Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Now that the networks have announced their schedules, some random thoughts...

Unlike NBC, CBS opted to pick up comedies by proven showrunners. Max Mutchnick & David Kohan got a show along with Alan Kirschenbaum. And both show are multi-camera.

Meanwhile, NBC continues to assign showrunners to new series created by inexperienced writers. Now you’d think they’d try to match the perfect writer with the perfect project? No. They’re assigning showrunners that they have deals with. NBC is the Fantastic Sams of networks.

Yes, WHITNEY got picked up. But look where NBC scheduled it. In the Friday 8-9 death slot. And what did they pair it with? COMMUNITY – the show they don’t like but feel they have to re-order to appear cool. They’ll both be gone by mid-season when NBC will probably use that hour to just rerun shows from earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, PARKS AND RECREATION got an order of 22 (not 13 like COMMUNITY and WHITNEY) and assigned to Thursday night. This is a show NBC believes in… and rightly so.

Who was NBC kidding when they tried to tell us 30 ROCK had no plans to end their run? Crew members are already stealing props from the set for souvenirs. Yesterday they announced that it would be going off after 13.  It's time. 

NBC is making a big deal over the fact that “Emmy-winner Jimmy Fallon” has a new sitcom, GUYS WITH KIDS. He’s not going to be showrunning it. It’s just his company. His name is on it. There are already five or six other executive producers who will be handling the writing. Next they’ll tell us that multi-Oscar winner, Walt Disney has a new show on the NBC schedule.

Here’s an NBC head-scratcher (and then I'll move to other networks). ROCK CENTER WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS has gotten some of the worst ratings in the history of the network. Juiceman informercials beat it. And yet, not only did NBC renew it, they gave it an upgraded spot – Thursday at 10.  If they really want to get viewers for that show let Brian's daughter host it. 

Simon Cowell has now surrendered his last shred of credibility by naming Britney Spears as a judge on THE X-FACTOR. Paula wasn’t stupid enough? Does Simon seriously expect anyone on the planet to give a flying fig about what Britney Spears thinks… about anything? Your show is now officially a joke.

I applaud CBS for cancelling ROB! even though it got acceptable numbers. I’d like to think that at the end of the day CBS just said, “Is this really what we want to have on our network?” The ghost of William Paley thanks you.

What can I say about ABC? They renewed Nancy Travis and didn’t pick up Roseanne. I love ABC.

Comedy continues its comeback. FOX will now have an all-comedy night on Tuesdays. The new Mindy Kaling project looks promising.

And finally, I notice that Kate Hudson will be recurring on GLEE – a sure sign that her movie career is over. She’s saying she’s thrilled to be a part of GLEE but what she’s really thinking is, “Damn that Elizabeth Banks!”

64 comments:

Mary Stella said...

Simon Cowell has now surrendered his last shred of credibility by naming Britney Spears as a judge on THE X-FACTOR. Paula wasn’t stupid enough? Does Simon seriously expect anyone on the planet to give a flying fig about what Britney Spears thinks… about anything? Your show is now officially a joke.

Britney and Demi Levato. Yelling at, castigating, and humiliating adults wasn't enough for Simon. He's moved to a younger demographic.

The "mentors" ruined the show for me last year.

Anonymous said...

Funny . . . first time reading your blog. Loved it.

Johnny Walker said...

Being on foreign shores, I don't know if this is relevant, but two things have caught my eye:

Two And A Half Men now has its lowest ratings ever. Is CBS going to cancel it?

Secondly, Charlie Sheen's new show, "Anger Management", has had 10 episodes ordered, but if they're successful, apparently FX will order 90(!) more. (I can't believe a network would commit themselves like that? Seems weird!)

A friend on the set says Sheen is perfect -- friendly and professional. I hope for everyone's sake on the show that it lasts.

Becca said...

What's happened to NBC? In the past few years, they've had some of the best sitcoms: PARKS AND RECREATION, 30 ROCK, THE OFFICE in its prime...yet it sounds as though they've all taken leave of their senses with their assembly line approach to sitcoms. It'll be amazing if anything good comes of their Fall line-up.

THE OFFICE has definitely run its course, though...(segue alert!) What are some TV shows that you (anybody, not just Ken) think ran too long? Here are some that I consider prime offenders, in no particular order (I've mentioned a few of these before):

THE OFFICE Everybody's character has at this point crossed over to being either an insane caricature (Dwight) or utterly bland (Jim). It's played out.

ALICE This show, old-fashioned even when it premiered in 1975 (helmed by Bob Pugh and Madelyn Davis of I LOVE LUCY, f'godsakes!) somehow lasted a mind-boggling 11 years (six of them post-"Kiss my grits!"). Huh?

ONE DAY AT A TIME Never a great show, but kind of cute and funny, and presented a family totally different from what had ever been on TV before it premiered (also in 1975...is there a pattern here?): a divorced thirtysomething mom bringing up two teenaged daughters. Okay for the first few years, but we were all thoroughly sick of the phrase "Awwwww...DAMMIT, Julie!" by the time it finally curled up its toes in 1984.

