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5 WAYS TO IMPROVE NETWORK TELEVISION

It seems that most of the big water cooler television shows are taking place on cable channels these days and it’s becoming harder for shows to survive on network television. I would like to take a network and rebuild in a baseball rebuilding way. This makes no sense right now, but it will, I promise.

Rebuilding can take a couple of years, but the payoff will be a perennial contender (for the playoffs) for the highest ratings. If I were in charge…

1. The first thing I would tackle is to rebuild the trust of the audience. Much of this idea is taken form an earlier post of mine, https://thehollywoodrant.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/tv-shows-trust/

Investing time in a show, especially a serialized show, that gets cancelled at some point during or after the season, leaves all the viewers with an unresolved cliffhanger. Repeated infractions like this has destroyed my trust. I’m to the point that I won’t even watch a new show until I know it’s successful and will return for a second season. To rebuild the trust, I will promise the audience a 1 or 2 hour movie to wrap up the hanging plot threads of all cancelled shows.

2. Many AMC, cable-type shows divide their seasons in half. While this does give us a long break in the middle that we might not want, it gives us fewer reruns. Some shows even go straight through the half season with no reruns. This is great for me because reruns ruin the momentum of a show. Having a mid-season finale and a mid-season premier gives the viewer more “holy shit” episodes per season. So here I would put all shows on this format and have no in-season reruns.

3. Instead of in-season reruns, I would build in four live episodes. These would be placed one week before the season premier, mid-season premier, and 1 to 3 episodes before the season and mid-season finale. These episodes will be like the Talking Dead. Almost a complete ripoff. There will be a live audience and a panel of actors from the show, as well as a host. They will recap what has happened so far, answer questions from callers and the audience as well as tease what is to come. There will be behind-the-scenes information, stories, and clips. This will give current viewers something more exciting than a rerun as well as bring newer viewers up to speed.

4. Fear the Walking Dead bridges the gap between seasons of Walking Dead. More of this! Obviously this can’t be done for every show, or even a few of them, but doing it for the network’s biggest shows (1 or 2 max) is a good idea.

5. Finally, the reason this should compare with a baseball team’s rebuild: patience. Give a few years to slowly build back that audience. Look at the Chicago Cubs, whose rebuild began four years before their Wold Series Championship. You have to allow time for the audience’s trust to grow. Allow the good ideas to build an audience, and give them more seasons.Don’t be so quick to cancel a show that shows promise. Give shows like this a bit more time to grow. Even Seinfeld wasn’t a big hit in its first season. The Grinder was a good idea, and a funny, unique sitcom. There was a cult audience out there that loved this show. It was not the next Seinfeld, but it could’ve definitely grown bigger.

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SONY SUCKS

When Maggie Jordan from The Newsroom was about to leave for Africa in Season 2, she had to recite the fact that, if captured, ACN would not set precedent by paying a ransom. This is the duty of America: to never set a precedent by giving in to terrorist demands. Sure, paying a ransom will get back the people alive, but it emboldens all future terrorists, and in the long run, the ramifications of setting precedent will be much worse for everyone. That’s why ACN in this great, great television show knew that it’s not just America’s duty, it’s everyone’s duty.

Sony has set precedent and it was the worst possible decision they could’ve made. Now and forever, every fat kid in his mother’s basement with an axe to grind and a computer will think he or she can control what movies come out and when, what television shows get shown or cancelled, and pretty much anything else. Who will be the first hacker to hold McDonald’s hostage until the McRib becomes a permanent menu item? Who will be the first hacker to hold Chick-fil-A hostage until they open on Sundays? Hey, I want a 4th season of The Newsroom…is there someone out there willing to hold HBO hostage until they put this in production?

We now have a group of hackers demanding The Interview never be released or leaked and another group of hackers demanding the opposite. What will Sony do now? Which group of hackers will they cave to? Can we now demand Sam Jackson to say “get these mother fuckin’ snakes off this mother fuckin’ plane” in Avengers 2 and every other movie he stars in? Can we just get Sam Jackson to cameo in every Sony movie just to say that line? Hell, why don’t we just let hackers control what we see and don’t see for the rest of time!

