Ah, remember the good ol' days of the VMAs?
We could go on for days about our love of Dance Moms, or about how much we've enjoyed this sexed-up season of True Blood, but we expect to be entertained by reality TV trash and our favorite returning shows . What really surprised us this summer was just how many new scripted programs kept us genuinely enthralled -- a pleasant change from the years when all we had to watch in between trips to the pool and barbecues was the likes of Swingtown. And bonus points to ABC Family for really upping their game as a network in recent months. Here's what made it a summer to remember:
And then there were 16...
Television is no place for children. Between Teen Mom, Toddlers & Tiaras and Dance Moms, we cringe for those poor kids who are clearly growing up in dysfunctional homes. But as bad as it is to be forced into pageantry or to have Amber Portwood as your mother, at least reality kids don't have it quite has awful as many of the tykes on scripted series. Here are the ones that really need to have a fictional Child Protective Services intervene on their behalf:
CBS spent most of their upfront presentation telling us that they don't have a lot of new shows because their returning shows are so good or, as Les Moonves put it, "We make mass appeal hit shows." Fantastic, so more cop dramas then? The event kicked off with Michael Weatherly doing a pre-taped bit to appeal to advertisers. Oh, Eyes Only. I expected better from you. Then they had David Letterman, Steve Martin and Paul Schaffer doing a pre-taped song about how good all the new shows were. It was awkward and unfunny. And then the cast of Blue Bloods did an extended segment in which they chased down a perp (Regis Philbin, who was begging for a job on The Talk) in order to get the CBS fall schedule to the upfront in time. After a helicopter ride (on tape), Tom Selleck arrived at Carnegie Hall, old school Jeff Probst on Survivor finale style, with the schedule to hand off to Moonves. Was that really the best they could do with the talented cast of Blue Bloods? On the plus side, Will Estes received more screen time in this bit than he has all season on the show.
Of all the network upfronts each May, CBS' is the one I usually dread sitting through the most simply because it always kicks off with president and CEO Les Moonves both arrogantly crowing about yet another year as the highest-rated network overall ("more Americans watched NCIS this season than went to see Avatar") and trying to convince the audience of advertisers and journalists that everything is just hunky dory in the broadcast biz. But other than his spiel and an awkward but well-intentioned bit by Jim Parsons in character as Sheldon Cooper (something about how he'd use a time machine to go back to NBC's 1969 upfront to convince advertisers to invest in the original Star Trek), the rest of CBS' 2010-11 presentation cruised by fairly painlessly, despite a few clunkers in their new lineup.
ABC's annual presentation is usually the highlight of upfront week for one reason alone: year after year, Jimmy Kimmel appears on stage and absolutely kills with a series of rapier-sharp riffs about the TV industry. This year was no exception. After dry, but typical, business speak from ABC execs, clips from several new dramas (more on them later), a dull montage of Lost cast members reflecting on their series and Matthew Fox on stage trying hard to look awake, Kimmel came out firing. Regarding NBC: "I read in The Times this morning that Jeff Zucker is building a 40-ton containment dome that they hope to lower down on to the fall schedule." Regarding Law & Order's cancellation and L&O: L.A.'s pickup: "The last time NBC took a show from New York and moved it to L.A., it ended up as the lead-in to George Lopez on TBS." On Fox's decision to give Glee the post-Super Bowl spot: "[They are trying] for a record of 40-year-old drunk guys saying, 'What the fuck is this' all at the same time." On the limited longevity of CBS's Undercover Boss: "If your new bus boy shows up and speaks English, he is probably the president of Fuddruckers." On Charlie Sheen's massive CBS deal after his Christmas incident: "Tiger Woods must feel like a real dumbass right now."
Kimmel's own network didn't escape unscathed, either: "We're looking for shows that break the mold and then [ABC's president of entertainment] introduced another medical drama from Shonda Rhimes." And then he closed with an off-hand comment that made me giggle: "I have not missed a single episode of Five since the lizard aliens landed on Earth. Oh, V?" Granted, he also had some lines about "fluxing" and how at least broadcast TV is more popular than newspapers, but I'm trying to focus on the funny, which is more can be said for ABC's new slate of comedies. Good thing the network's new batch of dramas might make up for them. Here's our first take on all nine brand-new series:
So it looks like pro-wrestling fans will finally have a 24/7 network all to themselves next year when WWE can gets its own channel. But why stop there? Let's take narrow-casting to the extreme with even more insanely niche networks like these:
Woohoo, it's Friday! And it's finally time to ask the question that's been on everyone's minds (okay, maybe not everyone's, but still!) all month: who watches the Watchmen? The answer: not you, if you're reading this. So kill a couple minutes with these TV newsbites before heading off into the night to check out Billy Crudup's giant, blue naked body, or get drunk, or whatever else you may have planned for the weekend. Here at TWoP, we don't judge.
What constitutes news, you might ask? An awesome celeb hosting an awards show we've never watched? That's news. Two fallen 1980s movie stars being cast in TV shows? That's news. A TV show set in the 1970s getting dropped like a bad habit? That's news. A 1990s TV star being cast in a remake of a 1980s TV show, due to appear on TV in 2010? That's a math problem, but it's also news. All those decades and more on today's... TwoP News! (Cue American Idol theme music.)
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