HAPPY DAYS Premiered in 1974, set in the '50s...by the time it ended a decade later, The Fonz had a pot belly and characters on this show ostensibly set in the 1960s had frizzy perms, sweatbands, and Walkmans.

LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY This HAPPY DAYS spin-off lasted only seven years, but not before they moved the entire cast to "Hollywood" in an attempt to breathe new life into a tired concept, and it actually spent its last episodes starring only Penny Marshall after Cindy Williams left in a dispute with the producers. Why not a name change to LAVERNE?

GUNSMOKE CBS President William Paley's wife loved it, so it was on the air for an astounding 20 years (not counting the years it was on the radio prior to TV). By the end, Marshall Matt Dillon was rarely even seen, and Miss Kitty had been given the boot. Watch an early (half-hour, violent, black and white) episode and then one from the final five years or so (hour, talky, color). They're two different shows.

THE LOVE BOAT Again, never exactly Paddy Chayevsky-esque in quality...so why did it last an astounding nine years?? You knew it was on its last legs when Ted McGinley and Teri Hatcher (as a leggy dancer) became regulars. Then in the '90s they brought it BACK!!! The horror, the horror...

There are so many more, but I'll let others chime in. However, not before I give a special mention to

THE BRADY BUNCH

True, the original series lasted only five years. But then came the Variety Hour (one season). And THE BRADY GIRLS GET MARRIED (TV movie). And THE BRADY BRIDES (one season). And THE BRADYS (one season)!!! Dear God, make it stop.

71dude said...

NBC passed on the Roseanne pilot - does this mean they hate women? Since they picked up "Whitney" I think they just hate America.

James said...

Looks like Awake is gone. Unless it comes back midseason?

Anonymous said...

Cowcatcher? How old are you, really?

MBunge said...

"What's happened to NBC?"


Is this not the single greatest mystery in TV in the last 20 years? I mean, all networks have had down periods but this takes the cake. It's not just that they've been so bad for so long, it's that NBC's ratings misery seems to have failed to produce ANY of the standard reactions to try and fix things. This is almost like a case study in how corporate culture can become so suffocating and dysfunctional that it renders the business incapable of responding to outside stimuli, like people fleeing your network as if it were on fire.

Mike

Ron Rettg said...

We need a decent Western show how about a reboot of the great short-lived Brian Keith vehicle "The Westerner" Heck we need good ½ hour non-sitcom series.

Johnny Walker said...

That's a great list, Becca. I'm sure there's a ton more shows that have outstayed their welcome... I personally felt that the last two seasons of SEINFELD were noticeably weaker that what came before. I wasn't in love with that show, so it didn't break my heart, I do know that sinking sensation when you see that your favourite show has gone past its prime.

I think there might be a correlation between how well a show ages, and the quality of a show's final seasons. If a show ends badly, it tends to taint its early run. If a show ends on a strong note, it tends to enjoy "classic" status.

RCP said...

Becca said...

"What are some TV shows that you (anybody, not just Ken) think ran too long?"

How did some of these shows you mention last so bloody long? NINE years for The Love Boat? Someone once remarked that Gavin MacLeod was the luckiest guy in show business.

To add a few more:

I LOVE LUCY - by the time the Ricardos and Mertzes were off to Florida for some deep-sea fishing, the tension between Lucy and Desi was palpable - as was the ennui of the actors. Should have wrapped up after Europe.

THE X FILES: I'm being totally subjective here, as I stopped watching after Mulder left before the last two seasons. Other fans may have been fine with the addition of Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish. For me, it also began to lose something once they relocated from the Pacific Northwest.

THE WALTONS: I was forced to watch this at gunpoint, that's how I know this show should have run its course after Grandpa died.

ROSEANNE: Already mentioned a dozen times in this blog, but yes, unwatchable during its last couple of seasons (I basically tuned in for Laurie Metcalf). If only this show had signed off after its 1994-95 season.

Upcoming category: Shows That Went Off the Air at Exactly the Right Time.

olucy said...

Becca, I won't add to your list because I have a very unscientific and unofficial rule of thumb that a show should sign on for 5 years and then end.

That probably sounds extreme--and there are probably exceptions to this "rule" -- but most shows that I've loved started to lose their lustre after the 5-year mark. Seinfeld, The Office, Friends, just to name a few. Some sooner (30 Rock, I'm lookin' at YOU).

Your mileage may vary, of course. But I think the Dick Van Dyke show--one of the best in TV history--got it right. Five years in, then out.

olucy said...

And that goes for dramas, too: The X-Files (as you mention), The West Wing (well, that went south when it lost Sorkin; who knows how it would have fared if he hadn't been booted;) House, for sure.

Worked on Roseanne's Show said...

