Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Fates of Network TV Shows in 2017-2018

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

The Upfronts are something I look forward to much more than the average person. In fact, I should probably explain to the average person that the Upfronts are a series of presentations in New York where television networks (both cable and broadcast) showcase what they plan to air the following season. Sometimes new pick-ups are announced, but in recent years those stories tend to break before the official event. It's the hard line where shows are renewed or canceled. (well, except when it's not...cough cough Timeless...)

Many new shows tank every year. I've seen many a laughable pilot that is kicked to the curb after a second episodes. Networks have been more generous in the past few years, but pulling things mid-season and then burning them off during terrible programming time still is not uncommon. There are trends that tend to help understand if a show will be pulled in subsequent years, but surprises still slap me in the face.

What returner slapped me in the face this year? Scorpion's cancellation. The ratings had gone down, but if it hadn't been on CBS (which houses some really well-performing dramas), it's fate might have been different.

What rookie slapped me in the face this year? The Brave's cancellation. It wasn't my favorite new show, but I was always happy to see a new one pop up on the DVR. Three military dramas premiered this season, so the competition was steep. The Brave aired right after The Voice, and I'm not sure if that programming choice was ideal to retain viewers. Not only will I be sad to not find out what was going to happen next, I'll also be sad that the actors won't be appearing alongside one another again, as I felt the casting for that series was a strong point.

Moving on, here are other first-season cancellations that I find worth noting. (and by "worth noting," I mean I had some sort of vested interest in them at the start of the season.)
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World
was good but not great. It was always the last thing I'd catch up on while surfing my DVR.
Ten Days in the Valley was really tough for me to get into, as I had to watch the first two segments of the pilot three times before I figured out what was going on.
9JKL had horrible writing at times.
Wisdom of the Crowd started off strong for me but after five episodes or so I had lost interest in the concept.
Living Biblically was good for two or three episodes. I was mainly upset about how far it strayed from the book, but also found the episodes pretty lackluster.
I truly enjoyed what was aired of Me, Myself, and I, both in writing and in concept, but its super-short lifespan (only six episodes aired) also made it nearly forgettable by now.
Rise was terrible and not realistic, so no tears were shed here.

And, interestingly, I ended up deciding not to check out The Crossing, and found LA to Vegas absolutely horrendous, so gave that up early. (well, that one technically isn't canceled yet, but the ratings are abysmal.)

Renewals for a second season that I'm happy to share...
The Good Doctor will return, and I can't get enough of how good Freddie Highmore is in that!
Young Sheldon will give us more insight into the captivating Cooper.
We'll continue to see the crazy drama that is Dynasty.
We'll get to see Nic's reputation restored on The Resident.
More ridiculousness will occur in Mr. Griffin's A.P. Bio class.
I found the return of Will & Grace superior to that of Roseanne, but still look forward to both continuing next season.

I really didn't care for The Gifted, and probably won't tune in for the second season. Similarly, I found Ghosted so terrible that I deleted the series recording after about four airings. I forgot about Good Girls (I mean, a 2/26 premiere? c'mon!), so that and The Mick are two things I need to catch up on this summer.

While there is a lot of shake-ups there, series that I was continuing this season did very well for the most part. We all knew going in that it would be the final season of The Middle (HOLY COW! Flashback to the first episode I ever saw!), but otherwise nothing I watch is actually ending (aside from the aforementioned Scorpion)! That's right, here's the renewal list for what I watch:
for a third season: Speechless (I love Minnie Driver SO MUCH), American Housewife (this is so realistic I can't stand it), This Is Us (counting down already!), Man with a Plan (it's lighthearted comedy if nothing else)
for a fourth season: Superstore (it's so different from everything else that it works)
for a fifth season: Black-ish (it's getting rough, though...), Fresh off the Boat (this is also getting stale), How to Get Away with Murder (it's getting out of control), Jane the Virgin (it'll be the final season, and I'm ready for that)
for a sixth season: The Goldbergs (I can't believe it's been on this long already!)
for a seventh season: Last Man Standing (which was canceled by ABC a year ago but is going to air new episodes over on FOX next season)
for a ninth season: Bob's Burgers (I'm kinda surprised this is still going)
for a twelfth season: The Big Bang Theory (I like it but I no longer look forward to it)

Well, technically there's still fates to be decided for Trial & Error, which doesn't even premiere its second season until July, and Code Black, which I was surprised to see even get a third season (of which only four episodes have aired to date).