THE 3RD ANNUAL NEW SITCOM REVIEW

This year I’m giving a chance to six new sitcoms. It was supposed to be seven, but I forgot about Mulaney and decided not to care.

Unfortunately I’m not seeing a single one that will survive to season two and I expect most of these to be cancelled before the end of season one. I haven’t seen the ratings, so this is all purely my opinion at this point.

Selfie introduced me to Karen Gillan. She is spectacularly hot and I will watch this show to the bitter end just to see her. This show is actually entertaining, but will surely suffer from the same problems as Cougar Town: A decent show with a poorly chosen title.

Black-ish is yet another Hollywood product to feature an advertising executive. If you’ve ever read my blog, you will be well aware of my hatred for this. Prepare for every episode to play out like this: Real life lessons give big idea to big advertising pitch. I’ve watched the first two episodes and have let the rest pile up on my DVR. I haven’t yet given up, but I have a feeling this might be this season’s The Millers, which still to this very day have 15 episodes sitting on my DVR from last season.

I found Cristin Milioti to be much more likable in How I Met Your Mother after episode one of A to Z, but episode two was much better and it keeps improving. I think this one will have a good chance of surviving, and I hope it does. Nothing really new or groundbreaking here, except that it takes a cue from 500 Days of Summer and lets you know the relationship you are watching is doomed.

Bad Judge is just bad. Bad Teacher god cancelled last year and burned off over the summer, and that show was much better.

I’ve read a lot of negative things about the inner dialogue in Manhattan Love Story, and I sort of agree. I don’t think it’s as annoying as everyone is making it out to seem, but this show has every cliche in the book, and this is why it will fail. Analeigh Tipton is cute as a button and I will watch every minute of this show because of her hoping it improves, but knowing it will fail. I just read that this has been the first cancellation of the season and I’m sad. Such a shame. I’ve stuck by this one and it actually has improved. Yes, it’s still completely unoriginal and cliche, and yes, maybe I’m just in love with Ms. Tipton, but dammit…too soon!

Marry Me is good. Of all the new sitcoms, I think this has the best chance of surviving.

To wrap up this year’s sitcom reviews, I found four that I will be watching within 48 hours of taping, which is not bad. But I’m only finding one (Marry Me) that I’m confident will survive, and one (A to Z) that might survive. There’s nothing original or unique this season and nothing laugh-out-loud funny. I’ve discovered two women to fall in love with (Analeigh Tipton & Karen Gillan) that star in sitcoms that will cease to exist. I wonder when TV executives will learn that a bad title will sink a show (Selfie). I wonder when the next group of friends will hang out and get into funny situations sitcom will debut. I wonder why they feel like every new sitcom must have a tired and cliche gimmick.

2013 MOVIE WRAPUP

As I rant about my least favorite movies of the year, I won’t poke fun at The Lone Ranger, because I knew it would suck long before it came out, so I decided not to watch it. I also won’t bash R.I.P.D. because even though I agree with what most of the haters say about it, I still found it an enjoyable movie. I know this somehow makes me less of a person; I mean who could like R.I.P.D., right?

I still feel like all of the robots and monsters in Pacific Rim were walking on water; it still doesn’t make sense to me that the government would halt production of the robots before they knew the wall would work; and I still cant figure out why the robots waited so long to use the truly devastating sword.

I honestly can’t say too much bad about Man of Steel. Superman is a hard movie to pull off in this day and age and I think they did a fine job. Did I love it? No, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I like how they didn’t mess around with Louis Lane not knowing that Clark Kent was Superman and the part of the movie that took place on Krypton was visually cool.

I wanted to like The Hangover 3 so badly. I just didn’t.

While I have yet to see Carrie, I’m looking forward to it. It confounds me that this movie didn’t make more money. It came out in October and had no horror competition. I mean seriously, Carrie was the ONLY big horror movie to come out in October! How did it not make at least $50 to $75 million?

The original Red Dawn was one of my all-time favorite movies, so I was skeptical of a remake. But I did enjoy Tomorrow, When The War Began, so I did reserve some hope. I was pleasantly surprised by this one. They made it new enough to feel relevant and fresh, but paid enough homage to the original to not piss me off.

