Fans of the struggling The Mindy Project, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and New Girl could not have been blamed for being pessimistic about the shows’ odds for survival: New Girl had seen huge ratings drops since its breakout debut, Mindy has never improved over its soft season one numbers, and Brooklyn hasn’t broken out despite Andy Samberg’s cachet. But then last week, Fox surprised viewers and other network execs alike by not only announcing that all three comedies were getting early renewals, but also by bragging that the shows were “core assets” — a term usually reserved for giant, wide-appeal hits. Some industry insiders worried Fox was sending the wrong message, that it looked like the network had given up trying to find big comedy hits. But at a time when even broad, old-school sitcom stabs are striking out (NBC’s Sean Saves the World, Fox’s own Dads), and in an era where there hasn’t been a blockbuster sitcom success since Modern Family, networks may need to start figuring out how to survive in a world where niche appeal may be their best option: Better a small, highly devoted fan base than an indifferent audience the same size…
Bill Lawrence, the writer-producer behind shows such as Scrubs, Cougar Town, and Fox’s upcoming Surviving Jack, wonders if network TV isn’t very close to “reaching a tipping point where Nielsens cease to really matter,” at least not in the way they have for decades. “I hope there’s a realization that with this many options [for viewers], getting that big rating again isn’t going to happen. I don’t even see how it’s possible to have a show that’s a ‘mass appeal hit’ when the shows they label ‘mass appeal hit’ now wouldn’t be even in the top 20 five or ten years ago … My hope is that TV becomes more and more about quality, and less about an arbitrary ratings system.” Lawrence is quick to say that he’s not giving up on the idea of sitcoms reaching lots of viewers, at least relative to other shows on TV. “I’m hoping a comedy comes along that knocks it out of the park,” he says. (Hopefully his own!) But he doesn’t think networks can keep cycling through shows, yanking them after one or two seasons because they don’t live up to some artificial standard for success. “There are ways to find value in smaller shows,” Lawrence says. “Content is still king.”"
What the host[s] didn’t know is that K.T. was actually 31-year-old Ken Tarr, a budding mastermind of the reality TV hoax. Over the past five months, working out of his modest Los Angeles apartment, Tarr had talked his way onto eight different shows taped in five different cities — each time cloaked in a different persona. He’d become a dissonant saboteur in the machinery of sleaze that sprawls across our televisions.
For Judge Joe Brown, he pretended to be a drunk gypsy clown who trashed a bathroom at a kid’s birthday party. On The Trisha Goddard Show, he played Eddie the Trucker, a discount lothario who ran up $70,000 in debts by bedding hookers and playing the lottery. For Unfaithful, a show produced by Oprah Winfrey's OWN, he was an international security expert who was cheating on his girlfriend — who was also cheating on him. And onThe Sit-Down, a show in which ex-mafioso Michael Franzese mediates disputes over dinner, he played a mope whose best friend had seduced his girlfriend and crashed his car.
In just a few months, Tarr had become one of the most prolific television hoaxers in U.S. history, merrily running an insurgent’s war against an industry seemingly immune to shame. He was fueled by a hodgepodge of intellectual challenge, a dissident’s sense of humor and, yes, a quest for some measure of fame.
"Television insults and manipulates us all the time," he says. "So I thought I might as well come up with my own hoaxes and demonstrate how you can manipulate them.”
Because mine is “Destroy Everything You Touch” by Ladytron.
Deep Space Nine marathon, here I come.
Television, live at Whisky-A-Go-Go in Los Angeles, CA, 1977
This is the inimitable Venus, and the band was on fire that night. Tom Verlaine plays guitar like his life depends on it.
ooh, this is a nice live track that I actually haven’t heard
They are kind of pointless and terrible but I can’t stop watching them.
It started with Never Mind the Buzzcocks and has spread to QI and now Mock the Week.
I especially play them while I’m working, because I can kind of half-ignore them and still be soothed by Stephen Fry being witty or whatever.
Except I can’t seem to abide Mock the Week, which makes no sense - a news panel show seems like a no-brainer, and I’m already addicted to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, so why is this show so aggressively, obnoxiously unfunny? And why do I keep watching it anyway?
Anyway, are there more of these shows I should sample? I’ve gotta get some work done this week…
I’ve never watched any ATLA, but this made my day when I read it.
“Everyone thinks their own situation most tragic. I am no exception.”
― Jeanette Winterson, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
And I just think -
Aw, they still think their programs “happen” when they air on the network at a scheduled time, how cute.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje may just be the most badass actor in Hollywood. To “Oz” fans, he’s gang leader Simon Adebisi. To “Lost” fans, he’s former war lord turned man of god, Mr. Eko. And if you sat through rapper 50 Cent’s acting debut, “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” he’s the twisted drug lord Majestic.
In his latest television stint on Cinemax’s explosive new show “Strike Back,” Akinnuoye-Agbaje plays a brutal militia leader named Tahir, who holds an innocent aid worker hostage in the Sudan.
Tahir shows little mercy to those who disobey his leadership. For as uncompromising and brutal as Tahir seems, Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who also learned Arabic for the project, was drawn to the project because of the character’s many dimensions.
“It’s such a rich character,” Akinnuoye-Agbaje told The Huffington Post. “This character has many layers. He’s a man of absolutely uncompromising principles, and what was intriguing to me was what would drive a person to such extremes?
I was interested in exploring what his motivation was, and why he was committing such seemingly heinous crimes. And then finding out that there was a real, substantive purpose behind it was really intriguing to me.