Roseanne's pilot was for NBC.

Scott said...

This might be blasphemy around here, but I thought M*A*S*H lasted a year or so longer than necessary. Toward the end, it seemed like the characters had become too happy to just stand and deliver wisecracks, and had devolved into self-caricature, Margaret and Col. Potter especially.

Honest, well written, compelling drama became the exception rather than the rule. It was sad.

diane said...

Great news to hear that Nancy Travis will be back! I really enjoy that show. And no Roseanne is a blessing. I love ABC, too!

jcs said...

NBC is the network that axed SOUTHLAND when it wanted Leno to take the 10 PM slot. After that did not work out, we were tortured with NYC 22. This cop show with De Niro's name on it sank faster than a bathtub duck made out of lead.

No wonder NBC is going nowhere.

Jeffrey Mark said...

Shows I think wore out their welcome running longer than 5 years.

SEINFELD: Loved it the first four years. After Larry David left the show, in my estimation, fell apart. George really was over-acting, becoming an annoying caricature of his former character. Elaine became a bitch...her character drifted away from the sweet early Elaine. She became unlikeable, in my estimation. Kramer over-acted, and became a caricature of his caricature.Jerry stayed Jerry. But the show wore out its welcome the last season or two by just trying so damn hard to be funny...so many stupid, outrageous plot lines that just weren't funny. At all.

CHEERS: Sort of wore out their welcome...same over-used plot lines...tired characters...show went over by at least a year.

ROSEANNE: Loved the show the first three, four years. The 1990-91-92 seasons were the best...great writing, and you kinda actually liked Rosey...the addition of Martin Mull was brilliant...added a nice "low-key" touch to the show. And Marsha what's her name...great character, not overused, but added a hilarious touch. I couldn't watch the last two-three seasons...dreck! I completely lost interest in the once funny Darlene.

I might think of more. How about shows that lasted a while but never attracted a large audience. HOMICIDE was one show I loved to death. And while it stayed on it had modest ratings...a cult show that NBC believed in and kept around a long time through the '90s. HILL STREET BLUES was like that, in that NBC kept it on for many years, but it really only had a devoted cult audience, not a mass-appeal show. But a brilliant one - perfect in every way.

Harkaway said...

Becca said:


ALICE This show, old-fashioned even when it premiered in 1975 (helmed by Bob Pugh and Madelyn Davis of I LOVE LUCY, f'godsakes!) somehow lasted a mind-boggling 11 years (six of them post-"Kiss my grits!"). Huh?

I agree that this show went on too long, but why blame Madelyn Pugh Davis and Bob Carroll, Jr (not Bob Pugh)?

Both were in their early fifties when Alice started and I hope you aren't arguing that at 50 you shouldn't be able to be a showrunner or that you can have no good ideas.

Great question and list, however. I now realise that I often get tired of a series long before the networks might cancel it, but that is because their interest is financial while mine is entertainment.

olucy said...

Harkaway said: I now realise that I often get tired of a series long before the networks might cancel it, but that is because their interest is financial while mine is entertainment.

Bingo.

Michael said...

Friday question:

I know "Seinfield" is an exception to the rule, but given the track record of new shows that get 6-episode orders with a vague 'mid-season' start date is so poor, is it hard to keep a staff together and motivated?

Kati said...

I sweated for Parks and Rec's renewal like I was in a hospital waiting room, SO glad it got another full season.

Was looking forward to Roseanne's Downwardly Mobile though :( How does the process work now? Can another studio pick it up?

Anonymous said...

I also sweated Parks and Rec's return. I don't think I've ever cared so much about a possible cancellation in my entire adult life. I think that says something.

Bummed about 30Rock. That show still makes me laugh out loud more than any other program.

And so The Office has gotten worse. It's still better than most sitcoms. I'm surprised a majority of the country can stand the 3 camera format anymore. It's really hard for me to stomach a laugh track these days. How I Met Your Mother seems to be the best exception.

Todd Ayres said...

That above comment is mine. I know how much Ken hates when you forget to leave a name. A THOUSAND SORRIES KEN!

Rock Golf said...

@jcs: Can't blame NBC for NYC22. It was on and off CBS in a month.

Shows that went on too long: DALLAS & DYNASTY. Heck, just about any prime-time soap. MURDER, SHE WROTE - by the last season, every single person in her village must have been a murderer or a victim.

LA LAW: Just lost its way when so many of the leads left. ER surprisingly remained pretty fresh.

olucy said...

"MURDER, SHE WROTE - by the last season, every single person in her village must have been a murderer or a victim."

By the last season, I don't think Jessica Fletcher was in the episodes anymore! I didn't watch that show, but I caught a re-run in syndication a year or two ago and she wasn't to be found. And it was definitely a later episode.

chuckcd said...

Wow, Charlie Sheen playing himself again? What creativity!
The blog asks me to prove that I am not a robot.
OK, how about this...I would allow a human being to come to harm.

