Friday Mailbag: TV Edition

The traditional television season is coming to a close and while that does not carry the same significance as it did 10 years ago, let alone 30, I still thought it would be a good excuse to breakout the mailbag to see what is on everyone’s mind. As always these are actual emails from actual readers.

This week at Upfronts NBC did everything short of holding a ticker tape parade to celebrate finishing first in the key demo, 18-49. Is it too cynical of me to suggest they shouldn’t be celebrating inflated ratings due to Sunday Night Football and the Winter Olympics? – Johnathan, Boise. 

There is a lot swagger around the Universal lot this week. Yesterday I saw the Big Chief himself, Bob Greenblatt, strutting to the Commissary in jeans and his sleeves rolled up. After a decade plus of being the laughing stock of the Big Four I think a little celebration is deserved. However, I do agree with your assessment, there is no getting around the fact that the victory was earned on the back of three horses, Sunday Night Football, Winter Olympics with an assist to Bob Costas’ pink eye, and The Voice.

NBC is partying like it is 1994.

NBC is partying like it is 1994.

As much as Greenblatt would like to crow about Sound of Music and The Blacklist, the former is a once a year event and the latter is still unproven without The Voice lead-in. The Blacklist will not bomb next year without The Voice like Revolution did, but it will be battling to get 2.0 or higher on Thursday nights next Spring. The post-Super Bowl slot has not been fruitful since Grey’s Anatomy in 2007, in-fact this year’s combo of New Girl and Brooklyn 99 both saw diminishing returns after its post-Super Bowl episodes. But in today’s landscape there are no more big hits and NBC has found stability. It will ride the wave of event programming, next year’s Super Bowl replacing the Winter Olympics, and combine it with old friend Dick Wolf to remain much more successful compared to years past. Don’t be surprised to see the Peacock make it back-to-back first place finishes next year.

What was the best new show of the last Broadcast season? Is there one that has Hall of Fame potential? Will there ever be another Hall of Fame broadcast show launched again? – Joe, Boston. 

Brooklyn 99 certainly has Hall of Fame potential, but after that it gets sketchy. I loved Trophy Wife, but it was losing steam towards the end of what turned out to be its only season, so it is hard for me to commit to saying we lost a Hall of Famer before its time. The two most hyped programs, Marvel Agents of SHIELD and The Blacklist, lack any substance to go with all of its flash and even another great performance from first ballot Hall of Famer, James Spader, can make up for it. Each new season seems to bring a ton of disappointment with it, but I remain optimistic that things will improve, from a quality standpoint, as networks realize that the big ratings are just never going to be there again. Based on Universal Productions this year’s crop of pilots is markedly better than last year’s. Both David Caspe and Tina Fey return to television. Grey’s alums Katherine Heigl and Kate Walsh return with vehicles shaped perfectly for them, in State of Affairs and Bad Judge respectively. There is hope on the horizon.

As Broadcast networks once mighty power has been sucked away the past decade by cable and now streaming devices, its one saving grace has been comedies. Is it just me or is that now gone as well? Christina, Kansas City. 

I agree Christina, I have enjoyed Broadcast comedies a bit better than cable in the past few years and I also agree that it too has now switched in the favor of cable. The best broadcast comedies going into next season are, Big Bang Theory, not my cup of tea but its ratings are impressive and people do enjoy it, Parks and Rec, entering its 7th and final season without an official air date, The Middle, enjoyable yet forgettable, The Goldbergs, ditto, New Girl, up-and-down third season buoyed by the return of D-Dub Jr., and  Brooklyn 99, flashed a ton of potential with its season end run.

Broad City has helped turn the tide in favor of cable comedies.

Broad City has helped turn the tide in favor of cable comedies.

 Compared to what is going on in cable, Louie, the most poignant and interesting comedy on TV, Broad City, the comedy with the biggest laughs, and Veep, the best comedy on TV. And it is clear that the tides have turned without me mentioning the still hilarious It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League, Girls, which I’ll admit improved in its third season, the strange uniquely funny Portlandia, and if you believe in fickle Emmy categories, Shameless. Outside of ABCs offensive batch of new comedies there is some support coming for Broadcast. My biased view is pumped to welcome Mulaney to the fall schedule Sunday nights on Fox. Having seen both Bad Judge and Mission Control’s pilots I can say both are loaded with potential. And even though I was disappointed in the pilot of Tina Fey’s new series, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I still trust the people involved to figure things out and eventually create a very funny series out of it. We’ll revisit this battle in a year to see how it has changed.

