Category Archives: NBC

Pondering the Return of ‘American Gladiators’

I don’t know about you, but I had a morbid fascination with American Gladiators as a kid. There was something about the over-muscled gladiators, the athletically minded contestants, and feats of agility and the studio-lit environment that was just really interesting to me. It’s one of those shows that, if I came across a rerun, I would probably watch just to remember a time when a show like this could be produced.

And, oddly, it appears that my assumptions as to the concept’s dated qualities were wrong: Ben Silverman and NBC appear to think that American Gladiators is the perfect franchise to return to primetime at midseason. And while I know that Silverman is known for his production company Revellie and its focus on reality programming, I still think that this is just a really odd situation.

NBC already has one dated reality concept on its schedule: The Singing Bee, which plays out like an old-style game show as opposed to the standards established post-Millionaire, if you will allow me to start using such terms to indicate periods of reality programming. And now, they’re heading back into their mines of syndicated television for what I view as a rather odd choice.

MGM, who owns the property, says that they are trying to basically milk their old properties instead of making new ones. This kind of irks me, to be honest: should we not be trying to find new horizons, instead of heading back to old ones.

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Kristen Bell and ‘Heroes’: A Double-Edged Sword

In case you missed the big news from very late last evening…well, okay, very late for me four hours ahead of pacific time…

From Variety:

NBC is adding former “Veronica Mars” star Kristen Bell to the cast of “Heroes.”

Peacock has snagged Bell for a key multiepisode arc of its sophomore sensation. Casting is a major coup for NBC since Bell — who plays the title character in Judd Apatow’s upcoming “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” — was reportedly being sought for several TV gigs, including a part on ABC’s “Lost.”

Now, I admit I’ve been too busy to be blogging about this entire saga, but Bell was apparently approached for a gig on Lost, a more substantial one than a “multiepisode arc,” but turned it down. According to TV Guide’s Michael Ausiello, this was because she didn’t want to move to Hawaii and was perhaps lining up a Broadway run in Legally Blonde.

This announcement is, however, a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I love seeing a talented actress whose series struggled in the ratings be recognized as just that: a true talent capable of continuing on in television. I have to admit, though, that I am concerned about a lot of things in this development.

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Filed under Heroes, NBC, Television, Veronica Mars

Summer TV Wrapup: Best Show About Karaoke – “Don’t Forget the Lyrics!”

Okay, let’s be honest: we don’t really need two shows about lyrics, or karaoke, or whatever we want to call this particular brand of programming. NBC’s The Singing Bee and FOX’s Don’t Forget the Lyrics should, by all logic, cancel one another out from my cultural consciousness. However, in the end, I think that it’s important to declare a winner in this epic showdown. And, contrary to my initial opinion, I think that Don’t Forget the Lyrics is the clear winner.

Originally, my inclination moved to The Singing Bee a more traditional game show which is a genre that I have a soft spot for. However, in its second episode, it was clear that NBC’s series was far too rushed to be worth my time. The show had no momentum, no groove if you will: each episode was as personality-less as the last, and the various different gimmicky lyric challenges showed their inability to feel comfortable with their formula.

And really, while I might like to sit down with a predictable and simplistic game show when flipping through the channels, I don’t really see it as primetime viewing. And I think that’s the problem: the show just doesn’t feel like something is taking place. It lacks any weight, any drama, any comedy. It lacks, well, everything.

While I originally plastered it for being derivative, over time it has become clear that Don’t Forget the Lyrics has managed to stabilize into about as good as it could possibly become. The contestants have personality, the amount of singing feels better and more entertaining, and “playing along” feels much more natural. People make choices, and therefore we can relate to their decisions and make our own at home.

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Filed under Don't Forget the Lyrics, FOX, NBC, Reality TV, Television, The Singing Bee

Pilot Preview: NBC’s ‘Chuck’

When Josh Schwartz created The O.C., he became a household name due to the show’s success and the pop culture phenomenon that developed. He was the young writer-producer who was setting television on fire, and the world was at his doorstep waiting for him to emerge victorious again. However, The O.C. ran into some trouble, and all of a sudden Josh Schwartz was behind a losing property that limped to its fourth season finale.

What this has given Josh Schwartz is one less steady pay cheque, perhaps, but also a new lease on life. The O.C. remained a credible formula for Schwartz because he balanced the oversexed teenage promiscuousness with witty and sarcastic banter, and those two parts stayed relatively intact following its demise. And so, like the sensible and smart man he is, Josh Schwartz took the oversexed teenage promiscuousness and channeled it into “Gossip Girl” for The CW, and took the witty and sarcastic banner and found a home for it on NBC.

The resulting show is Chuck (Premiering on Monday, September 24th at 8pm on NBC), an action-thriller comedy series that places Schwartz’s sharp dialogue into a setting more acceptable for the Seth-like viewers the show is trying to reel in. The result is a series that is sharp, funny, and certainly one of the most potential-filled pilots of the 2007 Fall Season.

