As we reported here, FOX canceled the remainder of its scripted programming from the 2010 – 2011 season that wasn’t already canceled or renewed as of May 11th, including the Cristian Slater comedy, Breaking In. Well, apparently FOX is reconsidering that decision. According to Nellie Andreeva over at Deadline:
Fox is in discussions with Breaking In producer Sony Pictures TV about possible ways to bring the show back next season, though no decision is expected to be made until after the upfronts next week.
As we noted, out of all the shows to be canceled after the House pick-up, we were most surprised that BI was cancelled because it has been pretty successful for FOX with its American Idol lead-in. If FOX does change their mind, it would please us to no end because as great as both Human Target and The Chicago Code were (Lie To Me was a pretty mediocre and vanilla procedural), BI is not only a great show, but its numbers actually should qualify for it for renewal. To us, that’s equity.
In related news, FOX has also moved BI‘s season finale from its Wednesday night AI lead-out position on the schedule, to Tuesday night at 9:30, following Raising Hope. The naysayers will say that BI wasn’t doomed before the move, it certainly will be by losing its powerhouse, lead-in. We disagree for two reasons. The first being that BI is much more appropriately scheduled after a another comedy than it is post-Idol. The fact is that audiences are more likely to just leave a channel on after a thirty minute show that begins at the top of the hour and watch the lead-out if for no other reason than it’s easier to do and chances are the other networks are running one-hour shows opposite them. Changing channels at the bottom of the hour would more than likely cause the viewer to go into a show that’s already 30 minutes into it on another network.
More importantly, regardless of how BI performs during its season finale, the show is canceled at this point anyway so you can’t get any worse than canceled and taking that a step further any negotiations that FOX is engaged that may possibly change that status will not hinge on one episode and it’s kind of silly to think that it will.
For what it’s worth, though, this may all just be a bunch of smoke and mirrors so don’t get too excited if it turns out that the unconfirmed reports regarding the aforementioned negotiations are nothing more than wishful thinking. Still, though, this does give us hope and it would seem to make more sense that it was true than not.
Folks, don’t forget that the major network up-front media events are next week beginning on Monday, May 16th. This is the day that we will find out the fates of all this season’s shows that haven’t already been decided and we’ll also find out what new shows will be on the schedules for the 2011 – 2012 season. You can find out the schedules for all of the events, here.
The New York Daily News has reported that Universal Media Studios the has come to terms with FOX Broadcasting over the price for the show and cast salaries. Well, to be more accurate NYD reported that NBCUniversal had come to terms with FOX Broadcasting, which is completely inaccurate. Look, Mainstream Lazy-Press, stop calling it NBCUniversal because it sounds cool. It’s NOT NBCUniversal. It used to be NBCUniversal Television Studios and NBCUniversal Television Group is the parent company but that’s not who makes the decisions for UMS. This is the equivalent of calling 20th Century Fox Television Studios, FOX Entertainment Group.
Rant over… moving along.
With the deal finally getting sealed for House, we’re not surprised about the cancellations. We predicted that House wasn’t going to be picked up because of all the deadlines that had gone by, the fact that Universal Media Studios (fka NBCUniversal Television Studio) and FOX could not come to terms on licensing fees and actors salaries and the fact that UMS really wanted this money and would have been glad to take it from NBC who is not only desperate for a scripted drama hit, but it also just had $200 million more dumped into its budget for programming by Comcast. So based on this and the fact that FOX has a lot of question marks this Fall for scripted-drama, we speculated that the loss of House would set off a tidal wave of changes in FOX’s programming decisions, including the ones we mentioned in the beginning of this piece.
So, yes, we failed, but consider the fact that all of those predictions were predicated on House going to NBC. Regardless of the outcome, there’s certainly no denying the fact that the fate of House on FOX was the key factor in their recent programming decisions so the importance of House for FOX cannot be overstated. It’s no coincidence that the day the announcement is made about House that FOX also announces that they are canceling five scripted shows (not surprisingly, Traffic Light was also canceled) and picking up a whole bunch of new pilots (story, here).
That being said, we were very surprised about the cancellation of Breaking In for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a great show, and it has a strong cast (with the Christian Slater as the lead), put up decent numbers, had great exposure as the lead-out for American Idol and had a lot of potential. We don’t understand their logic of not giving it a chance to run a complete season next Fall. The show couldn’t have been particularly expensive to produce and it certainly wasn’t losing money. Was the problem really that it wasn’t retaining enough of AI‘s audience as the lead-out? How much were they expecting, really? It’s not entirely the same audience.
Folks, don’t forget that the major network up-front media events are on Monday, May 16th. This is the day that we will find out the fates of all this season’s shows that haven’t already been decided and we’ll also find out what new shows will be on the schedules for the 2011 – 2012 season. You can find out the schedules for all of the events, here.
Hi, folks. Thanks for coming back for part two of this very special feature on FOX where Blossom ponders losing her virginity, yet again. No, no, no, obviously we’re going to talk about FOX’s recent surprising schedule moves and what we think is going on over there. Yesterday, of course, we reported on the renewal of Bob’s Burgers for a second season and left our readers with a cliffhanger as to the significance of this renewal for the network as a whole and why we are actually pleased about the renewal despite that we don’t like the show. So now it’s time to explain why and we’ll bring you back to when we fist heard about FOX moving Fringe to Friday nights.
It Took Five Years For "The Show About Nothing" to Become a Hit.
As noted by our two pieces on Fringe‘s move to Friday (here and here) we’ve been very critical of FOX’s history of jumping ship on shows (especially new shows) that have had a run of, not even horrible, but average to mediocre ratings. Seriously, c’mon, FOX… Seinfeld wasn’t immediately a hit. It wasn’t even in the top 30 for its first three seasons and in its fourth season it was #25.
