Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Try to hold on without me

I'm off early tomorrow to cover the Telluride Film Festival, which runs through Monday. After which I'll be joining Gazette outdoors writer David Philipps for a trek to the most remote spot in the state of Colorado. With llamas! That should be interesting (and if it's not, shame on me).

I'll be back here Friday, Sept. 7, just in time to twiddle my thumbs for a week until the fall TV season starts.

Never fear, however: I've pre-written my column for Sept. 6. And it's on HBO's explicitly sexy drama "Tell Me You Love Me." Rrrrrow. Don't miss it -- I use the word "prosthetics" in a suggestive manner. Alert the FCC!

If you feel the need to discuss television in the meantime, feel free to use the comments sectionon this post.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Countdown is on for "Kid Nation"

This week's TV Talk lays odds on which of the new fall TV shows may get canceled before it ever even airs. At the top of my list is CBS' "Kid Nation," the reality show that has come under fire for endangering children and skirting child labor laws.

At first, all was well after shooting completed. Then came the rumors, then the allegations, then the investigations and now the calls for cancellation.

Man, I hope I don't have to re-write that column if "Kid" gets the axe tomorrow. Hadn't thought about that.


Jay's not going quietly into that good night

Apparently Mr. Leno is running out of patience for playing the good soldier:

Friday, August 24, 2007

MacMullan headed to CW2

Just chatted with former KRDO/Channel 13 "Good Morning Colorado" anchor Kellie MacMullan. She's had the past two weeks off and says she's been getting more sleep than she has in four years.

That ends next week, when she starts as a reporter and fill-in anchor for CW2's morning news up in Denver. Comcast carries CW2 on Channel 22, so if you're a Mac fan, you can still watch her. Her first day on air should be Thursday, when she'll be filling in on the anchor desk.

"I loved Colorado Springs," Mac said. "It’s been a great, great time to be here. I want to tell everybody, 'Thank you for watching.'"

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Anchorwoman sinks like a, uh, you know what

Fox pulls the plug on "Anchorwoman" after one episode. Ouch! TV newscasters can now breathe easier: Your jobs appear to be safe from former WWE divas.

I'm not going to argue that it was "Archie Bunker" or anything, but the audience's complete indifference is kind of shocking.
Damn, I guess this is the last photo of Lauren I get to use.


FNL sneak preview

In my continuing quest to drive away anyone who is any less than a "Friday Night Light" zealot, I pass along this tidbit: NBC is giving 1,000 people a sneak preview Sept. 14 of the FNL season premiere, plus a bunch of Dillon Panthers memorabilia. Suh-weet.

Get the details here.


"You're plagiarizing your own blog"

Well, sure. And borrowing somebody else's idea, to boot (albeit with credit). But it's the end of August and standards may be slipping a touch.

Lemmee assure you, though, I've got big plans for the fall. Huge. I'm going to turn that "the 80's are back meme into a column, maybe a cover story, and I've got a whole exploration of the tao of Judd Apatow worked out, not to mention some truly profound thoughts on what NBC has to do to climb out of the gutter.

All to come, but not until the season starts.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Weigh in on Fox's new reality show exploring the intersection of small-town news and Hollywood bimbos.

I thought it made for pretty funny television, although even by today's reality show standards it seems as fake as a $3 bill. Whatever, though, fake or real, Annalisa makes a great petty bitch and Lauren is a first-class bimbo.

You have to wonder, though: If they let the bimbo actually learn anything, then the show would just be like watching the news. Which is not all that exciting, most nights, especially if it's somebody else's local news. So the premiere may be as good as it gets.

It would be nice - well, educational - if they showed a little more of what goes into actually putting on a live newscast. It's a complicated process.

P.S. - We totally need a weather dog around here.


All done!

I made it through the last of the fall premieres on my lunch today. "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" wrapped up the list - it's a spin-off of the Terminator franchise.

