July 14, 2014 · 11:24 am
When NBC launches its fall lineups, its shows have the potential to be very different from the shows that were originally sold to advertisers and sent to critics when they were picked up in May.
This is not uncommon. It also doesn’t mean that the shows in question were outright terrible to begin with. But the reality of creating a pilot and the reality of mapping out a season of television are often at odds with one another, and in other cases new producers are brought in to take over a series and have different perspectives on where the series should be heading. At the same time, though, the public nature of this retooling inevitably places those pilots in a different category than those pilots that go through no such “public” changes. When Alexi Hawley departs State of Affairs as a showrunner, or Liz Brixius steps in to take over Bad Judge, or Constantine trades out its female lead for another female character entirely, it creates a different conversation than for shows with more subtle post-pilot changes that would logically occur when a writer’s room is in place and the experience on the pilot has revealed spaces for subtle inflection.
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Filed under TCA
Tagged as Bad Judge, Constantine, Daniel Cerone, David S. Goyer, Ed Bernero, Fall, Liz Brixius, NBC, Pilots, Press Tour, State of Affairs, TCA, Television
October 22, 2011 · 11:17 am
Thoughts on the Fall Survivors
October 22nd, 2011
First off, despite the image above, Survivor was actually an early casualty of this fall season.
This fall has been tremendously busy in terms of my “real” job, and the scholarly side of things has been equally complicated by some looming deadlines and a general increase in workload. In order to feel as though I’ve been giving that my full attention, Cultural Learnings has definitely suffered, and as much as that pains me I also think it is very much necessary given the current state of things.
However, this is not to suggest that the behaviors which drove me to blog in the first place have been entirely squashed. I’ve still been keeping up with most of my shows (although I’ve fallen behind on a few, like The Good Wife, Sons of Anarchy and How I Met Your Mother), and I’ve still been tweeting about most of them and writing about The Office (and, last night, Strike Back) for The A.V. Club. That being said, I know that there are some things which have been left somewhat more vague, and so I wanted to drop in with a few thoughts and a link to something else I’ve been working on.
First and foremost, I exchanged some emails with my colleague Ryan McGee on the subject of how critics review television comedy, a fitting subject given that I recently took part in an academic conference on the subject of TV comedy (which my colleague Jennifer Smith summarized for Antenna). This is something that he had suggested earlier this Fall, and struck me as a good way to enter into a dialogue without having to carve out the time for a podcast. The conversation spanned over the course of a week or so, and I hope it touched on some issues that can spur on some more conversation.
Ryan has posted Part One of the conversation over at Boob Tube Dude, and I’ll be posting Part Two here at Cultural Learnings on Monday. Please leave any comments you might have, as this is really something that requires a broader discussion than just the two of us to really come to life.
Funny Business: Critical Analysis of Television Comedies [Part One] – Boob Tube Dude
Next, though, I want to spend at least a bit of time discussing the new shows that have remained programmed into my DVR after premiere week, which proved to be a fairly small (and generically limited) collection. I’ve also thrown in a few thoughts on new series that have yet to premiere, and one that has already premiered but is still relatively new all things considered.
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Filed under Cultural Learnings
Tagged as 2 Broke Girls, 2011, Analysis, Comedy, Drama, Fall, Grimm, Hart of Dixie, Last Man Standing, Once Upon a Time, Pan Am, Person of Interest, Revenge, Suburgatory, Terra Nova, TV
December 15, 2009 · 9:00 am
“The Troubles of SYTYCD Season 6”
December 15th, 2009
When FOX announced that So You Think You Can Dance would be returning mere weeks after its fifth season concluded for a fall season, designed to help bridge the programming gap that always plagues the network before American Idol arrives in January, I was moderately excited. At the end of a season, a show like SYTYCD is at the height of its excitement, and the idea of that excitement returning sooner than you expected seems a great one…at the time.
And then you realize that the Fall is not the same as the Summer, and more importantly that Season Six is not the same as Season Five. Nigel Lythgoe was in the unfortunate position wherein the show was changing seasons at the same time as they made a number of changes to the show’s formula (both aesthetic and organizational) which have severely weakened the series’ appeal. So just as I found myself feeling like I didn’t have time to follow along with these dancers and their journey, the show was giving me even more reasons to disengage, even more reasons to feel as if the show was losing its appeal.
It’s a perfect storm of problems that have made Season Six the unquestionable black sheep of the So You Think You Can Dance legacy, and righting the ship in Season Seven is going to be an interesting task in discerning which problems were caused by the change in season and which were mistakes irregardless of the colour of the leaves.
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Filed under So You Think You Can Dance
Tagged as Adam Shankman, Ashleigh, Entertainment, Fall, Jakob, New Stage, Nigel Lythgoe, Reality TV, Russell, Ryan, Season 6, Season Finale, SYTYCD, Television
May 22, 2009 · 6:24 pm
The 8 2009-2010 Shows I’m Looking Forward To
May 22nd, 2009
Every year when the madness of the Upfronts begins, there’s a deluge of video clips of the various new shows arriving. In some ways, I’m kind of an awful TV critic, since I hadn’t watched a single piece of video from any of the new shows until late last night.
Admittedly, when it comes to scheduling, I often find the various moves and strategies more entertaining than the programming itself (with only a few clips available, and usually very polished ones that hide a show’s flaws), but it just seemed like this year’s upfronts weren’t catching me as it relates to the shows themselves. There wasn’t one big show that, based on its cast or its premise, jumped out at me as something that I would absolutely have to watch, no pilots that I had followed extensively and really wanted to see make it to series, or anything like that. It got to the point where, when I did sit down to start watching video clips, I didn’t expect to find much at all to be excited about.
