One of the great ongoing mysteries about the television business that keeps intriguing me is failure analysis. I’ve written about it seemingly for ages -- and the problems only get worse or more complicated or more numerous.
How the hell does anyone survive in this business?
It’s that time, people. (Quietly slips black hood over head.) Every new television season brings more and more shows to prance in front of your eyes or sit like little presents on your DVR. But even the most devoted television viewer has limits. There is a capacity to what can be watched. There are time issues -- because time is the most precious commodity in the lives of most viewers. So every year, it’s necessary to swing the ax and get rid of the dead wood.
This column contains spoilers about Breaking Bad and Mad Men.
If you’re online at all, perusing television sites or participating vociferously on Twitter, nitpicking the beautiful elements of truly great series, then you are part of a phenomenon that few people saw coming.
You are the people who make the pursuit of brilliance more daunting than it already is.
As the Television Critics Association press tour winds down -- Friday is the last day -- one mostly exciting but partly troublesome theme has been unavoidable.
There’s a lot of original scripted content looking to get noticed. And the vast volume of it, growing aggressively the past few years, is making it harder for cable channels to stand out and find an audience.
Aaron Sorkin will be meeting with his TV critic friends from across the country and even Canada today as part of the Television Critics Association summer press tour.
He will be talking about his HBO show, The Newsroom. A whole lot of critics really hate it. And they seem to be growing more agitated with each episode. (Although you have to give Sorkin credit for making them poke at an aching tooth each week like they did with Smash on NBC. Oh, those masochistic critics!)
It might sound harsh, but there’s very little fascination over The CW as a television network, other than how long it can last and how it can survive as essentially a content provider for streaming services.
And yet, both of those mysteries are, unto themselves, very fascinating. But as the network tries to get people to believe it is popular via “aggregation,” trying to figure out how that works can lead to aggravation.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said ABC was responsible for paying the salaries of the Modern Family cast. 20th Century Fox Television employs and pays the cast. The post has been edited to correct that error.
It’s rare that I walk out of a network’s executive session and not know what to do with the information that was gathered. But there I was Tuesday, stymied by what NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt had to say about the evolving nature of his network.
Not every network or cable channel that comes before the nation’s television critics and writers ends up having the day go swell. We are an odd collection of interests, capable of nitpicking the life out of you or simply demanding that you not forget your failures, which we had to endure. And plenty more people in the room aren’t even a part of the Television Critics Association, so God knows what they’ll say.
For its part, Fox had a day to remember on Monday.
Sometimes in TV Land it’s hard to think about endings when they are scattered across the calendar and there are so many beginnings to screw up your head. Yes, the broadcast networks have ended their regular seasons -- right? And a bunch of great cable series are about to end, or have ended, just as a new batch begins. Remember when, ahem, certain people argued that a year-round television schedule would be awesome?
Be careful what you wish for.
But there are three shows in particular that need to be discussed as they come to an end (or have ended).