As a self-proclaimed television aficionado, you’d think I’d be more upset about the writers strike. Let’s face it, aside from the So You Think You Can Dance fetish, I’m pretty much only interested in scripted television. I should be crying my eyes out. But while I’m following the strike coverage religiously (Deadline Hollywood Daily, dudes), I’m perfectly content to miss out on the 2008 season. Doesn’t bother me at all. So what’s going on here?
1. A really weak pilot season. None of the year’s new shows were particularly thrilling. The only ones I still watch regularly are Dirty Sexy Money and Pushing Daisies, and I sort of want to love those shows more than I actually do, you know? I loved Mad Men, but it finished its run mid-fall. My parents adore The Big Bang Theory. It’s cute, but I don’t need to watch it every week. They’re more into it, I decided, because they don’t know any super geeks. I do, so watching fictional geeks is considerably less thrilling. So, yeah. Big yawn to the new shows. And I have extremely low expectations for the ones yet to air (The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Cashmere Mafia, whatever).
2. No exciting cliffhangers. As for the other shows I watch, I’m happy to press the pause button on their current plotlines. In previous years, I was into heavily serialized shows like Veronica Mars, Alias and Lost. I would’ve been irate if the networks put Logan in jail or left Vaughn caught in the throes of some Rambaldi device and then left me hanging for months on end. But this year, I don’t really have a must-see heart-pounding drama. I love Friday Night Lights, but c’mon, it’s just football. Heroes is the only show around with life-or-death stakes, and I hate to point this out to you, but Heroes is mediocre. It’s exciting occasionally, and some of the people are pretty, but it’s never awesome. So, yeah, Heroes going off the air for months? I’ll survive.
As for the softer dramas — Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty — no big cliffhangers there either. Sure, McDreamy is flirting with the new nurse, but we the viewers know a stupid plot twist when we see one. It’s not like Meredith has her hand stuck in Bomb Guy’s chest. Now there’s a cliffhanger! Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever be as emotionally involved with Grey’s Anatomy again, even if they taped Christina to the front of a speeding train or something. You can’t top Bomb Guy. It’s fourth season, the show’s peaked. It’s all downhill from here.
There’s nothing crazy going on with the half-hour comedy romantic subplots, either — and that’s the Catch-22 with comedies. They’re more accessible to viewers, but people won’t skip happy hour to go home and watch except in two situations: the show’s attained cult social status, or some folks on the show are about to make out. Romantic tension is key. For example, 30 Rock is my favorite show. I’m obsessed. But I’m willing to DVR it. Last season, DVR was unacceptable; I had to watch in real time — because Floyd and Liz were going to hook up. Same thing with Jim and Pam on The Office: they’re together now, so we can all take a deep breath and relax. I can even relax all the way to 2009. As long as I’m assured these shows will come back eventually, I’m happy.
3. College basketball. I mostly watch ACC games during the regular, and this means I’m woefully underinformed when March Madness rolls around. When it comes to the Big East, I’ll end up picking teams with stupid mascot names for my bracket, crap like that. Because normally I’m watching too much TV already to have time for SportsCenter — but this year, there won’t be any good TV to get in the way! It’s all college hoops all the time, baby! (Apologies for channeling Dickie V.)
4. The writers are right.
5. The Wire. I’ve never seen it! I’m going to rent it! I’m pretty excited about it!
I watched the return of the late shows last night — loved that Conan seemed to play by the rules; while clearly there was planning about what went on the air, it didn’t seem as “written” as the Leno material did. And Dave was fantastic, continuing to publicize the writers strike while keeping the material hilarious. Hey, I guess that’s what professional writers are good for!
Obviously, I’ve taken a little break from posting. And by “little,” I mean “over three months.” Don’t hate, I’ve been busy. But here’s a quick rundown on where I’m at these days:
Television: Man, this WGA strike sucks, huh? Just give the writers their internet residuals and let’s be done with it. Still in love with Friday Night Lights, 30 Rock, House, and The Office. And South Park! Honorable mentions to How I Met Your Mother and Pushing Daisies. Scrubs has been unusually weak, but I still won’t miss an episode. Grey’s Anatomy and Ugly Betty are fine, I guess. Favorite new show that I actually don’t watch much: Dirty Sexy Money. Most of the new shows were pretty zzzzzzz, right? Chuck‘s okay but despite Zachary Levi and Captain Awesome, I don’t watch that very often either. Sad that sexy Michael Vartan’s show was cancelled, and also sad that Rob Thomas couldn’t turn it around.
