Archives For television

it’s the day before christmas and there is still no end in sight to the writers strike. although some of the talk shows are heading back without their writers, the next year of television looks to be bleak with reality tv and mid-season replacements. 

for those just joining us, the Writers’ Guild of America is on strike following a breakdown in contract negotiations with the media companies over royalty payments for digital distribution. basically, in their current contracts the writers get paid for writing the shows and then a predetermined percentage for syndication and dvd sales. the writers want a cut of the digital pie, ie shows that sold on amazon’s unbox, aol, itunes, walmart, xbox marketplace, mobile phone viewing and services like comcast’s on demand, the media companies are claiming that there’s no way to determine the value of the online/digital model and that they’re not making money from that particular business model, but as this youtube video by some of the writers of the daily show point out there seems to be a disconnect somewhere. the last writers’ strike happened in during March and August 1988 and cost the movie and television industry approximately $500 million and was over reduced residuals and overseas re-airs.

with no resolution in sight, most of the shows that have gone on hiatus over the holidays are not likely to be back before late 2008, possibly 2009 and there isn’t  likely to be any new scripted television before 2009. new shows are pitched during the middle of the year at the dog & pony show called the upfronts, where the networks show advertisers and affiliates, how well their shows have done during sweeps and present what their ideas are for the coming year, but unless the writers’ strike is resolved quickly there isn’t going to be time to write and shoot pilots before the upfronts. with tons of money on the line most people are wondering why the media companies don’t just settle with the writers and get on with the business of television, the answer interestingly lies with the Screen Actors’ Guild, whose contracts are up for negotiation in June 2008 and are likely to be requesting the same concessions as the writers’ guild thus cutting into the ‘dwindling profit margins’ of the media companies. 

according to this list, there are only a few scripted series with episodes left to air and most of the soap operas are likely to run out of new episodes by the end of January which may sound the death knell for the genre with reality programming, game shows and daytime chat filling the void. with the exception of talk shows, prime time programming is likely to follow the same path, it’s going to be interesting to see how viewers respond, particularly during the sweeps.

don’t forget to read mark’s take on Babel, here.

the cable guys return

October 14, 2007 — Leave a comment

when i last lived in trinidad i wrote a column, for a now defunct paper, called the cable guys. in it, my good friend and editor, mark lyndersay  and myself wrote commentary on television. fast forward to now, with more than a little encouragement, the column returns but without a master and completely digital. as i understand it, we both post our weekly reviews on our respective blogs and the provide links to the other and everyone wins. for those of you that have been playing the home game all along this blog will now contain a new category; television. for those just joining us, welcome.  

in the process of trying to get this column written, i’ve come to the realisation that i don’t watch that much television. this season i’m watching an all-time high of eight prime time series with regularity; csi– vegas, miami and ny, heroes, chuck, bones, pushing daisies and bionic woman. however, i’m not sure how much longer the bionic woman is going to last for me, the writing continues to deteriorate and i’ve done the hot chick reluctant hero thing before with alias.  

this week i’d like to talk about one of the new shows i’ve started watching this season; pushing daisies. i love it, sadly i don’t think it’s going to last. it’s well written, it’s funny, it looks fabulous, and pretty much all of those things doom it to failure in this reality tv saturated market.  pushing daisies is from the mind of bryan fuller who brought such brilliant gems as dead like me and wonderfalls, both of which feature fantastic writing, rather quirky story-lines, death and dark-haired heroines. interestingly, a pattern emerges. i loved all those shows and as sure as day follows night, they went away. dead like me lasted two seasons but i believe that’s only because it was on showtime. wonderfalls didn’t even last a full season on fox and only through the outcry of what little fans there were did the whole season become available on dvd. 

looking at imdb, there are only six episodes produced thus far and as much as i’d love to see this series continues, i have my doubts.   the state of network television is sad, it’s all about the recycling. take for example grey’s anatomy, the most watched show last season (i’m basing this on something i read about grey’s being the most expensive media buy on network television) is a slightly new take on the hospital drama. is there a rule that there must always be one on tv? er has started it’s 13th season and before that it was st. elsewhere and before that trapper john, mdand before that… you get the idea. some of the diseases and locations might have changed but they follow the same formula. i’ll admit to having watched all of the above series, maybe that’s what grey’s held no interest for me.   

i’m enjoying pushing daisies while it lasts with no hope for its future. it is honestly too well written and too beautiful for the reality tv swilling public to appreciate and me and the couple thousand people that have grown to love it don’t make up a large enough demographic for advertisers to make it viable. 

catch pushing daisies while you can on wednesdays, 8/7c on abc.  

find the other half of the cable guys here.