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Why Sylar Needs to Die for ‘Heroes’ to Succeed

When NBC released promotional images for Heroes’ second season this weekend in preparation for Comic Con, there was something about them that bothered me. Ever since the first season ended, I have been hoping against hope that producers would not be stupid enough to sustain the life of the evil villain who was thwarted at the end of the show’s first season. Alas, it appears that they’ve made the decision: Zachary Quinto and his character, Sylar, will be around for Season Two. And this, my friends, basically kills any of the resolution of the show’s first season. These are the reasons why Sylar must die for this series to continue with any level of quality.

The First Season Won’t Matter

A lot of great things happened in the first season, but paramount amongst them was all of the Heroes coming together in the end to defeat Sylar. If Sylar doesn’t die, then this would have basically all been for nothing: Hiro’s training and resolve wouldn’t have resulted in his murder of Sylar, but rather just a life-threatening injury. This emasculates everything Peter, Claire, Hiro and everyone else went through if he just slinks off into the sewers. They stopped the bomb, sure, but the evil serial killer who threatened their livelihood? He just got hurt a little.

Hindsight is 20/20

In retrospect, Sylar’s death was handled terribly: how could someone with all of those superpowers possibly not be able to stop Hiro from stabbing him with that sword? He went out a pussy, basically, and I think that now producers want to resurrect him to give him a more badass sendoff later. This sets a terrible precedent: just because the producers screwed the pooch shouldn’t mean that they can just manipulate their series in contrived fashions to make up for it.

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2007-2008 Fall Premiere Dates – FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC and The CW

This fall, all of your favourite shows will be returning, and some new blood will join the pack. Which nights should you be scheduling off? Here’s the full calendar list of premiere dates for the Big 5 Networks.

NOTE: New shows are shown in blue.

September 6th

8:00pm

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader [FOX]

September 11th

8:00pm

The Biggest Loser [NBC]

September 12th

9:00pm

Kitchen Nightmares [FOX]

September 14th

9:00pm

Nashville [FOX]

September 17th

8:00pm

Prison Break [FOX]

9:00pm

K-Ville [FOX]

September 18th

8:00pm

Beauty & The Geek [Two Hours] [The CW]

Bones [FOX]

September 19th

8:00pm

Kid Nation [CBS]

America’s Next Top Model [The CW]

Back To You [FOX]

8:30pm

‘Til Death [FOX]

9:00pm

Gossip Girl [The CW]

September 20th

8:00pm

Survivor: China [CBS]

September 23rd

8:00pm

The Simpsons [FOX]

8:30pm

King of the Hill [FOX]

9:00pm

Cold Case [CBS]

Family Guy [FOX]

10:00pm

Shark [CBS]

September 24th

8:00pm

How I Met Your Mother [CBS]

Chuck [NBC]

Dancing with the Stars [ABC]

8:30pm

Big Bang Theory [CBS]

9:00pm

Heroes [NBC]

Two and a Half Men [CBS]

9:30pm

Rules of Engagement [CBS]

The Bachelor [ABC]

10:00pm

CSI: Miami [CBS]

Journeyman [NBC]

September 25th

8:00pm

New Amsterdam [FOX]

NCIS [CBS]

Dancing with the Stars (Results) [ABC]

9:00pm

House [FOX]

The Unit [CBS]

Reaper [The CW]

9:30pm

The Singing Bee [NBC]

Boston Legal [ABC] [Special 90 Minute Premiere]

10:00pm

Cane [CBS]

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit [NBC]

September 26th

8:00pm

Deal or No Deal [NBC]

9:00pm

The Bionic Woman [NBC]

Criminal Minds [CBS]

Private Practice [ABC]

10:00pm

Life [NBC]

CSI: New York [CBS]

Dirty Sexy Money [ABC]

September 27th

8:00pm

My Name is Earl [NBC]

Smallville [The CW]

Ugly Betty [ABC]

9:00pm

The Office [NBC]

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation [CBS]

Grey’s Anatomy [ABC]

10:00pm

ER [NBC]

Without a Trace [CBS]

Big Shots [ABC]

September 28th

8:00pm

Ghost Whisperer [CBS]

Deal of No Deal [NBC]

9:00pm

Moonlight [CBS]

10:00pm

Las Vegas [NBC]

Numb3rs [CBS]

September 30th

7:00pm

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (2 hours) [ABC]

9:00pm

Desperate Housewives [ABC]

9:30pm

American Dad [FOX]

10:00pm

Brothers & Sisters [ABC]

October 1st

8:00pm

Everybody Hates Chris [The CW]

8:30pm

Aliens in America [The CW]

9:00pm

Girlfriends [The CW]

9:30pm

The Game [The CW]

October 2nd

8:00pm

Cavemen [ABC]

8:30pm

Carpoolers [ABC]

October 3rd

8:00pm

Pushing Daisies [ABC]

October 4th

8:30pm

30 Rock [NBC]

9:00pm

Supernatural [The CW]

October 5th

9:00pm

Friday Night Lights [NBC]

October 12th

8:00pm

20/20 [ABC]

9:00pm

Women’s Murder Club [ABC]

10:00pm

Men in Trees [ABC]

October 15th

9:30pm

Samantha Who? [ABC]

October 18th

10:00pm

Viva Laughlin (Preview) [CBS]

October 21st

8:00pm

Viva Laughlin [CBS]

October 25th

9:30pm

Scrubs [NBC]

November 27th

10:00pm

Cashmere Mafia [ABC]

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The 2007 Emmy Awards: The 12 Biggest Snubs

The good people at AOL Television have put together a photo gallery featuring various thoughts on who got snubbed for the 2007 Emmy Nominations, and I was lucky enough to be one of their featured commentators.

