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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

question of the day: What’s your biggest disappointment of the just-wrapped TV season?

Did you hear about Jimmy Kimmel’s takedown of ABC execs at the ABC “upfronts” — where the networks present their new shows to advertisers — this week. From The New York Times’ Arts Beat:

[I]n a “Jerry Maguire”-like moment of clarity, Mr. Kimmel said, “Everything you’re going to hear this week is” nonsense. “Let’s get real here. Let’s get Dr. Phil-real here. These new fall shows? We’re going to cancel about 90 percent of them. Maybe more.”

If ABC is so confident in its new fall shows, he asked, why is it announcing them at the same time it announces the midseason shows that will replace those fall shows? “This show ‘Shark Tank’ has the word tank right in the title,” he said.

Kimmel got lots of laughs, apparently, but he’s absolutely right. I’m not sure I’ll bother watching anything new on network TV come autumn, because the only show that intrigued me was Kings, and of course it’s been cancelled. The 6 million viewers it garnered for its premiere? That was considered “devastating.” The show I’d consider it most similar to, in many ways, is Battlestar Galactica, which was a huge hit for the Sci Fi Channel and made everyone over there ecstatic when it garnered 3.1 million viewers for its series finale — its biggest viewership ever — and that’s when viewers who watched on DVR up to a week after the first airing are included.

I realize that the economics of the broadcast networks are different from those of the cable networks. But that doesn’t change the fact that the narrative series on cable are more interesting and that they seem to get more support from their networks, which means they won’t get cancelled when the first three episodes don’t perform as well as some marketing executive promised they would.

I’m not crying for American broadcast TV. If viewers are abandoning them, it’s their own fault.

Did you have an experience this season like I did with Kings? What’s your biggest disappointment of the just-wrapped TV season?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)



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  • Pollas

    I knew it was going to happen, but I was still very upset when NBC cancelled My Own Worst Enemy. Broadcast TV hasn’t lost my viewership completely, but I have vowed not to watch any of their new shows ever again. And as soon as the shows I still watch run their course, I am finished with broadcast TV.

  • Cate

    Kings, most definitely. A network railroading job of a unique and interesting show on par with what FOX did to Firefly.

  • Ryan

    My biggest disappointment? My God, I can fill this space up, but I’ll try to keep it succinct.

    – The audiences not responding to and thus ABC canceling Pushing Daisies. That one hurt the most.

    – NBC not fully supporting Kings. Why they thought having a two-hour mid-season premiere would actually grab increasingly ADD audiences is beyond me. Should’ve been a platformed fall release.

    – FOX (and fans) for declaring Dollhouse dead-on-arrival even before it premiered. Friday timeslot? Are you kidding me? And then fans giving up after 2-3 episodes missing out on the ming-blowingly good last half of the season? Ugh.

    Heroes for not improving and probably sucking even more. Oh, how I miss the first season so much.

    Battlestar Galactica ending. Please, don’t leave me. I miss you already.

  • Catherine

    The cancellation of Terminator:Sarah Connor Chronicles.

  • Theseus

    Most disappointing is the cancellation of Pushing Daisies and the fact that excellent shows like the above, Chuck, Dollhouse, Boston Legal, and so on have trouble keeping afloat because they have to be MASSIVE HITS to be profitable for the networks. I mean, CBS canceled Without a Trace in spite of good ratings? I get that it’s a business, but either the creators of these shows need to start going to cable first, or else the broadcast nets need to start figuring out some other business model, or else they’ll be RealityTV-1, RealityTV-2, RealityTV-3, and NBC in ten years. And then we’ll all just have to tune out permanently.

    I really think a lot of the problem is that the rules are so different for the broadcast nets: shows like Battlestar Galactica and The Shield and Dexter are excellent and should be available to broader audiences, but the broadcast nets have to be prudish for ridiculous reasons. What’s the argument against having these kinds of shows on broadcast TV exactly? That kids could see them? Well, kids can already see them because their parents have cable. The politics of TV are stupid.

  • David

    I agree with Catherine. The cancellation of The Sarah Connor Chronicles was a disappointment. I thought the series had improved greatly over the course of the second season, and I would have liked to see it continue.

    I am also sad to see the demise of Reaper. It wandered into mediocrity by the end of this season, but I will miss Ray Wise as the Devil. His subtle corruption of Sam throughout the year was the highlight of the show.

