March 21, 2006
Just when you thought all was quiet in Sunnydale someone uncovered an unaired pilot episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It has some glaring differences from the original, most notably a different actress playing Willow and a half-hour format. Many of the scenes are still the same, though they're often shot differently in different locations with a different set up. Makes for interesting Buffy-fan viewing.
January 24, 2006
There's some big rumblings in the world of broadcast TV: CBS and Warner Bros. are partnering to merge UPN and the WB and replace them with the CW Network. It's an interesting idea that brings together successful shows like Everybody Hates Chris, Veronica Mars, Gilmore Girls and Smallville. It could make the combined WB/UPN an actual threat in the broadcast landscape (and really minimize the opportunities for new shows).
But what isn't discussed is how such a big move in broadcast happens. Local TV stations are affiliates for national networks, and this could leave affiliates all over the country scrambling for programming, much like they scrambled several years ago when UPN and the WB debuted. Could we be returning to the days when the low budget local TV station has no affiliate and plays nothing but reruns and old movies? Or, more likely, will another network step up to provide content to all those affiliates?
January 9, 2006
So I watched The Book of Daniel, the new NBC dramedy about an Episcopal priest and his family. Oh, and said priest regularly sees Jesus--a long-haired, white-robed, European Jesus, as stereotypically hippie as you can imagine. Of course the show is more Desperate Housewives than Joan of Arcadia. I'm always intrigued when a show tries to explore religion, though more often than not it doesn't work.
November 14, 2005
With TV shows being sold on iTunes, NBC and CBS jumping into the single episode sales business, the increasing use of TiVo and the continual rise of TV shows on DVD, the future of TV is a big, fat question mark. A New York Metro magazine article explores the possibility, including the intriguing idea of a canceled show being revived by fans subscribing to it. Slate explores similar ground.
In a nutshell, one million fans ponying up $40 for a season of a TV show gives a producer $40 million to work with. At $1.5 million an episode for an hour long drama, that makes it pretty feasible to do a 22-episode season without ever having the show appear on traditional TV channels. Add in extra revenue sources like single download episodes, merchandising, DVDs and syndication or re-broadcast rights and it just might work.
Of course you still need one million fans and the ability to convince them to pony up $40, but it's within the realm of possibility. Whether or not anyone realizes it, TV is changing.
August 2, 2005
TV's greatest dad and what's arguably one of TV's greatest comedies finally came to DVD today. The Cosby Show. It's about time.
Requisite article about The Cosby Show.
July 27, 2005
TV icon Steven Bochco (NYPD Blue) is back with a ground-breaking TV series, Over There, which tells the story of soldiers in Iraq. It's the first television series ever to focus on a war that's still going on.
Too bad it's on FX, denying those of us with no cable.
July 21, 2005
The Sci-Fi channel is airing one of the quirkiest sci-fi shows ever made, Joss Whedon's Firefly. The sci-fi-western-comedy-drama show lasted less than half a season before Fox canceled it. Of course Fox has canceled more than a few worthy TV shows. As one writer says, "every time you support a canceled Fox show, somewhere a network executive loses his wings."
The best reason for watching Firefly is to prepare for the upcoming movie version, Serenity.
June 17, 2005
In honor of Father's Day (yes, it's this Sunday), TiVo surveyed viewers and came up with TV's top 25 greatest dads.
Top 5 TV Dads:
- Bill Cosby's Cliff Huxtable from The Cosby Show
- Andy Griffith's Sheriff Andy Taylor from The Andy Griffith Show
- Michael Landon's Pa Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie
- Tom Bosley's Howard Cunningham from Happy Days
- Hugh Beaumont's Ward Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver
The middle of the list has some curious names as well, including Bob Saget's Danny Tanner from Full House and Ray Romano's Raymond Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond. But the bottom of the list is truly priceless:
20) Frank Costanza from Seinfeld
21) Peter Griffin from Family Guy
22) Al Bundy from Married... With Children
23) Homer Simpson from The Simpsons
24) Tony Soprano from The Sopranos
25) Ozzy Osbourne from The Osbournes
May 27, 2005
Pastor Greg may very well be the world's first Christian sitcom. It's being shot in HD format and will air in October on the Cornerstone satellite network and more than 100 secular stations.
Somehow, I think we can thank (or blame) Mel Gibson for this.