In the end, though, I ended up putting together a list that surprised me both in its length and its quality. No, there isn’t that one big pilot that really threatens to dominate my TV viewing, but there’s eight shows where based only on clips I’m ready to commit to giving the show a shot in the Fall. I still want a chance to dig into the pilots before making any sort of final judgment, but in the meantime there’s a collection of series which show that, although I don’t think this year’s lineup has one breakout hit in it (I’ll get to why in a second), it is very diverse in its areas of strength.
I’ll get to some of the shows I’m already canceling in my head, as well as those which are going to be pilot dependent, over the weekend, but for now let’s take a look at the eight shows (counting down from 8 to 1, because rankings are fun) I’m excited about for next season.
[Note: I’m not including Glee, since I’ve seen Glee, and you can go to iTunes or Fox.com to watch Glee, and I already know I’m going to enjoy it, and have in fact already enjoyed it.]
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Filed under Upfronts
Tagged as 2009 Upfronts, ABC, CBS, Community, Cougar Town, Entertainment, Fall, Fall Schedule, Flash Forward, FOX, Human Target, Midseason, Modern Family, NBC, Parenthood, Television, The Good Wife, Top Shows, V
May 20, 2009 · 12:53 am
May 19th, 2009
As always, as a less than official TV critic, I haven’t been amongst those lucky enough to have seen FOX’s new series, Glee, ahead of time. This is not usually an issue, as I’m able to avoid any spoilers or any really strong opinions on these shows, but ignoring Glee has been nearly impossible. Between the constant deluge of ads that FOX has been deploying, and between every TV critic under the sun having extremely polarizing reactions to the series, ignoring Glee has been fundamentally impossible. People either love the show or, well, they agree that there’s other people other than themselves who will probably love it.
Amazingly, however, I managed to keep myself from seeing a single clip, or more than a few images, from the series: sure, I’ve seen the criticism, but this unique musical television “event” (premiering after American Idol despite not truly debuting until the Fall) remains entirely unspoiled in terms of its tone and in terms of its execution (although I’ve obviously listened to the critics enough to know some things to look out for). As a result, I can honestly say that I went into Glee with, primarily, no real expectations one way or the other. The result?
I’m a little bit in love.
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Filed under Glee
Tagged as 2009, Arty, Broadway, Chicago, Don't Stop Believing, Episode 1, Fall, Finn, Football, FOX, Glee Club, Guys and Dolls, High School, Jane Lynch, Jayma Mays, Jock, Kurt, Lea Michele, Les Miserables, Matthew Morrison, Mercedes, Musicals, New Directions, Pilot, Pregnancy, Premiere, Preview, Rachel, Rehab, Review, Season 1, Series Premiere, Stephen Tobolowsky, Vocal Adrenaline, Will Schuester
May 18, 2009 · 1:17 pm
Fox 2009-2010 Fall Schedule
May 18th, 2009
FOX has always performed well in the Spring, but this year they managed to do something they hadn’t in the past: they were smart with their scheduling in the Fall, used House as a lead-in as opposed to a lead-out, and managed to put together two shows (fall debut Fringe and midseason Lie to Me) that were stable enough to earn a spot on their 2009-2010 schedule. They did it with the help of both House and American Idol as lead-ins, of course, but they were intelligent in the way they used those spots, and their Fall Schedule feels more stable as a result.
The question now, of course, is whether they can maintain that momentum, which they will try to do with a highly aggressive schedule that demonstrates that FOX is willing to compete in the Fall…at the risk of running one of its franchises into the ground, throwing one of its new shows out into the wild on its own, and holding its new offerings until midseason.
So even when you think they’ve got the hang of things, FOX has to go and shake things up to prove that, no matter how consistent they may seem at times, they’re always going to pull out a new trick or two.
The full schedule, with my analysis, after the jump – if you’re looking for all the official images and press releases plus plenty of analysis, I suggest you head over to Televisionary where Jace has it all covered.
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Filed under Upfronts
Tagged as 2009, 2009 Upfronts, 2010, 24, American Idol, Bones, Chi McBride, Dollhouse, Entertainment, Fall, FOX 2009 Schedule, FOX Fall Schedule, Fringe, Glee, House, Human Target, Joss Whedon, Lie to Me, Mark Valley, Past Life, So You Think You Can Dance, Sons of Tucson, Television, Timeslots, Winter
June 16, 2008 · 9:50 am
Fall 2008 Pilot Preview
[As per pilot screener regulations, this is a preview and not a review. The content of the series may change between now and the show’s official airing, so all thoughts are of a preliminary nature pending said changes. For a full review, tune in for the show’s September premiere.]
When Fringe debuts in September, there are going to be a lot of comparisons made: to the past work of producer J.J. Abrams, to television’s last prominent science fiction procedural, and also to the rest of the pilots coming to the networks this fall. In all three cases, the show will play well – in its current form, Fringe is a tight series with a compelling cast, a winning premise and (most of all) the mythological underpinnings that drive any great piece of Abrams drama.
[Warning: The review will not feature any major spoilers, but there could be a few light ones as I make some comparisons to other series, so tread lightly if you’re worried about learning a single piece of the show’s plot.]
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Filed under Fringe
Tagged as 2008, Alias, Anna Torv, Entertainment, Fall, FOX, Fringe, J.J. Abrams, John Noble, Joshua Jackson, Lance Reddick, Massive Dynamics, Pilot, Preview, Science Fiction, Television