Please tell me the Warriors didn’t make a huge mistake by firing a coach whose entire team loved him and would run through a brick wall for in favor of an unproven Broadcaster turned Belle of the Ball because Phil Jackson wanted him to be his puppet coach for him in order to avoid the grueling travel of the NBA schedule? – Matt C., Santa Monica 

Damn it. How did this get in here? Television questions only. I don’t have time to placate your Warrior worries Matt C. from Santa Monica.

**Warning these next few questions are Arrow specific and contains some spoilers, so skip over if you do not want to be spoiled or if you’re an idiot and not interested in the series. 

 

Where do you put Arrow Season 2 on your list of all-time seasons? Is it Pantheon worthy? – Arthur, Cincinnati file_178947_1_arrow_season_2_poster

Good question. I’ll need some time to reflect before I can properly rate it, but I will say that it definitely lands in my top 10 fantastic seasons and I mean “fan”tastic literally. Look, there is no comparing Arrow to shows like The Wire, Sopranos, Mad Men, or Breaking Bad. It has completely different goals and aspirations. If I were to compare it to another show it would be Lost. In its day Lost was on Game of Thrones level of anticipation, hype, and excitement. People broke it down like a thesis paper, but in hindsight it was not much more than  fan-serving, high concept entertainment. It was not trying to make big sweeping statements about society or discover a deeper meaning in life. It was simply trying to keep fans on the edge of their seats with twists and turns, action, and love triangles to get Shippers hot and bothered. Arrow does the same thing, but actually makes some more nuanced, profound observations on society, specifically greed, desire, social and fiscal class disparity, and how we are defined as people. This season packed in a lot of narrative and highlighted Oliver Queen’s journey from a killer to a hero that was capped off in the finale this week. Excellently executed as well, may I add. 

How worried should we be about the status of Caity Lotz for Season 3 of Arrow? Why has it not  been announced that she has been upped to Regular? Shouldn’t have this been down by now? What is going on? Do we need to riot if this doesn’t happen by the Fall? – Jana, Vancouver

I cannot be robbed of Oliver and Sara time.

I cannot be robbed of Oliver and Sara time.

Excellent question, Jana. But let’s not panic quite yet. The fact that Sara Lance survived this season is a good sign. I was a bit surprised that her life was not once in peril the entire episode and the lack of a conversation between her and Oliver in the wake of their apparent break-up. Arrow has a lot of masters and characters to serve, which is why I was hoping for more bodies to drop other than Moira Queen’s. In an ideal world Roy and Laurel would die heroically and our remaining, much more interesting characters would have something to grieve moving forward. I do not want Arrow to become too soapy or sappy with its love stories, but I would like some more time to explore Oliver’s romantic entanglements.

He seems to fall in-and-out of relationships rather quickly, which makes sense given everything that he has been through. I too would be grasping for anything that I thought would make me happy, especially if Caity Lotz and Summer Glau are involved, and yet be scared to commit due to the demons I carry around. But just a few weeks ago he asked Sara to move in with him and then got dumped. I would’ve liked to see more of his reaction to this as I thought it was a big step in his character progression, but the show seemed to be sweeping it under the rug.

This is the only Black Canary I'll ever recognize.

This is the only Black Canary I’ll ever recognize.

In fact the show did not do well by Sara/The Canary at all in the last few episodes, between the heavy handed approach to showing her that she is a hero, to not explaining why she was back and then randomly inserting the League of Assassins back in her life, to then having her get on a boat with said League and no one seeming to have a big issue with her leaving for an undetermined amount of time. Where the hell was Oliver for this decision? Why couldn’t he say good-bye? Damn it, Jana, now you’ve got me mad too.