Fringe... Cooler Than You and Back in Fall 2011 For Season 4.
Anyway, in these pieces, we also expressed our skepticism with FOX’s stated commitment in the past to fan-favorite shows and of course this directly related to their campaign in January expressing the same commitment to Fringe. But, then, a few weeks ago, Virginia found out that there is indeed a Santa Claus and the announcement was made that Fringe not only had been renewed for a fourth season, but it was given a full season order… in March. We speculated as to why this occurred as EVERYONE, including us, assumed that after the ratings decline, the move to Friday and of course, FOX’s history, this show was destined for Cancellationville.
And of course, there is American Dad, a show that FOX execs have not historically supported and have been trying to replace for years and it got renewed for a seventh season… in February, again with a full season order of 22 episodes, no less.
Yes, Indeed... NBC May Be Very Happy, Very Soon.
When we heard the announcement about Fringe, we speculated as to the many reasons it may have been spared cancellation but came to the conclusion that we really didn’t care, we were just happy that the show was saved. But now, we’re hearing that FOX is on the verge of losing House, as well.
The network remains in last-minute negotiations with Universal Media Studios, which owns the series, in hopes of signing a new deal for an eighth season. The two sides are far apart in determining the percentage each will pay for the show’s costs.
UMS, owned by NBCUniversal, has given Fox an extension on the window of negotiation exclusivity. That ends Friday. If the two sides can’t come to an agreement, UMS will offer the show to competing networks including, of course, the Peacock, which would likely be more than happy to take the series away from Fox.
So thanks to all of these developments, we’ve been dragged into the speculation game and we’re guessing that there are several issues at play here:
This Never Happened
First, FOX has some serious issues with original scripted program scheduling coming this Fall and this is just based on what we know. Four new shows from 2010 – 2011 have already been canceled (Running Wilde, The Good Guys, Sons of Tuscon and Lone Star) and Traffic Light is certain to be canceled by May 16th. So, that’s five down right there (and chances for The Chicago Code being renewed for a second season seem to be getting slimmer by the day) and Human Target and Lie To Me are more likely to be cancelled than not. Add to that the fact that as of this posting FOX hasn’t been able to come to a deal to keep the perennial hits Bones and (as earlier noted) House (the deadline for a deal for House was last Friday), the network faces potentially being down nine scripted programs from 2010 – 2011 (Even though we are still trying to forget about Sons of Tuscon as if it never existed, and of course we aren’t counting 24 which was at the end of its run).
"Holy sh*t! How the f**k are we still on the air???"
And here’s the thing about House: Universal may not come to a deal intentionally and may just turn House over to NBC who is desperate for a strong scripted drama, or strong scripted anything at this point. Whereas FOX axed four of their new shows (with a fifth coming for sure), NBC has axed five of their new shows with at least a sixth certain to be on the way out the door (Sorry, but as much as The Event has improved by following what we suggested it needed to do, it was too little, too late…so, adiós!). Let’s also not forget Chuck, which is on its way out the door as well. It’s so bad at NBC that less-than-positive performers such as Law & Order: Los Angelesand Harry’s Laware almost guaranteed to be renewed because, well, frankly, theyz gots nothin’ else and they certainly don’t have American Idol or Simon Cowell’s new series, The X-Factor, that is destined to be a ratings juggernaut, so at the end of the day, NBC is in way worse shape than FOX. So, here’s our bold prediction: House will be on NBC come Fall 2011 and a deal with Bones (in desperation) will be made and it will return to FOX.
"Oh look. We're still on FOX."
But the effects of losing House on FOX will be devastating and even if they keep Bones, that show has seen a sharp decline in ratings over the past two season which means there will be only one truly strong live-action veteran scripted show and that would be Glee. Can FOX really be comfortable going into the new Fall season with the The Animation Domination Block, Glee, The X-Factor and American Idol being the only programming that is guaranteed to be stable? We don’t think they possibly could be satisfied with that situation.
So taking this a step further, based on what we know for sure about the Fall schedule and the three shows that were renewed – not only unexpectedly but early, as well – (Fringe, American Dad and now Bob’s Burgers), here’s what we think is going on and it crossed our minds when we first heard about Fringe‘s renewal: FOX is not just uncomfortable with the new scripted programing they have ordered for Fall 2011, they’re downright nervous and they expected to have had more success with their new shows from 2010 – 2011. They also certainly didn’t expect the possibility of looking at Fall 2011 with no House and to a lesser extent no Bones.
Terra Nova: Allegedly to debut in Fall 2011... Hmmmm.
This brings us to the Stephen Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment produced, epic Sci-Fi series, Terra Nova, which as we noted when we reported Fringe‘s renewal, has been delayed yet again and is set to debut in Fall 2011. There are some serious issues with Terra Nova that we think FOX is starting to get as concerned about as we are. First, the delays are insane and we are not confident at all that it will debut in the Fall as promised. Second, Terra Nova may be the most expensive show in history with the first two episodes alone costing $16 million and whereas the average episode of scripted drama costs $2.5 million, Terra Nova per episode cost will come in at $4 million and the show is rife with rumors of cost overruns although the producers deny this.
Terra Nova: This Is NOT a Sci-Fi Show And That Is Not A Time Portal!
Centers on the Shannons, an ordinary family from 2149 when the planet is dying who are transported back 85 million years to prehistoric Earth where they join Terra Nova, a colony of humans with a second chance to build a civilization.
Still Not a Sci-Fi Show.
No, there’s absolutely nothing Sci-Fi about that premise at all. It’s just like Little House on the Prairie… but with time travel… and dinosaurs… and automatic weapons… with lasers.
