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!
Kristen Bell is joining the cast of Heroes this season for a multiple episode arc. I hope she gets to make out with Peter Petrelli. I also hope that this doesn’t interfere with her rumored appearance in Legally Blonde: The Musical.
Updated: Kristen Bell said she’s doing at least 13 episodes this season in an interview with TV Guide’s Michael Ausiello, and (hurray!) also didn’t rule out doing Legally Blonde.
TV Guide’s Michael Ausiello reports that Kristen Bell might take over the lead in Broadway’s Legally Blonde. Four words: I am so there.
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
Great news! You might recall that Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars, was on board to run ABC’s Miss/Guided, starring Judy Greer. Then he jumped ship, citing “creative differences.” Makes sense, considering that Miss/Guided sounds like a broad Ugly Betty-ish comedy, and Veronica Mars was dark and snarky. Anyway, ABC wisely offered him the showrunning gig on Big Shots, otherwise known as Michael Vartan’s Glorious Return to Series Television. Now, I’m going to watch this show no matter what, but TV Guide’s Michael Ausiello has hinted that the pilot sucks. Sounds like the show needs some new creative guidance, and there’s just nobody better than Rob Thomas at making things awesome.
I mentioned Moonlight in my rundown of the fall TV upfronts, and was decidedly ambivalent. I mean, it’s about a vampire detective, which is the exact plot of Angel. Here’s my thinking:
Pros: I liked Angel.
Cons: Get a new idea already, you network jackholes.
But now I’ve got something else to add to the pro column: Jason Dohring is going to co-star! You might remember him as dreamy Logan from Veronica Mars. This time, he’s playing a vampire sidekick/hedge fund trader. (Interesting social commentary there.) Those tricky CBS bastards got me: I’ll definitely give this show a chance.
Veronica Mars may be over, but it still lives on in my heart, and I was hoping that Rob Thomas would author a novel to finish out the story. Close enough: a comic book series is planned. Intriguing. I’d prefer something a little more substantive, but I’ll take what I can get.
Remember back when life was great and Veronica Mars was still on the air? Yeah, those were good times. Anyway, the oft-discussed, never-aired FBI concept trailer shot earlier this year will be a special feature on the third season DVD set.
I really hope Rob Thomas kept the book rights for the show. I doubt a movie would get off the ground, but I’d love to read the continuing story, and maybe get a happy ending for Veronica after all.
I’m too sad to post about last night’s Veronica Mars. I need time to mourn.
Get ready to shed a few tears, because tonight’s the series finale of Veronica Mars, 8 pm on the CW. Here’s a promo:
Here’s Rob Thomas’s response to Michael Ausiello’s comments over at the TV Guide site:
“No one has talked to me about a new, non-Veronica project. All my writer’s have been offered jobs elsewhere, and I believe they will now all accept these jobs. Very, very, very sad day around the VM offices.
I assume that anything Dawn would be talking about in the realm of a Rob-Kristen project would involve a new from-scratch pilot as they don’t have me in a deal, and they’ll lose Kristen in a couple of weeks.”
Veronica Mars is dead. Long live Veronica Mars.
I’m copying this verbatim (typos and all) from Michael Ausiello’s live blog of the CW upfront presentation:
12:28 First question, asked by me: “Is Veronica dead?”
12;29 OK, here it is in a nutshell, per dawn ostroff. Veronica Mars is dead. But, and there is a but, she says she’s “talking to Rob and Kristen” about doing something else. She’s not calling it a spin-off, and wouldn’t say whether it would feature the character of Veronica. Translation; I’m as confused as ever!
12:33 I will try and get more clarification on this. Please stand by…
12:36 OK, a reporter just asked a VM follow-up — and Dawn continues to dodge. She says they’re discussing “an idea,” but adds, “I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
12;47 The press conference is over. I tackle dawn just as she tries to escape and I ask her to level with me. Is Veronica dead? “Veronica Mars is over, but we’re talking about something else. I don’t know if it’s going to be anything. I’m being honest with you. It could come back in some form, but I don’t know what form that would be.” She confirmed that the deadline to make a decision is “somewhere around” the June 15 date i referred to previously. Long story short: mystery still not solved!
12:53 Heading back to the office to bang my head against the wall.
Veronica Mars is canceled. Here’s my resentful take on the CW’s (boring and lame) fall schedule. Videos of the new shows are here, but they all look lame.
Everybody Hates Chris: This adorable show is back at Monday at 8 pm.
Girlfriends and The Game: Back at Monday at 9 and 9:30 pm.
Beauty and the Geek: Takes over the Gilmore Girls spot at Tuesday at 8 pm.
America’s Next Top Model: Staying at Wednesday at 8 pm.
Smallville and Supernatural: Thursday night.
One Tree Hill: This creatively bankrupt show is held until midseason, will most likely take over at Wednesdays at 9 pm. It’s fast-forwarding to after the characters have graduated from college, so this teen drama is now an old folks drama.
That barfworthy Pussycat Doll show is coming back at midseason, too.
Aliens in America: Not an ALF ripoff. It’s about a Pakistani exchange student — get it, aliens. Replaces All of Us on Monday at 8:30 pm.
The Reaper: This motherfucking show is to blame. It’s taken the Veronica Mars spot at Tuesday at 9 pm. Sounds like a Dead Like Me ripoff.
Gossip Girl: It’s like The OC, but in fancy Manhattan. Our girl Kristen Bell is narrating, but who gives a crap, we want to see her solve mysteries. Wednesday at 9 pm.
Life is Wild: a family drama set on a South African game reserve. They couldn’t come up with a better title? Sunday at 8 pm.
Crowned: A mother-daughter beauty pageant. Shudder. Held for midseason.
Farmer Wants a Wife: As much as I hate the CW right now, this title totally cracks me up. It sounds like the natural next step after The Bachelor, and it’s just ridiculous enough to get me interested. Held for midseason.
Rob Thomas told TV Guide’s Michael Ausiello that there’s no “definitive” word on whether Veronica Mars is canceled. Then he told E! Online’s Kristin Veitch that the network is considering it as a midseason replacement, and has until June 15 to decide. The Hollywood Reporter is also backing off their earlier assertion and says we’ll hear next month. So, we won’t see Veronica Mars on the schedule tomorrow, but we’ve got a few more weeks before the band-aid gets ripped off. Argh.
In other news, Kristen Bell’s chipper voice will narrate the CW’s new series Gossip Girl, which looks pretty good.
I’m still pretty annoyed about this whole thing, though. Honestly, the CW doesn’t know enough about their budget to make a decision on the show now? How will two weeks change things? Are they just waiting for advertiser reactions? I have a sneaking suspicion that they’re holding off on the announcement in order to avoid casting a shadow over their upfront presentation, which is … sneaky and underhanded. They’re going to face tough questions either way, so if this is a PR move, it’s pretty dumb.
Maybe I’ll go to church this week and light a candle for Veronica Mars. Certainly won’t be the most frivolous thing I’ve ever done.