THE SURF REPORT: TV on Repeat–10/17/14

FOO FIGHTERS SONIC HIGHWAYS: This is an eight-part series that has the Foos traveling to eight American cities to write songs for their new album. Tonight’s premiere episode (11pmET on HBO) is set in my Sweet Home Chicago and it’s a wonderful look at some of Chicago’s musical history with the blues. I love Dave Grohl’s theory that the cities examined have an effect on the artists who make music in them. Tune in and check this out – it’s so so good. And after the telecast, go to the Foos Facebook page to watch a live concert with them from the Cubby Bear in Chicago.

THE SADDEST PLACE ON EARTH TO WORK?: It has to be in development at ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX. As pilot pickup announcements roll out, it’s sad to see so many remakes of old TV shows and TV versions of movies. While I realize this is part of the current nostalgia trend, it’s gotta be depressing for writers who want to sell original ideas. Here are just a few retreads that have been announced recently:
Courtship of Eddie’s Father
Marley and Me
Big
The Illusionist
The IT Crowd – this will be the second attempt at adapting the Britcom

While I fully understand the lure of the familiar when it comes to trying to cut through the clutter of the current TV landscape, all these reruns – and that’s what they are when you get right down to it – make it look like network development execs are giving up. Yes, there are still original ideas being bought but if I had a complete development grid, I’d bet there are more retreads/revamps/updates of old shows, than originals. And that makes me sad as a TV fan who wants to see shows that don’t feel like reruns right out of the box. And yes, I know that pretty much every TV idea is derivative of something but this retread issue speaks to a larger problem: when the people in programming have limited cultural references other than recent TV shows and movies, that does not bode well for fresh ideas. Broadcast networks want shows they can sell to as large an audience as possible and that’s more difficult to do every day. I’d like to posit that a better path might be to bring in more experienced writers who can draw from more varied cultural sources. In other words, people who worked in TV before FRIENDS, people who read books, people who had to tell stories without using Google, people who work in theatre – and those are just a few ideas.

Maybe network execs are thinking that these retread shows are new to younger viewers so there’s no problem with recycling. Younger viewers are already selecting shows to watch when they want them, not when the network tells them to watch. Will the retreads make them more likely to tune in? Or will it send them to online streaming services to watch the originals?

PALEYFEST NEW YORK: I Storyfied my tweets of THE WIRE Reunion that happened Thursday night in NYC – here’s the link to that post:
https://storify.com/thesurfreport/the-wire-reunion-at-paleyfest-ny-2014

If you want to watch livestreams of the panels, bookmark this Yahoo Screen page: https://screen.yahoo.com/paleyfest-ny-clips/
The Saturday panels are BLUE BLOODS, GOTHAM and HANNIBAL.
The final Sunday panel is MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD.

PARENTHOOD: This show often feels repetitive but I’m watching because it’s the final run of episodes and every now and then, they have moments that hit home. Last night’s episode had two scenes I found especially interesting: the first was when Joel and Julia took their daughter Sydney to the house of a girl she had verbally bullied to have her apologize to the girl. The scene had them standing on the porch of the house and Sydney half-heartedly apologized and then walked away as Joel and Julia apologized repeatedly to the girl’s ticked off parents. The girl’s parents then chided Joel and Julia for not doing anything about the problem. That was a profoundly uncomfortable scene — and I say that as a single gal who does not have children. Of the many things I’ve learned in my years, one does not criticize the way people parent. It’s practically forbidden in society — or do I have that wrong? I was almost relieved when Zeek later comforted Julia by telling her that everyone screws up their kids, no matter what they do.

The other winning scene: Zeek and Kristina comparing medical war stories as Zeek was frustrated and scared at his weakened state after heart surgery. While the scene made me teary, it also made me smile because of the camaraderie the two have. Fans know there’s a death coming during this final run and while the obvious person may be Zeek, I think Jason Katims may throw a curveball. Thoughts?

JANE THE VIRGIN: The CW is re-airing the pilot episode tonight — please watch if you didn’t see it already. Gina Rodriguez is all kinds of good and the ensemble clicks right off the bat.

SELFIE: Smart jokes. I pray that Eliza and Henry do not become romantically involved during season one. I want their friendship to deepen as they’re both cases of arrested development but in different ways.

