Every season there are those shows that have no hope. The shows that are DEFINITELY going to get cancelled. The shows that only got made because the network couldn’t find a reality show to slide into that time slot. You know heading in that it’s going to be gone by midseason, yet you defy all common sense and you still ante up.
This show makes those shows seem like sure things.
There is a very real chance The Playboy Club gets cancelled during its’ first commercial break. So, of course, I’m in.
That was my pre-season assessment of The Playboy Club. And while it did make it out of its’ first episode….it didn’t make too much further. So while it’s impossible to say that I didn’t see this coming, I must confess, it stings nonetheless.
But why you ask? Well, I’ve spent the last day and half trying to wrap my head around that very same question and I’m pretty sure I’ve come to a conclusion (yet another perk to my daily 3-state, 3 hour sojourn to and from work (or commute as most people call it…and yes this is another case of a parenthetical statement within another parenthetical statement)).
I guess because I’ve been able to put so much time into analyzing this (because obviously, there really aren’t any more important things I should be thinking about), I not only have one reason as to why I’m so hurt by this show being cancelled, but I actually have two of them. So without further ado (I would say 256 words is enough ado), here the two reasons why I’m so bothered by The Playboy Club being cancelled.
1. Whatever happened to bad TV?
Don’t get me wrong, this was bad TV (really bad TV actually). But I would argue that that is exactly the reason why we need this show. With the explosion of reality TV, bad TV has become a lost art form. Judging by production costs alone, the networks would obviously much rather go out with a “bad TV” reality show than a “bad TV” non-reality show. But I would argue that in that thinking, there is a massive void in our TV viewing selection.
You see, sometimes, I don’t want a sitcom that hits me with some adaptation of a joke that has been used approximately 378 times in 216 different shows since the first time it was used in a 1956 episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
And sometimes, I don’t want to watch a drama where I can sniff out the entire story line (definitely for the episode, and quite possibly for the season) about 7-8 seconds after the opening credits have cleared the screen (yes Grey’s Anatomy, I’m talking to you. To be honest, I actually liked Grey’s the first time it was on. I think they called it ER back then).
I don’t want it to make me a better person. I don’t want it to make some huge veiled statement about our society as a whole. But most importantly, I don’t want it to make me think.
Because, sometimes, I just want bad TV. I want mindless TV (Donna Martin graduates!). I want it to be over-the-top (the Melrose Place explosion at the pool). I want to be able to shut off my brain, watch without thinking, be completely entertained and love every ridiculously absurd minute of it.
The Playboy Club was all of those things. And now it’s gone. Thanks a lot NBC! Which is actually a good segue into my next point (it’s almost like I’m planning this as I write or something).
2. Fear of Commitment
How many times have you gone against your better judgement and gone all in on a show? You knew from the moment they announced it that the network wasn’t entirely sold on it. You knew they were just looking for a reason to cancel it. You knew that the only reason they put it in the fall lineup was because they’re already having trouble justifying 7 hours of The Biggest Loser a week on top of the 4 hours of Minute to Win It, and they figured that had to have some original programming…right? Didn’t they?
You knew all of this, yet you still went in on The Black Donnellys, and Journeyman, and Southland, and Kidnapped, and Pushing Daisies, and The Event, and Flash Forward, and Detroit 1-8-7, and of course on The Playboy Club.
And then the network did exactly what you knew they would they do. At the first sign of distress, they cancelled it. And in its’ place, they created a new SVU or they extended Deal or No Deal another hour longer. They got nice and safe…and lazy. Of course, these are the same folks who tried to cancel possibly the greatest TV drama of all time (Friday Night Lights) and the greatest TV comedy of all time (Arrested Development) every single season they were on.
So let me save you all the time since I have a good eye for these doomed shows. If you happen to be watching Terra Nova….yep…you already know…don’t you? Maybe Netflix (or whatever they call it now) an old season of The Wire or something. Sorry to be the bearer of bad new, I guess I just miss The Playboy Club.
Am I the only one? Was I the only one watching the shows mentioned above? Did I happen to miss any? I would love to hear about them..
