Tag Archives: Better Off Ted

Catch ‘Em While You Can

Don’t it always seem to go
that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone?

That classic Joni Mitchell line doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but you get my point. Artists come and go, books and albums go out of print, and in the world of television, sometimes that great show just doesn’t catch on with enough viewers fast enough, and…poof.

Some of TV’s most iconic programs were not instant successes. In the early days, frankly there wasn’t enough left to replace them with, so a Twilight Zone could have time to build an audience. And it wasn’t unusual for a show to become a staple over time, whether it was a groundbreaking program like M*A*S*H or All In The Family or a pop culture nugget like The Munsters or Gilligan’s Island.

Star Trek probably came out of the 60’s with the strongest credibility, but that show was a bomb when originally aired. And has the ratings been as nervously distilled for Hill Street Blues as they are today, you wouldn’t even know the name of just another cop show that bit the dust.

The next great epic, Boardwalk Empire

So I’m thrilled that HBO has already renewed Boardwalk Empire after just one episode, even if I haven’t seen it yet. After leaving fans of Carnivale and Deadwood in the lurch, perhaps they have learned from Lost that if you are going to try to bring an ocean liner to a halt, a smooth deceleration works better than a dead stop. If this year is successful and DVD sales are solid, they’ll hopefully give the writers and producers another notice next year so that story arcs can be flexible enough to either ascend or wrap up.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the wonderful Better Off Ted, which got the axe with only two shows left in the can. Eight months later, ABC still hasn’t been able to find a time slot to burn off those two shows – again, already filmed and produced, just sitting there – so those of us who appreciate well-written comedy can have one last hour of enjoyment. The UK picked up the show and those episodes aired in England…yet this week in the States, ABC filled a third of its prime time schedule with four hours of Dancing With The Stars and a new show regurgitating both Jerry O’Connell and Jim Belushi. Thanks a lot.

Thankfully Britain is our friend. Since the DVD of season two might never appear, enjoy those last two episodes here, won’t you?

Episode 12It’s My Party and I’ll Lie If I Want To.

Episode 13Swag The Dog

This intelligent comedy is brought to you by Veridian Dynamics

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T.G.I.F. – Ten TV Tips

 

OK, couch potatoes – Fall Season is here

Not that I’m actually going to have time to watch all of these – some will actually be better as weekend marathons on DVD – but at least I could find ten new shows that seem to be worth checking out. And sure, the networks are still cloning cop shows and lawyer shows and even sinking one new program’s hopes immediately by casting Jerry O’Connell in it. He is the Ted McGinley of his generation…now that Jason Gedrick isn’t making pilots anymore. 

Yeah, I’m skeptical – and I’m not alone. Before it even aired, Outlaw was savaged by the press, despite the presence (and publicity efforts) of usual favorite Jimmy Smits; the premise was just too preposterous. And despite the always alluring Dana Delaney and Jeri Ryan, their show Body Of Proof might be its own cadaver

I’m not going to get too excited if a show starts out great, because I’ve seen some of the best shows get shot down in their infancy despite stellar writing, casting and performances. I still wince when I think about EZ Streets and Better Off Ted, and there’s a laundry list beyond those two. But before I throw my glass at the television, it’s always half-full. 

So here are Ten TV Tips for the upcoming Fall season, in random order. Remember, there’s no gambling, these suggestions are for personal enjoyment only; we do not guarantee ratings. In fact, you might not want to blink or you could miss a couple of them entirely… 

  

01) Boardwalk Empire – A prohibition-era gangster show on pay cable with Steve Buscemi and Marty Scorcese? Are you kidding me? Reason enough to buy HBO, but I’ll probably wait to watch it all in one weekend. 

02) The Event I’ll admit it, they’ve hooked me with the promos. And anytime Zeljko Ivanek is on a show – especially if he’s a little on the corrupt side – that show is worth following

03) Lone Star Con men rule. Jon Voight rules. Texas rules. I’m in. 

04) Running Wilde – Will Arnett playing an asshole. Do you really need any more information than that to tune in? 

05) Detroit 187 Michael Imperioli back as a cop after the unjustly cancelled Life On Mars. Perhaps the modern clothing and the lack of a porn stache will work this time. 

The next great epic, Boardwalk Empire

 

06) The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret – I’m still pissed at IFC for cancelling Jackie Woodman, but if they are putting David Cross on television I almost forgive them. 