What about you - any slaps in the face? Anything you can't believe is still on the air? Should I share what I watch on cable these days?
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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Timeless: Will it Continue? Should It?

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I'm not a science fiction person... for the most part. I have had a fascination with utopias and dystopias since middle school, but anything that involves aliens or the supernatural or mythical beasts is not for me. I was intrigued by Timeless first because of Goran Višnjić, as I was a big fan back in the days of ER, but I was also drawn because the show begs for extreme historical accuracy, which is something that brings me such peace I can't even explain it. The pilot had enjoyable moments for me, mainly how great Lucy knew history and how simply a single choice could affect so much in years to come. The premise of the drama is that there is an organization of people with a time machine who intend to change history in their favor, bits at a time, and there's another organization that tries to stop them, over and over.
Justin Lubin/NBC 2017 NBCUniversal Media, LLC
Episodes have visited generic time periods like 1940s Hollywood and Nazi-occupied Germany, but also very specific moments, like the Hindenberg Disaster, the height of the Salem Witch Trials, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. History has an audience, but it's not a huge one. The actors in this show aren't all totally unknowns, but they're not all A-listers, either. The pilot had over 7.5 million viewers, but after the first ten episodes, it never hit half of that again. The second season was more consistent, but wavering by only 500,000 viewers tends not to matter a whole lot when you're still under 3 million regardless. And, although critics like it, I expect it to be canceled again. (Yes, it was canceled in 2017 by NBC, but three days later, that decision was reversed.) NBC had its upfronts last week and gave no definitive remarks regarding the series' future. 

It's an expensive series to produce: every episode goes to different times and places, requiring elaborate sets and dozens of costumes difficult to reuse. I don't adore the show, and sometimes I'm tuned out for most the hour... but certain episodes have me on the edge of my seat, and I'd love to see more of that. In real life, I know a whopping one person who regularly tunes in, which is laughable in the day and age when watching episodes later in the week is more commonplace than seeing them live.

The audience is proven to be small. The fact that the network picked up FIVE dramas (and only two comedies) doesn't bode well. It could take a super hiatus and air summer 2019, but that's not really the best slot for a big-budget work. What do you think - will it be back?
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Thunder. Thunder. ThunderCats. Noooooooo


by Christopher Scott

*Aggravated Sigh*
Apparently Cartoon Network has been digging through its vault of underutilized properties again, and this time they’ve gone too far. With the announcement of their latest show, ThunderCats Roar, I felt the need to give my 2 cents after a nearly 5-year hiatus on this webpage. Yes, it’s that serious.

To give you some backstory, my name is Chris Scott and I am a former contributor on TheTalkingBox who used to cover animated shows including The Invincible Iron Man, The Awesomes, and ThunderCats (2011) which was probably my main staple. Through the good and the bad, I provided updates and synopses along with my own opinion during the one-year revival of the series. The show was not perfect (not really even close), but it gave us brief glimpses of greatness and ultimately did a decent job in filling the shoes of its inspiration.

Yesterday, however, Cartoon Network teased a new show in development using the ThunderCats license which reminds us that Cartoon Network is creatively bankrupt in 2018. According to the wildly misleading press release, “Staying true to the premise of the original series, Lion-O and the ThunderCats — Tygra, Panthro, Cheetara, Wilykat, and Wilykit — barely escape the sudden destruction of their home world, Thundera, only to crash land on the mysterious and exotic planet of Third Earth. Lion-O, the newly appointed Lord of the ThunderCats, attempts to lead the team as they make this planet their new home. A bizarre host of creatures and villains stand in their way, including the evil Mumm-Ra, Third Earth’s wicked ruler who will let nothing, including the ThunderCats, stop his tyrannical reign over the planet.” Cartoon Network, how dare you use such a vague and nostalgic description of this new series to obfuscate what is really going on here?