  • Ryan (Fri May 22 09, 11:51AM):

    – FOX (and fans) for declaring Dollhouse dead-on-arrival even before it premiered. Friday timeslot? Are you kidding me? And then fans giving up after 2-3 episodes missing out on the ming-blowingly good last half of the season? Ugh.

    Well, you’ll be comforted to know Dollhouse has been given a second season to prove itself. Now that it’s renewed, I expect a lot of folks to give it a chance (I’m sure many potential fans were unwilling to get invested in a show that was so likely to be canceled by FOX).

    It really did get good after the first half, didn’t it?

  • David (Fri May 22 09, 1:32PM):

    I am also sad to see the demise of Reaper. It wandered into mediocrity by the end of this season, but I will miss Ray Wise as the Devil. His subtle corruption of Sam throughout the year was the highlight of the show.

    Ray Wise was just about the only redeeming feature of Reaper, but he was so great it elevated an otherwise tedious show into something unique and enjoyable. Kinda like Nathan Fillion did for Castle (also renewed).

  • Mark

    Kings was a disappointment for me, not because it was cancelled, but because it just wasn’t very good. I watched the first two episodes, and ten minutes into the third I just gave up. And I have to wonder how many other shows with interesting concepts that might also have been able to execute well and thoughtfully didn’t even make it past (or even to) a pilot.

    The biggest disappointment was of course the Galactica finale. I’m not disappointed that it ended; I’m disappointed that it ended in a bullshit hand-waving theistic cop-out. If any more shows fail to live up to their promises this way — and I’m looking at you, Lost — I’m just going to unplug the damn TV.

    Cancellation-wise — Sarah Connor Chronicles, Pushing Daisies, of course.

  • Victor Plenty

    Galactica’s end wasn’t theistic. There are plenty of other reasons to be frustrated with it, but I’ll focus on this one detail for the moment.

    For all its flaws, the biggest plus in that odd little ending they gave the series was in the lines of dialogue making it clear that the entity they’d been calling “God” all along was in fact something else. An extremely powerful entity, to be sure — powerful enough to see entire spacefaring civilizations as its own private experimental subjects — but nothing close to what any modern monotheistic believer is thinking of when they use the word God.

    My perspective is a little unusual, though. Most people seem to think the overall message in that ending was “Fear the robots!” My reading of it was more along the lines of “Maybe we should think about being a little bit nicer to the robots this time around.”

  • At least those pirates at ABC are finally releasing the last 3 episodes of ‘Pushing Daisies” that they held hostage since last December. On May 30th – a Saturday, no less. What a sleazy move!

    ABC Exec: “See! SEE! Not many viewers tuned in after all! We had to kill The Pie Maker!”

    Viewer: “Saboteurs! Most people are out on a Saturday night! Of course, the ratings weren’t so strong! You did that on purpose!”

    ABC Exec: “Oh, I didn’t hear that. I was too busy pinching my nipples! Besides, I never got into “Pushing Daisies”. You had to actually listen to it.”

    “Pushing Daisies” fans smack their palms to their foreheads in unison.

  • Other than the loss of BSG, this season wasn’t too bad for me. Dollhouse and Castle were both renewed. I was really enjoying Sarah Connor Chronicles, and I’m sorry to see it go. I do wish Heroes would get back to what it was like is season 1, but for no apparent reason, i keep watching.

  • Chris

    The biggest dissapointment for me this year was without a doubt Heroes. They’ve started repeating themselves (every year Peter has no abilities in he begining and regains them in the end) and they destroyed there whole history (all of sudden Parkman can see the future). Add in some terrible writing and the show just completely tanked.

    That said I am very happy Chuck was givin one more round, that Lost continued to dominate, and that 24 had a great return after a subpar season from two years ago.

    Mary Ann you should look into ABC’s two new shows, Flashforward, staring Joseph Fiennes, which features the entire world blacking out for two minutes and seventeen seconds and their remake of V which stars Elizabeth Mitchell from Lost.

  • Jim Mann

    Ryan said:

    FOX (and fans) for declaring Dollhouse dead-on-arrival even before it premiered.

    Sorry, but many of us didn’t declare it dead before it premiered and were very enthusiastic about it. I gave it three episodes, then decided that I have too many other things I want to read and watch to keep going, until I get some word that it’s gotten much better and is worth watching.

    I have heard that it got better in the last couple of episodes, so I’ll probably rent the DVDs from Netflix when they come out.

    Jim

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