The fall premiere season is a little more organized this year than it has in the past, mostly because Fox isn't launching a bunch of shows at the end of August to give them a head start before the baseball postseason. The premieres don't really get rolling until the week of Sept. 16. Not coincidentally, you can read my preview on Sept. 16.

Here's a tiny taste, though: If you can squeeze one new show into your schedule, try "Pushing Daisies" on ABC. If you can squeeze two more in, try the CW's "Reaper." And if you've got room for three, add NBC's "Chuck."

"Chuck" and "Reaper" are actually the same show, except that features a collector for Satan and the other is about a tech support guy at Circuit City. Don't let that confuse you, though. They're both Judd Apatow wanna-bes. Whereas "Pushing Daisies" is a Tim Burton wanna-be.

Anyway, much, much, much more to come.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Love Friday Night Lights, or your money back!

Here's a new wrinkle on my favorite windmill to tilt at: The first season of NBC's "Friday Night Lights" is out on DVD and they're offering a money-back guarantee. That's right: Love it, or your money back.

Now, I'll be buying the DVD set just so I'll have Connie Britton's speech from the "Let's Have Sex" episode on hand for when my own (future) son or daughter is at that age. Saves me all kinds of work, you see. But everyone else should buy it just because it's really, really great television.
And once you're all caught up, the new season begins Oct. 5.


Top Gear returns

I missed this on Monday, but BBC America just started running the most recent season of "Top Gear," the world's best car show. Seriously, my wife watches this show, that's how good it is. Good enough to upgrade your cable package to get BBC America, in my opinion.

New episodes air at 7 p.m. Mondays, with repeats throughout the week.


Monday, August 20, 2007

HSM = High School Monster

The Disney Channel's Friday night broadcast of "High School Musical 2" earned the highest ratings in television history among viewers ages 6-11.

I use italics to highlight that fact even though I have no idea what else might have previously topped that list ... because I love italics.

And it was the highest rated entertainment program ever among 9-14-year-olds. The total audience tallied 17.4 million viewers.

There's a lesson to be learned here. Somewhere. Presumably.

Actually, I think this is like the inevitable "what will be the next Harry Potter phenomenon" questions after "The Deathly Hallows" came out. There won't be a next Harry Potter, although there will be a bunch of moderately successful imitators. Likewise, try as they will, "High School Musical" struck a chord, but didn't create a new consituency of pre-teen musical theater lovers waiting for the next Technicolor dance number to come along.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Mmmmmmmmega snake!

So I watched "Mega Snake," the Sci Fi Channel creature feature they gave Matthew Atherton a part in for winning last year's "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?"

And lemmee tell ya, it full on rocked. Picture "The Dukes of Hazzard," with the Duke boys fighting a giant snake. And, oh yeah, the whole thing being filmed in Romania so all the extras have ridiculous southern accents dubbed in. Can you even imagine how great that would be?

Sadly, Feedback (Atherton's superhero alter ego) does not play a large role in the snake fighting. Nor does earn immortality by getting eaten by the snake (although pretty much everyone else does). But his appearance does throw yet another element of super cheesy goodness into the proceedings, so it's all to the good.

It airs Aug. 25. Cancel your weekend plans, stat!
(that picture is not, in fact, of a Mega Snake, but rather an ordinary bull snake. My apologies)

No green screen

This Zap2it brief about "The Daily Show's" Rob Riggle actually, for real reporting from Iraq was mildly interesting. What really caught my attention was the news that Riggle is a major in Marine Corps Reserve.

Seriously, a major? What kind of jokers do they promote to colonel?

Buh-da-cha! I'll be here all night, folks.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Desert islands now come with cable!

Tim Goodman at the San Francisco Chronicle came up with a great "what if" game: What if you could only watch three TV channels? 3. Tres. Drei.

Goodman's picks are HBO, ESPN and FX.

I'm really not sure what he's watching on FX that's so hot, but whatever.

I'd agree that it would be tough to dump ESPN now that it has Monday Night Football, but I'm not a big enough baseball or basketball fan to miss it the rest of the year.

