2:02pm PT by Tim Goodman
Critic's Notebook: On the 'Atlanta' Delay, ABC's John Mayer Gamble and Other TV Tidbits
There's always an endless supply of items to talk about regarding television. They just don't always merit a full-blown column. But, as I've said, everything we know we learned from television. So, here we go:
1. The Super Bowl was a dud. The State of the Union was predictable and tragic. That guy in Rent live got hurt. Before it went live. Maybe live is overrated. Let's embrace the tape-delayed lifestyle.
2. In my Instagram feed a small ad for Showtime popped up, featuring the faces of three women in three different series. The message was clearly a "we have strong women" kind of deal, except that the ad didn't feature Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison on Homeland, the strongest female lead on Showtime. It did feature Frankie Shaw as Bridgette Bird, the new badass and messed up dreamer from SMILF, and that's a fine choice, other than all the bad shit that's happening on the set and distracting from the show. There's also Emmy Rossum who is, let's be honest, magnificent in Shameless, but she's leaving after this year and Shameless is an ensemble series that, if pressed, someone might say is fronted by William H. Macy. And then there was Regina Hall from Showtime's latest series, Black Monday, which is clearly a series led by Don Cheadle (although a good argument could be made that Hall steals all the good scenes). So, yeah, seems a stretch. But it was a good reminder that Showtime once used to be the channel of a lot of excellent female leads — in The L Word (yes, I know, it's coming back); Laura Linney in The Big C; Toni Collette in The United States of Tara; Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie; Mary-Louise Parker in Weeds; and, still going strong, Danes in Homeland. Was that what the ad wanted me to ponder?
3. We will get the 11th and final season of Modern Family at some point. Two quick statements here: While I understand why networks milk popular series for as long as possible ($$$), I hate series that just won't end already. Who the hell wants 11 seasons of anything (says the person who freely admits that It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia has killed it through 13 seasons)? But still, I prefer five seasons as ideal, seven only if they are all brilliant and 13-plus if you're Sunny. Everybody else shut it down, already. That said, the early seasons of Modern Family were flat-out great.
4. New ABC president Karey Burke can "reboot" Alias if she wants, but Lost? No. Oh, no you don't. Let it live as is: thrilling, imperfect, frustrating, confusing, passionately told. Do. Not. Touch. It's one of the last network dramas I watched religiously and looked forward to each week the most. Lost was what it was. Trying to reboot it is pointless. Also, I would argue, impossible.
5. Anytime someone mentions a network drama to me these days I do this, in order: 1. Try to figure out what show they are talking about and why I haven't heard of it; 2. Look at them with a dead expression, as if to say, "You know, there IS a link to all my work and if you ever clicked it we wouldn't be having this conversation; and 3. Why does this person not think bigger or want better things?
6. One day the TV industry will realize that starting your career "in the mailroom" doesn't mean shit in this town. You can have bad taste in the mailroom. You can take that bad taste with you as you climb up. Starting in the mailroom shouldn't be a badge of honor or, in fact, a thing.
7. File this under not a shocker. FX's Atlanta, Season 3, will be delayed. After the first season ended on the first day of November in 2016 the show didn't come back until the first day of March — in 2018. So FX saying S3 won't be in the next Emmy window makes sense. In fact, a big chunk of my S2 review was devoted to how it's a miracle anyone in this suddenly in-demand cast had time to re-gather for that season and wondered aloud if FX itself believed anyone was coming back to work last season. But they did, eventually. And it was worth it as the series blossomed. I wouldn't bet on a Season 4, though.
8. A reminder, because not everybody reads every breaking story in THR, but Julia Roberts is not coming back for a second season of Homecoming (though I'll watch if Sam Esmail is still directing, despite having some concerns about the ambitious first season) and there is no second season of Maniac. I knew that, but it still looked weird when Maniac was listed as "cancelled" in a story about shows for next year.
9. Netflix is probably still figuring out how we all live and choose things via Bandersnatch. It's kind of scary how much information we all just gave it. "We're Netflix, we know what percent of what folks are taking one path or another," said Carla Englelbrecht, Netflix's director of product innovation. So, do you still think their algorithms aren't that great?
10. Even though we're all drowning in shows, it was a joy to hear that spring will bring the second season of Fleabag. Finally.
11. Hey, if you have that mobile version of Mosaic, Steven Soderbergh's HBO pre-Bandersnatch experiment (raises hand), the company who made it won't be supporting it soon. I know, you're crushed. I wonder if HBO's algorithms and research department studied the Mosaic decisions viewers were making and said, "What we're finding is people are annoyed and now reading their emails."
12. I'm happy that FX's Legion will be ending after three seasons, which is what FX and creator Noah Hawley said the plan was all along. I'm happy not because I found season two to be a disappointment (it was only in relation to the heights of the first season), but because I have the utmost faith that Hawley will stick the landing and I'm proud that he's never deviated from the whole point of Legion, which is that it's a story about mental illness more than super powers, no matter what Marvel says.
13. I'm disappointed that Amazon has passed on another season of Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, which I think was very much underrated, but it's understandable in a world where people only want Black Mirror. The show is reportedly being shopped elsewhere. Seriously, if you didn't watch it, many of the episodes were intriguing and entertaining.
14. Travelers on Netflix is a series with a loyal fan base and one (of many) on my list to watch at some point in the future when clocks expand, but the third season is now officially the last season. I'm told fans enjoyed the finale and it does the series proud, so like all things in the Peak TV era, it's there when you want to discover it.
15. With Chris Albrecht stepping down at Starz, I wonder if the premium channel is going to rethink its overall strategy. It's not enough anymore to be a premium cable channel that doesn't allow its shows to appear after the fact on a third party streaming service like Netflix where they could be discovered (especially if nobody really knows about your own streaming options). The channel has made a number of very good series but rarely penetrated the zeitgeist.
16. ABC developing a series based on a John Mayer song is the most ABC thing ever. It's apoplectic-making on several fronts, but I love that Mayer's label never considered the song ("Heart of Life") to be a viable single and never made an official music video. ABC: "We love it already. Go."