Category Archives: Ugly Betty

The 8+ Biggest Submission Mistakes of the 2007 Emmy Awards

For those who are unaware, every actor or actress or series submitting themselves for consideration for an Emmy Award submit a single episode that will, if they make the Top 10 in the Popular Vote, be screened to blue ribbon panels that will provide a ranking, resulting in 50% of the total score. Confused? Well, let’s put it this way: they have one chance, one episode, in which they can impress those judges.

GoldDerbyForums – Confirmed Emmy Submissions

And so, although it’s only worth 50% this year, a poor submission can destroy the chances for an actor or actress or for an entire series. And there are eight this year that could well take these contenders and make them into high-profile snubs on July 19th.

The Office and Rainn Wilson“The Coup”

While this episode of The Office was certainly a funny one, it has one distinct problem: it’s more pathetic than it is funny. Dwight (Wilson), especially, comes across as a sad little puppy with no backbone in the episode, as opposed to the lovable weirdo that would play better with voters. The entire episode felt that way: like a cruel joke was being played on Dwight, and he wasn’t in on it. This makes the show out to be far more heartless than it actually is, and I do not believe it will play well with the panels.

Ugly Betty“Pilot”

Ugly Betty’s pilot lacks a majority of its best qualities. Its diverse cast is pushed into stereotypical roles, its colour palette is extremely muted, and outside of some comic acting from America Ferrera the show’s heart is almost entirely missing. This is a show that gained momentum along the way, and showing the Pilot removes that level of growth from the panel. They want to see charming television, and the Pilot is actually perhaps the show’s least charming episode.

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Filed under 30 Rock, ABC, Award Shows, Emmy Awards, Friday Night Lights, Heroes, How I Met Your Mother, Lost, NBC, Television, The Office, Ugly Betty

For Your Consideration: Lead Actresses – America Ferrera and Mary McDonnell

[In Week Four of Cultural Learnings’ 59th Annual Emmy Awards Nominations Preview, we’re looking at possible contenders for the Lead Actress awards in both drama and comedy. Today, we present our third set of candidates. For complete listings for the Supporting and Lead Actor candidates from the past four weeks, check out our For Your Consideration index]

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

America Ferrera (Betty)

Ugly Betty

There isn’t much that hasn’t already been said about America Ferrera’s breakthrough performance as Betty Suarez on ABC’s hit dramedy. Ferrera waltzed away with the Golden Globe earlier this year, and chances are good that she’ll walk away with an Emmy in hand in September as well. It would be easy, then, to take her actual performance for granted: her nomination is so assured at this point that people have stopped even speculating about it. Delving deeper, however, you do find a quality comic performance beneath the hype. Betty is a character we need to believe as both hopelessly awkward and yet a good-hearted, intelligent, smart individual. Ferrera, despiting being made “ugly” for the role, never appears less than radiant as Betty. She goes to extreme lengths to display Betty’s inner beauty, and it never feels clichéd. There is something about Betty that makes her a worthwhile star in the series; as the season progressed and her character became less picked upon, Betty became a complex and intriguing character capable of supporting physical comedy, romantic comedy, drama and just about everything else in between. And that diversity is the work of America Ferrera, and it is work worthy of Emmy consideration.

Beginning the series as a walking fashion disaster working for a fashion magazine, Betty is immediately a sympathetic character. However, she was not yet a sympathetic heroine, and it was Ferrera who really allowed that to blossom. I think that it is a result of how much responsibility lies on Betty’s shoulders: she had to balance supporting her family emotionally and financially, her strange and awkward boyfriend, her new job, her mean co-workers, and in the process she always kept a smile on her face. However, I found Ferrera best when that smile was wiped off and we saw her either at her lowest or at her most resilient. Those moments where Betty could have quit, could have been run down, could have given up; those were the times when Ferrera’s acting shone. Every time I see the show’s opening title, with braces-laden Betty smiling awkwardly, I am annoyed; really, Betty isn’t that cliché and showing her as such does the series little good. Ferrera is at her best when just plain happy, not happy in spite of others.