HBO... now that's a tough one. There's really nothing on there now that I simply could not live without (as much as I like Flight of the Conchords). But there certainly has been before and I have faith that there will be again.
Of course, the rules of the game don't stipulate that you're stuck with the same three forever, so presumably I could add HBO or ESPN for part of the year and limit myself to other choices the rest of the time. Heck, there's long periods of the fall and summer when I'm not too far away from that now.

Man, I just realized there's really nothing other than "Lost" I watch on ABC. I can't pick a network just for one show, can I? ABC is pimping "Pushing Daisies" this fall - probably my favorite new show of the fall - but that's still just two shows. It'd be easier if they still had MNF. Of course, they do still have the best college football package...

OK, so my three:
1. NBC - "30 Rock," "Friday Night Lights," "Heroes" and "The Office." Those first two may not last the year, but I'd still need my NBC for the other pair.
2. Discovery - There's no one thing I couldn't live without here, but lots of stuff I like - "Dirty Jobs," "Deadliest Catch," making fun of "Man vs. Wild," repeats of "Survivorman," "Mythbusters."
3. Comedy Central - "Daily Show," Colbert Report," "Reno 911," "South Park." Really, Comedy Central is HBO with a better track record. I don't see how I could make it through an election year without Jon Stewart (even when he goes off on moralistic rants like he did last night with Stephen Hayes).

Now it's your turn.


Just got a screener for the Sci Fi creature feature that "Who Wants to Be a Superhero?" winner and Palmer grad Matthew Atherton stars in. Or co-stars. Or something. I'm unclear.

Anyway, the title is Mega Snake. Which is awesome.

I can hardly wait to plug this into the ol' DVD player.

It premieres at 7 p.m. Aug. 25. Set your Tivo now.

Zac is soooo dreamy

"High School Musical 2" debuts at 9 p.m. tomorrow, to the delight of pre-teen girls everywhere. And I do mean everywhere: Colorado Springs, Los Angeles, France, Mare Imbrium (unfurrow your brow - it's on the Moon).

If you have a teen or pre-teen girl in your household who is waiting with bated breath for this epochal event, lemmee know. I'm hoping to get some reviews from fans to post to the Gazette Web site Friday night or Saturday morning. Just a couple sentences or so -

If you are a teen or pre-teen girl yourself... you need to stop reading TV blogs and get out to wherever it is teenage girls hang out these days. School, maybe? The mall?
But after the mall, e-mail me a "HSM2" review!


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Today seeps into tomorrow

NBC just announced that the "Today" show will expand to four hours in September. That, my friends, is a lot of morning television news.

Not to fear, however: Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira will only go three-deep -- Ann Curry will anchor Hour Four with Natalie Morales and Hoda Kotb.

At the rate we're going, it's only a matter of time until the network morning shows last clear up til noon, then we'll have local news til 6, network news til 7, an hour or so of primetime and then another six or eight or 12 hours of news.


John returns to Cincinnati

The Hollywood Reporter has the obit on the summer's most predictable cancellation.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Summer's best

As the back-to-school ads in yesterday's newspaper portend, summer is coming to an end. A couple months back, I wrote about the quality of summer cable TV and I'll be doing a winners and losers recap this Thursday in the TV column.

"Damages," "Saving Grace," "Flight of the Conchords," a resurgent "Big Love"... those would be my winners. Plus maybe "Rock of Love" and "Scott Baio is 45 and single" on the reality side of the ledger.

"John from Cincinnati," "The Company," the duller-than-dirt "Entourage" ... those are the losers in my book.

But tell me what you think. What did you watch this summer, what did you turn your nose up at?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Weeds season premiere

I poke some mild fun today at David Duchovny's new Showtime show, Californication, but didn't get the chance to talk much about the return of Showtime's other big comedy, Weeds. They both premeir on Monday.