Several in fact.

D. McEwan said...

Rock Center Thursdays at 10???? That is genuine insanity. A new NBC concept for Thursday nights: "Must-Miss TV".

"James said...
Looks like Awake is gone. Unless it comes back midseason?"


James, let go of that straw you're grasping. Awake is gone forever.

"jcs said...
After that did not work out, we were tortured with NYC 22."


You were "tortured"? Really? Did someone force you to watch it at gunpoint? Did NBC take your family hostage? Does your TV not have an "Off" button or a channel changer?

I've been watching it and mildly enjoying it. I won't miss it, but I found it a more-engaging hour than I expected.

Now GBC, THAT would be TORTURE to watch, but fortunately my TV does have an "Off" button and a channel changer, so I have been able to not-see it. Those who inexplicably do like it can go ahead and watch it without it bothering me.

Shows that ran too long: Falcon Crest! Mind you, I loved Falcon Crest, I have the first two seasons on DVD. But when it began, it was the Giobertis vs The Channings. When Maggie died at the top of the penultimate season, there were no more Giobertis left on the show; the basic conflict was over, and the show should have ended then. The final season, with almost no Jane Wyman was basically a different show with the same name. It was bloody awful. That said, at least they had a truly final episode where they wound everything up and Jane was brought back for one episode to deliver a beautiful final speech that ended it up nicely. (I once spent half an hour chatting about Falcon Crest with its creator, Earl Hamner Jr.; he totally agreed with my above-assessment.)

Of course Roseanne ran too long. They had 7 good seasons, an 8th that was okay at best, and then a 9th that may have been the worst falling-apart of a once-great series ever. The last season was unwatchable shit. I remember Paul Rudnick, writing as "Libby Gelman-Waxner in Premiere Magazine during Roseanne's final season, saying: "I know that God is everywhere, except on the set of Roseanne this season."

I know this is heresy, as I worship them, but Monty Python's Flying Circus makes the list. Their final season, with no John Cleese, was a mistake, to put it kindly.

The Office is certainly not the show it was, but it's still better than most every other comedy on, and it still makes me laugh each week. And losing James Spader is bound to help.

Ultimate show that ran too long: Saturday Night Live. It should have gone away the year Jean Doumanian ran it. It's had 30 years of "It's not as good as it used to be."

D. McEwan said...

"chuckcd said...
The blog asks me to prove that I am not a robot. OK, how about this...I would allow a human being to come to harm. Several in fact."


You gave me a good hard chuckle with that one, Chuckcd. "I've got a little list. They never would be missed. No they never would be missed."

Johnny Walker said...

Roseanne! How could I forget? That was one that really got me. It was amazing to begin with, and then by the end it made you ill to tune in.

The Simpsons was utterly sublime for the first six or so seasons, but it became a shadow of its brilliant former self after that. Sometimes it can still be amusing, but it's usually reduced to just being a joke machine now.

Chris said...

It's heresy, but Cheers went on a season or two too long. The once well-rounded characters became caricatures of themselves - Sam became especially dumb, Rebecca became especially ditsy, Carla became especially mean, etc. And the writing was nowhere near as witty as it was when the show was in its prime.

Agree that the 1990-92 years of Roseanne were awesome. Then, the writers changed, and the character of Roseanne Conner - once a character who you'd kind of like to hang out with - became an unlikable shrew.

The final year of I Love Lucy was fine, and yielded some great episodes - "Lucy and the Loving Cup", "Lucy Does the Tango", etc. It was the 13 hour long specials after the regular series wrapped that were subpar. And I noticed no tension between the Arnazes until the last of the specials.

Alice lasted 9 years, not 11. And the first year - without the "Lucy" writers, wasn't half bad.

"L.A. Law" lost its way less because of the cast departures, and more because of producer turnover. David E. Kelley followed Harry Hamlin, Jimmy Smits, etc. out the door. This led to a revolving door of producers, with NBC twice halting production in two years to replace the showrunners. By the time they fixed the problem - by bringing back one of the original writers to produce - it was too late.

Scott said...

Cheers certainly wasn't at its' peak during its' last couple seasons, but I think it was still very watchable, overall.

Here's more heresy (sorry in advance, Ken), Frasier was great the first 4 or 5 seasons, but after that...I mean, did anyone really care anymore once Niles and Daphne FINALLY got together?

Couple others:

-Night Court. Went on a season or two too long. Probably should've ended shortly after Reinhold Weege left.

-The Andy Griffith Show. I know its' ratings remained high, but it wasn't the same after Don Knotts/Barney was no longer a regular.

-Sanford and Son. The last season or so was mostly terrible. A lot of 'phoning it in' from Foxx and co. and too many theme episodes (like when they went to Hawaii) and wackiness (the "Let's Make a Deal" ep.)

I'd definitely add The Office to the list. In retrospect, it should've ended with either Jim and Pam's wedding or Michael's departure from Scranton.

