5 Seasons and a Disappointment [Community Gets the Ax]

Community-Season-5

Last week the networks announced which shows got the ax and which got picked up for another season. For TV fans, this is an important/nerve-wracking time of year and if you’re a fan of Community like myself, then you’ve already heard the news.

NBC offed the series after the current run of its fifth season, which makes the Save Greendale plot line all the more ironic and brings an end to Dan Harmon’s prophecy of “six seasons and a movie.”

The show, which had a devout geeky fanbase thanks to its excellent writers and perfect cast, will be sorely missed when the Fall season starts and NBC trots out a new line of inevitable too-good-for-TV lineup and repeats the time-honored process once again. But fear not, we still have Parks and Recreation to look forward to and (no spoilers) thanks to the mind-blowing season finale, there will be a whole new direction and dynamic for the series. I don’t know how they’re going to do it, but after six seasons of continuous perfection I have a faith that it will not disappoint.

How do you feel about the cancellations? Any of your favorite shows get the firing squad?

Some TV to Look Forward To [Castle, Once Upon a Time and Smash]

*sniff* Smell that? It’s January. A new year has begun and we’re all looking forward to what new adventures it may hold. And some of us are looking forward to watching television.

January is the time most all our favorite shows come back from a winter’s nap, right as we’re growing bored with our new Christmas toys or spending the last fifty cents on our Barnes & Noble gift cards. Here are a few I’m looking forward to:

First up is Castle, which returns Monday, January 9. Castle became my obsession when I happened to catch the first episode of season 2 after watching Dancing with the Stars (I feel your dirty looks). For once being too lazy to walk across the room to find the remote paid off. I was well aware of the show during its first season, but at the time my list of must-watch shows was too big and I wasn’t willing to take on the extra workload (I’ve since parsed down my DVR’s record list). I became so hooked on season 2 that I ran out, got season 1 and watched it over the weekend.

Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic are a dream team and where most shows manage to grow stale around the 3rd or 4th season, Castle has only gotten better, both in terms of story and characters. One of the most amazing things about the show is how it manages to bridge generation gaps. Fillion brings in the post-Firefly crowd, ensuring that us 20-something geeks/nerds and younger are there every week, and the crime drama aspect pulls in older viewers who may have previously been relegated to the confines of CBS’s many, many, many procedurals. I was shocked to find out that both my grandmother and some of my aunts are devout viewers, giving us something to talk about over Sunday lunch.

If you haven’t taken the time yet, then get on it!

Next is Once Upon a Time, returning Sunday, January 8.

This mysterious take on the fairy tale genre became a breakout hit during the 2011 Fall season, and for good reason. The show is written/produced by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, two of the creative minds behind Lost (another show I regretfully never watched). They also happen to be the writers of Tron: Legacy, which was totally enjoyable, if you ask me. While proving that once you’re in the Disney family, you’re in for life, they’ve managed to craft what is easily one of the most compelling series on TV right now that everyone from ages 15 to 50+ can enjoy.

Before the series went on winter break, we were left with an episode that completely blew regular viewers out of the water within the last 3 minutes. It seems someone knows a little more than they’re letting on, but just how much? I am dying to find out just how deep this story goes over the next half of the season and will be keeping my fingers crossed that the hype continues long enough to ensure its return for the fall.

And finally we have a new show that has caught the attention of many, before it has even premiered!

Smash will be an NBC midseason replacement that will first air February 6 (although if you’re a subscriber to Comcast’s Xfinity you can watch the first episode right now). The early buzz is pretty big, as I had hoped since NBC has landed some amazing actors here (Angelica Houston!) as well as having one hell of a list of producers. The network, which has seen some pretty disappointing numbers over the past few years, is obviously banking on this one to bring in all of those current and post-Glee viewers. That is fine by me since I dropped Glee like a bad habit after what amounted to a completely non sequitur and abysmal second season, but that’s a rant for later.

When asked about the show, Brent Hartinger, a YA novelist, tweeted me with this response: It’s like Glee for smart people. Sorry if that offends anyone, but it’s hard to deny that Glee went fairly lowbrow fast and has managed to perpetuate some pretty awful stereotypes for gays, blacks, Latinos and even Asians.

Point being, Smash looks like it could live up to its name and it’s obvious NBC is banking on it since just watching the trailer is a testament to how expensive this show must be to produce. I’m willing to put money on that being the reason Smash is a midseason and not a lead. They need to gauge audience reaction before pumping in the millions necessary to produce a full 22 episode season. This is almost exactly what FOX did with Glee when they showed the first episode in the spring after American Idol, forcing those of us who instantly fell in love to wait MONTHS before the series started.

So what shows are you looking forward to watching more new episodes of, or is there a new spring series that has caught your eye?

The Importance of Cliffhangers [Being Erica]

being erica kai Sadly, it’s that time. That grueling period when one of your favorite shows finishes another season and leaves you with a multitude of questions and that feeling of emptiness that won’t go away for months.

Yes, Being Erica finished its second season on SoapNet here in America, long after it did in its homeland of Canada. And once again, it ended on a bit of an edge.

Spoilers Ahead

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We Provide…[Leverage]

TNT Leverage

I’ve been hooked on TNT’s Leverage since day one, as over the past 5 years I’ve realized the network to be a viable contender when it comes to original programming (The Closer, Saving Grace, etc.). I like to call them the HBO of basic cable.

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Castle

castle

Well, good news from the ABC camp. It seems that someone on the board has the ability to point the barrel of the gun away from their collective foot.

