June 24, 2011 11:42am PT by Tim Goodman
Updated: Everything We Know We Learned From Television
Everything We Know We Learned From Television:
UPDATED: Because you can't take one step toward vacation without something about television causing a ruckus behind you. So, behold the appended alphabet version:
A) Dearest Bob Greenblatt at NBC: Why are you even bothering with The Marriage Ref? It had a bad enough stench when it was fleshing out the late night time periods during that whole Jay Leno at 10 p.m. debacle (a memory nobody wants to dredge up). A second season? Listen, if this is about the whole "programming 52 weeks a year" thing, well, better to keep the lights off than run this unfunny, uninteresting neutron bomb. OK, so you beat a repeat of CBS's CSI: Miami (in the demo, but not total viewers) and a repeat of ABC's Body of Proof. But these are repeats we're talking about (and earlier Family Guy, a repeat, beat you in the demo). And beyond that, it's not about ratings. It's about dignity. If you like Jerry Seinfeld so much, have him do something scripted.
B) AMC president and general manager Charlie Collier felt it necessary to discuss with EW.com the rationale behind letting The Killing piss off its viewers. Collier didn't say the cliffhanger in itself was a bad idea (although it so obviously was, judging by the nasty viewer reaction he then had to address), but the failure was more a result of not telling viewers the murder mystery wouldn't be solved in the first season. "If I could do anything differently, it would be to manage expectations." Lovely sentiment, but not the right answer. See, if people knew beforehand that you were going to red-herring them to death and not reveal the killer after investing 13 weeks of their time, well, they wouldn't have watched. It's amazing more programmers don't understand this simple principle. Viewers of serialized television only like cliff-hangers when they open a new door, not when said cliff-hangers forget to close the door viewers walked through 13 hours prior. Or you can have a bazillion mysteries -- like Lost -- and answer, say, three of nine. But when you've got one mystery? Yeah, next time do what you didn't do this time.
C) Jeff Probst from Survivor signed a deal for a daytime talk show and -- nope, that's pretty much all we need to know right there. No need to set the DVR.
D) On the other hand, are there really people out there who want to watch proposed daytime talk shows from Probst and Randy Jackson from American Idol? Who are these people and why aren't they getting the pharmaceuticals they need? If there was ever a market that the adopt-a-pet people needed to fill, this is it.
E) Come on, people. Let's announce the new Charlie Sheen TV deal when it actually happens, not when someone merely says it has happened. It's the same policy we use for unicorn sightings.
F) This is causing a major headache: If Rod Blagojevich was on Celebrity Apprentice and his wife, Patti, was on I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!, then what will their new show be called now that he's found guilty on 17 counts of corruption from when he was governor of Illinois? Criminal Apprentice? My Husband Is An Inmate...And There's No Getting Him Out Of There!? It's all so very complicated.
G) Finally, more proof that some of the smartest minds in America are working at cable channels, churning out new series ideas and titles for genres any sane person would think dried up ages ago. If you think that the Discovery Channel is just going to put the whole dinosaur thing to bed, having milked it for ages, forget it. You might have thought that it was impossible to come up with even more stories about creatures who lived and died and had their story told for longer than they actually roamed the earth, but no. You're wrong. On July 9, Discovery will give you Dino Gangs. Yes, Dino Gangs. A scientist is suggesting, probably because Discovery asked him to suggest it, that -- wait for it! -- the Tyrannosaurus Rex was not a solitary creature but that the entire ilk were "cooperative pack animals that hunted in terrifying gangs." I'm sure some CGI will be used to put various Dino Gangs in red or blue. And that the T-Rex was also able to throw gang signs out with its stubby little "hands." I'm also sure that you, or someone you know, will actually watch Dino Gangs. Thus ensuring that Discovery green-lights The Aggiosaurus: Lost Hip-Hop Artists of the Mesozoic.