Movies: Loved Atonement, No Country for Old Men and Michael Clayton. Really liked Enchanted, Gone Baby Gone, and American Gangster. Thought Casey Affleck was awesome in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, but the rest was totally overrated and snooze-inducing.
And what else? Celebrity gossip has been totally boring lately. I’m sick of Britney (though I’m down with Gimme More) and I need a break from Lindsay. I kind of want to make out with Shia LaBoeuf, which is, frankly, a surprising turn of events.
So, that’s all for now, but I’ll get back into the swing of things in January. Hopefully with something interesting to say! But no promises.
And when you’re done, head over to E! Online for their interview with Chris Lowell, late of Veronica Mars, who will be playing the surfer/receptionist (and possible midwife?) on the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff Private Practice.
You can’t vote for the Emmys, but you can vote for E! Online’s Tater Tops awards here. Refreshingly, they include shows overlooked by the Academy of We Make Television But We Don’t Bother Watching It.
Here’s a sampling of my votes:
Moment That Made Me Want to Throw Out My TV: Meredith and Derek fizzle out in the finale, Grey’s Anatomy
Best Fight: Roy versus Dwight’s pepper spray, The Office
Best Bitch: Vanessa Williams as Wilhelmina Slater, Ugly Betty
Best Kiss: Matt & Julie, “Black Eyes and Broken Hearts,” Friday Night Lights
Best Show of Skin: Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) shirtless, Veronica Mars
Best Chemistry: Kyle Chandler & Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights
Show I’ll Miss the Most: Veronica Mars
Best Reality Show: The Amazing Race
Best Comedy: 30 Rock
Best Drama Ensemble: Battlestar Galactica
I was psyched to hear that Merrin Dungey (Evil Francie from Alias) was playing Addison’s best friend on the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff, but was underwhelmed when the pilot actually aired. There just wasn’t a lot of chemistry, and I guess ABC noticed, too, cause Merrin just got fired. Audra McDonald is the replacement — I have no idea who that is, but maybe it’ll be a good thing.
He called T.R. Knight the other f-word and choked McDreamy, so it’s not too surprising that the Grey’s Anatomy folks fired Isaiah Washington. I’m just surprised that ABC didn’t do it sooner. Now, I generally hate it when outside forces screw up show plotlines (e.g. Robert Downey, Jr. on Ally McBeal), but I’m fine in this case. Christina and Burke’s relationship was interesting, but no longer exciting. Now, Christina is free to hook up with a hot new doc. The big winner in all this? T.R. Knight, who’s gained tons of respect from the classy handling of his sexuality becoming public, and a pay increase of $125k per episode.
Dr. Burke left Christina at the altar in the Grey’s Anatomy season finale, and ever since rumors have been flying that Isaiah Washington is gone for good. Actually, those rumors started a few months ago, when Isaiah choked Patrick Dempsey and called T.R. Knight the f-word (the other f-word). So, what’s up? Isaiah’s people deny the rumors, obviously. E! Online’s Kristin Veitch begs to differ, however. She reports in her latest chat that he’s “been taking meetings in New York and Los Angeles in search of a new job that would take place during the coming TV season.” She concludes he’s gone for good, but who knows, maybe he’s just not returning until midseason. We’ll see …
ABC deserves some kind of special reward for the most depressing season finales. They kept doing it to me when I was an Alias watcher (“Vaughn, why are you wearing that ring?”), and they did it again last night on Ugly Betty and Grey’s Anatomy. Devastating!
I would just like to remind television writers that there’s a difference between a cliffhanger ending that makes everyone excited for fall, and a downer ending that makes everyone sad and kind of apprehensive about next season.
Thank goodness for Jim and Pam, otherwise this evening would have been unbearable. A date! Eeek! Thanks, NBC!
Here’s the latest on the fate of ABC’s new and returning series:
Dancing with the Stars: Will air a 90-minute show on Monday at 8 pm, then an hour-long show at 9 pm on Tuesday.
Boston Legal: Returning in the fall, will air Tuesday at 10 pm.
Lost: Lost will return with 16 episodes airing straight through, no repeats. It’ll probably start up around February sweeps, and will move back up to 8 or 9 pm on Wednesday.
Ugly Betty: Staying at Thursday at 8 pm.
Grey’s Anatomy: Staying at Thursday at 9 pm.
Men in Trees: Fridays at 8 pm.
Notes from the Underbelly and October Road: Will start midseason, either to fill in during hiatus or in case something gets canceled.
