My blog silence is not intentional — it’s the day job keeping me busy! Let’s catch up.
THE EMMYS: Emmy season was crazy busy for me as I did a ton of interviews for Studio System News (SSN) and then I was in the press room for the Emmys, which was a new and different experience. After the Emmys, at the Governor’s Ball, I did some party coverage for Vulture (New York magazine’s pop culture blog). Here’s that link: http://www.vulture.com/2013/09/emmys-parties-vultures-timeline.html
I also covered the BAFTA TV Tea the Saturday of Emmy weekend and I think the highlight of that was talking with John Benjamin Hickey and being unable to get over how fabulous Jacqueline Bisset looks. I also got to chat with MAD MEN’s Kiernan Shipka and GIRLS’ Allison Williams — both were very lovely and nice to talk to. The Governor’s Ball was huge in scale — I didn’t know there were 4000 (!) people scheduled to attend. When I walked into the Los Angeles Convention Center, I found out just how massive the affair was. In the game of “Who’s The Idiot Now?” (as one of my former bosses used to say) I was the winner that night. I’ve done party coverage in the past but never on this scale and I was more than a little freaked out. I immediately headed for the bars, thinking that guests coming from the Emmys hadn’t had food or alcohol for the last four hours and I looked for marquee names I could observe schmoozing and get fun quotes from. When that didn’t pan out, I started looking for people I knew and found a 30 ROCK producer I had interviewed and met in person a couple of nights earlier at the always-fun NBC Universal pre-Emmy party. As I chatted with him and told him how I had no idea how I’d get the quotes I needed, he pointed to the person he was chatting with and it was Amy Poehler! Poehler was kind enough to give me her own very funny recap of the Emmy show and a couple of other funny quotes. She turned it around for me because after seeing her, I got Seth Meyers, Bill Hader, HOMELAND’s Alex Gansa and Damian Lewis, a moment with the still shell-shocked Merritt Wever, Louis CK, Pam Adlon, BREAKING BAD’s Vince Gilligan, and MAD MEN’s Matthew Weiner. So yes, Amy Poehler is my good luck charm and a classy gal to boot, as she was also co-hosting a Losers Party later that night with Jon Hamm to benefit the Worldwide Orphans Foundation.
SUBSCRIBE AND SUPPORT: If you haven’t subscribed to the SSN email newsletters, please check them out — not only will you get carefully curated links to the day’s industry stories, they also contain links to the site’s original content, which includes all my posts. Here’s the link to subscribe: http://www.studiosystemnews.com/subscribe/ — please note, you will not be bombarded with email alerts all day long, as some other sites litter your inbox. SSN sends 2 emails a day, with special editions during award seasons.
Some of my recent posts:
TV Show Spinoff ideas: http://www.studiosystemnews.com/ssn-memo-to-networks-a-dozen-tv-spinoffs-to-consider/
My interview with PARKS AND REC EP Mike Schur: http://www.studiosystemnews.com/fall-tv-preview-parks-and-recreation-ep-mike-schur-balances-location-shoots-love-stories/
An Evening with Robin Williams at The Paley Center: http://www.studiosystemnews.com/the-crazy-ones-robin-williams-at-the-paley-center-lessons-in-comedy-drama-and-life/
THE WALKING DEAD returned last night and the season four premiere roped in 16.1 million viewers, which is the highest rated episode in the show’s history. You can be sure that every broadcast network is taking zombie pitches today and you can expect at least three or four craptastic zombie shows next fall, in addition to the WALKING DEAD spinoff AMC has in the works. AMC development execs better be burning the midnight oil to find the next hit because after MAD MEN ends, their well is gonna be mighty dry. They’re keeping HELL ON WHEELS on the roster but that show and THE WALKING DEAD aren’t enough to sustain the entire network.
THE END OF BREAKING BAD: I’m firmly in the camp that loved the final run of BREAKING BAD episodes. The finale was satisfying but it was really the episodes leading up to the finale that were most riveting and memorable. All I wanted was for Jesse to be alive at the end and he was, so I was happy. I knew Walt would not make it out alive so I can’t say I was shocked at his demise. I read a lot of online commentary about the finale and many viewers thought it was too neat, and wrapped up too tidily. Some people didn’t like that Walt was in control again. I did not have these issues. From the start of this show, I have been willing to go wherever Vince Gilligan and his crew of insanely talented writers wanted to take me. They did not disappoint. As I read the online grouses about the final episode, all I could think was, “OK brainiacs, you try to write something even HALF as good as what you saw, and then we’ll talk.” I’m curious to see what they’ll do with the Saul Goodman series as I like Bob Odenkirk quite a bit and he’s good at working in ensembles.
FRONTLINE “LEAGUE OF DENIAL” - http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/league-of-denial/
This is an incredibly powerful documentary. Be forewarned: you probably won’t want to let your kid play contact sports after you watch it. What’s most jarring about it is that concussions are a de facto part of football and the NFL knows it but slowly had to admit that it was causing problems for the players. The brain science in the documentary is fascinating and scary. It’s worth 1hour and 45 minutes of your time. Riveting stuff.
