Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What Do You Mean, 'Smash' Is Canceled?

I confess, I am not a diehard ratings watcher. I find shows I like, and watch them until I lose interest--or more likely, they get canceled. So it was with some surprise that I learned "Smash," once so apparently promising, is set up for the chopping block.

It's not official, yet, but beginning on April 6, NBC will start airing the musical drama on Saturdays at 9/8c. Supposedly the remainder of Season 2 will run in that timeslot, and unless there's some kind of miraculous ratings jump, the season finale will probably be the series finale.

This is especially depressing since "Smash" has made a valiant effort to right some of the wrongs from early in the series, like the disastrous Julia-as-adoptive-mother storyline I lamented last year. I wasn't sure at first about the addition of angry-young-singer-songwriter Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan), but he's been a welcome, passionate presence on the show. He and Karen (Katharine McPhee) also have fantastic musical chemistry.

Watching Ivy (Megan Hilty) move on from Bombshell has also been a necessary step forward, instead of her hanging around in the wings feeling sorry for herself. You can see the wheels grinding a bit with the set-up of a possible Ivy/Karen switch once again in the Broadway show's lead role, but that doesn't mean it's still not fun to watch.

Considering how many cop shows are on now, and an upcoming slate of serial killer dramas, it's been nice to have something on that's compelling but doesn't give you nightmares. We still have soapy musical drama "Nashville," but who knows how long that will last.

The one good piece of news about the inevitable cancellation of "Smash" is that it will end properly. Showrunner Josh Safran promises that the Season 2 finale ties up plot lines and doesn't have any cliffhanger elements. So at least there'll be a sense of closure.

What do you think, TV fans? Do you love or hate the show? Will you miss it if it's canceled?

PHOTO: "Smash" Season 2 screencap, 2013, NBC, fair use.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

'The Mentalist': Will Jane catch Red John before the series is canceled?

With "The Mentalist" now in its fifth season, fans of the series have been watching CBI consultant Patrick Jane pursue the serial killer Red John through a multitude of murders, tantalizing clues, horrific setbacks, and epic red herrings. Rumors of cancellation have been stirring since the fall, however, and many viewers are worried that, despite all the time invested in the series, they'll be cheated out of a final Red John reveal

On the chopping block?
The success of dramas on CBS actually makes it difficult to be the staff on one of those dramas. Ratings for the network's top shows are incredibly high, and any series that fails to meet or exceed those stellar numbers often gets cut in favor of something new that might do better. Even though "The Mentalist" boasts viewers in the range of 10 million, at CBS, that puts it in danger.

Back in October, CBS announced that two of four shows -- "CSI: NY," "Vegas," "The Mentalist," and "The Good Wife" -- would be canceled. These days it's looking pretty likely that "Vegas" will get the ax, but speculation is still swirling about the other three. Spoiler TV gives "The Mentalist" a slightly more positive outlook than the rest, but most entertainment experts are placing the series in "on the bubble" territory.

Why the ratings dip?
Moving a series in the schedule is always a risky proposition, and shifting to Sundays on CBS is particularly problematic. With frequent delays from sports programming pushing the primetime shows back, "The Mentalist" often airs as late as 11 p.m. on the East Coast, a big ask for people who have to get up for work the next day. Viewers on the CBS message boards confessed to skipping the show because they couldn't bother to wait, with even the DVR option causing frustration since it doesn't automatically allow for delays.

Thoughts on the whole serial killer arc also vary. While some fans feel "The Mentalist" would collapse without it, others find all the constant setbacks and false leads exhausting. A large part of the series' success also comes from the quirky charm of Simon Baker's Patrick Jane. Fans were already wondering in Season 3 if the show hadn't gotten so dismal that it had lost that charm, and our hero has gone to even darker places since then. When a show changes its whole vibe, fans can tend to drop off.