Phillip B said...

As far as shows which ran too long -

add "The Jeffersons." You can usually win a bar bet by proving that it ran 9 years and 253 episodes. Probably was not any better or worse after that length of time, but there it was.

and "Murphy Brown" which ran 10 seasons and 247 episodes. At the start of the run would not allow myself to miss it and the last few seasons I could not believe it was still running.

and "Happy Days" inventing the term jumping the shark after Ron Howard left. It was a great cast but the thrill was clearly gone.

The difficulty of cast changes has to be even greater than any viewer could imagine. One of my worst TV memories - for example - was watching James Garner and David Spade working awkwardly together on "8 Simple Rules."

That series - by the way - had more than 30 people with title including the word producer over the course of of 76 episodes. Ken - is that any sort of record?

RCP said...

I forgot to include "All in the Family." Once Mike and Gloria left, it became a hit-or-miss sitcom, mostly miss. Another sign that a show has run its course: a kid is brought in to provide new stories. If there's an example of this that ever worked, I don't about it.

D. McEwan said...

"Mind you, I loved Falcon Crest,"

Was Falcon Crest the one where Lana Turner was shot? I didn't hook into FC, but do remember liking Jane Wyman's character whenever I happened upon the show.

Chris said...

"Re Lucy: It was the 13 hour long specials after the regular series wrapped that were subpar. And I noticed no tension between the Arnazes until the last of the specials"

I did. But I agree that "Lucy Does the Tango" (that's the one with the eggs, right?) was a fine episode.

Scott said...

Some more good ones named in the last couple posts. I think All in the Family actually started to slip a little once Mike and Gloria moved next door to the Jeffersons' old house, but there were still some real high points between the '75-'76 and '77-'78 seasons. Once Mike and Gloria left and they added Stephanie, it was basically Archie Bunker's Place already. At the latest, they probably should've ended things once Jean Stapleton decided to leave.

I would say, however, that while both shows went too long, it's a real shame that All in the Family/Archie Bunker's Place and The Jeffersons weren't allowed to have true final episodes after all those years on the air. Pretty cold on CBS' part.

gottacook said...

Phillip B: I regret that because I'm in a pedantic mode I must contest your phrase "Happy Days inventing the term jumping the shark after Ron Howard left"; at the time of the episode where water-skiing Fonzie jumped the shark (fall 1977), Ron Howard was still the lead. He remained with the series for several more years, and when he left, Henry Winkler received top billing and kept it (I believe) for the rest of the run.

Hill Street Blues was mentioned. In my opinion, the series should have ended in spring 1985 when Steven Bochco left or was fired; I say this despite enjoying the new 1985-87 regulars - Norm Buntz, Sid the Snitch, Megan Gallagher's and Robert Clohessy's characters. I actually recall seeing the season 5 finale (probably in reruns 20 years ago), which ends with a quick silent fadeout just as Furillo, seen at an AA meeting for the first time in a long while, says "I haven't had a drink in two days." Elegantly done.

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

Shows that went on too long: Most of them.
LA Law was, IIRC, just starting to pick up some interesting conflict and characters in its last season, after a couple really weak post-Hamlin-Smits-Susan Dey seasons. But I think I watched all of them.

True to my nym, I loved the last season of Cheers as they threw away the rule book: The return of Nick Tortelli, Rebecca's drunken attempt to court Mr Gaines, Sam gets locked out, John ALlen Hill's heart attack, and Cliff the Serial Killer (I'm a sucker for Ma Clavin-- best use of a recurring character I can think of). The only time the show really stumbled for me was the introduction of Rebecca, and when Sam and Rebecca tried to have a baby.

Shows that ended too soon: Deadwood, Arrested Development, of course.

Show that ended just right: Freaks and Geeks. Left me wanting more, and the last scene set to Ripple (not a spoiler) was euphoric and heartbreaking. I think Alan Sepinwall says it's the best example of his "Leave a good-looking corpse rule".

Scott said...

Don't forget Harry the Hat returning to help the gang finally beat Gary.

I agree that the "Sam and Rebecca want to have a baby" storyline is perhaps the only time that the show really lost me (though it did at least end up giving us the hilarious "That damn bar" closing to "I'm Okay, You're Defective").

D. McEwan said...

"RCP said...
Was Falcon Crest the one where Lana Turner was shot?"


Yes. The second season ended with the revelation that Abby Dalton as Julia Cumson was the murderer who killed Carlo Agretti and framed Cole Gioberti when the entire cast was present. She pulled a gun. There was a struggle. Screen went black and we heard a shot ring out. Cut to shot of a coffin being lowered into the ground. End season. When season 3 began, we learned it was Lana Turner as Jacqueline Perrault who had been killed.

Jane Wyman was a wonderful, layered villianess on the show, who deliciously relished her underhanded nastiness, the female J.R. but with a layer or class that JR lacked.