I’m still watching some reality shows here and there: AMAZING RACE, TOP CHEF, and I’ll get back to the REAL HOUSEWIVES when the Beverly Hills pack returns in early November. The New Jersey edition was awful this time around with too much screeching, plus the screaming matches repeated over and over again. It made me hate all of them. Caroline Manzo has left the show — you could tell she was fed up during the season and she’s made it official. Good for her. I don’t think Bravo should enable Teresa and Joe Giudice anymore — let them deal with their legal issues off camera. The Miami edition also had too many repetitive tiffs so I stopped watching that as well, which is better as I’m sure I saved some brain cells.
BROADCAST NETWORK SHOWS:
THE GOLDBERGS – the show nails the universal nuttiness all families contain in some form or another. There’s a real sweetness to Jeff Garlin, Wendi McLendon-Covey & George Segal. The kids are good actors too, which is a huge plus for the show. This show wins me more with each episode.
TROPHY WIFE – Malin Akerman and Bradley Whitford are actually believable as a couple. Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins are terrific as Whitford’s ex-wives. My favorite kid is Albert Tsai as Bert. They had him sprinkling in Yiddish words in his conversation in last week’s episode and it was pretty adorable.
SCANDAL – the show is maintaining it’s level of batshit nuttiness and that’s all I need. Joe Morton plays Olivia’s dad and he’s always fantastic. There’s really something for everyone in this show; the entire cast is acting their butts off and they’ve meshed so well that it’s like a fast ride down the highway everytime you tune in. I still think SCANDAL is the TV form of crack.
NASHVILLE – while not as crack pipe good as SCANDAL, I still love the soapiness of the show. Connie Britton and Hayden Pannettiere are great leads and I’ll never be able to stop looking at Charles Esten (Deacon). The music is still the best reason to tune in — the writers are still struggling.
HOSTAGES — this drama hasn’t thrilled me as much as I hoped. It seems to be less compelling each week. I’m still hanging in there.
SLEEPY HOLLOW – another fun ride of a TV show – and it’s a big hit for FOX as it got a huge boost from DVR viewing and I’m sure the Friday night repeats are helping too. Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie continue to be a strong, interesting team in this show that mixes history, myths, Biblical stories, and whatever else they’ve got up their sleeve, into the stories.
BROOKLYN NINE NINE – Probably my favorite new fall sitcom. Andy Samberg is so much better than I ever thought he could be in a sitcom; he hits his jokes, doesn’t go too broad, and he and Andre Braugher are my new favorite odd couple. Joe LoTruglio is also very good. Now if they’ll give Terry Crews more to do, I’ll be even happier.
NEW GIRL – the show is the Tuesday night tentpole for FOX and while I love the characters, I don’t think it’s been very funny this season and that’s probably because Nick and Jess got together. I’m still watching but it doesn’t make me laugh much. They’re focusing on Schmidt quite a bit, to the point where I want to say, just give him a show of his own. NEW GIRL works better when it’s the ensemble working together, not couples or Schmidt’s Shenanigans (though they’re welcome to use that as the spinoff title.)
THE MINDY PROJECT – Conversely, I’m loving TMP much more this season as I think the writing and ensemble are far stronger than season one. Sure, they threw in two episodes with James Franco outta nowhere but the episodes were fun and Franco gamely played along with the group. Still, the heart of the show is Mindy and Dr. Danny (Chris Messina) – that’s when you can feel the true sweetness of the show. It took me a bit to get used to Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) because he’s literally larger than life, but now I love that he takes everything in a wrong direction. I’ve grown to love Ed Weeks because he’s adorable, has now talked about being fat when he was a kid, and everything sounds better in British.
MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW – running out of steam already even though Fox remains incredibly likable and Betsy Brandt is a plus. There aren’t any big laughs in the show and a lot of humor seems to come from Mike being immature. They’ve added Anne Heche to the mix and she’s actually cast well as a former producer of Mike’s who once left him in a swamp to fend for himself. I still love Wendell Pierce in the show but he doesn’t get much screen time.
THE GOOD WIFE – another terrific season that keeps me wanting more as soon as the hour is over. I’m loving Alicia Florrick, power player. Now that she’s got the option to either leave the firm and start the new firm with Cary Agos OR become a managing partner at Lockhart Gardner after Diane leaves, this chess game just got infinitely more exciting. I’m dying to see how Alicia will use her position as the First Lady of Illinois to her advantage. Melissa George is great casting as Gov. Peter Florrick’s new ethics chief and I hope the writers have more in store than an affair for her and Peter — that seems too easy. I also have to give a shoutout to Zach Grenier as David Lee – another of the show’s strong personalities who is also keeping a very close eye on Cary and the fourth year associates — David knows something is up and I can’t wait til it all comes out in the open.
PARENTHOOD – The show has truly found it’s groove. While I don’t care about Jasmine at all, the moment with Crosby and his new baby girl Aida at the end of last week’s episode was a total “awwwww” moment and even though I don’t have kids, I felt the love. Max Braverman and Hank are another of TV’s delightful odd couples. I’m still finding Kristina’s story most affecting as this week marks one year since my mom passed away from cancer. Monica Potter is doing right by cancer patients with Kristina’s embrace of the moment and her desire to do something that makes her feel good and fulfilled and happy. Peter Krause is doing a quietly beautiful job of showing Adam’s concern, reserved enthusiasm and support for his wife. He’s never too showy and I love that about his acting.
