Fall TV is Dead: Long Live Fall TV
So why does it seem more alive now than ever?
Perhaps its the sudden deluge of quality, as I note in my lead piece today for the Times' fall TV preview, which took weeks to assemble after viewing every one -- yes, EVERY ONE -- of the 26 or so new network TV shows coming our way over the next three months.
Besides here, we also set up a space where you can give your feedback on the ItsYourTimes area. Originally, it was supposed to be set up as a poll, but that's not how the gods of Mother Times' web depertment eventually put it together.
The folks behind Bravo's Brilliant but Canceled show have come up with a much cooler way to take your pulse on fall's TV season, debuting it's Deathwatch page, taking polls on which show you might think is likely to get canceled first this season. Of course, my favorite part is the Critics Page -- where they gather the colective wisdom of those of us smart enough to get paid to watch TV for a living.
Still, you can leave your observations there or here -- and you have more opportunity than ever to have an educated opinion, because there are so many places to see TV show online this fall.
Studio 10 Debuts Monday
I've written before about how WTSP-Ch. 10 was developing a daytime show where guests would pay to be featured, just like on WFLA-Ch. 8's show, Daytime. And even though I noted that the industry seems to have decided to accept this, even I was surprised at how little people seemed to care about this creeping meld between TV content and advertising.
Well, Studio 10 hits the airwaves tomorrow at 10 a.m., helmed by a former makeup technician at WTSP, Michele Phillips, and a male co-anchor. I'm not sure why even the station's web site doesn't tell viewers when the show starts; but considering how awful some of the other similar shows corporate parent Gannett has featured on its other stations, perhaps they're just trying to spare us all.
If The Wire Is So Good, How Come TV Industry Keeps Ignoring It?
One of the biggest bummers for me so far in this TV critic gig is not finding the time to review HBO's most exellent TV drama The Wire, teeing up for what may be its last season on HBO at 10 p.m. tonight.
This year, HBO seems to have sent out every episode of the new season for review, which gave this Wire junkie the distinct pleasure of rooting through every episode -- sometimes two a night -- excavating the new seasons look at middle school kids in Baltimore's worst neighborhoods, and how their miseducation feeds into the cycle of decay where they live.
I still don't know why the Emmy gods haven't smiled on this series, which has always featured unknown or journeymen actors giving the performances of their careers. This year, you can add to the list a passel of powerfully talented young actors, who play these kids at risk like they grew up next to them on the corners of Baltimore's crack ravaged neighborhoods.
But that's an old story; every year critics rave about The Wire, and every year the golden globes and Emmys and every other showbiz egofest passes them up. Creator David Simon and his cohorts wear the snubs as a badge of honor, but such oversights also keep these guys from getting the attention they deserve.
If I would pick a nit with this season's stuff, its that it take awhile for a central narrative to emerge that might pull you through the episodes. Last year had a powerful overall narrative -- would Stringer Bell make it to a life of legitmacy? -- that pulled you through episodes, even when events got confusing or tedious. that's missing here -- and one of my favorite characters, stumblebum cop Jimmy McNulty, winds up horribly underutlized this season: mostly because he actually gets his personal shit together, for once.
But that's the world of The Wire. Once you become a fairly functional human being, there's not much for you to do -- not in a series whose lifesblood has become exposing the dysfunction and illogic of the two most maddening bureaucracies in the word: the modern police force, and the modern, inner-city school system.
Our editors in Perspective wanted to run Keith Olbermann's impassioned speech about Donald Rumsfeld demonizing war critics, but I thought it would be fun to ask Olbermann himself how he came up with the speech and how the public has reacted. See the actual commentary here.
As always, your comments -- even the non-Rumsfeldian, open-minded kind -- are welcome here.
(click on any image to enlarge; photos courtesy of Times artist John Corbitt, HBO publicity, WTSP, Bravo publicity and NBC)