So, if we go with the premise that FOX isn’t really sure whether or not Terra Nova is going to actually debut on the Fall 2011 schedule as planned and it finally occurred to them that this kind of Sci-Fi is highly questionable for network television and of course there’s the issue of the costs involved, we can come to only one conclusion: FOX is worried that they aren’t going to have much going on this Fall, Monday through Friday, other than Glee and The X-Factor and they’ve decided that keeping some of these shows that have established, stabilized audiences even though they’ve seen ratings drops, may be their only option. For goodness’ sake, and we cannot stress this enough, they saved three shows that everyone expected to be canceled, and again, this is FOX we’re talking about.
We alluded to this theory yesterday, in part one, our commentary on the Bob’s Burgers renewal:
We think FOX is starting to realize that it may be better for them to deal with the devil that they know as opposed to the one they don’t…
FOXs Money Printing Presses That May Keep Your Favorite Shows On The Air
So, that’s where we think all of this is going and in our opinion, this is nothing but a positive turn of events. FOX has lived very well over the past decade with their scripted programming, reality program and sports. If new show, “A” didn’t work out as well or as quickly as they had hoped, they’d just dump it and replace it with new show “B” and if that didn’t work out they’d replace it with show “C” and so on and they’d usually find gold eventually. But let’s be honest about this; the crop of decent scripted shows out there over the past couple of years on ALL of the networks has been thin to say the least. So considering the lack of quality, sustainable shows, all the losses in shows that they’ve had in the past year, the possible losses of their perennial hits to other networks, and a questionable Fall 2011 lineup, it appears that FOX execs have been forced to put on the big boy pants and change their strategy so that they have something that’s at least slightly stable in their lineup, and will actually work to build up those shows by subsidizing them with their juggernauts, particularly American Idol and The X-Factor.
If Only It Had Debuted In Fall 2009!
Now, although FOX may not be particularly happy about taking this approach (because of course, everyone likes the quick and easy buck), all of these developments and this new approach is nothing but positive for viewers and fans of the many quality scripted programs that FOX does have to offer, but probably wouldn’t have been given an opportunity like this if this was, oh, say, two or three years ago. Heck, we suspect that if Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles were in its second season in 2011 instead of in 2009, it already would have been renewed for a third season by now.
And this is EXACTLY why we are so happy about Bob’s Burgers being picked up for a second season (as much as we dislike it) because it’s show number four that was not only renewed by FOX but picked up early when no one expected it to be. This in turn gives up hope for the remaining three likely to be canceled shows, Lie to Me, Human Target and The Chicago Code. We can almost guarantee that FOX will not cancel all three of these shows, in fact, they may only cancel one of them but we are going to go with the premise, based on everything we’ve laid out over the past two days that they will keep at least one of them and we think it will be a toss-up between Lie to Me and Human Target.
... Or This?
Don’t get us wrong, we love The Chicago Codeand we don’t particularly like the clichéd and predictable Lie to Me but we have to be objective about this. If FOX or any other network is going to pick up an underperforming show to keep for another season, they are going to pick one that has an established audience for at least a couple of seasons over a mid-season replacement that hasn’t been able to find any stability with their audience. The fact that The Chicago Code is a serial doesn’t help its chances of gaining a stable audience a season later, either. Now, obviously, Bob’s Burgers doesn’t have a multiple-season established audience BUT it did have the highest ratings of any new show premiere of the season and its audience numbers, though not great, have stabilized and it does have very strong lead-ins and lead-outs with The Simpsons and Family Guy, respectively, whereas The Chicago Code dos not.
So there you have it. Our wild speculation on why the big change in strategy at FOX. You can take it for what it’s worth, and call us crazy but do the research for yourself and see if you come to any other conclusions because we’d love to hear your take. Remember folks, May 16th is the big day for FOX. That’s when we find out who’s going and who’s staying.
“The project, from Warner Bros. TV and Abrams’ Bad Robot, is a crime drama centered on a CIA agent, presumed dead, who is recruited by a reclusive billionaire to wage war against violent criminals in New York City.”
The interesting thing about this is that the first time we looked at this piece the other day, in the description it featured the phrase,
“An ex-CIA hitman and a scientist team up to prevent crimes before they happen.”
You’ll notice that in the comments section of the Deadline piece that the above description is even referred to by one of the various whiny posters on that site. We don’t know why this was scrubbed from the original piece but we were able to find the same description posted at Entertainment Weekly and it is described as “official” although no sources were indicated to verify that it is indeed official, but it is coming from EW so there’s no reason to assume that it’s not legitimate.
That being said, though, since it isn’t sourced at this point and Deadline did scrub their original piece (and ALL Abrams’ projects are notoriously secretive), officially we can’t say whether it’s more like Human Target or more like the Stephen Spielberg Sci-Fi flick Minority Report or a hybrid of both, perhaps.
So what is so great about this project, anyway? Well, of course, it’s a J.J. Abrams project and he’s just about the hottest property in Hollywood right despite the recent failure of NBC’s Undercovers(which, unlike audiences, we actually liked) so that’s the biggest selling point but maybe as cool is that this story is the brainchild of Jonathan Nolan.
Jonathan (whose nickname is “Jonah”) is of course the younger brother of esteemed director and writer Christopher Nolan who is of course famous for the most recent Batman film franchise, Memento, The Prestige and 2010’s blockbuster hit (and Academy Award nominee for Best Picture) Inception. What folks may not know (we certainly didn’t) is that Jonathan Nolan actually co-wrote The Dark Knight and The Prestige with his brother as well as Memento and he actually wrote Memento Mori, the original short story which the film is based on. Oh, yeah… he also wrote the screenplay for the highly anticipated third installment of the Batman films, The Dark Knight Rises and he co-wrote 2009’s Terminator: Salvation. You can check out his whole bio here.