GLEE – I’m still watching for the music. I watched the tribute to Finn and Cory Monteith. While there were many tear-inducing moments, I was disappointed that they glossed over how Finn died. While I agree that it’s important to grieve and support others who are grieving, it seemed odd to not talk about that point. The “angry” scenes in the episode were terrible. I think it would’ve been better to do a music only episode with a string of musical performances. Lea Michele walked away with the episode with her beautiful rendition of “To Make You Feel My Love.” If that didn’t make you cry, check to make sure you still have a pulse.
HOMELAND – I get unnerved all over again seeing Carrie lose herself in her bipolar disorder. Watching her struggle is vivid and emotional. This week’s episode left me a little cold as it seemed static with Brody in the bombed-out tower. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: I’d be ok if Brody wasn’t in the show as much this season. Damian Lewis did an interview with Vulture and he says there’s a lot of Brody later on in the season. I’m good either way but Brody being on the lam could be a plus to helping the show develop beyond Carrie and Brody.
MASTERS OF SEX – Have you been watching? Lizzie Caplan is a wonder. If you weren’t already a fan, watch this show and just watch her; this is her star turn and she makes the most of every moment she’s given. She gets to be stern, smart, sexy, insightful, plus her character is integral to the success of Dr. Masters’ sex studies. Her scenes with Nick D’Agosto, who plays Masters’ protege, an OBGYN who falls for Caplan’s Virginia Johnson, were absolutely terrific as she taught the young doc what a woman likes when it comes to sex. Lots of great moments in this show and it reminds me yet again how uptight Americans are about sex, yet we have far less angst about violence.
SONS OF ANARCHY – I must be in soap opera mode because I’m really liking this season of SOA. I have to hide my eyes during the really gruesome violence but for me, it’s all about Hunnam, Smits, Katey Sagal, Donal Logue (who’s arc is now over) and watching Jax Teller try to lead a pack that is in danger of falling apart. There’s plenty of outlandish, almost ridiculous moments but the show’s cast is so good, I’m happy to go along.
BOARDWALK EMPIRE – I don’t know if any of you are still watching but I am. I’m sad about Eddie and I’m sad for Nucky about losing Eddie. I loved seeing the Capone brothers together but after that Sonny Corleone style shootout last week, so much for that. It’s weird to see Michael Shannon’s character on the wrong side of the law. Here’s the woman who plays the new singer at Chalky’s club, Daughter Maitland — what a voice! Her name is Margot Bingham – give a listen to her singing “Somebody Loves Me” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiKWA0-yXpI
HELLO LADIES – I thought the first two episodes were way too sad and pathetic but after watching the third episode, I like the show a bit more. I’m completely biased because there’s something about Stephen Merchant I find completely irresistable. I don’t know if it’s his geeky tallness, the way he speaks, the way he sets up jokes, I just find him very winning.
EASTBOUND AND DOWN – I haven’t watched every season of this show but I’m watching this final one. The scene where Kenny Powers verbally smacked down Dontelle on the sports talk show was so wickedly funny and satisfying that it won me completely. I also love Katy Mixon as Kenny’s wife April.
AMERICAN HORROR STORY COVEN – So many great women and most of them playing witches, it’s just too good to pass up. I rarely say “god bless Ryan Murphy” but I’ll say it now because he’s put together an all-star talent lineup: Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Lily Rabe, Sarah Paulson, Taissa Farmiga, Emma Roberts, Gabby Sidibe and he gives everyone a reason to be there and lots to do. I couldn’t watch the Asylum episodes but I’m watching this season.
THE LEAGUE – still loving this show because the guys make me laugh out loud and they use the rudeness and crass sex jokes to great comic effect.
BROADCHURCH – it ripped my heart out and I’m not even a parent. FOX is making an American version and I guess that’s because very few people watched it on BBC America. David Tennant will also star in the American version and I’m assuming he’ll tone down his accent when he shoots that version.
ON MY DVR: THE BRIDGE, LUTHER, ORPHAN BLACK
ONLINE SERIES: AOL Originals has really good webseries about creativity, inspiration, art, start-ups and style: INSPIRATION POINT with Jonathan Adler, Nicole Richie’s series CANDIDLY NICOLE, FUNDED with Baratunde Thurston, and THE SARTORIALIST. Check them out here: http://on.aol.com/originals
TWITTER AND TV:
–Nielsen is now measuring twitter activity for TV shows; in the first week out, SCANDAL was the #1 most-tweeted-about show. Do you think this is a true measure of a show’s popularity. I definitely don’t. Discuss.
–Twitter and Comcast also announced a partnership that will allow Comcast subscribers to click on links in tweets about TV shows and those links will lead them to a site where they can watch that show. I’m not sure I care about a service like this. Would you find this useful?
Tell me what you’re still watching. What are your new fall favorites?
Follow me on twitter @thesurfreport