I watched the first four Weeds episodes and... they're pretty good. Last season left off on a particularly nasty cliffhanger and the third season picks that thread right up and keeps it spinning. Not to give anything away, but it looks like it'll be a tough season for the gang.

And Kevin Nealon continues to pretty much steal this show. How come he's never been this good in anything else?
UPDATE: Yeah, I know: I've got the wrong person in their underwear in that photo. Haven't come up with a better one yet, though.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Fox 21's new morning news

Anyone have some thoughts on KXRM/Channel 21's new morning news? I caught the last half-hour (weekends have a way of wiping my memory clear, leaving me a tabula rasa on Monday mornings).

From what I saw, Hynes and Brookbank seemed to be a good pair. Tim Elbertson, the new meteorologist, has a likable presence, but... he's a big guy and on TV he looked like the Incredible Hulk. They're going to have to dig a trench next to the desk to put him in -- right now he looks like he's going to reach over and crush the puny anchors with his massive hands.

Tim seemed like a really funny guy when I stopped by the station the other day, so he should offer a lighter take on the weather than we get from Marty V, Craig and Brandon B.

Obviously, I only saw the lightest part of the newscast. Seemed OK for the first time out -- the wire stories they were using felt a little thrown together. I'll write myself a note to watch the whole shebang tomorrow.

I think there's a niche out there for Fox for viewers who prefer local news after 7. We'll just have to see if they can find it.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Spring Arbitron radio ratings

Hot off the presses... or hot off the Internet

Here's the list:

1. KKPK - 6.8
2. KKLI - 6.7
3. KVOR-A - 6.3
4. KILO - 6.2
5. KATC - 5.6
KIBT - 5.6
KKMG - 5.6
8. KCCY - 5.5
9. KKFM - 5.3
10. KVUU - 4.3
11. KBIQ - 3.6
12. KOA-A - 3.2
13. KGFT - 2.1
14. KCMN-A - 1.9
15. KYZX - 1.9
16. KRDO - 1.7
17. KZNT-A - 1.2

My thoughts: I haven't seen the demographic breakdowns yet. These 12+ numbers look like the sample was a little older than usual (with KKLI, KVOR, KOA doing well).

KCCY finished three places behind KATC - but just a tenth of a point off.

That 1.9 is KCMN's best rating in a while, but KYZX (The Eagle), KRDO and KZNT all have to be pissed. It continues to surprise me that KVOR and KOA are the only talk stations that ever gain any traction in this town. It seems like there would be room for one of the others to do a little better.

KIBT (The Beat) and KKMG (Magic) are tied 12+, but those stations only care about the 18-34 numbers, so we'll see who really won.

And, of course, KKPK (The Peak) stays on top. They play a nice mix of music, but it doesn't seem like some magic formula. There's no reason why KVUU or even The Eagle couldn't shift its mix and take a bite out of that pie. And maybe they will.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

She can't be all bad

Tomorrow's TV Talk column is a preview of KXRM/Channel 21's new morning news, which launches on Monday. While I was going through the story, I googled new reporter Meaghan Collier to check the spelling of her name and stumbled across this.

If I ever got a shout-out on the Onion, that would definitely go on my resume. Probably at the top.

And speaking of the Onion, does that story appear to be disturbingly... factual? What's next, we're going to start getting our national news from The Daily Show? Oh wait...

BTW, this week's TV Talk will be back in its old spot on the Pop page on the back of the Life section. The editors told me it was because of some big package they're running on the cover, but I think they may just be sick of reading about "another new local newscast." I'm somewhat hopeful that Fox's morning news will be the last big change and I can get on with the business of making fun of the network's fall schedules.

Interesting take on media coverage

CBS has a fascinating interview up with former Marine and current Al Jazeera English correspondant Josh Rushing. If you haven't heard of Rushing before, he's got a unique perspective on the war in Iraq and on American and international news coverage.