Episode Selection: “Pilot” (Aired September 28th, 2006)

I am resisting changing this selection because it is a strong performance from Ferrera and is perhaps her most comic. And, let’s face it, it won her a Golden Globe. However, I have serious issues with the Ugly Betty pilot on the whole, and they extend to Betty herself.

The pilot spends too much time attacking Betty for comic value: in fact, it got so played out that it basically stopped after the show’s third episode. Producers realized, much as I did, that doing so would only make everyone else look like complete assholes compared to Betty, which won’t sustain an entire series.

And I like Ferrera more when she is interacting with those new co-workers on a non-confrontational basis. I’d actually be tempted, then, to highlight one of those episodes. However, the “buzz” worthy elements of her character are how she has bad fashion sense and smiles through it all, so the Pilot highlights what voters will be looking for…but I don’t think it does her true acting ability justice.

YouTube“Pilot”

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Mary McDonnell (Laura Roslin)

Battlestar Galactica

I believe that President Laura Roslin is perhaps one of the best characters to rise out of the 2004 reimagining of Battlestar Galactica, which is saying a lot considering the amount of great ones that have been part of the series. What I love about Mary McDonnell’s portrayal of the character is that, without fail, you are always rooting for Laura Roslin to succeed except for those moments where she is clearly wrong. In those cases, McDonnell makes you want to see Roslin get let down as easily as possible, in order to ensure that she isn’t too damaged in the process. After becoming President from the lowly position of Secretary of Education, Laura Roslin had to learn the ropes and find her own middle ground on a variety of issues. This year has really been one where she had to face the consequences of those actions, and one where she was forced to deal with the growing problems facing the people under her command. All the while, her own personal demons came back to haunt her, and her journey forward into the show’s final season is perhaps its most interesting. Through it all, Mary McDonnell has delivered a subtle, visceral performance that is certainly to be considered for an Emmy nomination.

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

Emmy Nominations: How They Work, Who They Benefit

Today, June 21st, the first stage of the Emmy Nomination process ends. Getting nominated for an Emmy Award is not an easy task, and the entire process is ludicrously complicated this year. To help you follow the process as it unfolds over the next month, here’s a rundown on how the decision is made and who benefits from each stage.

Stage One: The Popular Vote

How it Works: Voters select their favourite candidate from all individuals who have submitted themselves for nomination. They read For Your Consideration ads, watch screeners, but in the end likely just pick who they like.

Who it Benefits: Shows that are either perennial nominees or extremely buzz-worthy, and actors that are well-known in Hollywood. Shows like The Sopranos or Desperate Housewives are guaranteed to do well at this stage because they have star power and award show history. Thus, voters don’t really even need to see what these candidates have to offer, they just assume they’re really good. Much hyped new shows, like Heroes and Ugly Betty, will also benefit.

Who it Harms: Ratings-deprived, critically acclaimed programs without any of the above, and actors or actresses who lack star power. While a show like critically acclaimed 30 Rock has a lot of star power (Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey), Friday Night Lights does not and will not perform well at this stage of the competition. Similarly, a show like Jericho lost so much steam in the post-hiatus period that it is unlikely to be on voters’ minds, even with the recent campaign to save it.

Stage Two: The Top 10 Run-Off

How it Works: The Top 10 series from the popular vote are isolated and screened in front of a blue ribbon panel. Each show/actor/actress selects an episode that will be screened for the panel if it makes the Top 10. They also prepare a short written statement explaining their show and the episode in context with the show. For example, should Lost make the Best Drama Series panel (Count on it), they will be screening the season finale, “Through the Looking Glass.”

Then, each member of the panel will rank the shows from 1 to 10, and a final ranking will be decided.