I still have the DVD of Alex Cross that I borrowed from my neighbor 5 months ago. Even though he has since moved out, I still haven’t gotten around to watching it. I’m just not excited for it at all. And no, I don’t feel bad about not returning it because that guy broke my lawn mower.

World War Z was the only movie that actually got me into the theaters this year, and it didn’t disappoint one bit…but The Walking Dead still does zombies the best. Some might say The Walking Dead has an unfair advantage because it’s not a story contained in a two hour time frame, but I disagree. The longer story arcs of television, give the show a lot of time to mess up and be boring. Somehow, with the exception of the first half of season 2, The Walking Dead has been perfect.

But the absolute worst movie of the year, and maybe the worst movie of all time, was Spring Breakers. I was so excited about this one. Spring break, hot girls with guns and ample bikini time, how could this fail? It did. I wasn’t expecting much from this movie; I was going to give it a lot of leeway from the start, but this plot was so thin. One third of the movie was girls leaving voice-mails for their family, one third of the movie was a bad MTV video that never ended and one third of the movie was Alien yelling “SPRING BREAK Y’ALL!”

AGENTS OF SHIELD AND TOMORROW PEOPLE

While it may seem that my television universe is dominated by sitcoms, I do enjoy the hour long format as well. The Walking Dead is my favorite and I think every show should learn from it, but there are a few others I watch as well. Going into the 2013 season, I was looking forward to two new shows that I would be adding to my DVR season pass: Agents of SHIELD and Tomorrow People. So far I’ve stuck with both shows, but my patience is wearing thin. Both shows share one major flaw: No big stories to make me come back next week.

SHIELD is the better of the two, so I’ll start there. I’ve read a lot of reviews and comments on the show that hate on the character Skye, but I’m not one of those people. In fact, I like all of the regular characters on the show. I especially like Fitz and Simmons and their strong friendship. The episode that featured Fitz risking his life for Simmons was very touching. But other than the characters, the show is missing a lot. I feel they need a superhero on the team. Maybe a Luke Cage (Power Man), or even a new super powered hero created just for the show if they don’t want to mess with a potential future film franchise. Don’t give me any bull about budgets because there have been plenty of shows with with super powered characters. But this isn’t the biggest problem I have with Shield.

The real problem with Shield is that it exists in a Science Fiction/geek universe, but is trying to play to a wider CSI/NCIS audience and is going to end up with no audience at all if it keeps it up. Already, its ratings are just above 2.0 and it has lost over half it’s watchers since its premier. From the beginning, I thought this show had the potential to be the new Alias, with an intriguing story arc that builds week after week and actually goes somewhere. So far all we’ve got is ten to fifteen seconds (on some weeks) of Agent Coulson’s mystery. I think he’s a clone, but at this point, I don’t actually care what the mystery ends up being. I care even less about Skye’s parents (I think they were double agents). We need something bigger that the whole team is fighting for. Something that maybe ties together the cases they solve each week. They need a big overarching plot that they spend more than a couple minutes on each week. And if they are planning on going somewhere with the plots that they’re writing now, they need to get there soon and move on because no one will be left watching by the time they actually flesh out.

I saw the trailer for Tomorrow People early in the summer and this held the mantle of the show I was most excited for. Unfortunately, it has disappointed me in every way. Unlike Shield, I don’t like or care about the characters, and because of this, I may not hang in there for much longer. I’ve gotten used to watching the CW’s fast paced Vampire Diaries where major plots that seem like they should wrap up in the season finale, end up being resolved four or five episodes in. Tomorrow People doesn’t have a single major plot I’m invested in and the show doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Stephen’s double agent duty with the Tomorrow People and Ultra should’ve ended long ago. Stephen tried revealing his powers to his friend Astrid in episode one, but many episodes later, she doesn’t seem to remember this when she sees him disappear and then gets mad at him for keeping secrets. The love triangle seems forced and the whole love triangle plot is so played out anyway. I cringe a little each time the characters talk in each others heads. It doesn’t play well and sounds cheesy, and this isn’t the biggest cheesy thing about the show, that award goes to the title of the show, Tomorrow People.