Here's his take on cable news -- it echoes what I've long thought and it's something that people who routinely bash television news ought to consider:

"The deal with American media right now? I’ve given them a hard time in recent years. For all the Anna Nicole and all the Paris Hilton stories and the lack of hard-core news reporting, the truth is it’s not their fault. The American media has a moral obligation to its investors to increase its profit by increasing its viewership.

"One example: Anderson Cooper scored a sit-down interview with Condoleeza Rice when she came back from Israel and Palestine. That’s a great exclusive for a reporter, the Secretary of State coming back from the Middle East.

"His competition that night, on Greta and Rita, are both reporting live from Florida on day four of the Anna Nicole thing. After they’ve spent hours of their air-time during the day to Anna Nicole, they’re doing more of it.

"That night was one of the first nights that MSNBC beat CNN in prime-time since I don’t know when. And Greta’s numbers on Fox News were three times Anderson Cooper’s. So if you’re in charge of CNN, you owe it to your investors to look at those numbers and increase your viewership. You better get Anderson talking about Anna Nicole Smith. You have an obligation to do that.

"If you look at CNN a couple months later, Paris Hilton gets out of jail. Larry King Live gives her an entire hour to speak. I don’t think she knows an hour’s worth of vocabulary, enough words to fill an hour. Larry King’s numbers on that night were six times his usual audience. If you look the Monday and the Wednesday – on either side of the Tuesday they sat down with Paris – he was averaging 500,000 viewers. When he interviewed Paris, he had 3 million viewers.

"CNN and all these networks are designed to do that, to draw in an audience."

ME AGAIN: Now, there is another point to consider: While CNN may have a fiduciary obligation to attempt to get 3 million viewers rather than 300,000, neither of those numbers is a very large slice of the total audience pie. So while Condoleeza Rice may not draw the audience that Paris Hilton does, neither of them gets a fraction of what even Katie Couric does just for showing up. So if the networks allow their coverage to be influenced by what the cable news networks do, they're reaching for the lowest common denominator.

It may be true, even on a national level, that more people are interested in Hilton than Rice, but the number of people willing to make their viewing decisions on that basis is pretty small. So what makes Fox or CNN or MSNBC successful may be ineffective or counter productive on a broadcast network.

You can't take the sky from me

So one of the things I've been doing this summer is catching up on my Jurassic television. Specifically, I've been watching Fox's late, great sci fi series "Firefly."

It's more than a little strange that I've never bothered to watch the DVD's before this, since I'm a huge "Buffy" fan ("Firefly" was "Buffy" creator Joss Whedon's follow-up project) and I'm generally a pretty big sci fi fan -- and, obviously, a huge dork.

But back when "Firefly" premiered in 2002, I saw the pilot and was distinctly unimpressed. Now, the pilot that Fox sent out back then was actually supposed to be the show's third episode, so it naturally made a lot less sense without the two-hour pilot to set the scene. And, as it happened, the third episode pretty much sucked. Which is probably why the Fox suits picked it to promote the series.

So now I've seen the real pilot, which was great, and most of the other 14 episodes (still have two or three more to go). I think Fox only aired nine episodes before canceling the thing.

And, you know, it's good. But not outstanding. Not, in fact, nearly as good as "Buffy." Not, in my opinion, good enough to merit the teeth-gnashing and shirt ripping that sci fi nuts have devoted to it over the last five years. Basically, it's like the movie spin-off, "Serenity," which was a solid sci-fi movie with some good one-liners (the movie, like the series, tanked at the box office).

The faux Western stuff is grating -- every "ain't" just clangs off my ears -- the stories tend to be a mixture of the trite and the totally implausible (the witch burning scene in "Safe" comes to mind) and the acting and special effects are spotty.

Basically, the best "Battlestar Galactica" episodes are clearly superior, even if they're not as much fun. If "Firefly" had somehow lived -- and I think it could have made a go of it on another network -- I would have watched it, but not religiously.

I do love the theme song, even if office music snob Christopher assures me it's hokey pablum.

Anyway, there's my review, five years after the fact.