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Author Topic:   2014/15 TV Season
fred
A-List Writer

Posts: 8282
From:Redmond, WA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted September 16, 2014 09:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
his week marks the beginning of that annual expense of resources that is the networks’ fall premiere season. For the rest of September and early October, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and perpetual hanger-on the CW will unveil dozens of new series in the hope that at least a few will become hits—even as the definition of “hit” gets more enervated each year. This barrage of new shows is not effective strategically, as it demands that audiences come to new series cranked out en masse on the networks’ schedules, not their own. But the Network TV Bazaar—where pre-fabbed procedurals, sitcoms about lovelorn twentysomethings, a handful of superheroes, and another Shonda Rhimes show are among the many offerings—is, at least, a spectacle, one of the increasingly rare occasions when the networks, and not cable, briefly grab viewers’ attention spans. As with any flea market, when you first start scoping out the merchandise, it looks like there is surely something for you amid all the junk. And then you closely inspect the goods, and begin to suspect that every single series is at least a little defective.

Willa Paskin
WILLA PASKIN
Willa Paskin is Slate’s television critic.

The shows are not defective in the same ways. Starting this week are three new dramas that boast, first and foremost among their credentials, very talented veteran actresses. Wednesday brings The Red Band Society (Fox), in which Octavia Spencer plays a stern nurse with a heart of gold caring for a group of very ill teenagers. Also starting Wednesday is The Mysteries of Laura (NBC), a cop dramedy starring Debra Messing, fresh off the scarf-and-singing catastrophe that was Smash. And, on Sunday, CBS releases Madam Secretary, featuring Tea Leoni as a secretary of state who is not much like Hillary Clinton. Red Band Society is shamelessly manipulative and highly effective; Madam Secretary is upstanding and dull; Mysteries of Laura is the biggest, oddest tonal misfire of the entire fall season. Ladies and Gs, please leave the bazaar empty handed.

* * *

The Red Band Society is narrated by a boy in a coma. He is 9 years old, his name is Charlie, he can hear and see everything, and—like David Copperfield, Huck Finn, and Holden Caulfield before him—he draws us in by bluntly introducing himself: “This is me talking to you from a coma,” he announces. “Deal with it.” He is also adorably wise beyond his years: “The most important part of you that needs to survive is you,” he tells us. Charlie’s narration is cheeky and straightforward in the way of the aforementioned proto-YA protagonists, and bears a passing resemblance to “sick lit” (think The Fault in Our Stars) or a defanged Glee. Like that last show—and like many Sundance movies—Red Band is larded with quirk, twee, and pop music, all of which set my teeth on edge even as they sent my tear ducts into spasm.

Charlie, for reasons as yet unknown, occupies a bed in the swankiest hospital that has ever existed, where he looks out upon a group of hormonal teens. There’s the leader, Leo (Charlie Rowe), whose cancerous leg has been amputated; his naughty pal Das (Astro), who, along with Leo, we first see smoking up in a supply closet; Jordi (Nolan Sotillo), Leo’s his new roommate; Emma (Ciara Bravo), a bland, anorexic girl; and Kara (Zoe Levin), a heinous, bitchy, highly watchable cheerleader with a damaged heart. Charlie’s insistence that life doesn’t end when you get to the hospital, it just begins—a necessary conceit for a show set in one—is boosted by this particular hospital’s décor, which includes Danish modern furniture in at least one room and very sick people who do not look poorly at all. These six dangerously ill teenagers do not have one speck of sallow skin or one strand of limp hair among them. Even Leo’s bald head is paired with eyebrows Groucho Marx would admire.

Red Band Society is, almost by definition, heart-tugging. It’s hard to watch a 14-year-old joyfully run through a hospital, using his two legs for what he and we know will be the very last time, and not feel something. But this kind of easy sympathizing is the emotional equivalent of the doctor banging your knee with a rubber hammer: It’s a reflex, and it co-exists with the show’s disingenuous and near-total glamorizing of being extraordinarily ill. In the first episode there is no medicine dispatched, no IVs in use, no tiredness, no nausea, no bedpans, and barely any parents. (Red Band does not compare favorably to The Fault in Our Stars in this regard, which had its heroine lament movies in which sick people always look like models.) The adults on hand are a cute and kindly surgeon (David Annable) and Nurse Jackson, Octavia Spencer, who somehow, after almost starring in a remake of Murder She Wrote, signed up for a show in which she is an afterthought, overshadowed by sick kids too plucky to appear sick in mind or body.

* * *

Tea Leoni is much more front and center in Madam Secretary, in which she plays Elizabeth McCord, a retired CIA analyst contentedly mucking out horse stalls, enjoying her two opinionated children and a frisky marriage to her hunky-professor husband Henry (Tim Daly), when she is called upon by the president, a friend from CIA days, to step in as secretary of state. (The previous secretary has just died in a mysterious plane crash.) Elizabeth reluctantly agrees, and is thrown into a world of high-stakes foreign policy and White House politicking, as well as image management—the secretary of state must not only do good, she must look good—in a show that will tackle a crisis-of-the-week in tandem with longer developing story arcs, à la The Good Wife and Scandal.

IP: 138.229.253.14

fred
A-List Writer

Posts: 8282
From:Redmond, WA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted November 17, 2014 12:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nielsen says 'technical error' affected network ratings for months
Nielsen has uncovered a software error that rendered its recent national network television ratings inaccurate, the data company said on Friday. "The technical error was introduced on March 2, 2014, and was generally imperceptible until we saw high viewing levels associated with fall season premiere week," Nielsen said. "As a result, small amounts of viewing for some national broadcast networks and syndicators were misattributed." In an unusual development, the firm said in a statement that it will reissue all of the affected data going back to Aug. 18, before the start of the critical fall season premiere week. It is not known what the effect will be on ratings for networks that just started unveiling their new fall shows. Nielsen said that in most cases the effect is small, but more significant in a handful of instances. The company said it fixed the problem Thursday and that all data since the fix is correct. Nielsen will redo its more recent data first, starting next week. On Oct. 17, Nielsen will reissue the faulty numbers going back to Sept. 22. The rest of the data since Aug. 18 will come out on Oct. 31. "Nielsen is also conducting an impact analysis to determine whether additional weeks should be reprocessed," the company said in its statement. "We will work closely with our clients and the industry to provide updates as soo n as possible." Ratings for cable networks and local TV are not affected.

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indiedan
A-List Writer

Posts: 8501
From:Santa Monica
Registered: May 2000

posted November 17, 2014 02:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fox cancels reality show 'Utopia'

Fox is canceling the reality show "Utopia." The unscripted series, the latest endeavor from "Big Brother" creator John de Mol, followed 15 people who tried to rebuild a "perfect society" while locked away from routine civilization. De Mol's Dutch version of the show was a hit when it premiered in the Netherlands in January, but ratings soon declined. Still, Fox made a considerable investment in the heavily-marketed show. Some speculated the price tag for the series could have been as high as $50 million, but the network denied it was that expensive. In September, the premiere attracted 4.6 million viewers and a rating of 1.9 among the key 18- to 49-year-old demographic, according to Nielsen. The network had originally planned to air "Utopia" on Fridays for only the first few weeks, with Tuesday as its permanent home. But week after week, the show struggled with ratings, leading Fox to yank the series from its Tuesday night slot and move it back to Friday.

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