Deadline is reporting that CBS has kicked to the curb Blue Bloods creators, Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green and it has been reported that the network had creative differences with the two and that it needed to be more procedural (yuck!) in nature. Deadline notes how bizarre this is considering that former showrunner, Ken Sanzel, was exited-stage left due to his conflict with star, Tom Selleck, who thought the show was too procedural and actually refused to accept the scripts (Damn!).
Now, we don’t care about the intricacies of this mess and all of the politics involved. If you do, read the Deadline piece because you must know by now that’s not we’re about at The ‘Tastic. We’re all about he bottom line and what news like this means to a show that is one of the best new shows of the season, specifically in regard to renewal because Blue Bloods has been on the bubble all season long.
So as backwards as this sounds, the creators getting fired is great for the prospects of renewal. How, do you ask? Why bother canning the creators if you are just going to cancel the show at the end of the season, anyway? Heck, they’ve finished filming this season’s episodes already. That combined with the comments made by Armando Nuñez, president of CBS Studios International, Blue Bloods is pretty much cemented for a second season.
It’s perhaps not as sexy to talk about, but it has proven a success both on the network and in terms of global distribution.
FALLING SKIES opens in the chaotic aftermath of an alien attack that has left most of the world completely incapacitated. In the six months since the initial invasion, the few survivors have banded together outside major cities to begin the difficult task of fighting back. Each day is a test of survival as citizen soldiers work to protect the people in their care while also engaging in an insurgency campaign against the occupying alien force.
At the center of the series is Tom Mason (Noah Wyle), a Boston history professor whose family has been torn apart. His wife was killed in the initial attack, and one of his three sons has been captured. Determined to get his son back and to ensure the safety of his other two sons, Tom must put his extensive knowledge of military history to the test as one of the leaders of the resistance movement known as the 2nd Mass, because of their location in Boston, Mass. They are constantly trying to gain intelligence about the aliens in order to one day outsmart and overtake them and hopefully rebuild their lives.
Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation) co-stars as Anne Glass, a pediatrician who works with the surviving children to help them cope with the traumatic upheaval in their lives. Will Patton (Armageddon, TNT’s Into the West) plays a fierce leader of the resistance, Weaver. The series also stars Drew Roy (Secretariat) as Hal, Tom’s oldest son and a growing fighter in the resistance movement; Maxim Knight (Brothers & Sisters) as Matt, Tom’s youngest son; Connor Jessup (The Saddle Club) as Ben, Tom’s son who was captured by aliens; and Seychelle Gabriel (Weeds) as Lourdes, an orphaned teenager who helps Anne in the group’s makeshift medical clinic. Colin Cunningham (Living in Your Car) is John Pope, the leader of an outlaw motorcycle gang and Sarah Carter (Shark) is Margaret, a wary survivor of Pope’s gang.
FALLING SKIES focuses on the resilience of the survivors and their determination to maintain their humanity when all else has been destroyed. It is a tale of endurance, commitment and courage in which everyday people are called upon to become heroes. They may be outmatched, outnumbered and outgunned, but nothing can beat the human spirit. Most of all, the series is about the ties that bind people together in the most difficult of circumstances.
The aliens in the series are mighty, mysterious and merciless. They are highly intelligent and use military-like tactics, which makes them an overwhelming force against the 2nd Mass. There are two types of aliens that the human survivors have named Skitters and Mechs. Combining live action and special visual effects, the Skitters have spider-like bodies and incredible strength and agility. The deadly, robotic Mechs stand upright and can shoot bullets from their arms. The aliens control captured children, like Tom’s son Ben, through bio-mechanical harnesses but have yet to reveal their ultimate plan for them.