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Filed under 30 Rock, Award Shows, Dexter, Emmy Awards, Friday Night Lights, Heroes, Jericho, Lost, Television, The Office, The Sopranos, Ugly Betty

For Your Consideration: Supporting Actresses – Adrianne Palicki and Becki Newton

[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 sixth set of candidates. For last week’s Supporting Actor candidates, and an index of all candidates, Click Here]

Supporting Actress in a Drama

Adrianne Palicki (Tyra)

Friday Night Lights

In a sea of supporting actress candidates, selecting Adrianne Palicki for Friday Night Lights was difficult. Much of my praise for Zach Gilford last week actually doesn’t apply to Palicki at all: his performance is about subtlety and teenage anxiety, whereas Tyra Collette is brash and acts far closer to Palicki’s real age of 24. However, what I realized as the season went on is that Tyra is a character with a great deal of depth beyond her apparent surroundings. While early season storylines had her sleeping with young oil executives (Which was sketchy for a 17-year old and never quite fit), she developed into a much stronger character as the season wore on. She may have been that bad girl who was on the wrong side of the tracks, but by midseason she was the girl who acted tough because her life was falling apart around her. While she might not excel at playing a teenager, Adrianne Palicki excelled at playing a girl who faced trouble with her head held high until she just couldn’t handle it anymore. And that performance is worthy of Emmy attention.

Tyra is the requisite bad girl, in direct contrast to Minka Kelly’s sugar sweet Lyla Garrity. She’s the bad influence on the coach’s daughter Julie, the love interest for resident bad boy Tim Riggins, the object of the nerdy Landry’s desires, and the special project for Guidance Counselor Tami Taylor. However, somehow Palicki managed to make each of these relationships incredibly compelling. Her scenes with Julie were playful, being just subversive enough without being deplorable. Her relationship with Riggins is complicated, with her feelings being varied and wavering at a realistic pace. Her scenes with Landry provided some great comedy late in the season, and working with Tami showed the bad girl side of Tyra breaking down.

And yet, I think the scene that I most enjoyed was Tyra heading into Jason Street’s hospital room with a bottle of liquor and shooting the shit while getting plastered. She was there to make a statement, screw with Lyla’s head, and yet she never quite took it to the level of outright “I’m going to screw your boyfriend”. She was this bad girl, so capable of being so, and yet she had some sense of a moral guideline. That moral guideline became even more clear as her academic future and her strained relationship with her mother became clear, including her battles with her boyfriends. Suddenly, her early season actions gained context they did not have before, and the result was that Palicki’s performance seemed that much better in hindsight. She is no household name, but Palicki crafted a character in a way that is worthy of Emmy consideration.

Episode Selection: “Mud Bowl” (Aired March 28th, 2007)

I don’t want to call this episode Emmy bait, because that takes away from Adrianne’s strong performance…but it was Emmy bait. Waiting for Landry at a fast food joint in the pouring rain, Tyra encounters a rather creepy male. As Landry is late, Tyra gets up to leave and is followed by the man who attempts to rape her. She fights him off with a cigarette lighter, and falls into Landry’s arms as he arrives. Palicki’s performance in the episode is incredibly powerful in what could have been a tough storyline to pull off, and she’s also great in the rest of the episode as she warms up to Landry and all of his charm. To see this “bad girl” devolve into a mess following this traumatic situation was one of those moments where you realized how real Friday Night Lights was, and Palicki’s portrayal of Tyra is what makes that possible in this episode. But since that scene can’t be watched, here’s a scene of Tyra interacting with Matt and Landry.

YouTube “Mix Tape”

Supporting Actress in a Comedy

Becki Newton (Amanda)

Ugly Betty

A lot of what I discussed about Michael Urie’s performance in Ugly Betty goes as well for Becki Newton. She was also introduced as a catty coworker who would attack Betty mercilessly, and was as one-dimensionally funny as a character could get early in the season. However, like Marc, Amanda grew throughout the season into someone more caring, compassionate, fragile. Perhaps realizing that Betty wasn’t herself interesting enough to carry every storyline, B Plots began going the way of Marc and Amanda, and the result was three-dimensional characters that stood on their own accord. While she might not be a big name like Vanessa Williams, Becki Newton was always up to the task of being a vicious critic when necessary while always being able to show Amanda’s more sensitive side. That ability to balance conniving and concerned, caring and villainous, puts Newton into consideration for an Emmy Award.