07) Terriers – Already airing and after two episodes I’m liking it. At first I thought it would mimic The Unusuals, but it’s more Elmore Leonard-ish. 

08) No Ordinary Family I’m only thinking of watching this because I can’t picture Michael Chiklis following up The Shield with a crap series. Yes, I saw The Fantastic Four… 

09) Lights Out It’s boxing and redemption. It’s FX. It’s gonna rock

10) Shit My Dad Says – What if Captain Kirk slept with Denny Crane? Yeah, this could suck out loud, but I’ll give William Shatner a chance. 

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Emmy Nominations – Not Bad!

Shiny objects distract me.

 

The 62nd Annual Emmy Awards take place at the end of August but the announcements were made this week. Normally that’s great timing for television networks because their seasons are done and they need to attract attention to themselves and away from the summer blockbuster movies. 

But things have changed – basic cable has flexed its muscles in recent years, and proven powerhouses like The Closer, Mad Men and Rescue Me have just started their seasons. More shows have followed suit, and frankly White Collar and Louie are as entertaining as anything the networks have launched during the traditional season. And now that DVRs and TiVo are commonplace, there’s no longer a concern about weak numbers from failing to lure viewers inside on a nice summer night. 

Perhaps for that reason the networks seemed to be willing to take some chances last year – the Jay Leno 10pm debacle aside – and the voters seem to have responded. Like the Oscars, voters have tended to lean towards veteran shows, some nominations seemingly for a prior oversight or a body of work rather than the eligible time period. But this year freshman hits Modern Family and Glee dominated the nominations, although the multiple acting nominees might split the votes and give the advantage to the other actors. 

Omissions aplenty, like Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation), Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy) and even Ed O’Neill on Modern Family. And my hopes of Better Off Ted getting its post-mortem due were crushed. But I was happy to see unexpected nods for unheralded and solid work, especially Andre Braugher (Men of a Certain Age) and both Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler for Friday Night Lights. And the final season of Lost did not go unnoticed, although it’s a shame that Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn can’t both win a statue. 

Looking at all the categories I was astounded at the level of detail. Awards for best single camera editing on a reality series? Best hair styling in a drama? Best commercial? But I’m glad to see categories like Best Casting, a reward hopefully for a solid ensemble show where everybody just looks right  (even if there are several glaring omissions). 

Here’s some of the major nominees and a link to the official Emmy website listing all the categories. I’ll make my predictions closer to the date. 

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series
Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper
Larry David as Himself
Matthew Morrison as Will Schuester
Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk
Steve Carell as Michael Scott
Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy 

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
Bryan Cranston as Walter White
Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan
Kyle Chandler as Eric Taylor
Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House
Matthew Fox as Jack Shephard
Jon Hamm as Don Draper 

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series
Lea Michele as Rachel Berry
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Christine Campbell
Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope
Tina Fey as Liz Lemon
Toni Collette as Tara Gregson 

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
Kyra Sedgwick as Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson
Glenn Close as Patty Hewes
Connie Britton as Tami Taylor
Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick
Mariska Hargitay as Det. Olivia Benson
January Jones as Betty Draper 

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series
Chris Colfer as Kurt Hummel
Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson
Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell
Eric Stonestreet as Cameron Tucker
Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy
Jon Cryer as Alan Harper 

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman
Martin Short as Leonard Winstone
Terry O’Quinn as John Locke
Michael Emerson as Ben Linus
John Slattery as Roger Sterling
Andre Braugher as Owen 

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series
Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester
Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy
Sofia Vergara as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett
Kristen Wiig as Various Characters
Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney
Holland Taylor as Evelyn Harper 

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
Sharon Gless as Madeline Westen
Rose Byrne as Ellen Parsons
Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma
Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart
Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris
Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson 

Outstanding Comedy Series
Curb Your Enthusiasm • HBO
Glee • FOX
Modern Family • ABC
Nurse Jackie • Showtime
The Office • NBC
30 Rock • NBC 

Outstanding Drama Series
Breaking Bad • AMC
Dexter • Showtime
The Good Wife • CBS
Lost • ABC
Mad Men • AMC
True Blood • HBO 

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TV *and* Not TV!

A crapshoot usually results in…crap.

We’re at the cusp of some major decision-making at the major television networks. Although a few things have leaked out already, the upfronts which are scheduled for the next couple of days will find ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS and others setting the stage for their Fall 2010 programming. Sometimes it’s not so much what they say as what they don’t say.