I don’t want to watch Laurel become the Canary. It makes no sense. Sara has years of training by the most deadly organization in the world. Laurel is a bumbling, idiot, drunk attorney who ruins every story she is in, please, please don’t let her become a part of team Arrow. Not after the awesomeness that was Sara and Caity Lotz. Please Marc Guggenheim, don’t make me suffer through this ordeal. Please Ali Benmohamed, Caity Lotz’s agent, take whatever deal CW offers you for series regular status. Actually check that, damn it CW, don’t cheap out on me. Please offer Ms. Lotz whatever she wants. Don’t ruin your hit show. Please, please, please. Otherwise you will have to deal with Jana and I rioting your headquarters.

On a scale of 1-10 how cruel was Arrow to us Olicity, Oliver and Felicity, shippers? – Dave, Salt Lake City

Pretty rough, I must admit, as a Saliver I was not that pissed off about the fake out. In fact I was relieved, not that I’m against Felicity and Oliver being romantically involved, more so that this confession came out of nowhere and was on the heels of Oliver just asking Sara to move in with him. It felt false for Oliver to admit something big like this out of the blue and was much more satisfied that it was part of a plan to end Deathstroke. I have no doubt that the endgame goal is to get Felicity and Oliver together, but I hope they do not take the traditional narrative of dragging out a will they/won’t they between them till the very end. I would much rather see them actually date or at least hook up some time in the next season .

 

** This concludes our Arrow portion of the Mail Bag. 

Seriously though, is Kerr going to rely too heavily on the Triangle? Won’t that limit some of Curry’s creativity? And isn’t having a high basketball IQ different for broadcasting than coaching? Isn’t a big part of it gaining the respect and love of your players? – Matt C., Santa Monica

Alright, alright Matt C. I will address your precious Warriors. It is a highly risky move. A big part of Kerr’s appeal is how badly Phil wanted him to coach the Knicks, but I do believe that part of that was having a former player he could control in order to coach the team without actually coaching. Look at who is backup choice appears to be, Derek Fisher, falls into the same camp as Kerr. I do think that the Triangle will give the Warriors more stability on offense and that Kerr will not solely run it, so you guys will be difficult to defend. Mark Jackson’s offense was Vinny Del Negro bland and relied far too heavily on Curry high pick n’ roll and Iso post-ups on perceived mismatches. These plays are so common and therefore easier to defend. With the amount of shooting the Warriors have there is no excuse for having this bland of an offense. I think it will see marked improvement next season. The question marks are will these players work as hard on the defensive end as they did for Jackson. We will have to see. If they do though, I think the Warriors rise past the Rockets and Blazers into the top-four of the West giving them a better path to the Western Conference Finals. You happy, Matt C. from Santa Monica?

How bad was the How I Met Your Mother finale? Worst of all-time? And how happy are Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld to be off the sitcom finale snide? – Joan, Tulsa

Again, don’t want to be a prisoner of the moment, but if How I Met Your Mother followed the Dinosaurs blueprint of causing their species to go extinct, I think it would’ve gone over better with fans.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/briangalindo/dinosaurs-the-most-traumatizing-series-finale-ever

And am I the only person in the world that actually enjoyed the Seinfeld finale and found it to be a funny, unique way to end a sitcom, while also being a fitting ending for those characters. Count me as a Seinfeld finale defender till the day I die.

Why aren’t more people talking about Orphan Black? More importantly why aren’t more people talking about Tatiana Maslany and what an amazing performance she is giving? I’m shocked and disappointed that you’ve not done a Women I Love article on her yet. – Angela, Detroit

Keep smiling Tatiana. You're a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Keep smiling Tatiana. You’re a first ballot Hall of Famer.

I just finished season one of Orphan Black this week, so give me some time on the Women I Love article because you’re right I’m absolutely in love with Maslany. I do not want to go into specifics of the show because it is a must watch. Maslany is giving a Sandy Koufax-esque acting performance. This is the fastest I’ve ever seen anyone wrap up Hall of Fame status. I do not even need to see how the rest of the series plays out, I’m ready to give it to her now. Everyone, please make it a priority to watch this show immediately. Mad Men, Veep, and Game of Thrones is coming to a close in a couple weeks and there is not much quality TV on the horizon this summer. The first season is only 10 episodes and you’ll breeze through them. Consider this a decree, watch Orphan Black or never get a mailbag again.

 

 

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