FALLING SKIES is executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, along with DreamWorks Television heads Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank, Graham Yost (Justified, The Pacific) and screenwriter Robert Rodat. Rodat, who earned an Oscar® nomination for his screenplay for Saving Private Ryan, wrote the pilot from an idea he co-conceived with Spielberg. Mark Verheiden (Heroes, Battlestar Galactica) and Greg Beeman (Heroes, Smallville) are co-executive producers. The pilot was directed by Carl Franklin (One False Move, Out of Time). – TNT
Longer First Look Extended Trailer:
So, here’s the question of the month: How the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks did we miss this. Seriously, we’re genetically predisposed to have the first scoop on all new SciFi programming out there. This is just embarrassing. We only heard about Falling Skies yesterday when we saw the trailer on TNT and thought it was for a summer blockbuster that we didn’t know about.
That being said, this looks exceptionally well-done for basic cable with Dreamworks producing it and Steven Spielberg heavily involved with creating the aliens. Dare we say, it looks even better than Terra Novaand we think it has a better chance of staying on the air for a second season then TN as well because basically they’ve done everything right, so far, as far as production of Sci-Fi television is concerned.
Yes... yes they do.
It’s on Basic Cable and NOT on a Major Network. Better yet, it’s on TNT which overall in 2010 was the #4 cable Network on television and #2 for original non-niche scripted programming (for clarification, Disney and ESPN, #2 and #3, respectively, are niche networks) behind only USA. The expectation for high audience numbers is dramatically lower on basic cable than it is on major network which is a luxury that TN doesn’t have on FOX and to make matters worse for TN, over the past decade, Sci-Fi is DEAD on Network television for this generation of audiences and has been an abysmal failure every time it’s been attempted and this dovetails into the next advantage for renewal FS has…
$$$$ Because FS is on basic cable, the production costs will be dramatically lower than any show on a major network and considering that TN is the most expensive show in the history of television, we can only imagine that the production costs of FS is infinitesimal in comparison to TN. Again, this goes back to the ratings expectations that TNT will have for FS as opposed to what FOX will have for TN. One of the biggest factors a show has to overcome is production costs. When 24 was canceled last year, even though the ratings were continuing to drop they weren’t particularly awful. The problem was (besides the fact that the producers admitted that the well had run dry) that the show was just so damned expensive to produce that they couldn’t justify renewing it. A show has to get high enough ratings in order to justify high ad rates in order to justify high production costs. It’s that simple. Considering what we said about the recent history of Sci-Fi on network, the advantage again goes to FS.
The real reason why so many Sci-Fi shows are produced in Canada
“O, Canada, Our Home and Native Land!” As soon as we saw the trailers for FS, the first thing we thought was, “Oh, this has to be being produced in Canada,” and as we confirmed with iMDB, it sure as heck is (Hamilton, Ontario to be precise). It’s well-known that the key to keeping production costs down dramatically with Sci-Fi television is to film in Canada. Don’t believe us? Take a look at this list of Sci-Fi shows filmed in Canada over the last two decades. Where is TN being produced? In ridiculously cost-prohibitive Australia which is just adding to the enormous price-tag of that show. Advantage, FS.
Shorter Schedule Beyond the obvious fact that producing more than twice as many episodes per season (22 for TN as opposed to 10 for FS) will cost twice as much for FOX, there’s also a much bigger issue and that is that a 22 episode season, by its nature, will air over the course of an entire television season, in this case (allegedly) 2011 – 2012. This means long hiatuses and reruns for the show which has proven time and time again to be catastrophic for Sci-Fi and genre which is exactly why they eventually stopped doing it with 24, Lost, and Alias to name a few, instead, choosing to air their entire seasons as mid-season replacements without anything more than the random one week break between new episodes. Today’s audiences have ZERO patience for serials to begin with, nevertheless Sci-Fi serials, and they will not tolerate shows that leave them hanging for six weeks to several months at a time. FS will air new episodes continuously for ten weeks and it’s airing in the middle of summer with no competition from the major networks which is a strategy that continues to be proven successful for basic cable networks.
Finally, 22 episodes of Sci-Fi is just too much for major network television (and no, even though The CW is a major network, they don’t count for the purpose of this discussion for obvious reasons.). Today’s major network audiences just will not hang in there for 22 episodes of Sci-Fi any more. Now, we love Fringe and we’re certainly thrilled it got picked up for a fourth season but that is an anomaly and the audience numbers haven’t been particularly great for it which is why it got moved from the middle of the week to Friday to begin with. The standard 10 – 13 episode seasons for original programming on basic cable works just fine for Sci-Fi. Advantage, FS.
Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?
So why are we so excited about FS? Well, first, the trailers look fantastic and yes, we know it’s not a particularly original concept stealing aspects from The Terminator, Battlestar Galactica, V, The Road, Independence Day and War of the Worlds, to name a few (not to mention that the whole “stealing children and technologically altering them” concept is eerily similar to the Borg in Star Trek) but heck, we like that kind of Sci-Fi because it invariably promises us great action and character development. We also don’t think that it’s a coincidence that Noah Wyle looks like he was separated at birth from Terminator: Salvation star and leader of the resistance Christian Bale (John Connor).
Along with the great action, though, is that shows like this invariably raise thought-provoking philosophical questions about humanity, often without the audience realizing it until after it’s happened. This is one of the marks of great Sci-Fi storytelling which this particular brand of Sci-Fi excels at and we really expect nothing less considering the heavy hitters that are on board for this and their experience and success they bring to this in the writing and production department (see the last paragraph of the show description at the top).
Also, just to preempt the inevitable cries of “it’s not an original concept” from the peanut gallery (that have already begun), we’ve got news for you: there are no original concepts in Sci-Fi anymore. Every concept you can think of has been thought up by someone else in this genre and been done already. It’s the execution of concept that counts and that’s what will be the deciding factor in FS‘s success or failure.
Check out the official Falling Skies webpage, here.
Game of Thrones is an American medieval fantasy television series created for HBO by David Benioff and Dan Weiss. The series is based on author George R. R. Martin’s best-selling A Song of Ice and Fire series of seven fantasy novels; HBO’s overall series’ title is derived from the first novel. The premium cable television series closely follows the multiple story lines of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and author Martin has stated that the show’s pilot script was very faithful to his work.Set in the seven Kingdoms of Westeros, where “summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime,” Game of Thrones chronicles the violent dynastic struggles among the kingdom’s seven noble families for control of the Iron Throne. – Wikipedia
Seven noble families fight for control of the mythical land of Westeros. Political and sexual intrigue abound. The primary families are the Stark, Lannister, and Baratheon families. Robert Baratheon, King of Westeros, asks his old friend Eddard Stark to serve as his chief advisor. Eddard, suspecting that his predecessor had been murdered, accepts so that he can investigate further. It turns out more than one family is plotting to take the throne. The Queen’s family, the Lannisters, may be hatching a plot to take control. Across the sea, the last surviving members of the previously deposed ruling family, the Targaryens, are also plotting a return to power. The conflict between these families and others, including the Greyjoys, the Tullys, the Arryns, and the Tyrells, leads to war. Meanwhile, in the north, an ancient evil awakens. Amidst war and the political confusion, a brotherhood of misfits, The Night’s Watch, is all that stands between the realms of men and the horrors beyond. – iMDB
8 out of 10
First of all, we apologize for the double description but you’d be amazed at how difficult it is to actually find a decent show description at the usual suspects like Metacritic… or HBO’s homepage for the show. We suspect the reason for this is that no one but the most devoted fanboy knows enough to be able to sum up coherently what the show is about. On our end, we’re in the same boat. After watching the first episode, we can say that we reasonably understand what’s going on, but we would have no idea how to explain it. There’s a lot going on in this show with the different subplots and characters and it really plays out an awful lot like a soap opera (not a complaint, just an observation), and its serial nature and what looks like will be a weekly cliffhanger will have us coming back week after week, even though this genre has never really been our cup of tea. Don’t get us wrong, we like this stuff but we’ve always been more interested in traditional science fiction (particularly of the space based variety) than we ever have been of medieval fantasy.