CBS: "Don't worry, genre fans. We're not FOX."
Needless to say, Jonathan Nolan is an experienced and talented genre writer and we are looking forward to what he can bring to television with J.J. Abrams and though normally we would worry about a show like this because it usually winds up getting pitched to FOX and we all know what happens with brilliant genre and scripted drama that FOX gets their hands on, even with J.J. Abrams’ name attached to it. This is not the case with CBS who tends to have a pretty good eye (no pun intended, but we’re going with it) for this type of scripted genre programming and give shows like this some time to build an audience.
Oh, and one more thing: Guess who’s already been cast for the pilot? None other than Lost alum Michael Emerson. According to Reuters, Emerson who’s best known for his Emmy award-winning role as Ben Linus on Lost, will play the billionaire benefactor who will aid our player-to-be-named-later in fighting crime.
We don’t really know any more details right now about Person of Interest and probably won’t for some time (again, that’s to be expected with Abrams) but we are hopeful for an air date of Fall 2011 for the pilot but realistically it’s probably going to air mid-season 2011 – 2012. The ‘Tastic, of course will keep you updated.
Welcome to part four of the mid-season 2010 – 2011 review. In this post we’ll be discussing Wednesday’s programming.
FOX – Human Target
Just as good this season as it was last season, unfortunately, it’s doing worse in the ratings than it was during its first season averaging about a 1.8 among 18 – 49 year-olds and it was on thin ice last season. Normally that’s not good enough to get renewed so this it’s currently a bubble show leaning toward not being picked up. As noted, Human Target, is one of our favorite shows and it’s a shame that it hasn’t caught on as much as we would have hoped.
Normally, this is the point in the program where we dump on FOX for canceling a show without giving it a chance to establish an audience and not appreciating what a lousy network they really are and that other than American Idol, they really shouldn’t expect any higher audience numbers than 5 – 10 million for any scripted but we can’t really go there yet because the show hasn’t been canceled.
That being said, those issues are exactly why Human Target failing. FOX has no consistency with its schedule and there is no reason (read: no consistent lead-in) for anyone to tune in. Their shows are all over the schedule and they are constantly replacing the lead-ins with no rhyme or reason. Of course, we would love to see Human Target be renewed for a third season but that it highly unlikely at this point so we are hoping that at least the series can end with an actual series finale.
NBC – Undercovers
We liked J.J. Abrams’ Undercovers… A LOT. Unfortunately, that opinion was shared by us and about seven other people in the country and it was canceled in November.
ABC – Modern Family
Well, no sophomore slump here. Modern Family is even funnier (as if that was possible) during its second season than it was during its first and we say funny, we mean laugh-out-loud, pause-the-damned-DVR-to-catch-your-breath funny. It’s one of the highest rated shows on ABC and has established itself as a permanent fixture on Wednesday nights.
ABC – The Whole Truth
This was a pretty crappy show and it really wasn’t a surprise that the show was canceled after four episodes. Jerry Bruckheimer has gone to the well one too many times and its evident with the two shows he developed this season: NBC’s Chase and this mess. We admit that we were a little bit kinder in our review with The Whole Truth than we probably should have been but there was a method to that madness.
You see, we here at The ‘Tastic try to be as objective as possible when we review shows and we recognize that this type of formulaic, safe, procedural does appeal to a large portion of the viewing audience. That being said, just because we don’t like the style, it isn’t a reason to rate a show lower thane we would otherwise. Apparently, though, it really didn’t matter because audiences hated it regardless of our objectivity.
CBS – Blue Bloods
Now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Waitaminute, TV-Tastic… The Defenders is on at 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday nights on CBS, not Blue Bloods… what’s going on here?” Well, we of course have the answer. On December 21st, CBS announced that it would be moving Blue Bloods to Wednesday night to Wednesday nights on a “trial basis” and permanently moving The Defenders to Friday night at 8:00 p.m. two weeks after the series finale of Medium.
As we noted back in September, it appeared that the networks were going to be looking to Friday night prime-time as legitimate night of scripted television programming instead of just a night for news magazines, reality shows and a dumping ground for struggling programs. Unfortunately, it would appear that this little experiment has failed and one needs simply to look at CBS (the most popular of the networks) to see this.
In the past three months we’ve seen the perennially consistent Mediumcanceled, CSI: NY struggling and the critically acclaimed new series Blue Bloods averaging around 13 million viewers on Friday night but failing to break a 2.0 rating with 18 – 49 demographic. At the same time The Defenders has had very disappointing numbers on Wednesday night at 10:00 p.m. so they obviously aren’t rewarding the show by putting it on Fridays.
So, again, the experiment has failed, and that’s O.K. It was nice to see the networks seriously try to shake things up on Friday nights but sometimes these things don’t work out. That being said, this move can do nothing but help Blue Bloods which we feel is the second best show on television this season only behind HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. As noted, the numbers on this show have been outstanding and the 18 – 49 rating can only improve being on Wednesday night instead of Friday.
After the four-week trial, CBS will put the Criminal Minds spin-off show, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior in the 10:00 p.m. slot which basically means that CBS is giving Blue Bloods the opportunity as a headliner before deciding its fate. What this basically means is that if Blue Bloods does impressive numbers over the four-week trial period, CBS will find it a new permanent home with a better time slot during the week and order more episodes (and a second season) but if it doesn’t do any better than it did on Friday it’s going to probably get dumped right back there and not be renewed. We are obviously rooting for the former because, as noted in our review, Blue Bloods is a fantastic show.