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For Your Consideration: Supporting Actresses – Patricia Wettig and Vanessa Williams

[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 fifth set of candidates. For last week’s Supporting Actor candidates, and an index of all candidates, Click Here]

Supporting Actress in a Drama

Patricia Wettig (Holly Harper)

Brothers & Sisters

Fans of FOX’s Prison Break will know Patricia Wettig from her stint as (Vice-)President Reynolds on the show’s first season before she mysteriously disappeared in its second, returning only for a brief cameo. Well, for those fans who might not be so interested in primetime family dramas and who skipped ABC’s Brothers & Sisters, it was the reason why she was absent. With her husband Ken Olin (A prolific director/producer on Alias) producing the ABC series, Wettig was drawn away from her presidential role for one somewhat different. And, while I’m sure it mucked things up over at Prison Break, Wettig made the right decision in the end. In Holly Harper, Wettig has a character with emotional depth beyond her introduction. Beginning as a volatile plot device from the Walker family’s departed patriarch’s past, Holly has since developed into an honest-to-goodness part of this ensemble cast. While some of the other supporting performances were perhaps more showy (Mainly Rachel Griffith’s turn), Wettig brought to Holly a sense of loss and independence worthy of Emmy contention.

Holly Harper was the other woman, the one that Nora Walker knew existed and yet didn’t believe was ever a real problem. The key theme of the season was Nora dealing with her husband’s past haunting her even after his death, and Holly was a big part of this. As she became an inheritor, and as she bought herself into the family business, Holly was a thorn in Nora’s side in a real fashion. However, Holly was rarely out to get Nora in the beginning. Wettig brought to the role a sense that she was willing to be civil, willing to be honest, willing to let things slide. Then, of course, things hit the roof and Nora couldn’t take it anymore.

Their tension was palpable, and it drove the show forward. As Holly battled with Sarah and Nora, she was often somewhat vindictive and it would be easy for Wettig to fall into that pattern. However, once Holly’s daughter Rebecca entered the picture, Wettig was given a more emotional side. We began to see the life she led without having to relate to this family, the life as the other woman with a daughter and a life to live. It is easy to immediately condemn the other woman, but I found myself warming to Holly by season’s end. Wettig brought to the role a sense of honesty, a knowledge of her sins and yet an acknowledgement of needing to move on from it. From beginning to end in her series run, Patricia Wettig embodied Holly Harper in a way that she could never have achieved with Prison Break’s cold-hearted president. Not only did Wettig make perhaps the best career move of the year, but she also delivered a performance worthy of Emmy consideration.

Episode Selection: “Grapes of Wrath” (Aired May 6th, 2007)

Holly is at her most vicious here, reeling from the news that her daughter has moved in with the Walkers and the tension between her and Nora is most certainly at a fever pitch. Wettig has a lot of fun seducing Nora’s date for the weekend, her creepy writing teacher, but the real kicker comes from an end of episode food fight that is both funny and yet evolves into something much more substantial. Holly breaks down after the fight, realizing that she still misses William (Nora’s husband, her lover). That breakdown is the first time I really looked at Wettig for this award, and I think it convinced me she deserved it. It puts into context Holly’s actions, Holly’s inability to move on, just as it did Nora’s inability to move on before she put William behind her at some point earlier. Actually, Holly’s actually better at moving on than Nora is. And Wettig makes this very clear, matching Sally Field line for line and delivering an Emmy-worthy performance.

YouTube“Grapes of Wrath”

Supporting Actress in a Comedy

Vanessa Williams (Wilhemina Slater)

Ugly Betty

There is something to be said for an actress finally finding the right role for them. Vanessa Williams has jumped around, struggling to find her role in the television and film universe. Outside of appearances in films such as Soul Food or Shaft, or her short-lived runs on Boomtown or South Beach (Which existed, believe it or not), she has never found a niche in the acting world. As a result, most people know her best from performing ‘Colours of the Wind’ in Disney’s Pocahontas and her other singing accolades. However, Williams is not happy just being another Pebo Brison; she appears to have been waiting for the right role to finally come along. And, well, come along it has: as the scheming Wilhelmina Slater, Williams has elevated her game with a conniving and devious performance that skirts the line between villain and hero so well that I’m still not sure where I stand. However, either way, Vanessa Williams has finally found the right role, and it is one worthy of Emmy Awards attention.