That being said, Game of Thrones is the most amazingly produced series we’ve ever seen (so far… Terra Nova may be even better… if it ever airs). With a reported $5 to $10 million spent on the pilot and an estimated budget for the first season between $50 and $60 million, it’s easy to understand why. The show feels much more like a big-budget summer blockbuster film than it does a TV series and as you watch it, you really don’t want to get up to even use the bathroom because the absolute aesthetic beauty of the photography is just spell-binding. The cinematography, lighting, filters used on the lenses, and even the CGI is absolutely perfect. The Northern Ireland and Malta filming locations are absolutely stunning and authentic as are the costumes. Have we mentioned the music? Well, the score, which is composed by Ramin Djawadi, is modern and absolutely beautiful. It reminds us of the work of Sean Callery and Bear McCreary.
As far as the plot is concerned, as noted it is quite compelling but, we have to say that so far, the characters leave a lot to be desired in the likability/relatability department. Most of them, even the heroes, are pretty nasty human beings who are pretty self-centered with ZERO regard for human life and yes, we understand that the story is being told from a medieval perspective, however, it is a story for a contemporary audience (Hell, the novels were written in 1996) and the general amorality of the characters is a bit off-putting and uncomfortable. The male characters also display very misogynistic tendencies and they are quite vulgar in their misogyny as well and it really does make us a tad uncomfortable especially when watching it with Mrs. Tastic:
“I would let his whole tribe f**k you – all 40,000 men, and their horses, too, if that’s what it took.” – Viserys Targaryen… to his sister, Daenerys
Yikes! Yeah, thanks for that visual. Noooo… that wasn’t awkward at all. We suspect that the characters will become more sympathetic as the series progresses simply because we will become more attached to the storyline, but of course that will take time and as an audience, we’ll need to suspend our modern preconceptions of morality and decency for this to happen (and we’re pretty sure that despite the number of times they dropped it, the F-bomb didn’t exist during medieval times). Seriously, the characters are like a bunch of hedonistic Klingons and this dovetails into the only real issue we have with the show.
As we noted in our Being Humanreview, HBO has a tendency to overdo the gratuitous sex, graphic violence, nudity and profanity and it’s not necessary. It often becomes a distraction and usually it’s used for shock-value exclusively when the well has run dry in the writing department. After watching the Game of Thrones pilot, we are starting to think that they are just getting so used to using that particular crutch that they can’t help themselves anymore. There were three completely unnecessary nude scenes in the pilot, a sex scene that could have just as easily been implied, ditto on the fellatio scene with the dwarf, the aforementioned ridiculous and historically out of context use of the F-bomb, two graphic beheadings and an orgy/slash gang rape scene (at a wedding, no less) that was topped off by a disembowelment. Now, THAT’S our type of party.
The premium cable television series closely follows the multiple story lines of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and author Martin has stated that the show’s pilot script was very faithful to his work.
As much as we appreciate adapted works remaining true the source material, and we’re assuming that this over-the-top content is in the novels as well, we’re kind of wishing that it wasn’t as true to the original and that the producers would tone it down just a tad. Now, we aren’t offended by any of those scenes, but as noted it just becomes distracting and it doesn’t seem really that necessary to advance the plot of what is a very good show that stands on its own merits without the need for gratuitous gimmickry.
Again, this was a bit of a minor issue and without a question, this is one of the best shows on TV and thanks to the fanboys, 48 hours after the pilot was aired on Sunday, the series was renewed for a second season. It also didn’t hurt that last weekend was HBO’s Free Preview Weekend and we’re curious if it wasn’t so much the ratings that got the show renewed, but the massive increase of subscribers to HBO post-premiere that did the trick. Boy, are we ever curious as to those Monday new subscription numbers.
As an aside, though, the fanboy factor in the success of this series cannot be overstated and inevitably will stir up the decade-old discussion of the viability of genre and Sci-Fi on premium cable. Until now, there haven’t been any successful examples to use as a point of reference. Who knows? Maybe Game of Thrones has opened the door for the possibility of the next Star Trek or Stargate series to air on premium cable (don’t forget, Stargate: SG-1 was on Showtime for five seasons before it was on SciFi) or even perhaps the rebirth of great shows that left us too early such as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles or even Firefly. *Sigh* Yes, we know; now our true fanboy colors are showing and we’re losing ourselves in fantasy.