FOX tonight looking for a new one-hour installment of ‘On the Lot’, you’ll be disappointed. Thanks to extremely poor ratings, the series will be cut back to a single hour-long segment each week to air at 8pm on Tuesdays. Reruns of House, FOX’s only real rerunnable series, will air on Mondays for the foreseeable future ahead of returning reality series ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ (Debuting tonight at 9pm).

There is no official word on how Burnett and Co. are going to turn a results show into both a presentation and a result show, but magically it will happen. Personally, I think they should ditch the audience vote altogether and have the judges make the decisions based on screenings of the films. It would make a hell of a lot more sense, and get a lot better filmmakers in the process. We’ll find out tomorrow night, regardless, when ‘On the Lot’ returns to see if it can make a go of it.

ABC, FOX Pilots Find New Life

While Upfront season is long over, it appears that, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the drama is just beginning for two high-profile pilots from the creative teams behind two cult-favourites: Arrested Development’s Mitch Hurwitz and Battlestar Galactica’s David Eick.

Hurwitz is behind “The Thick of It”, a pilot about a congressman dealing with his new surroundings that is based on a British sitcom. The pilot found no traction at ABC, who went with Cavemen instead (Ugh), but it is apparently seeing life in both fans of Hurwitz’ work and fans of British comedy adaptations. Showtime, fans of Hurwitz ever since they attempted to acquire Arrested Development for a 4th season, want to work with him and even bid on the pilot before ABC nabbed it. NBC, meanwhile, is in the running since new boss Ben Silverman was responsible for The Office (US) and is therefore seeing a strong future for a similar adaptation. HBO is apparently also considering it.

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Filed under ABC, FOX, House, On The Lot, Reality TV, Television, Upfronts

Summer Ratings Update: ‘Traveler’ Gets Lost, ‘Hidden Palms’ Remains So

Last night saw the first real full night of nothing but summer programming, and there was mixed results across the board. [All Ratings Information Courtesy of]

The most disappointing result is for ABC’s Traveler, their attempt at launching a serial drama in the summer of all places. The show re-aired its pilot at 9pm (It previewed after of Grey’s Anatomy earlier this month), and then aired its 2nd original episode. The ratings results, however, were not too kind to the drama.

That led into a repeat of the Traveler pilot at 4.99 million viewers (#4) and a 1.6/ 5 in the demo (#4) at 9 p.m., followed by the Wednesday 10 p.m. time period debut of Traveler at a disappointing 6.20 million viewers and a 2.1/ 6 among adults 18-49.

Finishing a distant 2nd to a repeat of CSI: NY is nothing strange or out of the ordinary, but it kind of sucks for the drama as it now has little chance to succeed. It will air out its 8 episodes over the next two months, and likely won’t be returning next year with numbers like these.

The CW’s Hidden Palms, meanwhile, failed to make an impact at 8pm either. This isn’t too surprising, but looks like The CW will indeed leave this season without a single new non-reality show left.

In series-premiere news, long-awaited CW drama Hidden Palms was hidden in the ratings, with a mere 1.82 million viewers and a 0.7/ 2 among adults 18-49 from 8-9 p.m. Obviously, that was last in the hour.

ABC, disgustingly, had decent ratings for the debut of its celebrity impersonation show that was just utterly terrible. Honestly, my parents had it on for a few minutes and it was entirely unpleasant. How more people watched this than Traveler boggles the mind.

ABC had better results with the launch of the non-scripted The Next Best Thing: Who is the Greatest Celebrity Impersonator?, which was the most-watched show at 8 p.m. with 7.75 million viewers (and a second-place 2.5/ 9 among adults 18-49).

FOX continued to find success with its audition phase of So You Think You Can Dance?

Fox got over the “hump” in winning fashion, with a first-place Wednesday finish in the fast nationals courtesy of 9.21 million viewers and a 4.0 rating/12 share among adults 18-49 for So You Think You Can Dance from 8-10 p.m.

The Summer Programming continues tonight with CBS’ entrant: Pirate Master, from Mark Burnett. Filling into Survivor’s timeslot and following the schedule of that show’s first season, the show has a decent shot of making a splash…except that Survivor’s concept is by now a bit dated, and I wonder whether people are really looking for an apparent carbon copy of it. However, viewers can walk the plank for the show’s premiere at 8pm EST on CBS.

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Filed under ABC, FOX, Hidden Palms, Pirate Master, Ratings, Television, The CW, Traveler

The Midseason Contenders: The Shows You Might Be Watching in January

It’s now been two weeks since the glut of Network Upfronts coverage, and I guess you could say I’m a little nostalgic for it. Gone are the days when breaking television news hits every hour, which is really quite unfortunate. However, in recent days there’s been some news about the one thing that networks are always unwilling to talk about: the midseason substitutes.