My favorite I Love Lucy episode is the hour-long one with Tallulah Bankhead. It was my first exposure to Tallulah, and she was hilarious in it.

I never stopped watching Murphy Browne, but it was truly over when Miles left and Lily Tomlin came in, though Lily was hilarious on it. The episode where she took speed was an amazing performance. The episode I went to the taping of was in the 9th season and had Lily with Tom Poston guest starring, and it was as funny as ever. It never lost its edge, but the cast changes hurt it badly.

D. McEwan said...

"Scott said...
I mean, did anyone really care anymore once Niles and Daphne FINALLY got together?"


Well I did. I never stopped watching and loving Frasier, and watched it all again in syndicated repeats. Once Niles and Daphnee got together, it was fun to see them adjust to each other and start to function as a couple. And David Hyde Pierce is always worth watching no matter what he's in. Had Pierce left the series before it ended, then it would have jumped the shark.

The last season or two of ER were puzzling. Was there ANYBODY left who had been there from the start, 15 years earlier? It never stopped being a watchable, good show, but it was like an imitation of its original self towards the end, with different people.

Fawlty Towers. Come on. 12 episodes? They should have stopped at 11. What were they thinking, dragging it out to 12?

Johnny Walker said...

olucy: I think your five year rule holds true, now that I think about it. There's a lot of shows that start to flounder in year six.

Paul Duca said...

A few random thoughts of mine, focusing on the ABC schedule

-Happy to see they renewed SUBURGATORY...there are things I don't get about it, but the chemistry between the father and his teenage daughter is superb.

-One of the shows I was asked about in a survey was picked up, THE NEIGHBORS (who happen to be aliens in disguise)

-And speaking of surveys, for another I watched the pilot for MALIBU COUNTRY, the show to be teamed with LAST MAN STANDING. I told them to punch up the writing and tone down some of the supporting characters, but I think it could work. Reba McEnitire has the ability to command you attention when she comes on screen.
(two points for Doug McEwan...Lily Tomlin plays McEntire's mother, and the neighbor boy next door is gay--or at least tells everyone he is, so when anyone finds him necking with a girl, they can say they are just "test-kissing" and everyone will buy it-- especially his ditzy Real Housewife type stepmother--but not Reba).

-The new show 666 PARK AVENUE, about a NYC apartment possessed by supernatural forces. Vanessa Williams is relocating there from Wisteria Lane...the forces don't stand a chance.


Finally, big news for Ken--Aaron Sorkin will be adopting the Steve Jobs biography for the big screen.

Phillip B said...

gottacook - Thanks for the correction - as in baseball, I could have looked it up. Would sitcom history been different if Richie Cunningham strapped on the water skis?

Rock Golf said...

Also past its best-before date: Designing Women after Delta Burke. Bewitched after their son was born. I Dream of Jeannie once they got married. My Mother the Car one minute into the pilot.

fran in NYC said...

No one has mentioned Mad About You. A lot of people knock it but I think it was very good until they had the baby. That changed the premise of the show entirely. It was supposed to be about the first years of a marriage; once a kid arrives, that no longer holds.

Kirk said...

Becca said:

"ALICE This show, old-fashioned even when it premiered in 1975 (helmed by Bob Pugh and Madelyn Davis of I LOVE LUCY, f'godsakes!) somehow lasted a mind-boggling 11 years (six of them post-"Kiss my grits!"). Huh?"

I agree with you except for one thing. Yes, Pugh and David got their start writing for TV in the early 1950s, but so did Norman Lear and Larry Gelbert, and their efforts were hardly old-fashioned. As different as the shows of the early 1970s may seem from the 20 years that preceded it, they were mostly put out by veterens of the industry. It was never a case of "new blood" coming in with new ideas and challenging the status quo. The status quo WAS being challenged in the culture at large--remember, the 1960s had just ended--and veteren writers such as Lear and Gelbert, to their credit, responded to that change. One relative newcomer was James L. Brooks, who co-created THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW. But even he was partnered with Allan Burns, who had ten years under his belt, and previously been involved with such cutting-edge shows as THE MUNSTERS and MY MOTHER THE CAR.

Ken would obviously know more about this than me, and maybe he'll say something about it someday, but I suspect a lot of this is simply writers and producers going where the work is. Truth be told, it wasn't just ALICE. Sitcoms started to get very old-fashioned after about 1976. THE JEFFERSONS get criticized a lot. but why? Was it really the worse show on the air at the time? I think a sense of disappointment is what fuels all the criticism that show gets. It came from Norman Lear, was in fact a spin-off of ALL IN THE FAMILY, had a bit of social signifigance at the very beginning, and then, depending on your point of view (mine, actually) deteriorated into just another sitcom, no worse, frankly, than the what rapidly becoing the norm as the '70s turned into the '80s. I actually cringe when I see how the Willises were portrayed in the later seasons. Seeing as they had a full grown daughter in 1975, they had to have gotten married in the early 1950s. A bold move at the time for an interracial couple. Yet did they ever come across as being bold on THE JEFFERSONS? Did they really seem like the type that would buck convention, to withstand the type of intense prejudice that, in the real-life 1950s, they would have had to face? Possibly they were just too stupid to realize they were bucking social norms. That could be the explanation.

