“Happily Ever After”
November 3rd, 2008
After reading Alan Sepinwall’s impressions of Scrubs’ upcoming season on ABC (which are very positive, and might convince me to give the show another shot), I remembered something: I had once hoped, wished even, that Sarah Chalke could abandon that comedy for this one, a show where her character of Stella once felt like a breath of fresh air. But, there was no happily ever after for Ted and Stella: once their relationship left its romantic side behind in “Ten Sessions,” the original impact was wearing off and, by the time we got to Stella leaving Ted at the altar we were all ready to more or less throw Stella out the door.
And in one scene in “Happily Ever After,” we get that moment: Ted tears Stella apart for putting him through hell, and for making a huge mistake. It’s a scene that we needed to see, but it’s also a scene that wouldn’t have worked outside of its imaginary context: while we needed Stella to hear what Ted had to say, she has chosen a life that is reunites her daughter with her father, and the series is smart not to exist in a universe where Ted is that self-centered, especially since he has his issues with that as is.
Overall, this week’s episode is one that wasn’t quite as definitively strong as one might hope, using some oddly cliched constructs to eventually make this poignant realizations, complete with some enjoyable comedy from Robin’s Canadian roots along the way. The real question now is, with Stella out of the picture, where the show goes from here on the road to its own…well, you read the title, you know where that cliched transition sentence is going.
“No Alarms and No Surprises”
ABC 2008-2009 Fall Schedule
Of all of the major networks, one could say that ABC is playing it safest when it comes to this year’s upfronts. The only drama pilot to make it onto their fall schedule is one that was technically completed for last season’s pilot group, and they are the network who held back the most new shows from last fall to be relaunched with gusto when September rolls around.
The result is a schedule that is eerily similar to the one that we saw this past year, which saw decent success although certainly not to the levels that they experienced in years previous. After a year of success facing off against CSI, Grey’s Anatomy has seen post-strike ratings tumble, and shows like Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty are fading if not quite to levels that are dangerous to their health and stability on the network.
So, let’s take a look at the schedule, and see which shows are going to make a splash this time around, plus finally getting confirmation of the worst kept secret of the year’s upfronts.
According to the trades, you have revealed your Fall schedule, which is one of those times when I head off to Variety to ponder what kind of stupid decisions you’ve made. Now, you’re right – you have occasionally made some good decisions, and there are some of them found within this year’s announcement. However, at the same time, there are some which frustrate me to no end, and which need to be discussed.
First, let’s discuss the good:
- Friday Night Lights is definitely coming back, although not until the Winter. Through some sort of cost-saving measure (Hopefully not cutting out parts of the ensemble, although I could do with less Lyla in general), the show has been saved – long live quality television.
- On the same front, unsurprising considering its buzz in critical circles, 30 Rock is returning for a third season. After such a creative push pre-strike, it should be interesting to see how it does in the post-strike period. Hopefully, like How I Met Your Mother, it will see a boost.
- A smart network, “Thursday Night Live” will air for four weeks leading up to the Presidential Election following The Office on Thursday Night. This shall offer some strong comedy, which excites me.
- NBC is officially not picking up Scrubs, a great decision in my books. Too bad ABC wishes to flog the dead horse a while longer.
- Critical hit Life, even with low ratings, is renewed as previously announced, but might struggle for viewers on Friday nights in the Winter.
Now, based on this you’d think that I was happy with this upfront, that I wouldd have just posted about how great you were, NBC, and move on with my life. Well, let’s just say that I have some other issues – I won’t get into your new shows (Not much information is available, and what little there is doesn’t tickle my fancy to be honest), but there are a few decisions you’ve made that are potentially awful:
- Airing after the Super Bowl, NBC is officially launching a spinoff of The Office. Now, this is only a potential evil: I haven’t seen the show, and no details are available as of this time. However, I’ll have more thoughts throughout the week on why I think this is a fairly volatile idea.
- However, that’s not even the biggest concern with the Office – that belongs to the idiotic return to one-hour episodes in the Fall. I’ll rant more about this later too, but do we not remember those episodes? And how they were not up to the standards of the half-hours which proceeded? Did no one at NBC pay attention to the quality of the show in this decision? Clearly, they did not.
What these decisions represent to be is a shameless milking, a milking that goes against the quality of a television program. I think there is potential for an Office spinoff (I vote for Daryl, personally), but I don’t know if the show proper is at a place creatively where it will be able to excise part of itself. I guess that your confidence in The Office financially doesn’t quite jive with my own views of its relative quality this season, which is fine…I just wish you’d just kept it at a half hour. I could deal with spinoff, but the two combined just angers me.
I shall vent more anger tomorrow, so stay tuned. Plus, knowing you, you’ll have changed this schedule by then.