Red John revealed in Season 6?
Before Season 5 began, "The Mentalist" creator Bruno Heller said he had "two seasons or so" to work on the eventual reveal of Red John. This year, Lorelei let it slip to Jane that he's already shaken hands with the killer. He's been slowly compiling a list of clues from the cold case murder in Episode 13, "The Red Barn," which helped him narrow the pool of suspects considerably. Jane is hoping to get more information out of Lorelei, but fans of the show know it's not likely to be that easy.

What happens if there is no Season 6? Heller insists that viewers won't be left hanging. "A show that's been running this long with the degree of success it's had -- we'll know well in advance of that sort of outcome, and we'll adjust accordingly." With the haphazard way the short-lived series "Last Resort" tied up loose ends for its finale, we have to hope Heller is right, and "The Mentalist" will get at least a partial season to wrap things up in a way worthy of the series.

What do you think, "Mentalist" fans? Do you think the show will be renewed? Are you hoping for more Red John drama, or are you ready for it to end?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Anthony Edwards Drama 'Zero Hour' Canceled

I confess, seeing that "Zero Hour" had been canceled made me say "What's 'Zero Hour'?" Much in the way that when I first saw previews for the kidnapping/Nazi/conspiracy theory drama I thought, "Anthony Edwards?"

No offense to the veteran "ER" actor, but some people just aren't suited for certain roles, and casting the right person is often what makes or breaks your project. Just ask the people who thought casting "Twilight" actress Kristen Stewart as Snow White was a good idea. Then look at Ginnifer Goodwin on "Once Upon a Time." Those people knew what they were doing.

So, when you're told about a show that seemingly has influences from "DaVinci Code" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark," is Anthony Edwards the hero you're picturing? As a shy schoolteacher trying to make a difference at a city college, maybe, but not as a Tom Hanks/Harrison Ford hybrid.

Of course the demise can't all be blamed on casting. Just take a look at the promo, which has all kinds of heavy-handed, bizarre, and cheesy stuff going on.

If viewers are rolling their eyes at the trailer, it doesn't bode well for the series itself. You know things weren't looking good for the series when the comments section for the EW article about the cancellation has an entire thread about "Red Widow" instead of the show that's already been axed.

Part of that "Red Widow" discussion pointed to another problem with network television today--the pace at which shows are canceled. Sure, there are some surefire bombs that aren't worth pursuing. But many of the greatest shows took time to build an audience, and nothing gets that chance anymore, particularly on ABC (Already Been Canceled). The result is that no one wants to watch a new series now, fearing they'll once again get invested in something that will never reach a satisfying conclusion. Then when no one watches, the network pulls what might have become a perfectly good show. It's a vicious cycle that doesn't seem to be close to ending any time soon.

So, did anyone out there watch "Zero Hour"? Will you miss it?

PHOTO: "Zero Hour" trailer screencap, 2013, ABC, fair use.

Friday, March 1, 2013

'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' Returns to TV!!

Brad Sherwood, Colin Mochrie, Kathy Kinney, and Ryan Stiles perform
on the original "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"

Many moons ago, I interviewed Colin Mochrie, one of the stars of improv comedy show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" While expressing an interest in transitioning to movie acting, Mochrie added:
"I love doing "Whose Line...", and it's something I hope I can do forever--which is totally unreasonable--but it definitely is my first love."
Looks like the actor/comedian will get his wish, as "WLIIA?" is returning to TV, and Ryan Stiles, Wayne Brady, and Colin Mochrie are all set to appear in the new incarnation. The three will be joined each week by a special guest, and the opportunities for hilarity are endless.

Aisha Tyler of "The Talk" will be hosting the reboot. The actress recently guest starred as Jake's mother on "Glee," and has also appeared on "Friends," "24, and "CSI," along with voicing the character Lana Kane on "Archer." Tyler also has a background in stand-up, and hosts a spicy series of podcasts featuring her comedian friends called "Girl on Guy," so she won't have any problem bantering with the improv players.

The new "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" is being picked up by the CW. It's a good way for the channel to lure in some more adult viewers, without alienating their core teenage viewership.

What do you think, TV fans? Are you excited about a "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" revival?

PHOTO: "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" screencap, ABC, fair use.


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