We are now in full swing for the fall season, and that means that Sunday night TV makes for one helluva marathon Weekend Rally. Five and a half hours of shows to power through, and I have somehow justified that I should really make every effort to watch all of them tonight. I can’t see how that would be a bad idea. So with that in mind, I’ve taken to writing this post as I watch my TV. No worries kids, I’m a professional. My ADHD lends itself perfectly to writing a TV watching/Facebook checking/Diet Coke drinking /Get Glue-ing/Tweeting-fueled new post for the TVpocalypse blog.
So with that, I give you a rapid fire representation of my stream of consciousness as it relates to the past couple of days of TV. How is this different than any other post you ask? Well, it’s not too different actually…but this one will have bullets!!
• First of all, I’d like to thank those of you who took the time to weigh in and vote on the inaugural TVpocalypse Queue Poll. It seems as though 25 shows really isn’t enough, and I will no doubt have a couple of new entries on the TVpocalypse Top 25…and then some. Be sure to check back tomorrow to see the latest and greatest poll (yet another shameless plug than you every much).
• And while I never had any intention of this blog being anything more than my seemingly incoherent musings on my obsessive TV habits, never mind a new breaking outlet, tonight I simply can’t help myself. CUE THE BREAKING NEWS SCREEN GRAPHIC AND THEME MUSIC!!! Arrested Development is BACK! And not only a movie, but 10 episodes to catch up with the Bluth’s and lead into the long-awaited movie (coming early 2013….ugh). And TMZ said it’s true…so you know it HAS to be real. Plus, Will Arnett later confirmed it on Twitter. To say that I’m excited would be an understatement in the neighborhood of saying Tony Romo seems to have some issues late in games in a big spot. I now have two hopes. One is that the ratings on these episodes go through the roof so FOX will be forced to bring them back for many, many, many more seasons. And two is that Dr. Tobias Funke has his Analrapist practice up and running.
• I might have been slightly dramatic in posting my Fringe obituary. While I still miss both the Peter/Olivia and Peter/Walter dynamic (not to mention the Olivia/Walter dynamic), I will admit that the second episode was a marked improvement over the first one. Consider the deathwatch called off. I’m giving Fringe a stay of execution.
• As I sit here watching Real Housewives NJ, awaiting the long-teased On Display performance, I have come to the realization that if someone were to tell me that Caroline snapped and killed Teresa on this Punta Cana trip….I wouldn’t necessarily not believe it.
• OK, I just watched the afore mentioned On Display performance. Ummmm….a-maz-ing. The pre-performance prayer to her father and to baby Jesus (out loud for the cameras….of course). The lip-syncing, which begs to be examined. In my mind, Melissa lip-synced for one of two reasons. She either bombed the sound check so bad that they said, “no f’n way you’re singing live, we’re putting a track on for the performance”, OR she bombed the performance so bad that she said “no f’n way your airing that horrific sound on the show” and had Bravo place the track over it. Either way, it’s off the charts hysterical. Big season finale next week! Say it loud and say it proud, “YOU’RE MY F#$%N FATHER!”
The Unwatched List
Just a reminder for the newbies, the Unwatched List is the list of shows which remain on my DVR unwatched at the end of the week. If a show remains unwatched by the time I go to bed on a Sunday night, odds are it won’t be on the TVpocalypse Top 25 Poll for very long.
This week’s list is really a collection of two types of shows. There are those that were forgotten due to the limitations of the time space continuum (translation: there are only so many hours in a Sunday night), and there are those other shows that were simply forgotten (on purpose).
This week’s Pan Am and Hung have yet to be watched. I will get to them tomorrow for sure. Or Pan Am for sure, and Hung….probably (maybe Hung is somewhere in between the two sections of the list). As for the forgotten side of the list, no shocker there really. Harry’s Law and Person of Interest, it was nice not knowing you.
The Worst Episode of the Week
Whitney (First Date)
Remember that whole post last week about Whitney really finding it’s sweet spot and staying there, and capturing the whole guy point of view through the eyes of woman? And remember when I said this would be on the TVpocalypse Top 25 without a doubt? And remember when I said this show was good? Yeah….ummm….nevermind.
As pitch perfect as this show was in its’ pilot episode, it was the exact opposite in episode two. This show failed the laptop test worse than Vince Young failed the Wonderlic test. Nevermind popping open my laptop, if I could have gotten up from the couch and started a kitchen makeover I would have done that before watch the rest of this show with any kind of concerted effort.