For example, you’re unlikely to see a formal announcement confirming Better off Ted is cancelled. But when you look at the ABC schedule, it won’t be there. Sayonara, genius comedy show.

This season sees a few iconic shows come to an end. Law and Order, tied for the longest-running night-time drama program ever, just got its walking papers…yet the network picked up Law and Order Los Angeles (or as Ray Davies and I like to call it, LOLA!). Soon the entire network will be L&O, CSI and NCIS. If you don’t like acronym drama, TFB – you’re SOL.

Lost is ramping up to its final weekend with an episode this Tuesday, some recaps on the weekend and then a two and a half hour finale on Sunday May 23rd. The next night, 24 will sign off its final season with a two-hour show before Jack Bauer and company undoubtedly head for the big screen.

Heroes has bitten the dust, although there will be a 2-4 hour special to hopefully wrap up all the plotlines. No such luck for FlashForward (which I still think would have made a nice lead in to V, which did get renewed), and Happy Town is apparently already slated to burn off and die in the summer. So much for novel ideas. Bring on the cop shows and medical dramas; America can’t get enough of people in uniforms. Even those who snog their co-workers.

Even the smaller cable networks are dicing and splicing. The once highly promoted Sarah Silverman Program has gotten the axe from Comedy Central, and Justified might be on life support at FX.

Thankfully, some quality dramas (Fringe, Castle) and comedies (Parks & Recreation, Community) survived their initial spotty ratings long enough to build a following and gain renewal. Others likely to get renewed defy all logic.

It will be an interesting week – each network has a long-standing favorite leaving the air, and NBC’s Jay Leno Show disaster leaves them with a gaping hole to fill (Parenthood is weak and The Marriage Ref is horrid, but any port in a storm, yes?). Be sure to follow the upfronts here at TV By The Numbers.

Or Entertainment Weekly’s Bubble Show Scorecard.

***

Some people get so frustrated, they want to blow up their television.

Now you’re talking!

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Lost on Cinco De Mayo

This little piggy went...(boom)

LOST fans might have just plotzed for a number of reasons. 

Without spoiling anything, if you haven’t seen last night’s episode you need to do that right away. Because otherwise you are in danger of being tricked into experiencing that deadly hallway conversation, Tweet or email subject line that will kill your appreciation of viewing the show without a priori knowledge. 

And yes, much like the writers, I just dropped a few hints. Or maybe I didn’t

The good news, though, is the announcement that the final episode has been extended by a half-hour, eliminating your local news for the evening and taking you right into what will likely be the highest rated Jimmy Kimmel show ever

Per The Hollywood Reporter and other sites, “ABC is airing an enhanced (pop-ups) version of the show’s original two-hour pilot on May 22. On Sunday there’s a two-hour retrospective titled “Lost: The Final Journey,” followed by the finale, then the local news (which was preempted in the first-blush recounting of this plan) and Kimmel post-show.” 

Sounds incredible! Too bad the title The Lost Weekend is already taken (and rightfully so – kudos Ray Milland!) 

People...can't we just all get along?

Lost fanatics who are pondering the concepts of time-shifting and alternate realities will certainly celebrate today as the birthday of Søren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher who declared the idea of subjectivity as truth and is recognized as the founder of Existentialism, an influential author in psychology, and an important figure in Postmodernism. The rest of us will go all Cinco De Mayo on ourselves and fondly remember the birthday of Sandy Baron, Tammy Wynette and Lance Henriksen!)

But after you watch the episode, check this out.

As a follow-up to my TV Or Not TV post the other day, I must tell you that TV By The Numbers has once again hit a home run

Ever time a show hits the rocks, an S.O.S.  fan campaign sparks up, usually a petition sent to the network pleading the cause to “Save Our Show“.  It rarely works; usually it falls on deaf ears. Here’s the latest multi-show campaign from USA Today (and screw them, they didn’t even list Better Off Ted!) 

TVBTN writer Bill Gorman, highly cynical of such ill-fated efforts, figured he’d flip the concept on its ear. Why not centralize the effort and tell the networks what you want to see hit the broadcasting dumpster? Brilliant! So please vote in their “Don’t Save Their Show” poll;  they promise that it will have as much impact as the positive-themed attempts…none

*** 

 

And a fond farewell to the voice of the Detroit Tigers, the great Ernie Harwell. I feel bad for those not old enough to have experienced listening to baseball on the radio when that medium was the major broadcasting arm of the sport. Ernie – like Jack Buck, Vin Scully, Mel Allen and so many other greats – could paint a wonderfully descriptive picture with just their words and inflection. 