I understand that this is a remake of a 1970’s show from England. And maybe these people being called “Tomorrow People” worked in the 70’s, but now it just sounds plain dumb. I know it’s too late to fix this, but they can avoid it by saying the words “Tomorrow People” as much as possible. And lets get back to the original British version of the show. It ran for 6/7 years there. this means they have a lot of stories and plots to draw from and could easily pick up the pace. We don’t live in the 70’s anymore. We demand more, bigger and faster paced stories. They can easily wrap up the 6/7 years of the original in a couple of seasons. Fill every episode with “holy shit” moments and game changers.

Where will The Walking Dead go next season? Where will the story be set? Which characters will survive and which ones will die? I don’t know and this is what makes that the best show on television right now. This is the show that continues to grow and create more and more buzz. They don’t sit on their butts and wait for the season finale to have an episode of any consequence. They’re not afraid to kill off a character or wrap up a plot thread. This is the kind of show that Shield and Tomorrow People could be and SHOULD be. They are not and if they ever get there, I fear it will be too late because no one will care anymore.

FUN WITH THE COMMENTS SECTIONS

This blog is supposed to encompass all things entertainment. I know it’s kind of a stretch, but I do find entertainment in occasionally reading the comments section of articles on the internet. I even (rarely) comment myself.

One of the biggest things that entertains me about the comments section is seeing how quickly a commenter will blame Obama for whatever the article is saying. It never takes long and I’m sure there’s a drinking game in there somewhere. Take any article, even one with the headline “Single Mother’s Home Burns Down.” Somehow, someway, within ten comments, it will be Obama’s fault.

Some comments sections allow you to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to other people’s comments. I like to give a thumbs down to anyone who types “imo” after their comment. A comment on an internet article is by definition someone’s opinion. No need to actually type “imo” to let us know. I wish I could give two thumbs down to anyone who types “imho.” I’m not sure if the “h” stands for “honest” or “humble” but what I do know is that either way, the “h” bothers me all the more.

Recently, to gain some views on my Chicago Cubs Blog (http://realcubsfan.wordpress.com/), I’ll make a comment on the article and post a link to my blog. The blog always relates to the topic of the article. I’ve noticed that most people are stupid and many are ever so willing to reply to your comment with negativity, even if it has nothing to do with what you wrote. One person thought I was stupid for proposing trading away the future of the Cubs. Just to let you know: I proposed one trade in this particular post and only two prospects were involved, one of which was ranked #13 in the Cubs system and one who wasn’t ranked. This doesn’t in any stretch of the imagination qualify as trading away the future. Another commenter wrote that he’d read my post “if it wasn’t so rah rah stupid.” I’m not even sure what that means. What I do know is that I got 28 views on one of my posts by doing this, which was an all time high for me.

I think may of us will become quickly aware that most of America has no idea of the difference between “to” and “too” or “there” “their” and “they’re” after reading a few comments. Really makes you wonder what “they’re” teaching these people in schools these days. Obviously not “too” much. Or, as a commenter would say, while trying to make an intelligent point, “there not teaching kids to much in schools these days imo lol.”

NEW SITCOMS 2013 PART 2

Mom, Dads, Back In the Game, The Millers, The Crazy Ones. What do these shows all have in common other than the fact that they’re all new sitcoms? They all feature grown adult and parent relationships. It’s like everyone in Hollywood decided at the same time that this will be the new theme of every sitcom on television.

Where am I now?

Dads: I was out after the first episode, but way, way in after the second. I’ve since grown tired of this show and have deleted it from my DVR.

Mom: I hated the first episode, or more specifically, hated the big pregnancy ending. But out of pure love for Anna Faris I watched episode 2. Nope, still hate this one.

Brooklyn Nine Nine: I called this the best sitcom this year and last. It still is. And my DVR problem of only being able to tape two things at a time (SHIELD & The Originals with Brooklyn Nine Nine being the odd show out) has been solved because I just signed up for Direct TV.