Scott said...

I think the later seasons of THE JEFFERSONS get criticized for similar reasons to why later seasons of ALL IN THE FAMILY/ARCHIE BUNKER'S PLACE get criticized. Specifically, I think many feel that Archie and George got too 'soft' as the series went on. A counter argument could be made that, instead of being declawed, the characters actually grew/evolved somewhat as people. In the case of THE JEFFERSONS, I'm pretty sure I've read that Sherman Hensley himself wanted George to change as the series progressed. The funny thing is that, as George became nicer, Weezy became meaner. Isabel Sanford's voice also got more deep and husky in later seasons, presumably due to years of heavy smoking.

I know there's also people who much preferred Mike Evans as Lionel over Damon Evans. I do think that the 'revolving Lionels' became a real problem.

That said, THE JEFFERSONS still should've gone off the air by 1983, at the latest. The overall acting and writing the last during the last two or three seasons was REALLY bad overall. Other factors include Mother Jefferson dying, Lionel and Jenny being written out as regulars and Paul Benedict leaving for a couple seasons.

Again, though, to not give THE JEFFERSONS (and AITF/ABP) was very wrong on CBS' part. By the time THE JEFFERSONS went off the air in '85, George and Weezy had been around as long as Archie Bunker was.

Scott said...

Sorry, of course that should've been Sherman HeMsley, not Hensley.

RCP said...

D. McEwan said...

"Yes. The second season ended with the revelation that Abby Dalton as Julia Cumson was the murderer who killed Carlo Agretti and framed Cole Gioberti..."

How on earth did I miss out on this?! I should have given it a chance (that Wyman was Reagan's first wife could only have added to the fun). I mean, I was in my chair at 8:57 every Wednesday night to catch Dynasty at its peak, and nothing would cause me to move until 9:59. Nothing. These days, Revenge offers satisfaction.

The Tallulah episode must have been from the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, and once again, I stand corrected that the later shows were not up to par. Obviously some were, including this one. TB was drunk for much of it according to Lucy.

Scott said...

"Specifically, I think many feel that Archie and George got too 'soft' as the series went on. A counter argument could be made that, instead of being declawed, the characters actually grew/evolved somewhat as people."

I'll agree that the characters did evolve, and I'm thinking of a later episode when Archie finds out his old friend Stretch Cunningham was Jewish - his euology was hilarious and moving. As I had written before, there were hits and misses - and this one was a hit. But the Bunker home was ghostly to me - I was haunted by echoes of Mike, Gloria, the Jeffersons, the Lorenzos...and never could quite let them go and accept the changes.

D. McEwan said...

"RCP said...
How on earth did I miss out on this?! I should have given it a chance (that Wyman was Reagan's first wife could only have added to the fun)."


And Jane looked a lot like Nancy Reagan, so Ronnie had a definite "type." But Jane was a Democrat, as was Ronnie when he was married to her. He switched teams when he married ultra-right-wing Nancy Davis, So much for his "deep conservative convictions". Ronnie's politics were always whatever his wife-of-the-moment told them they were. The man was famously pussy-whipped.

I was always amused that during the run of Falcon Crest, most of it during Ronnie's administration, Jane was making per episode what Ronnie was making as President per year. I'm sure that amused Jane as well. Of course, Ronnie made up that short-fall in bribes, I mean "Campaign Conributions" and "Speaking Fees."

I don't know how you missed out on Falcon Crest. It was right there following Dallas every week for most all of the 1980s. It was by far my favorite of the 1980s night time soaps. I watched Dallas and Dynasty and enjoyed them (And I am very excited about the Dallas reboot coming next month!), but they paled to me next to Falcon Crest.

(Since Knot's Landing was on opposite Hill Street Blues, I didn't begin watching it until I got my first VCR, deep into its run. I only saw the early seasons of it years later in syndicated repeats. How it survived its tedious first two seasons, I do not know. After season 2 it got good.)


@Paul Duca, Lily Tomlin and what sounds like a very funny running gay joke are not enough to get me to watch a show starring Reba. In 2000 I saw her intereviewed on Entertainment Tonight and be asked whom she was about to vote for. She loudly and proudly crowed out at the top of her lungs: "I'm votin' fer George Dubya Bush, just like I did fer his pappy!"

She's been dead to me ever since. I would not watch her even if I did not find CW Music to be torture.

cshel said...

I'm so thrilled Parks & Rec will be back! Woo Hoo!

Agree Britney Spears - and that other chick - being X-Factor judges is an awful idea. I already didn't like that show very much, but now... Simon Cowell is losing it.