F/X – Terriers
On December 6th, F/X announced that it was canceling the poorly rated, though critically acclaimed private-eye series, Terriers. As we noted in our review, Terriers was a very enjoyable show and its cancellation, though obviously necessary with audience numbers of 500,000 and a .2 rating among 18 – 49 year-olds, is unfortunate.
NBC – Law & Order: Los Angeles
This is one of the worst shows of the season and anyone who tells you different is lying. As noted in our review (and preview) it’s an example of everything that is wrong with the Law & Order franchise and why Law & Order and law & Order: Criminal Intent were both canceled and why it’s questionable whether or not Law & Order: SVU will be coming back next season. Currently, LO:LA is a bubble show but we are actively rooting for its cancellation to make room for some something that is… you know… not crap.
Part Five of the Seven Six Part Series (This has been edited because I realized that there’s nothing on Saturdays but College Football, COPS and America’s Most Wanted. Do you really need a review of those?)
The CW: Smallville (September 24, 2010)
Vic: The final season of Smallville begins this fall and we have Clark Kent finally on the cusp of eventually becoming what he is destined to become: Superman… the ‘Man of Steel.’ This season is what we Smallville fans all have been waiting nine years for. We have all hung in there through some exceptional stories, heart-wrenching losses, great heroes and villians and now it would appear that the baddest of the bad is coming to Smallville: Darkside is looking to take over our planet it seems that Clark will have no choice now but to jump into those tights that Mrs. Kent has been saving for him all these years… or does Lois have them now? That is why you must tune in and continue hanging in with what has been one of the most enduring Sci-Fi, Fantasy Dramas in recent TV memory. Smallville still has the chops. The performances are still great all the way around. Tom Welling still proves that season after season he can command every scene he is in and even in lighter moments he shows us an endearing and clumsy side. Erica Durance as Lois is quick, sharp and she has range. She proves that she has mettle as Lois up against Welling’s Clark. I can’t say enough about Allison Mack as Chloe. I just can’t wait to see how this all turns out this season. I for one hope to see the big guy finally fly and soar this season and hope you all watch as well.
In this drama based on a graphic novel of the same name, Mark Valley plays Christopher Chance, a for-hire bodyguard and private investigator who integrates himself into his clients’ lives so that he becomes a target instead of them. Assuming a new identity for each job, Chance relies on the help of his associates Winston (Chi McBride) and Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley), but he can’t outrun his past — or the secrets driving his odd choice of work. -FOX
Shawn: Alright, so this is a little out of the norm because I normally don’t put show descriptions in with previews of returning shows. I’ve made the exception with Human Target because I think it’s a show that too many people are unaware of because it was a mid-season replacement last year and unfortunately, FOX will most likely kill it by putting it on Friday night where they put all shows to die. I cover this sad state of affairs in my column regarding the changing network attitudes towards Friday night prime-time and how FOX is, as usual up to the same old bag of tricks (read it here). So, it’s basically like this: I am on a crusade for the critically acclaimedHuman Target because it was one of the best new shows on television last year and needs everyone’s support.
The description is a little misleading. Chance doesn’t just have a mysterious past, he’s a former freelance assassin who was a really bad dude, completely amoral who had a seminal moment in his life that made him reevaluate his own personal morality and vow to use his skills to protect people from now on. It’s a fast-paced action show based on the DC Comics Graphic Novel and they couldn’t have picked anyone better for this role of Christopher Chance than Mark Valley as the dashing yet compassionate former assassin (…and I’m just thrilled to see that Mark Valley finally has regular gig!). The supporting cast is fantastic with Chi McBride (Boston Public, The Nine) as Winston, the gruff, former San Francisco police detective who works with Chance to keep him ahead of the game and regularly uses his connections from the old job to help Chance on his missions. Then you have the other, more mysterious and far more deadly Guerrero, played by Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen, A Nightmare on Elm Street) who is a hi-tech wizard and a former associate of Chance’s in his prior profession but unlike Chance, really hasn’t had a change of heart, he’s just helping out an old buddy, but he does have a very strict personal moral code that abides by religiously.
Great action, unique stories, wonderfully written and compelling characters are the hallmarks of this show. I highly recommend that you set time aside on Friday for Human Target (or at least Divver it).
Dr. Megan Hunt (Dana Delany) was in a class of her own, a brilliant neurosurgeon at the top of her game. Her world is turned upside down when a devastating car accident puts an end to her time in the operating room. Megan resumes her career as a medical examiner determined to solve the puzzle of who or what killed the victims. Megan’s instincts are sharp, but she’s developed a reputation for graying the lines of where her job ends and where the police department’s begins. It turns out her career isn’t the only thing that will need to be rebuilt; Megan’s family has taken a backseat to her ambition, and now she’ll discover there’s a lot of work to do when it comes to dissecting her relationships with the living. – ABC
Shawn: If it hasn’t become abundantly clear by now, I really dislike procedurals in general. It doesn’t matter if it’s police, law, medical, detective… whatever, I really have no use for them. And it’s not that this show looks particularly awful, because it doesn’t. It’s just the same thing I’ve seen time and again which is also one of the big reasons I have no use for sit-coms. There’s just no originality in any of these programs and with the incredible batch of new shows that have come out this season, it’s not like there is a lack of originality in Hollywood, it’s just not being utilized enough.
What bugs me the most is that the procedurals don’t have to be unoriginal. Hollywood producers and execs choose to go that route because it’s safe and easy to pitch to advertisers and the general viewing audience. For example, NCIS is by definition a procedural, but it’s still a good show because of how original it always has been. Body of Proof doesn’t have anything resembling an original premise. Not even the title is original, which like most procedurals and sitcoms reverts to the use of cringe-worthy “clever” double-meanings for phrases and words to convey a commonly known phrase to attract the audience’s attention, e.g., House, The Whole Truth, Outlaw, Grey’s Anatomy, Rules of Engagement, Raising Hope, Running Wilde, The Biggest Loser, Bones and Blue Bloods. That’s just from this Fall. I didn’t even mention the stupidest one of all, HawthoRNe (well… now I have). This show literally is a hybrid of Quincy, Crossing Jordan, CSI, House and Everwood. Like I said, Body of Proof doesn’t look awful, and it does have a good cast, but it just looks ordinary.
