Friday, August 7, 2009

Same Show, Different Channel

Dear Readers,

First of all, thank you for arriving at this blogregardless of whether you're a loyal follower or a first-time visitor. However, my blog is now located at my new domain:

To try to reach a larger audience, I'm leaving Blogger and hosting the blog myself with the help of Wordpress. Plus, I've given the blog a complete makeover. But don't worryno content has been lost: I've transferred all the posts you see here there (adding glossy, new photos to most of them!).

Wordpress has streamlined the updating process, so I intend on posting much more often at the new site. In fact, there's a new post waiting for you there now. Thanks again, and enjoy the new site.

See you there,

P.S. - If anyone used the email newsletter to read posts from this blog, let me know via a comment on either site. The new site doesn't yet have that feature, but I can work on it if it's in demand.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Future of Classic

After watching the second-season finale of Breaking Bad, the dramatic series about a chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-dealer desperate to not let his cancer treatment bankrupt his family, I had one thought: thank God this show is on AMC.

With the premiere of Mad Men two years ago, AMC went from musty movie channel to leading cable destination overnight. And now with the network's second dramatic series Breaking Bad attracting its fair share of critical acclaim (and even a leading-actor Emmy win for Bryan Cranston), AMC is establishing itself as a network that values quality over quantity. Unlike the broadcast networks, it has no reason to fill its primetime schedule with series each fall and hope that at least a few are commercial successes (let alone critical success). It has the freedom to develop series more thoroughly and thoughtfully.

And shows on AMC risk virtually no chance of cancellation. If a show on any of the big four networks pulled in Breaking Bad's numbers (around 1.4 million viewers on average), it would be axed instantly. But 1.4 million viewers, for a previously-obscure network like AMC, is a windfall. So with no threat of extinction—and a supportive network, to boot—AMC seems like a writer's and producer's paradise, as long as those writers and producers don't mind small audiences.

The second season of Breaking Bad was even edgier, more stimulating, and more tragic than the first. If this were a broadcast network show, I'd be sweating about whether a third season would ever transpire. But the show was renewed four episodes into last season. Thank God this show is on AMC.

On a technical note, I have widened the main column of this blog by 50% to allow for larger photos. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Follow That Sound

Lately, the trend regarding opening titles has been to make them as short as possible. Gone are the days of ones lasting a minute-and-a-half. And rapidly going are the days of ones lasting thirty seconds. For example, both Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives once had excellent sequences—a satirical look of the representation of women in art, and a clever montage of love lives and professional lives intermingling. But both sequences have been replaced by mere title cards lasting five seconds, tops.

That's why I was so pleased to see that A&E bucked the trend starting with the second-season premiere of The Cleaner. This was a show that used to display a simple title card. But now, it has been granted a luxuriously long—and damn good-looking—title sequence, which you can view below (so long as YouTube doesn't yank the video). The imagery is stunning: oblique glances at Los Angeles locales captured in reflections from broken glass and drug paraphernalia, all culminating in a shot of William Banks approaching a soon-to-be interventionee's car. And now we can hear more than just a snatch of the theme song, Sharon Little's "Follow That Sound."

Maybe this upgrade was only possible because cable shows have more latitude than networks ones, but all producers should take note: quality shows deserve quality introductions.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What They Should and Should Not Have Done

As I was discussing the sorry fate of Jon and Kate Gosselin with my mom earlier tonight (before the inevitable happened), we agreed that they are to blame for their level of media exposure. Yes, the paparazzi are nuts, but they knew that. The job of the paparazzi is to find scoop, and Jon gave it to them, no matter what his intentions were. And Kate is just as culpable for airing her grievances to People, probably to try to rally sympathy while earning a pretty penny—but all she did was come off as passive-aggressive.

My mom and I talked about their overwhelming desire for all things material. Indeed, Jon recently professed that he only does the show for the goods and chattels that come with it. And to think that, at first, they claimed they were doing the show to pay for their children's futures. They must have already done so, because they then cashed in their hefty paychecks from TLC to buy a much larger house on a much larger piece of property. But my question is this: instead of using the excess money on real estate, why didn't they keep their perfectly fine middle-class existence and donate to a charity? Or perhaps create a new charity to support other parents financially affected by multiple births?

In any case, it is a depressing state of affairs, and I feel very sorry for the kids. And as for the parents, I do have a modicum of sympathy for them, despite their thoughtless behavior.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Two Minutes, Seventeen Seconds

2009-2010 Pilot Round-Up, Part 1

ABC has a lot of fine prospects for the 2009-2010 season, but one of the most exciting is a pilot called Flash Forward, based on the Robert J. Sawyer novel of the same name. (I don't love that title, but that's neither here nor there.)

The story begins with a worldwide event: the population of the world blacks out for two minutes and seventeen seconds, during which everyone experiences a vision of his or her future. FBI agent Mark Benford, horrified by what he sees, assembles a team to figure out what the event means and how to prevent the future it projected. The team assembles a vast mosaic of visions as they ask people the same question: "What did you see?"

It's an ambitious premise that could set off a tangled, enigmatic plot in the vein of Lost. And I'm all for shows with serialized storylines, as I consider them to be more worthwhile and rewarding than many procedurals. (There are a lot of cop/lawyer/doctor shows on the slate for next season.) Indeed, this show seems like one that will take some mightily attentive viewing but could also be fiendishly addictive—assuming it remains on the air long enough.