Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Creative Direction

Over the last week, two series have had episodes that touted a change / return to better storytelling.

Dollhouse had it's "Fox threw up it's hands and gave up trying / Told Joss Whedon to do whatever he wanted" episode in "Man on the Street" and it made me want to forget the first five episodes of the series and just consider "MotS" the new pilot.

Heroes, which I haven't really been watching, had it's "Bryan Fuller is back, ya'll!" episode last night called "Cold Snap." Now, again, I haven't really been watching a ton of this fourth volume, so I don't know what's really happened in the interim between the suck of the volume's premiere and this. Not a ton, it seems. Though the cheerleader was blissfully absent. Anyway, Fuller's return did seem to help, from what I could tell. The characters were pretty much acting with some degree of intelligence... at least enough to prove they had a brain on their shoulders. And, sadly, that's a big change from when I stopped caring. Unfortunately, Bryan Fuller rejoined the show in the middle of a failed, heavy-serialized plotline. I didn't expect MAGIC from him. And he didn't turn in another "Company Man." The episode was almost entirely watchable (curious what Masi Oka did to the producers to have them saddle him with this weird Super Powered Baby storyline), though, and there were moments of very cool special effects (Tracey telling Micah to put the sprinklers on so she could freeze the parking lot) as well as actual emotion (Daphne's death... even if the Parkman-as-Superman dream he put her in to ease her passing was utterly derivative). Don't know why they killed Daphne. She was actually an enjoyable character.

I may just bring myself to watch to the conclusion of the season to see if Heroes can keep this level up (it's still nothing compared to the first season, but, hey, enjoyable TV is better than unenjoyable TV so I have to wish for it and support it when it comes along). I do hope the brass at NBC see fit to get rid of Tim Kring, who obviously was the real problem at Heroes, not the scapegoats Jesse Alexander and Jeph Loeb, and make Bryan Fuller the actual showrunner next season.

Also, go figure, Bryan cast Swoosie Kurtz in a bit part in the episode (nice to have her on TV, even if she isn't kissing Teri Hatcher). I'm so very looking forward to the Paley Festival Pushing Daisies event where I'll get to see the last three episodes of the series (that, despite its considerable flaws, I do find myself missing the longer I've been without it).

10 comments:

Marc said...

I don't agree with your assesment regarding CASTLE. It probably held steady (for the most part) last week because MEDIUM was a rerun last week. There are 2 established crime procedurals (including one big hit)in that time slot. If in the finals it has a 2.5, that's not terrible considering. Have you seen a new drama do better at 10pm recently (one that is not on CBS - the network that seems to have a realtionship with Nielssn that no other net has - you know where 6 year old shows grow in ratings, where they are immune from IDOL etc). Considering the first week DWTS had a 6.9 in the last half hour and CASTLE got a 3.0, a 2.5 out of the last half hour being a 5.2 or 5.3 isn't all thet bad.

Travis Yanan said...

Hm, I did ignore that Medium was a repeat last week and new this week. Definitely something to consider.

With regards to DWTS' ratings, at this point I'm more concerned about Castle's 10:30pm drop-off than its overall retention from DWTS. Which is difficult to judge until finals are released late this afternoon, but this is the same preliminary drop-off as last week (3.4 to 2.8, in finals it became 3.2 to 2.7).

It could be a whole lot worse. But once Surviving Suburbia comes on, I'm not optimistic.

marc said...

Thanks for your response Travis, but realisically, I don't think since GA's premiere in 05 has ABC had a new drams in the 10pm hour that didn't drop off at 10:30. I don't know why thats is, but losing 3.4-2.8 isn't horrible. THE OFFICE used to have terrible retention from EARL until it blossomed halfway thru it's 2nd season. I have seen very good feedback from people re: CASTLE. I feel like if ABC nurtures it and REPEATS it Jul/Aug against things others than crime procedurals it maybe could develop. PLus in April CSI will be in repeats for a week or 2 after March Madness the first Mon in April.

Ted said...

Travis, any idea why ABC is barely promoting CUPID, I thought the pilot was fantastic and I was a huge fan of the original. If they have lost faith in it, it certainly won't do any better with NO or little promotion.

The first primetime promo in weeks I saw for CUPID was a :15 during DH . Last night there was a :30 but there were 2 for SS and that premieres a week later.

Travis Yanan said...