I'm hoping the Mindy Kaling show will be good.

Cap'n Bob said...

I may be misremembering, but I think Amanda Blake left GUNSMOKE because she was dying of AIDS. Seems her husband was seeing other men of the side and infected her. The bastard.

cadavra said...

Getting back on-topic a bit, I'd like to coin a new phrase: "Harry's Law Syndrome," defined as the state of mind that causes a network to cancel a highly-rated show because most of its viewers are "old" and thus somehow undesirable. ("Unforgettable" was also a victim of this trend, to some extent.) Meanwhile, the nets continue to load up their schedules with stupefyingly awful sitcoms about sex-obsessed 20-somethings that no one watches, least of all sex-obsessed 20-somethings.

Prediction: NBC is already in fifth place many nights, lagging behind the other three major nets and Univision. This year, it will fall to sixth, as the CW finally surpasses it. Congratulations, Comcast, on such an astute acquisition!

RCP said...

D. McEwan said...

"I don't know how you missed out on Falcon Crest. It was right there following Dallas every week for most all of the 1980s."

I could only take so much drama in one night!

Kirk said...

@Cap'n Bob--

"I may be misremembering, but I think Amanda Blake left GUNSMOKE because she was dying of AIDS. Seems her husband was seeing other men of the side and infected her. The bastard."

Amanda Blake didn't die until 1989, 16 years after she left the show. She may have indeed left the show for healh reasons, but throat cancer, not AIDS. She did public service announcements for the American Cance Society in the late '70s.

About 10 years after she left Gunsmoke, she married her fourth husband, a Texas councilman who died of AIDS a year later.

D. McEwan said...

"RCP said...
D. McEwan said...
'I don't know how you missed out on Falcon Crest. It was right there following Dallas every week for most all of the 1980s.'
I could only take so much drama in one night!"


I never took them as "drama." That would require taking them seriously, which wsa impossible for me. Hill Street Blues was drama. The night time soaps were so over-the-top silly melodrama that they were just fun to me. They hadn't a real bone in their bodies. They were damn close to black comedies. I remember relishing the scenery chewing, the bizarre talent mash-ups (Whenever the great Barbara Bel Geddes played a scene with Victoria Principal - who could not act at all - which was most every week, it made me laugh. They didn't belong in the same universe.), and laughing and laughing.

RCP said...

D. McEwan said...

"Hill Street Blues was drama. The night time soaps were so over-the-top silly melodrama that they were just fun to me. They hadn't a real bone in their bodies."

Oh I agree. It was irresistible fun, for instance, to watch Joan Collins' and Linda Evans' stunt doubles go at each other in a reflecting pool. Or listening to over-the-top dialogue that just happened to be the sort of thing one might love to say to certain people - while making the perfect exit. Eye-rolling fun, to be sure.

D. McEwan said...

I loved how Joan Collins would carry martinis around to gesture with but NEVER took a sip. The only time she ever emptied a glass was when she threw a drink in someone's face.

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RCP said...

D. McEwan said...

"I loved how Joan Collins would carry martinis around to gesture with but NEVER took a sip. The only time she ever emptied a glass was when she threw a drink in someone's face."

Douglas - how did Linda Evans stack up (no pun intended, ok, it was) as an actress? You mentioned Barbara Bel Geddes and Victoria Principal together in a scene - now I'm wondering whether Evans was able to hold her own with Barbara Stanwyck in The Big Valley (if you've watched it. If not, how did she do on Dynasty?)

My favorite Collins scenes are the ones where she's been screwed over yet again by Blake or whoever and we get the close-up: "Damn them. Damn them all."

D. McEwan said...

I never saw The Big Valley. I don't like westerns, never have, so I never turned it on. Not even once. Seeing Stanwyck on The Colbys was weird enough. There she was with Charleton Heston, whom she clearly loathed offscreen, trying to keep a straight face around whatever than beast he had on his head pretending to be hair was. She was way too good for the trash she was doing, but she never let you see her thinking that.

But in any event, I never thought Linda Evans could act her way out of a paper bag. Certainly she was an excruciatingly dull actress, which was only highlighted by her so often working with Collins who, while no Vivien Leigh, was certainly never dull. And I was always amused by that hairstyle Evans wore on Dynasty with those parted bangs like kitchen curtains.

RCP said...

I'm not a big fan of westerns (or violence) either, with the exception of Clint Eastwood westerns. I don't know what that means.

Stanwyck was a gem - one of my favorites. Not only Evans' hairstyle (lol), but how about those 80s shoulder pads, which one fashionista remarked made her look like a linebacker in drag.

D. McEwan said...

I imagined Joan Crawford looking at Linda's shoulder pads and saying: "Those are a bit much."

Cap'n Bob said...

Thanks for the clarification about Amanda Blake, Kirk. It's funny how time eludes me. Seems like only yesterday I was watching the M's whip the Rangers 6-1. Oh wait, it was only yesterday.