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For Your Consideration: Supporting Actors – Terry O’Quinn and Michael Urie

[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 last, and seventh, set of candidates. Tomorrow, we’ll begin looking at Supporting Actresses. For all Supporting Actor candidates, Click Here]

Supporting Actor in a Drama

Terry O’Quinn (John Locke)

Lost

I’ve saved Terry O’Quinn until the end not because I don’t know what to say, but rather because it almost feels unnecessary to say it. After unjustly losing the Emmy two years ago, Terry O’Quinn has unfortunately gone unrecognized for his role as John Locke, and in a way it makes sense. The 2nd season wasn’t a big one for Locke, as he lacked a true defining moment. It was more of a general pattern, his obsession with the Hatch being a long, drawn out affair as opposed to a single emotional moment. However, I will make no excuses for the Emmys or any other awards show when it comes to the coming awards season. Because, when it comes to supporting performances, no character had a bigger episode this season than John Locke, and no actor stepped up to the plate like Terry O’Quinn. And for that, my friends, Terry O’Quinn deserves an Emmy.

This season, Locke was given the opportunity to finally reconnect with the island, the very thing that had so tempted him in the first season when he stumbled upon the hatch. Without that hatch to rely upon, Locke was asked to step up to the plate and lead his people after Eko’s untimely death. The result of this was Locke regaining his faith, of sorts, from Eko’s scripture-laden stick, and sending him on a journey to find the Flame Station, the Others’ compound, a certain submarine, a magic box, a gruesome task, a fateful journey, a mysterious encounter, a near fatal shooting, a visitor from his past, and a final plea to Jack to not allow outsiders to enter the sacred island he now calls home. That journey, taking place in the second portion of the season, hearkened back to the Season One Locke we knew and loved.

And O’Quinn was right back with it. Don’t call it a comeback for O’Quinn, though, because he was just as solid in the second season as he was here. However, the content of each season can’t be compared: whereas Locke became marginal in season two, he was the centre of attention in season three. And O’Quinn rose to the occasion, never backing down from a challenge and marking some memorable exchanges with Sayid, with Jack, and with the leader of the others, Ben. At all times, O’Quinn played Locke like the man of faith again, the man who believes when others don’t and, perhaps, might just be onto something. Lost wouldn’t be the same without Locke, and the Emmy Awards will not be the same without Terry O’Quinn. They made a mistake two years ago, and it’s time they made it up to him.

Episode Selection: “The Man From Tallahassee” (Aired March 21st, 2007)

In Season One, Terry O’Quinn should have won that emmy for Walkabout, the episode where we learned he had previously been in a wheelchair (One of the show’s best reveals, perhaps only topped by this season’s finale). In Season Two, O’Quinn was at his finest when sparring with Henry Gale, the prisoner in the hatch who we later learned was the leader of The Others. The Man from Tallahassee takes these two elements (Locke’s past paralyzation and his confrontations with Ben) and puts them into the same episode. The result is a philosophical and powerful hour of television that wraps itself around the island as a character, Locke’s journey, and most importantly: we finally learn how Locke lost the use of his legs. It is perhaps the final chapter in Locke’s journey, that final piece of the puzzle, and Terry O’Quinn knocked it out of the park. If this performance isn’t worthy of an Emmy, I don’t know what is.