Coming this fall to a network near you

Ultimate Survivor:

The popular show returns this fall, with an all new location, new challenges and new rules.

Ultimate Survivor Sahara, the tribe has to make it across the desert by an means possible. New rules include losers can either be forced to find their own way home after they`re ejected or consumed by members of the opposing team. That`s right for the first time, live on national television, cannibalism. Only on CBS.

Your new Friends:

With no new episodes of Friends and all their side projects failing faster than professional baseball`s drug test, NBC brings you a new touching reality series, Finding new friends. NBC executives pull the sorriest excuse for human beings that have written in after the cancellation of Friends, send a crack team over to their house, destroy their televisions, their livelihoods and what remain of their self-respect and then turn them out into the street and have a camera crew follow them as they try to make real life friends.

The Gulag:

Leading the way with reality programming this fall, Fox presents The Gulag, partially based on Stephen King`s The Running Man and Alexander Solzhenitsyn`s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, this show portrays prison life through the eyes of our greed, money-hungry, ratings-whores executives. From prison rapes to shot escapees, nothing will be too raw and disgusting for us to show.

Stay tuned for more of what to expect on your fall television line-up, including Who wants a pre-frontal lobotomy and For a $5 Rock.


May 3, 2004 — Leave a comment

i generally watch four hours of tv a week. i`m very specific about my tv watching, Alias on a Sunday, Gilmore Girls on a Tuesday, Smallville and Angel on a Wednesday.

last night the wife who is a disaster flick fan got me to give up alias for nbc`s 10.5. what a waste, a lot of good talent for a poorly written, poorly edited piece of dreck.

i had the whole plot outlined in 15 minutes including the nuclear detonations. that why i generally don`t watch much tv, it`s too predictable. even the commercials are predictable. the other thing last night was the constant commercials for friends, my god, talk about milking the cow.

i don`t give a shit. never liked friends. i know some people that would think that my last utterance was sacrilege, but it`s true, i`ve never found it particularly funny, it`s never moved me. i`ve never found that level of self-absorption even mildly amusing. if i want light and frivolous fantasy, i watch charmed, that at least is a little more believable.

where does the good writing go? i know television is the lowest common denominator, but it`s getting a point where between the level of stupidity between scripted and `unscripted` television is completely blurred and once something appeals to the masses everyone seems eager to fall over themselves to copy it.

there is a short story, i can remember by Roald Dahl, the Great Automatic Grammatizator [don`t be lazy, go look it up], which describes a computer that writes novels, i think that day has come, especially to television — tired, formulaic, detritus.

just a quick observation before i go to bed (i know, i know, i should be asleep already – i was contemplating selling my machine and getting a new one, but as of this writing it’s fallen through [hopefully the machine wouldn’t have realised i even contemplated selling and start behaving temperamentally])

when one has no cable, one resorts to whatever is available for one’s tube fix, interestingly i discovered a very cool little show on tv6 (one of two local channels – we get whatever programmes they pick up the rights for off the major and not so major networks) – john doe. it apparently aired on fox, and it’s about a guy who wakes up with amnesia (at least to the extent that he doesn’t know who he is but seems to know everything else). tonight was the season finale episode, so i went online (as one is wont to do with things that peak your interest) only to discover that john doe hadn’t been renewed for another season, leaving us (faithful views) with a cliffhanger and no hope satisfaction.

which brings me to my point, over the years tv6s has brought quite a number of series to local television audiences only to have them cancelled (ok some of them have come to the end of their run, but only after tv6 started showing them)…

dark angel, xfiles, buffy, witchblade, john doe, if i watched more tv i would know these things, but who really cares anyway

is this bad choice or bad tv6 karma? just a thought before you go to bed.

good night.