Emmys Blog Reactions – AOL Television

However, their list has admittedly got me thinking about some of the most frustrating snubs that could possibly have arisen out of the various Emmy nominations (Even the obscure ones). And so, I’ve created a list of what are my ten largest snubs of the nominations, individuals who deserved a chance to be recognized by their peers.

‘Lost’ for Best Drama Series

There is no question that Lost reached creative highs in its third season, it’s a pity that an arguable lowpoint in its opening episodes kept it from gaining enough traction to overcome lesser shows like Heroes or Boston Legal which skated by with newness and familiarity respectively. It’s hard to know what got it snubbed: a lack of voter interest, a poorly submitted episode, or the spread of the opinion that the show was past its prime. I don’t understand any of those options, but Lost will sit out another year regardless.

Michael C. Hall (Dexter) for Lead Actor in a Drama Series

It was the single worst snub of the Emmy season, greater than any of the other missing individuals. While James Spader and Kiefer Sutherland went through the pace, Michael C. Hall crafted a serial killer that we not only grew to empathize with but actually kind of liked in the end. His performance made the entire concept work; without some level of empathy, the show would collapse under an unlikable hero incapable of emotional contact with others. After the Hollywood Foreign Press and his Screen Actors Guild peers recognized him, it is unfortunate that the Academy members could not do the same. The fact that he won’t have a chance to challenge for this award is the season’s greatest travesty.

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Filed under 30 Rock, Award Shows, Dexter, Emmy Awards, Friday Night Lights, Gilmore Girls, Heroes, How I Met Your Mother, Lost, NBC, Television, Weeds

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 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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Cultural Learnings’ 2007 Emmy Nominations: Final Predictions

Tomorrow morning at 5:35am PDT, the nominations for the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced. I will now put myself out there on a limb with my own predictions of whose names will be called. I’ll have all the final nomination information as soon as it breaks, as long as my plan to be online at that point in time works out. I will literally stop working to do this for you, remember that.

NOTE: Some of these predictions have changed thanks to the leaked Top 10 lists. Most have not.

Oustanding Drama Series

Lost

I think it’s the best show on television, and I think that its season was certainly worthy of an Emmy nomination. The show is unmatched on network television in terms of writing, production and performances.

Grey’s Anatomy

It’s season was uneven, but its popular support and wide-range of acting talents will be too hard for the ATAS to ignore.

The Sopranos

The show’s final season kept the buzz level high, and the finale basically clinched it: no one will be forgetting The Sopranos this year.

House

It’s the second biggest drama on television, and people just seem to love the show to death. I think that it is a show that has proven itself worthy in the past, unlike Heroes which still hasn’t won that level of respect.

Friday Night Lights

Admittedly, this is a sentimental choice. However, I can’t not believe that Emmy voters will find the heart of this series too endearing to pass up. With Kyle Chandler making the Drama Actor Top 10, I think the show has a shot.

Oustanding Comedy Series

The Office

Last year’s winner had another strong and buzz-worthy season. It was a bit of a dark horse last year, but this time around it’s absolutely a front-runner…but in a category full of them.

Ugly Betty

One-hour comedies have a distinct advantage over half-hour ones, but even ignoring that Ugly Betty was a charming series that features some great performances. With Becki Newton and Vanessa Williams making the Top 10, I also think this show is a shoe-in.

30 Rock

The other new show to make this list, 30 Rock is a show made for the Emmys: prestigious talent (Fey, Baldwin, Krakowski), relevant and relatable theme (Show about a show), and it’s incredibly liberal. Plus, it’s kind of also the best new comedy of the year. Just sayin’.

Two and a Half Men

The only traditional sitcom left in the Emmy race, I think that voters will trend towards it like the sheep they are. That being said, the show is not the worst sitcom ever: it’s just similar to them in every way.

Entourage

While Scrubs did have the musical episode, I think that Entourage is the closest the category has to a hip show that hasn’t quite gotten its due. 30 Rock is actually quite safe, The Office is now almost too popular, so it’s Entourage that best fits the bill. With Kevin Dillon breaking the Top 10 for Supporting Actor, the show has a shot.

Extra Prediction:

The Sopranos will garner the most nominations on the drama side, while 30 Rock and The Office will fight it out for the most comedy nominations with Ugly Betty not far behind.

The rest of the nominations can be found below, with full explanations found here (Drama) and here (Comedy).

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