YouTube“The Man from Tallahassee”

Supporting Actor in a Comedy

Michael Urie (Marc)

Ugly Betty

After watching the pilot for Ugly Betty, I felt that the show was far too vindictive. At that time, the various intricacies of the show were tossed aside in favour of fish out of water at its finest. The staff at Mode magazine were downright mean to hapless, unfortunately dressed Betty, and the result was that they all became instant villains from that moment onwards. And, thus, it is to the show’s credit that they managed to take these people and turn them into human beings who we empathize with on a weekly basis. One of those individuals is Wilhelmina’s flamboyant and biting secretary Marc, and Michael Urie’s portrayal of the character has managed to turn heartless into heartfelt. In a show that has transformed itself along with its titular heroine, Urie’s performance is absolutely part of that reason, and for it he deserved to be considered for an Emmy Award.

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

Network Upfronts Extravaganza – ‘ABC’ Preview

ABC is in a unique situation this year when it comes to pilots. On one hand, the network has seen some success this year and in past years, and the network has remained a solid demographics performers even with dips in viewership for its flagship shows like Lost or Desperate Housewives. However, outside of shows like Grey’s Anatomy the network actually saw a series of failures over the span of the year with both dramas and comedies. Judging from its pilot order, ABC is going with what I’d like to call a shotgun approach, something which is both good and bad for the network’s future. Either way, next season will be a test for the ABC brand: is there a cohesive image which can unite wildly different shows together under one banner?

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Filed under ABC, Brothers & Sisters, Cavemen, Dancing with the Stars, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Lost, Private Practice, Ratings, Sex & The City, Television, Traveler, Ugly Betty, Upfronts

Thursday Night TV Club Memo: NBC Supersized, 10pm Guests

This is just a quick note for what promises to be a hectic Thursday evening. Thanks to some unfortunate circumstances, I am faced with a very large dilemma: there’s way too much TV on tonight, and I’m not going to be able to watch it all within the next day since…my “VCR” is out of commission. *Cough* Ahem.

As a result, I’m going to have to choose carefully what I choose to watch.

ABC

ABC’s got a fairly strong lineup, to be honest; Ugly Betty (8pm)is heading towards its finale with some momentum behind the Betty/Henry romance, Grey’s Anatomy (9pm) is certainly dramatic with its George/Izzie issues, and the new drama Traveler is something to consider…but at the same time there’s nothing pressing about watching these particular shows. I already watched Traveler (10:01pm) last summer, Ugly Betty is unlikely to be spoiled for me, and Grey’s has been far too annoying recently considering I still think this George/Izzie thing is just plain stupid.

CBS

CBS has a unique schedule as well, tonight, with a former friend occupying the 10pm slot. However, it starts at 8pm with the penultimate episode of Survivor: Fiji. I’ve been following the season, and feel obligated to see it through to the finale this time (I missed the finale last season). It’s nothing too interesting, but it’s also the most likely to be spoiled for me tomorrow. CBS then loses my interest, but gains the interest of others with a new episode of CSI at 9pm, followed by the return of Without a Trace at 10pm on Thursdays for its 5th Season Finale. Considering that recent timeslot occupant Shark is likely to depart the timeslot, could it be moving back full time? It’s possible.

NBC

Here’s where the real problem lies, because NBC is once again going with a Supersized lineup this evening. My Name is Earl’s 2nd Season Finale runs from 8:00pm EST to 8:40, and then The Office runs from 8:40 to 9:20, followed by Scrubs from 9:20 to 10:00pm. They close the night with the rapidly declining ER (Hitting Grey’s last week was not good for the show), but it’s a real scheduling conundrum regardless of what airs at 10pm.

If I watch the NBC comedies (Well, The Office and Scrubs) I’m watching less TV than I could if I watch Survivor and Grey’s instead. Heck, think about how awful it would be if I was not appalled by FOX’s “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” and wanted to watch its two back-to-back episodes where someone attempts the Million dollar question? Or, if I was addicted to Supernatural and Smallville, airing new episodes on The CW (I totally almost wrote fresh episodes, damn you The WB! *Shakes Fist*)?

It’s quite a night for the Thursday Night TV Club…I’ll check in later with details on what I watched, but if you have any suggestions please let me know. And, for the love of all things good, don’t forget that The Office is supersized and miss any of it when TiVoing!