FOX: The Good Guys (September 24, 2010)
From Matt Nix (“Burn Notice”), comes THE GOOD GUYS, a new action comedy about what happens when an old-school cop and a modern-day detective expose the big picture of small crime.
Once upon the 1970s, DAN STARK (Bradley Whitford) and his partner, Frank Savage, were big-shot Dallas detectives. So big, in fact, that they were lauded as American heroes after saving the Governor’s son. Thirty years later, Dan Stark is a washed-up detective who spends most of his time drunk or re-hashing his glory days. A stranger to modern police work who would much rather trust his old-school police instincts, Dan has the reputation as being a bit of a wild card. Able to skate by on the heroic deeds of his yesteryear, he is still a semi-active presence on the force, and with the help of his liquor of choice, occasionally comes through to solve a petty crime.
Dan’s new partner, JACK BAILEY (Colin Hanks), is an ambitious, by-the-book and overall good detective, but is sometimes a bit too snarky for his own good. His habit of undermining himself has earned him a dead-end position in the department, and he is stuck solving annoying petty theft cases that nobody else wants. Worse, he’s been given the thankless task of babysitting Dan, the drunk pariah who can never keep partners for long. Jack may not see it, but he has little chance of getting out of his situation; his knack for making enemies at the station has assured he is not going anywhere.
His only ally is ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY LIZ TRAYNOR (Jenny Wade), a quick witted former girlfriend whom Jack hasn’t quite gotten over and the one person he turns to for help with his current professional predicament. Until Jack finds his way out of this situation, he is stuck awaiting the day when he can turn everything around, get back to solving actual cases and return to being a real detective.
On one fairly typical day, as Jack and Dan are pursuing a Code 58, the Dallas police code for routine investigations, which puts them hot on the case of a stolen humidifier, they inadvertently become engaged in a shootout over a stolen golf bag belonging to a notorious drug smuggler. This starts Jack and Dan on a wild chase to retrieve the bag, recover the contents inside and go after the drug smuggler – all while dodging his hired assassin!
The excitement of the case reminds Dan of the way he and Frank busted punks back in the good old days, and he convinces Jack to go along for the ride. Needless to say, many departmental rules are again broken in the reckless pursuit, showing their boss, LIEUTENANT ANA RUIZ (Diana Maria Riva), that Jack and Dan will be spending many more days in the Property Crimes Division, assigned to investigate seemingly minor crimes in order to keep them out of major trouble.
Shawn: Yep, I broke the rule again about not posting show description in regards to returning shows (well… not technically as this is just a continuation of the first season that went on hiatus at the end of August.). But again, like with Human Target, I have to do this to counteract FOX’s continued insanity regarding good shows left to die on Friday night. For the point of brevity (and because copy and pasting is a helluva lot easier) here’s the skinny on how FOX is abusing this show as I mentioned in the same column that I discussed Human Target.
It’s not even remotely fair what they’re doing to The Good Guys even by FOX’s idiotic standards, premiering it on a Monday in the middle of May when all of the other shows are wrapping up, letting it run for nine episodes over the summer and then dumping it into Friday night because it didn’t catch fire fast enough for them.
Simple, but to the point… it’s the same standard operating procedure that they’ve used with Human Target and countless other shows.
Now that the rant is complete, I really like The Good Guys. It is very funny and full of action and Hanks and Whitmore play off each other brilliantly.
CBS: Blue Bloods (September 24, 2010 – NEW SERIES!)
BLUE BLOODS is a drama about a multi-generational family of cops dedicated to New York City law enforcement. Frank Reagan is the New York City Police Commissioner and heads both the police force and the Reagan brood. He runs his department as diplomatically as he runs his family, even when dealing with the politics that plagued his unapologetically bold father, Henry, during his stint as Chief. A source of pride and concern for Frank is his eldest son Danny, a seasoned detective, family man, and Iraqi War vet who on occasion uses dubious tactics to solve cases. The sole Reagan woman in the family, Erin, is a N.Y. Assistant D.A. and newly single parent, who also serves as the legal compass for her siblings and father. Jamie is the youngest Reagan, fresh out of Harvard Law and the family’s “golden boy;” however, unable to deny the family tradition, Jamie decided to give up a lucrative future in law and is now a newly minted cop. Jamie’s life takes an abrupt turn when he’s asked to become part of a clandestine police investigation even his father knows nothing about, and one that could impact the family’s legacy. – CBS
Shawn: Blue Bloods is one of the most anticipated dramas this Fall for good reason. Simply look at this cast. Your leads are Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg, and Bridget Moynihan… all television and film superstars (Len Cariou is no slouch either). Superstars like that don’t just arbitrarily sign on to do a show if they don’t already know it’s brilliant. The concept is definitely unique. An original cop show that focuses on a multigenerational family of cops and all of the dynamics that go along with that. I’m very excited about Blue Bloods.
Few jobs are guaranteed for a lifetime, and a Supreme Court appointment is a position that no one ever quits – unless he is Cyrus Garza (Smits). A playboy and a gambler, Justice Garza always adhered to a strict interpretation of the law until he realized the system he believed in was flawed. Now, he’s quit the bench and returned to private practice.
Using his inside knowledge of the justice system, Garza and his team will travel across the country taking on today’s biggest and most controversial legal cases.