@marc

I'd love to believe ABC would try and nurture a show like Castle. Especially since, as a procedural, it has a shot of repeating well. Will definitely be interesting to see April without original CSI:M competition. That's the big problem... it's almost impossible to launch a crime show if you aren't CBS because you're competing against CBS's crime shows! Don't get me wrong. At this point, I'm pretty much always rooting for shows to succeed, even if I'm not a big fan (Castle isn't exactly the most original concept or show)... broadcast TV needs fresh hits!

@Ted

Cupid is in the middle of the pack when you look at ABC's hefty premiere schedule, so it's getting lost in the shuffle. Pre-Cupid we have Castle, Better Off Ted, In the Motherhood, and new timeslots for Scrubs and Samantha Who. Post-Cupid we have Surviving Suburbia and The Unusuals. There have been a lot of SS ads (as well as ITM/SW and BOT) because ABC is *desperate* for a comedy hit. Absolutely desperate. According to Jim is done. Scrubs isn't continuing next season. Who knows about Samantha Who. That's it for sitcoms on the network. Castle was the first show to premiere in this group, and was airing after the big DWTS premiere, so it got full marketing support. The Unusuals is airing after Lost. I don't know if you've noticed, but ABC has had miserable failure after miserable failure premiering shows after Lost, so they have to raise awareness of the show to try and get an audience, because the Lost audience doesn't stick around.

So, yeah, Cupid gets the short stick. Which seems silly to me because, yeah, the pilot is very enjoyable. It also is a very ABC-brand show. I don't watch DWTS, but I wonder if they're even airing promos during that show... which is going to be its lead-in (and the lower-rated results show at that). The time is past to raise awareness with the premiere a week away. If Cupid succeeds, it will be nothing short of a miracle.

Ted said...

I compltely agree Travis, about shows not working after LOST which is why I don't understand why ABC is scheduling another drama there and I actually want "The Unusals" to do well. I just think they would have a better hsot someplace else. They have been promoting UNUSUALS better and longer than CUPID. Last night was the first CUPID promo during DWTS and it premieres a week from tonight. They didn't even have one in last week's results show or GA. They had one in the 8p DWTS recap hour
(a :15) which got a 1.7. What I don't understand, is like you said, it totally fits the ABC brand more than any other show they are launching plus it actually is an alternative to crime procedurals in the hour. Plus there is no convoluted mythology, people can jump in whenever they want. It's like a romance procedural. In these times it is actually feel good tv.

Honestly they are promoting it (or not promoting it)like they want it to tank, so they can yank it off after 2 weeks and say it didn't work. The promotion of it reminds of the promotion of EYES, another show I got the feeling they weren't behind (which actually didnlt do that bad I feel one that could have been nurtured into a hit). It was launched the same time as GREYS, yet GREYS got lots of promotion. After EYES premiered there were no promos at all for the next 4 weeks that it aired. This past Summer ABC did a great job promoting PUSHING DAISIES but after the premiere you rarely saw any other on air prime time promos for for the next 9 eps. I kind of got the impression they made their minds up after the premiere. I kind of feel like I can tell how they feel about CUPID with the fact that every other new show including ones that premiere after, are getting tons more promotion. I just don;t get it knowing it's good and it fits them.

Travis Yanan said...

@Ted

Well, understanding ABC's scheduling and promotion has become something of a feat over the last few years. If you crack the code, fill us all in! Like I said, it will be a small miracle if Cupid succeeds given the apparent lack of support (though I've heard that it is actually being promoted better / more on daytime shows, like The View). Which, again, makes very little sense with a show that seems to fit the network like a glove and comes at a time when light-hearted escapism would probably be welcomed with open arms... IF ANYONE KNEW IT WAS ON.

Marc said...

Travis, Thanks for your insight. Yes CASTLE isn't the most original, but ABC does try to be original a lot. Here I think they are trying a procedural with a charismatic lead (honestly the hook of the show to me is Nathan Fillion is adorable, watch him be adorable and funny) but with romantic undertones to fit their brand... a little like MOONLIGHTING. Plus his relationship with his daughter is great, EW just worte about it on their blog.
http://popwatch.ew.com/popwatch/2009/03/castle-nathan-2.html

Ted said...

Yes Travis they are promoting
"Cupid" during the day, but the daytime audience is 4 million vs the 15 million their big hits avg. and I believe (although I could be wrong) a completely different audience.

I actually thought you might be able to crack ABC's code, LOL. Thanks for answering though. Really appreciate it.

Ze said...

Cupid was promoted over Valentines and during the Oscars. And yes its mentioned in daytime.

Seperately, noted your Sunday final numbers at pifeedback. No finals available for Desperate Housewives?