The Crazy Ones: I’m still watching it. I still hate myself for watching it. I will continue to watch it.

Super Fun Night: I’ve recorded every episode, but I haven’t watched a single second. I’m not excited about this one and because a dark horse entry has grown on me, I might just have to give this one the boot.

The Goldbergs: I wasn’t planning on watching this one, but gave it a chance anyway. I didn’t love it at first, but with each passing episode, it grows on me more and more. Sure, it’s The Wonder Years in the 80′s, but I don’t care.

NEW SITCOMS 2013

For this post, I will reference last years new sitcom review that I wrote at my old forum for this blog. You can read it here: http://thehollywoodrant.blogspot.com/2012/09/neighbors-and-other-new-sitcoms-2012.html

I will also reference another rant from this forum, and if you would like to read the whole thing, you can do so here:

http://thehollywoodrant.blogspot.com/2012/11/im-tired-of.html

Last year I reviewed Neighbors, Go On, Animal Practice, The Mindy Project, Partners, and Guys With Kids. Neighbors was my favorite and while I didn’t like The Mindy Project, I felt it had potential. I didn’t like the rest. As it turned out, Neighbors and The Mindy Project are the only two that are returning for a second season.

This year I’m reviewing Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Mom, Dads, Trophy Wife, and The Crazy Ones. (I’m also going to give We Are Men and Super Fun Night a shot, but they have yet to debut).

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: My DVR can only tape two shows at a time, and this time has already been reserved for Agents of SHIELD and The Originals, so I was hoping not to enjoy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but It’s not only the best sitcom of the season, it’s the best of this and last season. I absolutely love this show and every character has already grown on me and I look forward to watching all the crazy shenanigans they get themselves into.

Mom: Anna Faris is one of my favorites. I love her and was going to give this show more than just a fair shot just because of her. And right up to the bitter end of its debut, I was actually enjoying it. I said the following about pregnancies in one of my first rants: I’m tired of babies and all baby related things. I think television is in a baby booming phase because it seems to me that every show has some sort of baby or pregnancy plot. New sitcoms are being made about new parents; old sitcoms are having characters get pregnant, dramas are having the “big dramatic twist” be a pregnancy. I’m just tired of it all.

Trophy Wife: Malin Akerman is also a favorite of mine, so this show was going to be on a longer leash from the start as well, but I did enjoy it. The first episode featured a great gag with Malin Akerman drinking a lot of vodka quickly and that gag provided us with a series of great scenes ( a drunken car ride with the x-wife, a meeting on the front lawn with two x-wives and a great conclusion I won’t reveal). I also enjoyed most of the other scenes in this show. So while I won’t be returning for a second helping of Mom, I have programmed my DVR to tape all episodes of Trophy Wife.

Dads: The first episode was terrible, but I hung on for the second and I’m glad I did. I laughed many times and am now in for the season. I don’t think this show will last too long and definitely won’t make it to season 2, but I’ll gladly enjoy the ride while it lasts.

The Crazy Ones: Sarah Michelle Gellar is yet another favorite of mine. Yes, I know, I do have a lot of favorite actresses, but whatever, I’m allowed to. I had the following to say about advertising agents in an earlier post:

While I’m at it, I’m goddamn tired of advertising agents on TV and in the movies. You would think half the country were advertising agents, because they’re targeting this demographic so often. Yes, I get it, when you have a character whose an advertising agent, it allows the writer to easily have life lessons learned throughout the show or movie give him or her the great idea for the advertising campaign they’re working on. It also allows for new and famous guest stars week in and week out. And no, lets not modernize this by switching to sports agent, Hollywood agent, or any other kind of agent.

And while The Crazy Ones featured every single advertising agent cliche I expected, I still enjoyed it. I hate myself for liking it and I feel like a hypocrite to all of my beliefs, but I love sitcoms and will gladly latch on to any 30 minutes I even remotely enjoy.

Stumbling To The Alter

Since writing this post, I learned that the 2013-2014 season of How I Met Your Mother will be it’s last, which is sad because I really thought they were handling the Barney/Robin relationship well. My biggest fear for this show was that it would be ruined if Barney were in a relationship and it wasn’t ruined at all.