I’ll give Whitney an episode or two to pull itself out of the Bridesmaids trap, but unless it does, I don’t think you guys will be hearing a whole lot about this show here at TVpocalypse.
Be sure to come back tomorrow to see this week’s TVpocalypse Top 25 Poll…I have a feeling you’ll barely recognize it from last week. Another shameless plug. Aaaaaand scene.
5. X Factor (Seemingly Every Day @ 8pm on FOX)
A note for my readers: While this show has aired, I have barely watched a minute of it yet, and while I still am confident I will be on board, let’s just say the bits and pieces of feedback I have received from those who have watched it are not entirely encouraging. I will be knocking out the 12 hours of X Factor shows (or maybe it just seemed that way) this evening with my 9 year-old daughter. At least she’s very excited still. I have a bad feeling this could be taking a nosedive.
Although I am a bit worried that this format is getting a bit tired (see The Voice), I trust Simon when he says that this show will be entirely different. Two years ago (Simon’s last year) Idol was hard to watch. I’ll chalk that up to him being checked out and already being consumed with X Factor (that and the fact that he seemed to like Ellen about as much as Paula likes doing the show straight). And last year, Idol was an unmitigated disaster. To call it unwatchable would be kind.
Apparently, there was so much talent in last year’s show that no one was bad…or ever made a mistake…or was poorly dressed….or botched a performance…at least according to last year’s “judges”. And I use quotes around “judges” only because that would somehow insinuate that there was actual judging happening at some point during last season.
I have always enjoyed Simon, and I actually like to hear his take on things, and last year’s Idol only made me want for more of Simon (only in the way where I’m NOT a 19 year Hollywood starlet looking for her meal ticket). The fact that a sloshed Paula is along for the ride is merely icing on the cake….or a Vicodin on top of an Oxycontin cocktail in Paula’s world.
4. Dexter (Sundays @ 9pm on SHO)
Six Feet Under is on my all-time pantheon of must-watch, great TV shows. So just like Will Arnett will always bring me in to any show moving forward because of his work on Arrested Devlopment, much of the cast from Six Feet Under has the same pull over me. Peter Krause brought me in to Parenthood, and Michael C. Hall has done the same for me with Dexter.
With that being said, this show has been great….for the most part. I would argue that season 1 was possibly one of the best seasons of television any show has ever produced. That, my friends, is a blessing and a curse.
The following two seasons, while very good, never really captured the brilliant storytelling established in it’s opening season. But that was quickly quelled in season 4 when John Lithgow’s on-screen dueling with Michael C. Hall made the show as great as it ever was, which of course made for a tough act to follow…again. But while last season was a bit slow at times, it did seem to find it’s footing by mid-season and finished strong…setting up high hopes for this season. Fingers crossed.
On a completely side note, the show has brought on Colin Hanks for a prominent role this season. Let me begin by saying, the work of his that I’ve seen, I like. But he kind of creeps me out. He looks just enough like his dad (Tom Hanks…duh) to make you take a double take, but just different enough to make it odd somehow. He and Jason Ritter are very similar that way. It’s almost as if they are CGI representations of what their famous fathers (John Ritter…duh) would look like if they were younger, but only we know what they looked like when they were younger, and it wasn’t like that. (Cue the crickets). Maybe it’s just me.
Regardless, I’m hopeful we get a season 1 & 4 Dexter, and not a season 2 & 3.
3. Sons of Anarchy (Tuesdays @ 9pm on FX)
This is my first year watching this show. This was the show that my friends would harass me about. “You watch every show on TV…you HAVE to watch Sons…you’ll LOVE it!” This of course makes me resist even further (because I’m stubborn and a general pain in the ass like that).
Finally, one day this summer I was playing with my Netflix on Apple TV and I figured, “What the hell? I’ll give it a try.” Three weeks and three full seasons later, I was fully up to speed and fully on board. It’s just a great show, and season 4 is off to a flying start.
With that being said, I have one complaint….of course. Charlie Hunnam is too goddamn pretty. Don’t get me wrong, I love the character of Jax and his performance as the morally-torn would be king of the Sons is pitch perfect. But, if you look at him in the context of what you think the biker gang scene should be…and in the context of the other actors and actresses they’ve cast for the rest of Sons and their rival gangs….it’s a LITTLE hard to accept.