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Filed under ABC, FOX, Grey's Anatomy, NBC, Reality TV, Scrubs, Survivor, Television, The Office, Traveler, Ugly Betty

Thursday Night TV Club – April 19th, 2007

 

I really don’t have much to say about last night’s episodes, to be entirely honest with you. While I watched everything that was new, I honestly felt that every single show just treaded water outside of one. That one, surprisingly enough, was the one show which seems to be falling off the cultural radar.

While I gave 30 Rock credit last week for continuing storylines over multiple episodes, this week was…just the same as last week. It’s disappointing to see Floyd leave, really, but at least it keeps the show from becoming complacent. This episode was exactly the same as last week’s, in most ways, except this time we had a small dose of Jenna (And yet even the writers seemed begrudging about it, keeping her out of most key storylines and dissing her ability to carry the show in Tracy’s absence). I thought some of her lines were funny, but then they had her trying on underwear and falling down. The character is simply out of steam. Jack’s relationship with Phoebe is frustratingly dull, and the only character currently surviving is Tracy, mainly for the Black Crusaders portion of his storyline. And even then it was fairly low on the comedy scale outside of Gordon from Sesame Street being one of its inner circle. Liz’s trip to Cleveland was cute, but it was all wrapped up in the same cloth as last week’s episode.

Scrubs was on the same boat, as it was one of their annoying “Let’s have other people do the voiceovers” episodes. I think that it wasn’t a half bad episode of Scrubs based on this season’s standards, but I’ve been watching Season One on DVD recently and I can’t help but compare. I do not care about Elliot and Keith, stripper pole or no stripper pole. Ted is fairly boring, and him standing up to Kelso felt dated. Jordan has lost much of her character depth since the intense botox treatments, and I don’t think she really demands our attention. And, while I love The Todd and felt that his internal dialogue was by far the most interesting (and actually funny), it still wasn’t much of a real storyline. All three of the focused-upon characters are never going to actually become anything important, so why bother spending so much time on them when it will all be forgotten by next week?

Speaking of forgotten, I was woefully bored with this week’s episode of Ugly Betty. I enjoy the show, but this episode just did absolutely nothing for me. Wilhelmina seducing Bradford just isn’t entertaining to watch, and Daniel sleeping with a 16-year old is decidedly regressive (moreso than it really needs to be). The show was rolling at a really good clip dramatically for awhile, but this episode dropped the major component of this: Henry. Christopher Gorham’s likable accountant was the thing that kept Betty on track, and watching her fall off the rails wasn’t good television in the least. The show lacked the charm of the rest of the season, and its darker turns don’t seem like the right step forward for the show…and the less said about the terrible Ignacio storyline the better.

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The Ratings Clout of the College Crowd

Mediaweek had an interesting piece of statistics yesterday which reports on a change made by Nielsen in terms of how they track ratings. While last year saw the introduction of TiVo viewings into the ratings system, starting in January Nielsen started measuring something called “out-of-home viewings” by college students.

Mediaweek – ABC Benefits From Out-of-Home College Viewers (March 29, 2007)

Yesterday, the results for the first three months of the year were revealed in terms of their effect on the 19-24 age group. And, unsurprisingly, the change is fairly substantial in many cases.

For ABC, the big winner was Grey’s Anatomy, which since January has seen enough growth in the 18-24 ratings group that its entire 18-49 rating has gone up a full point. This makes sense, really; it’s the kind of show that large segments of college populations will gather around the TV to watch on a regular basis, and it appeals to pretty much every gender/social group within campuses.

However, surprising to me at least, Lost was not included in the list of shows with at least 17% growth in the 18-24 age range. Considering the amount of support which I see for Lost at the university level, I find this very hard to believe, and it seems like Nielsen families have really lame college students. This is further evidenced by the ratings increase for FOX’s ‘Til Death, which was actually fairly substantial.

Other shows gaining ground include Ugly Betty, Men in Trees (ABC), America’s Next Top Model (The CW), and House (FOX). However, these are all very abstract figures, and to an observer it may seem as if they really don’t matter in the least. And, while you’re right on many counts, I think that this is actually somewhat important.

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