Mike's Movie (& TV) Manifesto

"We're gonna need a bigger boat."

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Summer/Fall TV 2012: The Rundown (Part 1)

*Possible spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.

So this fall, there is a lot going on in the world of television. We have a mix of beloved shows that are coming to a close, long-running favorites that are coming back for another season of surprises and excitement around every corner, and even a few new shows that have been getting a lot of buzz due to high profile creative teams and star that are trying to make their mark on the small screen. 

For the most part, I’ll be jumping around, talking about shows new and old, and comparing them in different ways, but I have to say that even going back a few months to the Summer premiers, it is going to be an interesting year in television. When I was a kid, I always thought about television in the scope of the school year.  I knew that around the time school was starting, all of my favorite shows would be coming on, and when the school year ended, my shows would also end, and I would have the summer off just like school. I wouldn’t ever really watch much TV in the Summer anyway, and it always seemed to make sense.

Now-a-days though, I feel like the “television year” starts in the Summer, with high caliber shows trickling onto the airwaves from June on through August, and then in September, we’re hit with the mother-load, when all of the network shows come back from break, and we have a full prime-time line-up every night again up until the usual holiday breaks, and until the lull at the end of Spring.

With that in mind, going back a little to the Summer shows that we’ve already seen come and go in most cases, this was a big Summer for television as well. With the most notable show for me being Weeds, which just ended its run at the end of its 8th season. Though the show lost me somewhere in the middle, and they threatened to end a couple times to no avail, somehow that got me to come back and get caught up for the “final” final season. Though I thought it started off really strong, trying up lots of loose ends and chock-full of beefy monologues where each cast member gets to show off their acting chops while summing up the life of their character of a number of episodes. For the first chunk of the season, I was totally on board, but right there at the end, they go and pull a time jump and try to give us closure by showing us how relatively happy these people are in ten years? Cheap trick Showtime, and though I can deal with it, the one thing that I find mildly unforgivable is that amidst the long list of cameos and characters making a comeback in Nancy’s life, we neither hear nor see any sign of Celia, who was a full-fledged cast member for the first couple of seasons!

Okay, that’s enough of my Weeds rant for now. As mixed as my feelings were about the show, I still think it had a good run, and Andy has become one of my all-time favorite characters on television. In other news though (kind of literally), the new Aaron Sorkin show, Newsroom  just wrapped up a great first season! Without getting all ranty about that one, let me just say that that show had some of the best written feel-good moments I’ve experienced in a long time, and even though the show is fiction, the fact that they live in the real world made the show that much more impactful.

We saw the return of Breaking Bad, which just wrapped up the first half of its last season, and I have a feeling there’s going to be a lot more coming our way before Walter White becomes Keyser Soze, or Mecha-Heisenberg, or die, or whatever. Another of my favorites returned, and though Louie is almost at the end of its third season, at least I know it will be returning next year (Mayan apocalypse permitting). The same goes with Wilfred, which, despite its creepy and off-putting nature, is actually quite entertaining when you get down to it.

Even though most shows on FX generally get the green light from me, I still refuse to give Anger Management a try. After all the drama with Charlie Sheen, I just find the guy gratuitous, and have no interest in watching that particular train wreck any longer than I need to.  Speaking of train wrecks, Girls, the fresh HBO show produced by Judd Apatow and writer/director/actress, Lena Dunham is pretty amazing, despite it being like spying on a weird love-letter that Lena Dunham wrote for herself. …

And since we’re already on the topic of train wrecks, I figure now is as good a time as any to jump into some of the new shows that I’ve had the chance to catch, and one particular train wreck stands out as being a show I peg to be a real contender this year. That show, having drawn this out as long as possible, is The Mindy Project. Aside from the fact that the show focuses on a delusional , romantic comedy obsessed sad-sack, played by series creator, Mindy Kailing, the show is written really well, and after only watching the pilot, I’m impressed. Not only do we already get to see many layers of her character, but we also get enough of a compelling story to get me to come back for more and a supporting cast, that despite a few loose ends, gets a decent amount of development and face-time as well. Overall, I’m excited for what this show has in store, and think that it’s going to do really well this year amongst some not-so-string competition.

Speaking of which, another show that got a lot of buzz during development was the Jimmy Fallon created, Guys With Kids. I could barely finish the pilot. It was so bad! Every single joke was either at the expense of the kids, or by the adults using their children as living props for jokes that were amateurish and not very bright. The show is not a complete loss though. Zach Cregger, who plays Nick was really funny, despite his wife, played by Sopranos Alum, Jamie-Lynn Sigler who apparently forgot how to act after Entourage destroyed her brain cells.

The premium networks definitely have a ton of good programming, with fan favorites like True Blood and new surprise hits like Veep keeping us entertained all summer long, while the promise of Dexter starting up again soon, along with the recent return of Boardwalk Empire among others. Cable networks like AMC and FX are holding their own though with the final season of Sons of Anarchy currently racing Breaking Bad to the end and The Walking Dead returning in just a few weeks naming just a few of the heavy hitters.

Even with all of the power behind these networks, basic cable is not going down without a fight. With a ton of new dramas like Last resort, Revolution, and Elementary joining returning hits like Person of Interest and a couple of CSIs or something, they are still on the radar. Beyond dramas though, primetime comedies are some of the most popular shows around, and if Matthew Perry’s new show Go On, or Ben and Kate can hold their own against Big Bang Theory or Modern Family then we may see a lot of fresh faces on our television screens for the long haul this year.