How would such a pretty boy be born of such hard looking people? And if he was that pretty, how would he not have his ass kicked up and down by every newbie punk who was looking to make a name for himself in the gang? I guess the argument would be that BECAUSE he was a pretty boy, Jax needed to learn to protect himself better than anyone else. I would argue that it probably would have been easier to simply cast a banged up actor. Can’t Hollywood go and find the next Jackie Earle Haley?
2. Boardwalk Empire (Sundays @ 9pm on HBO)
Not only was season one tremendous in every respect (storylines, character development, production value…and on and on and on), but it set the stage for what could be an even better season two. I know I like a show when I watch the trailer for the coming season and get goose bumps resembling the ones I get when Rocky is able to somehow get up and leave Creed on the mat. I have but one concern for this show, and that is cost. And before you go asking why the hell I would concern myself about HBO’s production costs, allow me to explain.
Let’s be honest, this show must cost a bloody fortune to make. Period clothes. Period cars. Insanely detailed sets. A-list talent. Massive amounts of CGI to recreate Prohibition era Atlantic City. Oh, and some guy name Scorcese producing the whole thing. You see, I’ve been burned by HBO on this sort of thing before. I loved Rome…and then they went and cancelled it because it cost as much as creating a Hollywood blockbuster every week.
It’s difficult to complain about the product that HBO puts out there, but you must admit, it is a bit troubling when a show like Rome gets canned after two years, while Arli$$ was on the air for what seemed like an eternity.
From a straight TV-viewing standpoint, this show is incomparable. You could watch pretty much any other drama on TV and think, “Wow, this is great!” and then watch Boardwalk Empire after it and be made immediately aware of how not-great that other show is. You see, this show is basically a different species. It’s not a TV show. It’s an Oscar-worthy, 12-hour movie that airs an hour at a time over the span of 3 months. It’s that great.
1. Modern Family (Wednesdays @ 9pm on ABC)
This show is just plain funny. There are so many great characters that it’s hard to pick your favorite. In that way, and because of the fact that it’s such a great ensemble of players, I ALMOST want to compare it to Arrested Development….but then sense returns and I think better of it.
With that being said, it’s still one of the most consistent shows out there, and even its’ “bad” days aren’t all too bad. Couple that with what was an off-the-charts hysterical season premiere taking place at a Dude Ranch and I have high hopes for another strong season from this year’s Emmys darling. (Thank God the “take the cast to Jackson Hole” boondoggle wasn’t The Brady’s go to Hawaii or worse yet, The Keaton’s go to London…because it very easily could have been.
On a completely side note…again (I can’t really help it, my mind works in non-sequiturs), what the hell was up with the boy who gave Alex her first kiss? I would argue that while he didn’t set Italian-Americans back as far as Buddy from Cake Boss, he was definitely worse than the Jerseylicious crew. What was the point? Does everything have to be Jersey-fied now? Because by hinting that he lived some 2400 miles away leads me to believe that he’s from Jersey…and by the looks of him, probably Garfield. The joke was too easy, and I guess I expect more from these writers.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out part 1 , part 2 , part 3, and part 4 of the TVpocalypse Pre-Season Top 25 poll!
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15. Blue Mountain State (Wednesdays @ 10pm on Spike)
Since it seems that about 82.7% of my readership (give or take .3%) are women, I’m going to go ahead and be completely transparent on this one. Ladies, you’re probably not going to like this show. And as if the fact that this show is on Spike wasn’t evidence enough, let me go ahead and make one point perfectly clear…this show was not made with you in mind.
Here’s what Blue Mountain State is. It’s completely mindless. It’s bankrupt of any real character development or arcs (in fact, I’m going to go ahead and guarantee that the word arc has never come up in any of the writers’ meetings for this show). The football scenes are entirely unrealistic. And the main reason for that would be that there is only one (at most two) members of the cast that looks capable of suiting up for a Pop Warner football team….nevermind a major D-I college football team. There’s binge drinking and rampant drug use, but don’t worry, that’s all offset by the steady stream of gratuitous female near-nudity.
And for whatever reason (or maybe exactly those reasons), I can’t stop watching.
