September 01, 2011 2:33pm PT by Tim Goodman
5 Not Very Good Ideas in TV Right Now (Opinion)
Sometimes, you just don't want to see the headline. Or open up the email announcement. Because if part of what you do is failure analysis -- or maybe most of what you do -- then you know what's coming next.
A big bowl of wrong. (And there's no mention of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, even though, in an eerie coincidence, a Canadian reality series called Battle of the Blades had a contestant and former NHL hockey player commit suicide yesterday, ahead of the September premiere).
Here then, five not very good ideas happening in the television industry as you read this:
1. AMC announced it will split the upcoming season of The Walking Dead in half. Really? Is this still seen as a good idea when decision-makers are having lunch and mulling it? Nobody puts up their hand and says, "Maybe we should call TNT and see how that worked out for Men of A Certain Age." Ah, but I know what you're thinking -- that he audience for that show wasn't there anyway, so totally pissing off what remained of it was no big deal. Never really hurt The Closer, right? Wrong. Viewers don't like it -- ever. Viewers don't even like it when you take a 22-episode season and cut it up into parts to be aired at a later date. With 13 episodes, it just makes you look lazy.
Or, in this case, broke.
Come on, AMC. After all the recent missteps, now you're going to screw around -- even more -- with your highest rated series? With Frank Darabont out, fans who pay attention may wonder out loud, if the first few episodes don't hold up, if they should even bother. (Granted, this won't nearly be the same kind of issue that you'll have with The Killing, but still.) You might be giving them an easy out by chopping the season in half. Hell, you might be giving an easy out to people who really love the show. Making them wait two and a half months to follow the story just seems unnecessary and cheap.
2. AMC announces two new reality series. Did someone say something about being cheap? Hey, it's not like HBO and Showtime don't have reality shows -- they just don't tout them as elements that burnish the brand. Getting into unscripted once you've made a splash in scripted -- unless you're a diversified broadcast network, that might strike some people as you holding onto your wallet as you take a step out the back door. But then again, Secret Stash from Kevin Smith (centering on his bookstore and focusing on fanboy culture) and JJK Security, about a family-owned private security company in Georgia just might work (though I wouldn't have called the latter "a Southern gothic workplace dramedy," nor would I have referenced the work of the Coen Brothers, Christopher Guest and Robert Altman when describing the narrative style you're going for -- come on, guys, you're making unscripted series just like all the other cable channels. You're trying to print money, not make art. That much is clear, even if you drop Altman into the discussion.) My worry isn't that these shows won't work for you. My worry is that they will work for you And then you'll look at your scripted series -- you have the two best dramas on television -- and think, "Wow, those cost a lot of money. And they'll continue to cost a lot of money. And the ratings aren't that great. Hmmmm."
Yep, that's what I worry about. The hmmmmm part of it.
3. Jane Lynch's Emmy hosting plans. Lynch wants some of the Glee cast to help her out at the Emmys. Look, I love Jane Lynch. She doesn't exactly scream "awards show host," however. And given Season 2, it might not be wise to trot out the Glee kids (unless it's heavy on Naya Rivera and Heather Morris). This country is not made up with as many Gleeks as the pop culture magazines would lead you to believe. Lynch has already eased a lot of worry by stating she won't be doing the whole night in character as Sue Sylvester (though part of me believes that, after the whole thing is done, maybe we'll look back and think that might not have been such a bad idea after all). Most worrisome is that a recent Emmy promo interview by Lynch didn't really elaborate much on what she'll be doing or who she'll be doing it with. It's not that we need a blueprint -- that might ruin surprises, of course. But the last time a major awards show had an unconventional host (or two), really bad things happened. This isn't trending well.
4. Toddlers and Tiaras is still on the air. Apparently there's not enough shame in the world for TLC to get out of the muck, even when a recent show revealed that one toddler was dressing up as Dolly Parton, complete with "boobs and butt enhancements." But beyond the continuing heinousness of that series, it's dulled the world to something like Dance Moms on Lifetime. One moral-free cash cow opens the door to another, without much regard to impact. Yeah, it's all creepy fun and games and make-up and pageantry until someone grows up to become a Real Housewives wannabe and there's all that extracurricular suicide to worry about.
5. Nancy Grace on Dancing With the Stars. Seriously, haven't we suffered enough?