Big Shots: This is the one we’ve been waiting for — Michael Vartan’s return to series television. Haven’t you always been fascinated by the personal dramas of rich white guys? ABC is betting you are, especially when some of those dudes are Dylan McDermott, Christoper Titus, and Joshua Malina. Hopefully this prestige cast will deliver another Brothers & Sisters, not another Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. ABC is airing it in its best timeslot, post-Grey’s Anatomy, Thursday at 10 pm.
Sam I Am: Christina Applegate stars as a total bitch who, after a week-long coma, starts over as a nice person. Presumably, this will all be funny. Will air at Monday, 9:30 pm after Dancing with the Stars.
Cavemen: That’s right, the Geico cavemen got their own show. It sounds heinous, and according to those in the know, it is heinous. Airing Tuesday at 8 pm.
Carpoolers: Hilarious hijinks will ensue in the carpool lane, featuring Jerry O’Connell as one of the aforementioned carpoolers. Will air at 8:30 pm after Cavemen, until Cavemen gets canceled.
Pushing Daisies: Plan to watch, because this is supposed to be the best pilot of the season. Billed as a “forensic fairytale,” it’s about a guy named Ned who can bring things back to life, and uses this ability to help solve murder cases by asking the dead to name who killed them. But life sucks even for miracle workers — Ned brings his childhood sweetheart back with a touch, but if he touches her again she’ll die for good. Airing Wednesday at 8 pm.
Private Practice: The Grey’s Anatomy spinoff starring Addison. We got a preview of this show a couple of weeks ago, and it looked cute. Paul Adelstein, Amy Brenneman, Merrin Dungey, Chris Lowell, and Taye Diggs costar — and of course, Tim Daly, who is so smoking hot, he makes the rest of them look like uggos. The big question here is, why isn’t this airing on Thursday? Instead, it’ll be on Wednesday at 9 pm.
Dirty Sexy Money: Very interesting premise, about a lawyer who becomes the personal attorney for a large, Kennedy-ish New York family, and presumably scandal and corruption ensue. Great cast, too: Peter Krause and Donald Sutherland star. Airing Wednesday at 10 pm.
Women’s Murder Club: A detective, a district attorney, a medical examiner, and a reporter pool their resources to solve crimes. The gimmick: they’re females! Now that’s progress. Will air Friday at 9 pm after Men in Trees.
Cashmere Mafia: This one sounds exactly like Lipstick Jungle, except with four women instead of three, which makes it exactly like Sex and the City. The cast is strong, though, with Lucy Liu, Frances O’Connor, and Bonnie Somerville. Will start midseason.
Eli Stone: About a lawyer who starts having visions, wondering if he has a higher calling, or if this is due to a brain aneurysm. This one’s been held over until something gets canceled, but the cast alone is worth a look. It stars Jonny Lee Miller, Victor Garber, and Natasha Henstridge.
Miss/Guided: Judy Greer stars as a former geek who returns to her high school as a guidance counselor. But nasty Brooke Burns, the former cheerleader turned English teacher, is out to steal Judy Greer’s man, ruin her life, and generally be a bitchy menace. This one is also being held on the backburner.
You can watch video previews of the new series here. You’re welcome.
Please excuse the US Weekly-esque gushing, but finally, finally, Michael Vartan is back on network television. ABC has given a series order to his new pilot, Big Shots. It’s got a stellar cast, with Dylan McDermott, Joshua Malina and Christopher Titus playing more of the aforementioned big shots.
Also ordered to series: Private Practice, the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff. More discussion on ABC’s fall schedule to come later this week after their upfront presentation.
A few quick thoughts on the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff episode:
Addison spent the whole episode acting like a crackhead. Overall, it was kind of weird to see this group of oldsters gossip like the cast of Felicity. I guess I’ll get used to it, though.
Looks like reports were wrong, and Sean Faris isn’t the hunky receptionist — Chris Lowell (Veronica Mars) was. Sean Faris isn’t in it at all. Makes more sense this way. And he was trying to get with Francie! Dang!
Speaking of Francie, another Alias alum showed up — Sark! I haven’t seen David Anders in awhile, which is a shame. He deserves a series.
Tim Daly is so hot.
As a public service, I dodged Veronica Mars and Grey’s Anatomy spoilers to bring you the following info from Michael Ausiello’s weekly column: Friday Night Lights is probably returning next season. We’ll know for sure on May 14 at the NBC upfronts.