Cartoon Network / Entertainment Weekly 
By taking a moment to look at the official keyart for the series, depicting a chibi art style and goofy expressions, it is painfully clear that this is merely a shadow of what ThunderCats has always stood for in the hearts and minds of its audience. This is more like if the entire cast of the show was replaced by various incarnations of Snarf. To further envision the style of the show, it is being created by producer/cartoonist, Victor Coutright (Mighty Magiswords, Pickle and Peanut, and OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes). With only a brief introduction to his former works, it is clear that this show is an attempt to join other reviled shows on the Network such as Teen Titans GO! and Unikitty! Additionally, there is an official teaser out there, but it is just too infuriating to give a link here. Just go to YouTube and search ThunderCats Roar, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Now, for those of you who believe I might be a 30-something millennial who is blinded by nostalgia glasses and who can’t just let kids enjoy the shows they like, I completely understand your point of view. I constantly struggle to keep nostalgia in check and I would be lying if I said I didn’t fail from time to time. That being said, there is a place for action-oriented, exciting, and story-driven animation in today’s market. There is a reason Japanese animation is being picked up by Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming networks. Shows like Gravity Falls, DuckTales, and Star Vs. The Forces of Evil are all performing very well in the space, offering variety in stories and adventure that comedic shows simply cannot. And just think about it from your own childhood. For every Reboot, Thundercats, and Batman The Animated Series that are cemented in our memories, there were dozens of Samurai Pizza Cats, Eek The Cat, Mega Babies cartoons that barely remain in our subconscious. And if Cartoon Network simply must create another humor-driven cartoon to add to their already overloaded lineup, why must it be done using the ThunderCats reputation? There is still outcry to this day over their misuse of the Teen Titans license for Teen Titans Go! I am just not sure it is necessary in this case seeing as how the license doesn’t really resonate with today’s children, but will absolutely infuriate those who loved the original series.

Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps I am in the minority here. Let me know in the comments below! Would you rather see the ThunderCats return in this incarnation? Or would you prefer they come up with some new license and keep the original spirit of the show untouched? I’d love to hear your feedback!
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Sunday, August 27, 2017

2017-2018 Network Prospects: Why Not?

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Where have I been? Well, around the time of the last post, I excitedly became pregnant. Later that month I signed a large contract for my other occupation that kept me very busy, from that point until about five months after the babies were born. Then, we moved across the country, and I have been filling my days with everything that goes along with navigating a new area (while learning to parent twin toddlers).

I'm not entirely sure what my blogging plans are at this point (I'm not sure if I have any press contacts left out there), but I've been looking forward to the new television season for several months now, and want an outlet to talk about the prospects. I didn't really ease up on my viewing, and have largely stayed up-to-date with all of the series I followed before (both broadcast network and cable). I actually even began a post last year, planning to discuss those pilots, but I never got around to finishing/publishing it.

Anyway, let's dive in. Expect my thoughts to be scatterbrained, as I'm rather out of practice at this point, and am more in the mindset of having fun than editing.

First, here are the pilots that interest me on each of the big five networks:
ABC: The Good Doctor, Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, Ten Days in the Valley, The Crossing, Deception.
CBS: 9JKL, Young Sheldon, Wisdom of the Crowd, By the Book, Me, Myself, and I.
The CW: Dynasty.
FOX: The Gifted, Ghosted, The Resident, LA to Vegas.
NBC: The Brave, Good Girls, Rise, A.P. Bio, and the return of Will & Grace (not really a pilot, per se).

That's 5 each on ABC, CBS, and NBC, with 4 on FOX and 1 on The CW. Technically, that makes perfect sense, when you look at the total airtime of each of those networks. It's actually not as simple as that, as the networks didn't all offer the same number of pilots, but moving on...