1. The quicker AMC or her own handlers silence Veena Sud the better. While The Killing show runner is admirably defending her series (as anyone who believes in their own work should), she at least has to consider the monumental backlash to the finale and much of the seemingly pointless twists on the way to that end.
This is no mere bitching. I supported The Killing right up to the finale, with some caveats, while a horde of other critics were stomping it into the ground. Sadly, I had to join that beat-down after the ill-advised finale. But what makes the situation worse is Sud’s seeming disconnect to her show’s flaws while simultaneously believing that she’s overseeing a work of genius. Perhaps all the early acclaim and the fact that she’s on AMC – which has churned out a lot of exceptional programming – has her believing that all the chatter now makes her and the show immune.
It does not.
Sud talked with THR’s Kim Masters for an interview on KCRW that fellow THR writer Tim Appelo turned into a massively popular online story. What was possibly most annoying in the article was the suggestion that those people dissatisfied with the ending were probably looking for an old-school procedural (like the kind Sud wrote for CBS – Cold Case?). No, they were looking for answers that made sense after being dragged along for 13 weeks in a series that mastered the red-herring ruse to the point of boredom.
Sud might be new to highbrow cable fare, but viewers aren’t. The Killing backlash may last into next season and that’s something Sud and AMC should be very worried about. Flippant remarks don’t help, either.
By the way, Emmy votes weren’t due until today. I’m sure a lot of dutiful early birds turned their ballot in early, but others might have been turned off by the turn of events on The Killing and that could play out come the awards show. However, one person I talked to after the finale said he’d already voted – and now regretted his support for the show.
That said, I still think the main stars, Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman deserve consideration for their excellent work.
2. Two things to consider when the Emmy nominations are finally announced: Did Treme get anything? And if not, how about a quick look at how many minorities were nominated. My guess – no and not many. Same as it ever was.
3. If you do not have a reality series of your own, raise your hand? I’d blame the industry on this one, but if the audience keeps having an insatiable hunger for inanity, someone needs to keep feeding it.
4. Peter Falk died. But Columbo will live on forever.
5. I can not pretend to be interested in Jennifer Lopez’s contract status with American Idol. Sorry.
6. Some people still continue to think that summer is television’s weakest season. But with the brutal death rate of new series last fall on the networks and cable’s insistence on premiering shows whenever it damn well pleases, this can’t possibly be true anymore. With Treme still going, Game of Thrones just ending, Men Of A Certain Age and Falling Skies on TNT; FX kicking off Season 2 of Louie and the awesomeness of Wilfred this week, plus The InBetweeners on BBC America and Children’s Hospital on Adult Swim and…see, not so bad. Plus, Breaking Bad comes back on July 17. Let the summer season reign.
7. This just in: anecdotal Twitter poll finds most people don’t think True Blood should be considered among the heavy hitters of TV dramas. It’s a guilty pleasure, period. Sounds about right to me.
8. I love how MTV airs all these horrible shows about teenage behavior and then claims that the purpose is to show people the opposite is better. Oh, that’s rich. And yes, at a certain point, making fun of MTV is a little like shouting “Get off my lawn!” at kids, but calling out adult executives for making a buck of high-rated sleaze never goes out of style. Sleep tight, MTV execs!
9. It is settled and decreed: I’m going as Wilfred for Halloween. Dog suit, stubble, booze. Bong optional.
10. Bring me the head of Veena Sud.
11. Reattach the head of Ned Stark/Sean Bean.
12. Emmy voters, check you list one more time. Delete your usual lame picks. Take a chance. That is all.
13. I didn’t get to review Suits on USA. But I also don’t regret the decision.
14. Is it too late for Friday Night Lights to win an Emmy? I mean, you people don’t want to make that Wire mistake again, right?
15. The High Fives: 1. Wilfred. 2. Louie. 3. Falling Skies. 4. Not reading another word about Jersey Shore. 5. Peter Falk in Wings Of Desire.