Word came today that fantastic under-the-radar crime drama Castle will return in the fall for its 3rd season with a full 22 episodes.

I became a fan of Castle during its second season when I happened to catch an episode after Dancing with the Stars. I was instantly hooked and tracked down season 1 along with Heat Wave, the fictional-turned-real book taken from the world of Castle (fun read, btw).

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Gut Bustery [The Ricky Gervais Show]

Ricky Gervais Show

I spent part of the afternoon watching the first four episodes of The Ricky Gervais show on HBO on Demand which equaled 2 hours of me trying my best not to piss myself.

HBO’s The Ricky Gervais Show is a new spin on some older material. Originally a UK radio show which became a podcast and then a series of audiobooks, the American version takes the podcast/audiobook shows and gives the audience something to watch.

Every episode we’re presented with the basic roundtable animation of Gervais, Stephen Merchant (one of the co-stars of Extras) and Karl Pilkington. But as their conversations start do descend into insanity (30 seconds in, pretty much) we’re treated with little animations of the absurd scenarios that somehow flow like Niagara from Karl’s brain.

I found myself laughing so hard that I had to pause the show regularly just so I could catch everything, it’s really that funny. The entire show is practically Karl spouting the most fantastic bullshit while Gervais and Merchant chime in through spasms of laughter, telling him point-blank how full of crap he is.

I have to say that even though there isn’t much offered here you can’t get plenty of through the podcasts and audiobooks, it is nice to watch in the safety of your home, as listening to this on the street or in your car WILL cause people to stare at you like a first-rate mental case as you cackle.

If you have HBO and HBO on Demand, you simply have to watch. Simple as that.

Goodbye, Betty or Why I’m Dropping ABC Like a Fat Turd [Ugly Betty]

ugly betty

Since it began four years ago, I’ve had a strong love for ABC’s Ugly Betty. Everything about the show from the very beginning got it right. It was new and different, bright and colorful and always funny.

Now, less than a year after axing other fantastic programs like Pushing Daisies, Life on Mars and Eli Stone, ABC has decided to give the boot to Betty, citing poor ratings. I can’t not weigh in on this.

Though this cancellation comes a no real surprise, I’m still more than a little outraged that it happened. First off, ABC shuffled Betty around so much this season, it was hard to keep track of what night it aired. Ugly Betty was a Thursday staple for its first 3 seasons, where it performed well enough running before their hit Grey’s Anatomy. But last year the decision was made to move Betty to Fridays, or as it’s known in the industry: The Kiss of Death.

Historically, Fridays have never been a big night for television, as most households spend the night out (dates, movie nights, dinners out, etc.) When this move was made, all us Betty fans felt the icy breath of death upon us. But recently, ABC did what all thought would pull the show back into the ratings game: a move to Wednesday night after the new hit Modern Family. There was hope on the horizon, but today, hardly two weeks after the second move, the guillotine dropped before it had a chance.

So here’s my big rant. RATINGS MEAN NOTHING IN THE AGE OF THE INTERNET.

This is something most all broadcast networks just cannot get through their cigar smoking heads. Case in point- The CW. It’s a small network that in no way stacks up in the ratings game against the larger opposition, but what they realize is that their audience doesn’t watch TV live. In fact, CW found that most of their viewers come from iTunes downloads and views on their website. So when a powerhouse like Gossip Girl only pulls in just over 1 million viewers, they’re actually doing extremely well.

However, even as Betty pulls in higher ratings than a show like Gossip Girl, because they’re measuring it against other shows on the Big Four, it looks quite abysmal. The problem is that they aren’t accounting for time-shifted, downloaded and internet viewing, which is a HUGE chunk of the Betty demographic.

I know that I personally have watched Betty, not on my DVR, but online (hulu) this season more than I ever have in the past, often marathoning multiple episodes in a single evening.

But ABC isn’t concerned with how many people watch online, because it all comes down to advertising dollars that they feel they aren’t getting from live viewings. They just don’t want to give up on the old business model in a rapidly changing industry.

And you know, I get it. Betty wasn’t what it had been, especially the seasons during and immediately following the writers strike. But Season 4 had finally pulled it back together and was consistently delivering great storylines. It was finally back to where it should have been for the past two years.

All this brings up another point. Over the past year, ABC has brought some gems to the television screen. Pushing Daisies was by far the most original show on network TV in a very very long time. It was fresh, exciting and completely out-of-the-ordinary. It was a show that had a loyal fanbase that, again, didn’t watch the show live. Since its cancellation, I have met so many people who loved the show and all say the same thing, they watched online or on their DVRs. I struggle to think of one person who admitted to sitting down to it every Wednesday at 7.

This happened again around the same time with the American version of Life on Mars. I was completely obsessed with this show and could hardly wait for new episodes every week because of the fantastic mystery surrounding the plot. But the hammer fell and Mars lasted only a season, which had a half-assed finale just to wrap up the loose ends.

What’s next? Will Castle meet its untimely demise as well?

So here we find ourselves, watching another fantastic show, brought to us by a network that gave us the promise of completely new programming so far above that of its competitors, begin its death throes.

Well I’ve had it. ABC has proven that it doesn’t give a fat fuck about its shows and their audiences. They’re happy to shovel more lackluster comedy vehicles to the old folks in their recliners. I’m done with ABC for a very long while, even after I’ve fallen in love with Castle and their remake of V. I’d much rather download them from illegal torrents than do anything that could put a penny in the network’s pockets.

Goodbye, Betty. I loved you with all my heart. And goodbye to you, ABC, you fuck-ups.