Nobody is good or bad. Everybody has shades of both, and he is a character who’s got both, and he’s just extreme in both. He’s fighting for a cause. He seems to be an old vestige of a warrior.”
Judging from his credits, Akinnuoye-Agbaje walks the line between good and evil quite often, giving seemingly twisted characters emotional depth and understanding.
“Multifaceted and textured characters are always more intriguing to me,” said the actor. “You never really just want to play one note. It becomes a bit monotone and boring. I think the most appealing characters for the audience are the ones that you never know whether to root for them or whether to hate them.
That’s what keeps people drawn to their television sets. As with Eko, as with Majestic, as with Adebisi, these are characters that you want to hate, but there’s a part of them that you secretly want to root for, and that part is called humanity.”
I would love to see this man in something where he ISN’T some kind of drug lord.
Person Of Interest” Star Taraji P. Henson EXCLUDED From The Show’s Publicity
Actress Taraji P. Henson took to her Facebook Fan Page to express how confused and upset she was that CBS and others decided to exclude her from all promotions of the upcoming new drama, “Person of Interest.”She is the female lead on the show
- WOW!!!! TV Guide is NOT including me on the cover with my cast memebers……..I am the female lead of a 3 member cast and I’m not included on the cover!!!!!! Do you see the shit I have to deal with in this business…..I cram to understand!!!!
- “WOW @ TVGuide!!!!! Being a member of 2 academys I honestly have no words!!!!!”
CBS did not include the 2-time Academy Award nominee Taraji Henson in any tv promotions of the new suspense drama “Person of Interest” either.
- I swear you guys keep my spirit lifted cause it ain’t easy AT ALL for a sister in Hollywood. Your love is God sent!!!! Thank you ALL from the bottom of my heart. Wanted to tell you all this on live TV at the Emmys (if I’d won) but……oh well. Muah!!!!!
I—I didn’t even know she was the star until this happened?? from the trailers I thought this was some kind of Jim Caviezel/that-dude-from-Lost buddy spy suspense adventure.
I can’t even.
^Same. I don’t remember her being in a single frame of any of the previews I saw. It’s horrifying that shows feel they have to trick audiences into watching something with a WOC star, and that they have well-founded reasons for that feeling.
Breaking Bad is not a situation in which the characters’ morality is static or contradictory or colored by the time frame; instead, it suggests that morality is continually a personal choice. When the show began, that didn’t seem to be the case: It seemed like this was going to be the story of a man (Walter White, portrayed by Bryan Cranston) forced to become a criminal because he was dying of cancer. That’s the elevator pitch. But that’s completely unrelated to what the show has become. The central question on Breaking Bad is this: What makes a man “bad” — his actions, his motives, or his conscious decision to be a bad person? Judging from the trajectory of its first three seasons, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan believes the answer is option No. 3. So what we see in Breaking Bad is a person who started as one type of human and decides to become something different. And because this is television — because we were introduced to this man in a way that made him impossible to dislike, and because we experience TV through whichever character we understand the most — the audience is placed in the curious position of continuing to root for an individual who’s no longer good…
[Some writers suggest] Walter White’s on-going metamorphosis is what makes Breaking Bad great. But that doesn’t go far enough. It’s not just that watching White’s transformation is interesting; what’s interesting is that this transformation involves the fundamental core of who he supposedly is, and that this (wholly constructed) core is an extension of his own free will. The difference between White in the middle of Season 1 and White in the debut of Season 4 is not the product of his era or his upbringing or his social environment. It’s a product of his own consciousness. He changed himself. At some point, he decided to become bad, and that’s what matters.
There’s a scene in Breaking Bad’s first season in which Walter White’s hoodrat lab assistant Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) tells Walter he just can’t “break bad,” and — when you first hear this snippet of dialogue — you assume what Jesse means is that you can’t go from being a law-abiding chemistry teacher to an underground meth cooker. It seems like he’s telling White that he can’t start breaking the law after living a life in which laws were always obeyed, and that a criminal lifestyle is not something you can join like a club. His advice seems pragmatic, and it almost feels like an artless way to shoehorn the show’s title into the script. But this, it turns out, was not Jesse’s point at all. What he was arguing was that someone can’t “decide” to morph from a good person into a bad person, because there’s a firewall within our personalities that makes this impossible. He was arguing that Walter’s nature would stop him from being bad, and that Walter would fail if tried to complete this conversion. But Jesse was wrong. He was wrong, because goodness and badness are simply complicated choices, no different than anything else."
Chuck Klosterman, on why Breaking Bad is the best television program of the last decade, and better than Mad Men, The Sopranos, and The Wire. Which is a perilous position to take. Your preference will greatly depend on why you watch television and what aspects you enjoy the most.
But this is unquestionably what makes Breaking Bad so fascinating. And I think Jesse’s story arc sort of makes the same point in reverse.
These discussions about ‘strong female characters’ often elide who is being talked about, and they play into larger narratives that no one seems to want to discuss. Who gets to tell stories? Who gets to be the lead, and who is the sidekick or supporting character? Who is calling for ‘strong female characters’ and what, exactly, do they mean when they say that?
Thank you for mentioning Oracle, that pisses me off so much I can’t even.
Tara on True Blood really needs discussing. I love her and the actress who plays her, but the show does not treat the character really well. After Season 1 the show really didn’t know what to do with her. She doesn’t have much/any agency within the show, unlike your comparison character Buffy. Which is to say the problem is not just the fans but the show itself not knowing how to deal with a major black female character. But I do think she brilliantly illustrates the point of how WOC characters are naturally expected to be “strong” and any other dimensions to the character make people really uncomfortable.