BAD JUDGE: This show is still ok, not great. Kate Walsh and the guy who plays her bailiff are good. I love seeing Ryan McPartlin guesting on the show but the writing isn’t servicing any of the cast very well.

A TO Z: Ben Falcone is a really nice surprise in this show. I’m hoping he’ll have even more to do in upcoming episodes. Ben Feldman and Cristin Milioti continue to be very charming.

SNL: So many people complain that the show is weak. Yes, it is. It’s a rebuilding year as they lost Seth Meyers, who was also one of the head writers, and they lost Bill Hader. Rebuilding takes time. For now, I’d like to see more Kate McKinnon as she creates great characters and the show sorely needs more of those. I’d also change up Weekend Update – Colin Jost is still terribly uncomfortable and he and Michael Che have no rhythm or chemistry. Update works best with a male/female team at the desk; there’s a lot to be said for yin and yang.

THE GOOD WIFE’S WINNING STREAK: The story is all about power and watching Alicia Florrick embrace the challenge of running for State’s Attorney is thrilling and dramatically powerful. Last week’s episode is still fresh in my mind as she literally directed every member of her family about what she needs them to do as she preps to run for office. I love the casting of Steven Pasquale as Alicia’s campaign manager Johnny Elfman and I gotta think The Kings are gonna throw in some sexual chemistry between the two. News broke this week that Archie Panjabi will be leaving the show at the end of this season – it’s not a tragedy as the writers can’t seem to come up with a strong story for Kalinda anymore. I’ll miss her sartorial style most of all. I’m still mesmerized most by Lemond Bishop as Mike Colter’s understated performance is both suave and menacing at the same time. This show is on a streak unlike any other. I hope everyone’s watching.

KEY AND PEELE: THE best sketch comedy on TV. These guys are so smart, so detailed and observant with their insights into American culture on so many levels. I am wowed by this show each and every week.

SONS OF ANARCHY: Still watching but boy oh boy, does this show feel like it’s at a slooooow crawl. It’s like watching an armadillo cross a dusty road.

PROJECT RUNWAY: While the 90 minute episodes are inflated beyond belief, (the only way to watch the show is via DVR,) the assortment of personalities this season has been staggeringly good. Sore loser Korina was one of the best reality TV villains to come down the pike and I’m sure she never intended that to be the case. I’m still amazed Char is in the finals because allegedly, she can’t sew very well so how does she make it to Fashion Week?? I still don’t get that. I’m rooting for Kini or Amanda to take the win.

TOP CHEF IS BACK!: And they’re in Boston with Richard Blais as a new judge. I love everything about this as Blais has been on the other side of the judges table. I can’t wait until he and Tom Colicchio argue about something!

SEX ON TV: Jarett Wieselman and Jaimie Etkin of Buzzfeed posted a short piece today about Shonda Rhimes singlehandedly changing the way we see both gay and straight sex on TV with SCANDAL and HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER. I’m in agreement and for those watching the shows, do you think any of the sex scenes have been too much? The Broadcast Standards folks are clearly loosening up a lot. In the quest to keep viewers coming to broadcast network shows, is there still such a thing as “too much”?

MUST READS:
Mo Ryan’s piece about online threats against women:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maureen-ryan/anita-sarkeesian_b_5993082.html

The Awl piece The Sad Parents of #GamerGate – if you have kids, you need to read this and make sure you’re up to speed on GamerGate:
http://www.theawl.com/2014/10/the-sad-parents-of-gamergate

Andy Greenwald’s take on the new fall TV season so far:
http://grantland.com/hollywood-prospectus/fall-tv-season-fox-ratings-cbs-nbc-shonda-rhimes/

Friday night TV:
HBO: 11pmET: Foo Fighters Sonic Highways then watch the live concert on Facebook from the Cubby Bear in Chicago!
ABC: Last Man Standing, Cristela, Shark Tank, 20/20
CBS: The Amazing Race, Hawaii Five-0, Blue Bloods
CW: Jane the Virgin [r], America’s Next Top Model
FOX: Utopia, Gotham [r]
NBC: Marry Me [r], About A Boy [r], Dateline NBC
PBS: Washington Week, Charlie Rose, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess From San Francisco Opera

TODAY’S SURF WRITTEN WHILE LISTENING TO:
Mick Jagger & John Lennon’s “Too Many Cooks”

That’s a wrap for now.

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