Garza’s team includes his best friend since childhood, Al Druzinsky (David Ramsey), a brilliant defense attorney with liberal beliefs; Mereta Stockman (Ellen Woglom), a hopeless romantic who is Garza’s loyal law clerk; Lucinda Pearl (Carly Pope), a wildly unorthodox private investigator who uses her sex appeal and wit to gather information for Garza; and Eddie Franks (Jesse Bradford), a tightly wound, rabidly ambitious Yale-educated attorney, recently hired as Garza’s law clerk. – NBC
Shawn: I’ve already done a complete review for Outlaw, here. It is by far the worst drama on television.
TV-Tastic is proud to bring you an exclusive first look preview review of the new Monday night series on FOX, Lone Star.
ROBERT/BOB ALLEN (James Wolk) is a charismatic and brilliant schemer who has meticulously constructed two lives in two different parts of the state. He’s juggling two identities and two women in two very different worlds – all under one mountain of lies.
As “Bob,” he lives in Houston and is married to CAT (Adrianne Palicki), the beautiful daughter of CLINT THATCHER (Jon Voight), the patriarch of an ultra-wealthy Texas oil family. More than 400 miles away in the suburban west Texas town of Midland, he’s “Robert,” living a second life with his sweet, naive girlfriend, LINDSAY HOLLOWAY (Eloise Mumford). There he plays the perfect boyfriend while secretly bilking local investors of their savings. While in Houston, he’s a devoted husband, charming Cat and her family to cement his position in the rich family business he aims to clean out.
Bob has lived both lives successfully for years without arousing any suspicions..so far. While one brother-in-law, DREW THATCHER (Bryce Johnson), admires Bob, while his other brother-in-law, TRAMMELL THATCHER (Mark Deklin), is growing suspicious of his motives, and along with his wife, BLAKE (guest star Rosa Blasi), threatens to expose Bob. In this world of cons, everyone has ulterior motives. ALEX (guest star Andie MacDowell), a sharp, sexy, sophisticated East Coast transplant has her eye on only one prize: Clint. Eager to stake her claim, she will do and say anything to get what she wants.
With the cons closing in on him, Bob begins to fear his secret lives may unravel as he becomes divided by his love for two women; his loyalty to his father and mentor, JOHN (David Keith); and his respect for his father-in-law, Clint. Now as he tries to hold his two lives together, while fending off angry investors and the growing suspicions of those around him, Bob puts it all on the line hoping he can beat the odds, leave the schemes behind and keep two separate relationships afloat. – FOX
8 out of 10
One of the disadvantages of being an independent review blog is that the networks don’t send advance copies of the first three episodes of new shows to us like they do the mainstream entertainment media. The upside is that I’m under no contractual agreement to withhold a review of a show within a certain period of time before that show has premiered, which brings us to the first ever in-depth review of Lone Star (one other guy did a review but it was like three sentences). If you’re wondering how I was able to get my hands on a copy of the pilot, I will refer you to this:
That’s me and the little man, Harrison playing in the Embassy Suites in San Diego a few weeks ago when the whole family went to San Diego Zoo, Sea World and Wild Animal Park. Harrison is obsessed with remote controls (gee, I wonder where he gets that from) and shortly after that scene he was playing with the remote in the room and he inadvertently turned on the Hotel’s in-room video service. Well, lo and behold if they didn’t have the pilot episode of Lone Star available for FREE! Needless to say, it was a professional imperative that I watch it so I could let all the good folks out there know ahead of time if it’s worth their time. So let the games begin.
Dallas, Part Deux?
First, let me preface this by saying that when I first heard about Lone Star while preparing the forthcoming Fall Preview (coming soon), let’s just say that I was beyond skeptical. The descriptions I saw on various entertainment sites were bland and really made it sound like to was a 2010 version of Dallas using key-phrases such as “Texas,” “oil” and “soap opera.” I can’t imagine at all why someone would come to the conclusion that this show is Dallas: The Next Generation. Speaking of which:
(^^^You’re welcome, by the way.)
After watching the pilot, though, I can say that I was not only pleasantly surprised, but also a little annoyed at the marketing for this show amongst the various media outlets and even by FOX itself. Yes, it’s in Texas, yes it revolves around a family oil company and yes it’s definitely a soap, but there is so much more to this show than this, and unfortunately, it may be its downfall.
I want to apologize for the incredibly long synopsis from the Official Lone Star Page but there really was no way to avoid it. I tried to figure out how I could pare it down and realized that the show has so much going on it that I really couldn’t. Sorry… blame FOX.
As complicated as that synopsis is, it needs to be corrected. As noted, Bob is a con-man living two separate lives, with two different women. But which one is the real Bob? Well, the answer is both and neither because Bob also has two other alter-egos as well: the man he is when he’s with his father and is actually “himself” and the man he is when he’s actually trying to combine the two lives. The fact is that Bob is struggling to find out what his true identity is, even in the pilot and it’s obvious that this will be a main theme throughout the series. Do you see what I mean about this show being complicated? And that’s just our protagonist.
What I like about this story is Bob, himself. I’m not sure if I’m into the identity struggle and I can definitely do without the “con-man-with-a-heart-of-gold” persona which seems to be contrived exclusively because the writers aren’t brave enough to have a protagonist be a true anti-hero or a villain. This is a very weak decision on the writers part in my opinion (well, it may have been a producer’s decision) because it tells me that they don’t have enough faith in the character or the actor, and I don’t understand why.