One of my favorite teachers ever taught me (and the rest of the class) that the best comedy comes from the “stumble to the alter” phase of a person’s life. He meant that other than “family” sitcoms, the best time for comedy in a person’s life is the time when they’re old enough to potentially get married to the time that they’re actually married.

This is why so many sitcoms have died or ended once it’s “single” characters get married. This is why so many sitcoms have kept their characters in a perpetual state of immaturity.

In an ensemble sitcom, you can of course have one married couple, but as the other characters begin to pair off, the sitcom will sooner rather than later come to an end.

This is the looming fear of How I Met Your Mother. The whole premise of the show is leading up to the moment when Ted gets married. It can happen at any time. Now, on top of that, we have Robin and Barney paring off. Soon, the whole cast will be married.

Also, when characters in a sitcom begin to pair off, usually the “drama” starts to increase and the “comedy” starts to decrease. This happened to Friends. It’s happening to HIMYM. However, it never happened with Seinfeld. Seinfeld was aware of where the comedy came from. He knew about the “stumble to the alter.” He never messed with it.

The 2012 winter finale of HIMYM was really good. Despite Robin and Barney being officially paired off, despite the ramped up drama. I don’t know why, but I really feel like HIMYM might just be able to break the mold and still be good after all their characters are married. With it’s continued quality use of flashbacks we can always get a good dose of Barney running a ridiculous scam from his playbook, or Ted getting into ridiculous circumstances.

HIMYM has had its ups and downs as its characters have aged. There were times when I was really pissed off at the show and on the verge of giving up on it (hello three episode arc about Marshall’s father dying), and yes it was in its prime during season 2 and 3 and hasn’t been as consistently funny since. But dammit if I wasn’t sold on the 2012 winter finale. I have hope that this show can do what no other similar sitcom has ever been able to pull off.

IF I WERE IN CHARGE: MAGAZINES

This post was a stretch for my topic here, but I do feel that magazines qualify as entertainment. I’m a lover of magazines. I love everything about them, from opening my mailbox to find the latest issue to paging through them, looking for that interesting article. I’m aware that they are on their way out and this post is full of suggestions that will help them change for the better to maybe keep the people like me fans of the forum.

EDIT: I have restructured this post to fit in my “If I Were In Charge” series.

I have always been a lover of magazines. At one point in time, I subscribed to a dozen of them, and right now I have six subscriptions. I’m aware that the internet has decimated the magazine industry, but I also know there are other people out there who still love opening their mailboxes to find the new issue of whatever they are subscribing to.

If there’s any hope for actual hard copy magazines, changes are needed, and if I were in charge…

1. Many of us love to fold our magazines in half to read them. For the first half of the magazine, it’s easiest to fold the left side, and for the second half, it’s easiest to fold the right side. Advertisers have taken note of this and have demanded advertising on the half that doesn’t get folded, making it impossible for the reader to easily fold their magazines in half. First order of business is to change this.

2. Some advertisers have decided it is best for them to use really thick construction paper stock to print their ads. The only way around this for the reader is to tear out the whole page and throw it away. Magazines need to be an enjoyable experience for the reader and things like this and #1 make them a less enjoyable experience, so I’m doing away with this as well.

3. Some magazines have decided that shorter articles are what the reader wants, so they then decided that the way around this was to cut the articles up in a “choose your own adventure” style format: to continue reading, turn to page 87. I’m not doing away with longer articles, but I am doing away with this format.

4. I don’t know a single person who still subscribes to a magazine through those little cardboard mailers that the magazine stuffs into their issues, so why do two or three of them fall out of each issue I receive and another two or three are attached to the inside? Why is my bathroom floor littered with these things? I will make the first page of the magazine filled with information on how to subscribe: A phone number, an internet address, a mailing address.

When I initiate these first 4 changes, I will be well on my way to making a better magazine that is more fun to read. I’m not going to bring them back to where they were, I know that, but I will not continue to alienate the people who still read them, I will bring in new readers and I will help the magazine I’m in charge of survive longer.