14. The League (Thursdays @ 10:30pm on FX)
The League is a show about a bunch of old friends who play against each other in a fantasy football league. Yep, another one for the ladies.
My friends with whom I am in a fantasy football league had been harassing me about this show for a while (12 of us in the league, 9 of which were in the same freshmen year homeroom at Bergen Catholic High School…might explain my eventual affinity for this show). Yet for one reason or another, I never seemed to get around to it. Then, last spring, I finally powered through season one on Apple TV. I think I knocked it out in about all of 3 days…always a good sign.
It’s just an extremely watchable show. Sure, there are some fatal flaws (e.g. FX not having the money to cast a full 10 or 12 guys and thus having certain league members who are never seen or heard, but instead are only mentioned in the context of their draft or weekly match-ups), but they also happen to nail some of the ridiculously fun nuances that make fantasy football so great.
The elaborate trash-talking and mean-spirited banter that goes back and forth between otherwise grown men (I may or may not write a weekly 1400 word recap that is merely a platform through which to taunt my lifelong friends with many of the same barbs that were thrown at them as far as back as 1989). The ridiculously excessive amount of time and work league members are willing to put into the management of their teams just for the right to win an imaginary game with their imaginary team for a chance to win their imaginary championship. I guess when you put it in writing, it is a bit hard to grasp the allure of fantasy football…and, cue the ladies jumping back over to dooce.com.
Anyway, throw in what looks like a recurring role for Seth Rogen this season and I’m borderline moderately excited for this season (don’t think they’ll be running with that quote for their upfronts….”FX is proud to bring back The League for a third season 3, TVpocalypse says “I’m borderline moderately excited for this season”).
13. Up All Night (Wednesdays @ 8pm on NBC)
Arrested Development might very well be the greatest show ever created. I’m going to go ahead and put that out there. And on top of that, GOB might very well be my favorite character on my favorite TV show ever. And because of that, I’m basically willing to give Will Arnett a chance on any project he ever takes on. Hell, I was one of the 14 people watching Running Wilde last year (I was one of the 3 of those 14 people who actually liked it).
With that being said, I was very excited when I saw he was back with a new show along with Christina Applegate (a.k.a. Veronica Corningstone, a.k.a. Kelly Bundy). And what got me even more enthused was the fact that the trailers looked pretty damn funny. Of course, what got me LESS enthused was when I watched the pilot episode last week and it seemed as though every single highlight had already been seen in said trailer. Ruh roh. I’m blindly hoping against hope on this one. Of course the upside of this show failing would be a greater sense of urgency for Will Arnett to go and make that Arrested Development finally happen.
12. Fringe (Fridays @ 9pm on FOX)
Here’s what I’m going to hope for in this upcoming season of Fringe:
I hope there’s only one of every character.
I hope that unlike one of his other shows (I’m not going to name names, but it rhymes with Cost), that J.J. Abrams actually has some sort of an idea as to where this show’s story is going.
And finally, I hope that said idea is not “they’re time traveling” or “they were all dead the whole time” or worse yet, “the ending is left for the viewers to interpret.”
I promise you, if I see one smoke monster or polar bear roaming in front of the Twin Towers in an alternate universe as a zeppelin goes over head….I might very well instantaneously quit this show.
11. How I Met Your Mother (Mondays @ 8pm on CBS)
It almost seems like the writers pitched this show built around a father in the future telling his kids about “how he met their mother” with not a whole lot of faith that the network would actually buy the idea and give them the green light. And because of that, they hadn’t really figured out how this would all play out in any kind of long term way. Imagine if you will:
Summer 2004. The creators of How I Met Your Mother are finishing their pitch to CBS.
Writers: …and we’d call it How I Met Your Mother. Get it?! Because he’s always telling the story of how he met her. Well, whaddya think?!
CBS execs: Great. Love it. Make it. Maybe change the name, but we’re in!
Writers: Really? I mean…great. See you at the Emmy’s! Hahaha!
CBS Execs leave the room.
Writers: Now what the f$#% do we do?
And now seven years later, in many ways it seems like they’re asking that very same question. How long can one show stretch out one premise (7 years and counting I guess). If I hadn’t been on this show since day one, I’d have been long gone already. I’m just in too deep, or as I like to call it, I’m “Entourage-d”.