I like stories about con-men and so does everyone, whether they admit it or not. Con-men are fun. They’re clever and they have a swagger and a bravado they keeps audiences coming back. They’re like spies who are crooks. If I want to see a transformation from a swine to a knight, I sure as heck don’t want to see it in the pilot. If the producers need advice on how to develop the growth of a con-man, I would simply refer them to this guy:
From what I’ve seen so far, the producers are unnecessarily playing it safe with Bob. The character is well-written enough and James Wolk is talented enough to pull-off the “villain-who-we-hate-to-love” without really breaking much of a sweat. Also, if anyone thinks that writing a villain as protagonist doesn’t work I will simply refer you to this guy:
… who shot a fellow cop in the face during the pilot episode of The Shield and that wasn’t even the worst of his misdeeds over the next six seasons and then there’s of course, this guy:
.. and we all know what he does for the sake of fun and sadism.
The point is that the right actor playing the right character can pull off the villain-protagonist and it’s often quite refreshing when they do, and in this case, ours doesn’t even kill anyone.
The other problem with this “heart-of-gold” scenario as that it doesn’t make any sense. In the opening scene of the pilot we are immediately made aware that Bob’s father, John (played brilliantly by David Keith) has been a con-man his whole life and has been teaching Bob how to do it since he was at least 10 years-old, if not younger. That being said, all Bob has ever known is “The Con” and all of a sudden, when he’s on the verge of the biggest score of his life he suddenly finds religion and wants to not only play it straight with his father-in-law’s oil company but also wants to find a way to get all of those people in Midland their money back that he took from them in a Ponzi Scheme? Sure. It’s very hard to swallow to say the least.
The biggest complaint I have about Lone Star is that the plot outside of Bob’s con is very contrived and very clichéd and to be quite honest, so are some of the characters and a lot of it is lazy and does hearken back to Dallas. You’ve got your surly patriarch Jock Ewing-type, Clint Thatcher (even the names are clichéd, for God’s sake) played by Jon Voight (who you can never go wrong with) and Trammell Thatcher (Mark Delkin) the ambitious, scheming son who’s mad that Dad gave the outsider (Bob) the task of turning the family business around and is looking to undermine the new guy and finally, Drew Thatcher (Bryce Johnson), the under-achieving younger brother that no one takes seriously except for the outsider (Bob) and who is desperately seeking approval from both his father and his older, more accomplished brother. Any of this sound familiar? Of course it does because we’ve seen this clichéd family trifecta in 100’s of other films and TV shows over the last 50 years.
Still, although you’re tempted to roll your eyes, the performances carry what is really a simplistic, although compelling subplot. Speaking of performances, thank God for David Keith and Jon Voight. If James Wolk is the engine of this ship, then Keith and Voight are the anchors. Keith’s character is brilliantly written and David Keith was born to play him and yes, I know I criticized the Clint Thatcher character, but Jon Voight saves the character from falling off into the abyss. Honestly, without these two pros in this show it would be an absolute mess, despite the performance of James Wolk.
Now, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t mention Bob’s two love interests, Cat Thatcher (Adrianne Palicki) and Lindsay Holloway (Eloise Mumford) as they are obviously integral parts of this saga. The reason is simple (and unfortunate): they aren’t really worth mentioning. I’m not sure if it’s the characters or the actors or a combination of both but whatever it is, neither one of them comes off as very interesting or sympathetic. I’m inclined to believe that it’s the writing because what it seems like is going on here is that the writers spent an awful lot of time concocting this very complicated story and two really complicated characters in the father and son team of John and Bob, but they simply ignored any kind of real development for the rest of the supporting characters in the hopes that the casting would be strong enough to, shall we say, make chicken salad out of chicken spit. This is effective for the other male characters, but it is not effective with the two female leads.
Despite its weaknesses, the pilot of Lone Star is enjoyable and I would recommend it. The main story, though complex, is very compelling, the protagonist and his father are incredibly well-written despite the other characters being rather clichéd and simplistic, and the performances by the supporting cast is excellent for the most part. I do expect that the writers will see how weak the female leads are and will improve the way they are written in the future.
My three major concerns for this show are issues are as follows:
The first is the time slot and the network. This show is the replacement for 24 which just ended after 8 seasons. This is the last show in the world I would have ever expected to replace 24. If there was a show that I would have thought would have gone in the Monday night at 9:00 p.m. slot on FOX, it would have been either Human Target or Fringe. Both are excellent action shows that could easily carry 24’s torch in that slot and to be completely honest, I think this show would be better suited for CBS or ABC. They would seem to have the demographic for it more than FOX.
My second concern is the complexity of this story. I’m sorry, but today’s audiences have pretty short attention-spans and I’m afraid this show may be a little too cerebral for this generation of TV viewers. It’s not a knock on today’s audiences, it’s just a fact. Complex dramas have been on the decline in popularity for the last several years because audiences simply have too much going on with their 300 channels of cable and of course the Internet. A show like this takes dedication and there aren’t that many people willing to dedicate to a serial storyline with a continuous arc anymore. I’m frankly amazed that Lost lasted six seasons and I’m not surprised at all that FlashForward only lasted one (as much as I loved that show).
Finally, the real question I have is, “How long can this show last?” Really, I mean, the show centers around this one con they are running. I’m sorry but I don’t want to see this one con play out for seven seasons and by the same token, if the con plays itself out by the end of the first season, what happens next season… yet, another con? How long can you keep that up? In this regard the show reminds me of Prison Break where we all said at the end of season one, “Well, they’re out. Now what?” and of course the answer for the three seasons that followed was the most convoluted and bizarre twists in a plotline in television history. Now, I liked all 4 seasons of Prison Break, but that was getting nuts at the end and I was glad when they finally put the show out if its misery and I don’t want to see that again with another series… especially one on FOX.
So, I’m going to give this show 6 weeks without any expectation of it surviving the Thanksgiving season cuts. This way I won’t be disappointed if another good show is cancelled which unfortunately, as good as this show is, I do expect to happen.