May 23, 2005
In case you missed it, last week the Simpsons coverted to Catholicism. Well, sort of. In classic Simpsons style everything will return to normal, but in the course of the episode Bart started attending a Catholic school and Homer was sucked in with a pancake supper and bingo. Marge worried about her divided family and in the end there's a general swipe at religion and a reminder that Protestants and Catholics are both Christians. It was another episode poking fun at religion in a season of poking fun at religion, though despite the potential this episode seemed pretty inoffensive.
May 19, 2005
God has fallen silent. At least according to CBS. The once-hit drama Joan of Arcadia was cancelled after only two seasons. It gets the ax along with Judging Amy, apparently for not attracting the coveted young adult crowd (though what self-respecting young adult stays in on Friday night to watch network TV?).
On Friday nights Joan will be replaced by Ghost Whisperer, a "paranormal family drama" starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.
May 17, 2005
Amid all the buzz about Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith some of the most exciting news (for geeks like me anyway) is that George Lucas is planning two TV shows:
Lucas made a rare appearance at a Star Wars fan convention, Celebration III in Indianapolis, on Saturday. There, he described the two forthcoming TV series. One is an expansion into a 30-minute series of Clone Wars, the series of animated shorts shown on Cartoon Network that chronicles space battles that take place between Episode II and Episode III. "We're going to take that and turn it into a 3-D animated version full series," he said, according to the official Star Wars website. The other, he said, was a live-action drama that would take place between Episode III and Episode IV (i.e., the story told in the original 1977 film). "We're probably not going to start that for about a year," he said. "Like on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, we want to write all the stories for the entire first season all at once. I'm going to get it started, and hire the show runners and all of that, then I'll probably step away." (Entertainment Weekly, subscription required)
TheForce.net gives details/speculation about more the live-action series (on TV in the fall of 2007?), as well as more life after Sith news.
May 14, 2005
Being a television success doesn't always mean becoming a phenomena. And being a phenomena doesn't equal success. Case in point: Two shows that sign off the air this year, Everybody Loves Raymond and Star Trek's latest installment, Enterprise.
Raymond lasted nine years and creator and star Ray Romano is the highest paied actor in television. Yet the series hasn't spawned any catch phrases, spin-offs or cultural milestones. It simply soldiered on as the number one sitcom by letting couples commiserate over their in-laws with the same handful of jokes.
Enterprise, on the other hand, languished until cancellation and is only making news because it marks the first time since 1987 that there hasn't been a new Star Trek series on TV.
May 10, 2005
The UPN breakout hit Veronica Mars finished its season tonight, so if you haven't been watching you missed out. I happened to start tuning in a few weeks ago, soon enough to get sucked into the edgy, whodunit mystery. And what a finish. Now I can't wait for the DVD so I can catch up.
Early reviews (and recent reports) have compared Veronica to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I think that's fair. It's edgy, dark and funny, which is two things most teen dramedies aren't.
The first season of Joan of Arcadia comes out on DVD today, just as the threat of cancellation looms over season two. Part of the problem is the show's milder theology, which was planned in 2002 before The Passion of the Christ made out-right relgion more acceptable.
April 27, 2005
Bill Nye the Science Guy has a new show, "Eye to Eye with Bill Nye." In a recent interview he reveals that he liked to play ultimate frisbee in college and why he wears bow ties:
"I wore straight ties the first couple times, and then I got this thing going and I started wearing bow ties. Cuz, I'm not joking with you: If you're working with liquid nitrogen and your tie falls into it, it's funny in a way to the audience but it's also—pun intended—a little bit of a pain in the neck."
He also gets into religion:
"Along with this resurgence or embracing of fundamental Christianity is this rejection of science. And that's bad. ... I like to regard myself as someone who's capable of critical thought, that is to say who can evaluate claims. When I go to Dinosaur National Monument and look at the hillside there that's under a pavilion built by the Woodrow Wilson administration, when I look at the dinosaur bones accumulated there, I cannot accept the idea that the Earth is 10,000 years old and that we were put here just as we are. That is not reasonable to me. That this divine being or something put these things here to test me? Created all of radio chemistry—that is the potassium argon dating of volcanic soil—created all this just to fool me? ... I believe that [people who believe these things] haven't been well enough educated in the process of science and the generally accepted—for lack of a better term—truths about the universe, about nature."