Still hoping for a miracle for Veronica Mars. The CW upfronts are May 17. Rob Thomas gave Kristin at E! Online a preview of the next few episodes, and speculated about a movie if next season falls through. I’d watch that!
You can check Piz out on ABC Thursday, when the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff episode airs. So excited! Tim Daly deserves a hit.
Just Jared has lots of photos from the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff. (I’m refusing to call it Private Practice.) I’m most amused by Paul Adelman’s fake hair. Also featuring a shirtless Chris Lowell.
E! Online’s Kristin Veitch reported a few interesting things yesterday. Here’s the rundown:
Max Greenfield (Deputy Leo) and Kyle Secor (Jake Kane) will be back on Veronica Mars, probably for the season finale. Let’s hope it’s not the series finale! (Max is also on Ugly Betty as Wilhemina’s new assistant.)
Speaking of which, Kristen Chenoweth (Glinda!) will be appearing in the season finale of Ugly Betty.
Sara Ramirez might not return to Grey’s Anatomy next season. Sounds like a big ol’ divorce for Callie O’Malley.
Brian Friedman is not planning to appear on So You Think You Can Dance this summer, dangit.
Constance Zimmer (Dana) will reappear on Entourage.
Most importantly, Kristin’s reporting that Friday Night Lights will return next season. Of course, nothing’s official yet, so I’ll wait to hear it from Jeff Zucker.
We’ve got a month to go before the May upfronts, but the networks have already presented some pilots to media buyers. Here’s a rundown of some contenders, organized by network:
Action News: Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton, also starring Fred Willard (yay!) and poor dead Billy from Battlestar Galactica. Grammer plays a hot shot news anchor whose career goes down the drain and ends up back at his former local news station with Heaton, his old co-anchor. In a TV first, they will share a tempestuous love-hate relationship. Aw, I kid. This sounds pretty cute.
The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Lena Headey plays Sarah Connor. She is very pretty. Basically, this picks up where Terminator 2: Judgment Day leaves off. John Connor’s played by that Zach kid from Heroes.
The Apostles: About cops or something. Both the cast and the description makes me yawn.
Canterbury’s Law: Julianna Margulies is a rebellious defense attorney. Eh.
The Cure: Oded Fehr (the Egyptian guy from The Mummy who wasn’t the Mummy), Esai Morales and Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon are doctors, but they’re like radical guerilla doctors raging against the machine.
Gossip Girl: I hate it when a CW pilot looks good, because that means it might bump Veronica Mars off the schedule. Anyway, this one features Carrie Bishop (Leighton Meester) from Veronica Mars and other pretty no-names in a fancy Manhattan rich kid school. I love a good rich kid high school drama, and actually, that Meester girl is really talented, so … dammit.
Wild at Heart: Brett Cullen has been everywhere lately (Lost, Tim’s dad on Friday Night Lights, that Beau-Mart guy on Ugly Betty), and now he’s a veterinarian who moves to a game reserve in South Africa with his undoubtedly brooding kids.
Dash 4 Cash: Jonathan Chase (murder suspect Josh from Veronica Mars) and a bunch of nobodies star in a fake racing reality show. Could be a lot of fun.
Aliens in America: Two teenagers, one Muslim, one Whitey, engage in some sort of wacky hijinks.
Reaper: A slacker becomes the devil’s bounty hunter. Seriously.
CBS didn’t meet with buyers, but two possibilities:
I’m in Hell: Stars Jason Biggs (remember him? American Pie, anyone?) as a Wall Street type who dies, then gets sent back to live life as a schlub.
Twilight: Amber Valetta, Rade Serbedzija (Eurotrip and tons of other stuff) and others in a show about a vampire private investigator. So basically, Angel.
The only project mentioned in the article is the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff (tentatively titled “Private Practice,” ew), but I wanted to highlight at least one other project …
Untitled Jon Feldman Project (a.k.a. Bedrooms & Boardrooms): Michael Vartan, Dylan McDermott, Josh Malina and Christopher Titus star. What a fantastic cast! A bunch of male CEOs who gossip Sex and the City-style. Vartan’s the lead, naturally. Dylan’s a “cosmetics CEO who can’t resist sex with his age-defying ex-wife,” just like Dr. Cox from Scrubs. Josh Malina’s a cheater. Titus is totally whipped by his wife (I’m giggling just thinking about this one). If this isn’t on ABC’s fall schedule … well, then it probably sucks, but it can’t suck! It’s got Vartan!