Looking at the programming schedule, those shows (save the ones that will begin in 2018) air as follows:
Sunday: 3
Monday: 5
Tuesday: 1
Wednesday: 2
Thursday: 1

I historically have huge conflicts with Monday shows, but generally don't have a lot on Sundays, so that's rather interesting. However, let's look at it in the scope of the returning network shows I'm tuning in to watch:
ABC: Fresh off the Boat, American Housewife, The Middle, Speechless, The Goldbergs, Black-ish.
CBS: Man with a Plan, Trial & Error, How to Get Away with Murder, Code Black, Scorpion, The Big Bang Theory.
The CW: Jane the Virgin.
FOX: Bob's Burgers.
NBC: Timeless, This is Us, Superstore.

Low on FOX, very heavy on CBS and ABC (I've been particularly drawn to ABC's programming as long as I can remember), average for NBC and The CW.

Add in the fall returns by day:
Sunday: 1
Monday: 1
Tuesday: 4
Wednesday: 3
Thursday: 3
Friday: 1

This is where I really start to get fired up and want to talk about the season! If we didn't have the technology to record multiple shows at once or to access them outside of the original broadcast, I'd be doomed. Not looking specifically at the different timeslots within primetime, I could be in some trouble. Four on Sunday night is weird (while four on Thursday night is expected), and six on each of Monday and Tuesday is insane! Five more on Wednesday means I would constantly be struggling to keep up at the water cooler by Thursday morning, but at least a measly one on Friday night would make it easier to plan movie nights to go see the latest soon-to-be-blockbuster. However, we're fortunate enough that we can watch three "hours" of television in just about two, thanks to the magic of fast-forwarding. And, in my own case, I don't see movies on their opening nights anymore; the amount of coordination that takes doubles when factoring in childcare!

If you're a longtime reader (not sure if any of those are left, honestly), you know that I always try out a large number of new shows in the fall, so a dozen does not scare me, but an additional 13 returning series really start to twist my mind a bit. 25 series to watch at least 2-3 episodes of (not factoring in which are sixty minutes rather than thirty!) makes for a bit of a daunting October (the fact that it's taking forever for shows to start is an entirely separate issue...). And that doesn't factor in which shows my husband will choose to watch with me (of the returning fall series, he's only a fan of Scorpion, Superstore, How to Get Away with Murder, Man with a Plan, and Bob's Burgers), and which he'll need time to view on his own (he really only picks three or four pilots each year, but they're generally different from my own choices).

Fortunately, my boys are phenomenal sleepers, so between their almost-three-hour nap and the eleven hours they sleep at night, I think I can fit it all in. I guess only time will tell.

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Comic-Con 2015: Childhood's End

It's Saturday already! It's hard to believe how fast this Con is going by! I also thought about the math while in line earlier today, and I've spent three weeks of my life at San Diego Comics Conventions over the past five years! Anyway, fun facts aside, let's get into the first panel of the day: Childhood's End.

SyFy's miniseries, which will be broadcast across three nights for a total of six hours in December, is based on a 1953 novel by Arthur C. Clarke (yep, the 2001: A Space Odyssey guy!). The premise is that an alien invasion of Earth went from peaceful and prosperous for all to suspicion to concern, and you can imagine where it might be going from there. I mean, once kids begin to develop telekinetic powers, all bets are off. The novel is written in third-person with no protagonist, and is divided into three parts, which is a challenge to fully illustrate in a short screen time, which is why a feature film is not ideal.

On the panel we had cast members Julian McMahon, Daisy Betts, and Yael Stone, plus director Nick Hurran and screenwriter Matthew Graham. The highly anticipated Mike Vogel, who was at SDCC on Thursday for CBS's Under the Dome, was mysteriously absent, as was Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister of Game of Thrones).
 
 

Shot in Australia earlier this year, the miniseries is remarkably difficult to discuss on the panel, other than saying "it's loyal to the book," as there are major spoilers possible. Fans seemed pleased with what they heard, however, so be sure to look forward to this holiday time treat! And, looking ahead, be excited about the 2016 series The Magicians - SyFy ended this panel with a trailer of that, and it was pretty neat!
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