You see, each network knows that they’re not going to actually be able to hold on to all of their fall dramas and comedies, but publicly they need to talk about how awesome they are and how they’ll run for years and years and years! In reality, they’re quietly organizing possible replacements that could be plugged in by January. While some networks have actually scheduled shows at midseason, there is still the possibility that new pilots or existing shows could be picked up. So, let’s take a gander at all of these possible contenders to see where they might fight in should a space open up.

The Contenders



What is it: 70s-set drama about an apparently quiet suburb that, as new residents discover, is actually a swingin’ sex haven.

Where will it go: It will be scheduled at 10pm somewhere, based on its subject matter. Chances are that it would be a good fit on Sundays, but we’ll see how Shark does in the timeslot. Shark is a show that could easily be moved to fill in for a struggling drama, so it could give up its spot to the new show.

Chances of Midseason Placement: High. CBS is only saving the show until midseason so it can air uninterrupted through to May.


What is it: Post-apocalyptic drama turned town survival drama that garnered a strong enough cult following to result in the Nuts for Jericho campaign of the past few weeks.

Where would it go: I really, really don’t know. This is a tough one: technically, the spot guaranteed to open up (Wednesdays at 8 after Kid Nation ends) could work well, but it’s also going to run right back up against American Idol. Meanwhile, there isn’t a whole lot left in terms of timeslots. If CBS really wants to try to take its cult following with it, they could plug it in on Fridays and hope that people show up. Still, it wouldn’t be easy.

Chances for Midseason Placement: The ‘Save Jericho’ movement is still fighting, and the campaign is gaining steam daily, but the deadline is two weeks before CBS loses the cast to other projects. That’s a short amount of time to convince CBS to make a huge commitment, and a late fall miniseries might be the more likely option at this stage.

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Filed under ABC, FOX, Jericho, Law & Order, Lost, Medium, NBC, One Tree Hill, Reality TV, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Television, The Amazing Race, The CW, Upfronts, Veronica Mars

Reviewing The Finales: House – “Human Error”

For the second straight year, I again got behind on watching House. Something about coming home from university always puts me in a position where I choose Veronica Mars over House, and just don’t get around to watching it. As a result, I caught up on the first previous four weeks’ episodes over the past few days. With the episodes fresh in my memort, I feel like I had a great deal of momentum heading into this finale, and I expected things to come to a conclusion of sorts. And, in the end, it delivered: House leaves the airwaves with his team disappearing beneath him and preparing for yet another major change, and we’ll have to wait until next season to see how it pans out. With a case that relates to the key themes of the episode, and a focus on the interpersonal relations at Princeton-Plainsboro, “Human Error” lives up to the show’s higher standards.

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Filed under FOX, House, Television

‘On the Lot’ Week One: Uhhh…that was awful.

I posted over the weekend the following statement about FOX’s new reality series ‘On the Lot’:

As we head into the finalist-segment of the show where people will compete on a weekly basis, the show is in jeopardy of being cancelled and being replaced by repeats of House and ‘Til Death. I believe that the show deserves to continue as its real format that will be followed for the rest of the year has yet to be revealed. However, it needs to pull itself together and emphasize the product that it is creating. That website is worthwhile, interesting: I can only hope that the show, at some point, becomes the same.

Well, last night in a two-hour extravaganza, we saw what that final format was. And, I think the general consensus is that it was a soul-sucking, awful, derivative version of American Idol with little to no understanding of the show’s true qualities. It had a number of different problems, all of which are the result of simply poor execution on the part of producers.

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The Future of FOX’s ‘On The Lot’

So, at some point in the Fall of last year Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett announced a reality show. This pairing is pretty powerful, or was at the time anyways. Since that point, Burnett has actually lost some of his lustre with an atrocious season of The Apprentice and the further decline of Survivor. And, while Spielberg remains Spielberg, one wonders how he’d have time for the series between movies and his new venture into video fames. So, as we moved closer to the series’ late Spring launch, I guess you could say that expectations had cooled.

And for good reason: the show ‘On The Lot’ became, in its first weeks, was an American Idol-style boot camp with group activities, eliminations, and a misplaced focus on the drama of it all instead of the product of that drama. In other words, these first few weeks have been a bit of a mess in terms of reality television production…but it is my belief that we should stick with this show. Because the product of that drama is actually kind of cool.

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Filed under FOX, On The Lot, Reality TV, Television