How sad is it that so many television broadcasters today have the full range of multiple zoom cameras, instant replay and a wealth of historical data at their fingertips and still can’t entertain an audience…let alone communicate what’s happening on the field of play. The great ones knew the game was the star, not the announcer

Ernie was supposed to receive the the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting this afternoon. Al Kaline will accept in his honor, and for one day, there will be crying in baseball

Sometimes there is. RIP Ernie!

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TV or not TV?

Get back here and WATCH ME, dammit!!

It’s been an interesting year for television.

With ratings sinking, cheap reality programming gaining traction and a couple of long-running landmark programs coming to an end, the landscape for the next year or two might be a complete crapshoot. 

Although I don’t spend my time wallowing in celebrity gossip, I do find the machinations of the television industry fascinating. And this year has been particularly bizarre, with the whole Leno/Conan debacle the biggest story of the year – unless you want to separate Leno’s return to The Tonight Show from the single greatest disaster in prime time history. Ironic that Jay would make Headlines wither way. 

"Man single-handedly kills 15 hours of broadcasting"

Somehow The Simpsons keeps rolling along, South Park remains controversial and long running franchises Law And Order and CSI Wherever multiply like rabbits. Networks try to feed us more copycat cop crap, lame lawyer shows and miserable medical dramas. When they come up with something original (FlashForward) or even a reinvention of a past success (V) they forget that a complex serialized drama can’t have a huge gap in its schedule or momentum will be lost. (And speaking of Lost, someone at ABC couldn’t even understand the concept of  the phrase “uniterrupted schedule”, choosing to air a repeat episode April 25th). 

Fox has announced that 24 is ending this season, no doubt largely in part to the high cost of the program. But they hit the jackpot with Glee, and hopefully will pour some American Idol profit into keeping the wonderful Fringe alive. NBC looks like it might finally have a Thursday night comedy block again (Community, Parks and Recreation, The Office and 30 Rock) but is scrambling to replace the third of their schedule that The Jay Leno Show wiped out. If ABC drops it’s two high-priced sci-fi shows and cancels Heroes, they virtually  concede Monday and Tuesday nights; only Castle and Modern Family have broken the mold of celebretard programming. CBS might have found a winner in The Good Wife but the network is still more likely to clone a show than create one. 

 It’s not all hopeless. USA came up with a winner in White Collar which should help ease the loss of Monk.  Friday Night Lights returns this week thanks to the cost-sharing deal between NBC and DirecTV, whereby DirecTV gets to air the series on pay TV in the Fall, then NBC gets to air it on broadcast TV in the Spring. (Maybe that strategy can save shows like Damages and Southland; adult oriented drama that doesn’t pull vampire numbers in the ratings.) 

And the summer brings us basic cable winners like The Closer and Rescue Me and Mad Men as the more nimble basic cable channels like TNT, AMC and FX counter-program the dead season. Elmore Leonard on television is a good thing.  Louis C.K. on television is a good thing. 

If the smaller channels can get it right…why can’t the major networks? Pretty soon it’s all going to be internet television anyway, so the smart and savvy will survive. There is still a large audience that wants great storytelling and well-written comedy

But every year I still cringe when brilliant shows get cancelled. Watching the slow death of Better Off Ted was reminiscent of Arrested Development’s demise, only accelerated. And why would you have a show called The Unusuals and not let it be…unusual? But I could just be bitter. Hell, I still haven’t forgiven CBS for cancelling EZ Streets. 

There are a few excellent resources for those of you looking into that crystal ball wondering what’s happening with your favorite shows…or with the schedule in general. You’ll probably want to bookmark them. The week of May 17th might be D-Day for many of these programs as the networks finish Sweeps and sharpen the axes.

 

The Futon Critic is an excellent resource for TV news and even includes this handy guide to how many episodes are left for each program. Shows are listed by network in a cancel/renewal status grid  (note that a lot of them are TBD). 

The aptly named Is My Show Cancelled site focuses on just that very thing. 

TV By The Numbers takes a more statistical approach to the situation, tracking ratings on a daily basis and making some predictions based upon trends and historical decision points.

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S.B.O.T.

S.B.O.T.? Hmmm“Super Bowl: Over Time”? 

Come on. Does the game need more hype? Please.

Nope, I meant…

Save Better Off Ted

 

Now get back to overeating and ingesting your alcohol, America!

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