As I continue to delve into what’s going on in television, I’m going to talk about the risks of what happens when shows like The Office hang around even when audiences are prepared to see them off the air. I’ll also talk about what shows like American Horror Story are doing on a larger scale, and discuss in more detail about what goes into making a show good, and which shows I think will have what it takes to avoid the chopping block and make a name for themselves in television history.

Filed under TV Television Review tv review TV Critic

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Summer Time is Officially Over

So I’ve been pretty busy trying to put some things together and develop a few projects over the summer, and now that Fall is here, and everyone is getting back to work, I have decided to do try and get back to blogging more again, and I’m going to hold myself to some tighter standards.

Just like the title says, this is where I will discuss my thoughts on all things movie and television related. Occasionally, something else entertainment related will sneak in, but for the most part, everything on here will be on-topic.

Stay tuned for my first part of a larger series of posts that will delve into what’s going on in TV right now, and how that will change over the next few weeks as shows find their footing in the new Fall line-up.

The first part will go up tomorrow, so get ready, ‘cuz shit’s ‘bout to get real! (I’m sorry)

Filed under television critic TV critic entertainment primetime primetime television

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A few hours ago, I landed in Los Angeles, turned on my phone, and confirmed what you already know.  Sony Pictures Television is replacing me as showrunner on Community, with two seasoned fellows that I’m sure are quite nice - actually, I have it on good authority they’re quite nice, because they once created a show and cast my good friend Jeff Davis on it, so how bad can they be. Why’d Sony want me gone?  I can’t answer that because I’ve been in as much contact with them as you have.  They literally haven’t called me since the season four pickup, so their reasons for replacing me are clearly none of my business.  Community is their property, I only own ten percent of it, and I kind of don’t want to hear what their complaints are because I’m sure it would hurt my feelings even more now that I’d be listening for free. I do want to correct a couple points of spin, now that I’m free to do so: The important one is this quote from Bob Greenblatt in which he says he’s sure I’m going to be involved somehow, something like that.  That’s a misquote.  I think he meant to say he’s sure cookies are yummy, because he’s never called me once in the entire duration of his employment at NBC.  He didn’t call me to say he was starting to work there, he didn’t call me to say I was no longer working there and he definitely didn’t call to ask if I was going to be involved.  I’m not saying it’s wrong for him to have bigger fish to fry, I’m just saying, NBC is not a credible source of All News Dan Harmon. You may have read that I am technically “signed on,” by default, to be an executive consulting something or other - which is a relatively standard protective clause for a creator in my position.  Guys like me can’t actually just be shot and left in a ditch by Skynet, we’re still allowed to have a title on the things we create and “help out,” like, I guess sharpening pencils and stuff.   However, if I actually chose to go to the office, I wouldn’t have any power there.  Nobody would have to do anything I said, ever.  I would be “offering” thoughts on other people’s scripts, not allowed to rewrite them, not allowed to ask anyone else to rewrite them, not allowed to say whether a single joke was funny or go near the edit bay, etc.  It’s….not really the way the previous episodes got done.  I was what you might call a….hands on producer.  Are my….periods giving this enough….pointedness?  I’m not saying you can’t make a good version of Community without me, but I am definitely saying that you can’t make my version of it unless I have the option of saying “it has to be like this or I quit” roughly 8 times a day. The same contract also gives me the same salary and title if I spend all day masturbating and playing Prototype 2.  And before you ask yourself what you would do in my situation: buy Prototype 2.  It’s fucking great. Because Prototype 2 is great, and because nobody called me, and then started hiring people to run the show, I had my assistant start packing up my office days ago.  I’m sorry.  I’m not saying seasons 1, 2 and 3 were my definition of perfect television, I’m just saying that whatever they’re going to do for season 4, they’re aiming to do without my help.  So do not believe anyone that tells you on Monday that I quit or diminished my role so I could spend more time with my loved ones, or that I negotiated and we couldn’t come to an agreement, etc.  It couldn’t be less true because, just to make this clear, literally nobody called me.  Also don’t believe anyone that says I have sex with animals.  And if there’s a photo of me doing it with an animal - I’m not saying one exists, I’m just saying, if one surfaces - it’s a fake.  Look at the shadow.  Why would it be in front of the giraffe if the sun is behind the jeep? Where was I?  Oh yeah.  I’m not running Community for season 4.  They replaced me.  Them’s the facts. When I was a kid, sometimes I’d run home to Mommy with a bloody nose and say, “Mom, my friends beat me up,” and my Mom would say “well then they’re not worth having as friends, are they?”  At the time, I figured she was just trying to put a postive spin on having birthed an unpopular pussy.  But this is, after all, the same lady that bought me my first typewriter.  Then later, a Commodore 64.  And later, a 300 baud modem for it.  Through which I met new friends that did like me much, much more. I’m 39, now.  The friends my Mom warned me about are bigger now, and older, bloodying my nose with old world numbers, and old world tactics, like, oh, I don’t know, sending out press releases to TV Guide at 7pm on a Friday. But my Commodore 64 is mobile now, like yours, and the modems are invisible, and the internet is the air all around us.  And the good friends, the real friends, are finding each other, and connecting with each other, and my Mom is turning out to be more right than ever. Ah, shit, I still haven’t called my fucking Mom.   Mom, Happy Mother’s Day.  I got fired.   Yes, Mom.  AGAIN.

(via mikemears)

Filed under Community Dan Harmon NBC Bullshit