Saturday, July 28, 2012

If you could just go ahead and shut up about how NBC broadcasts the Olympics, that'd be great

     Opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in London.

There's been a fair bit of outrage on Twitter tonight regarding NBC's presentation of the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Summer Olympics. Some of it is deserved, like the excessive commercial breaks that wouldn't be necessary if NBC didn't overpay for the television rights to these games again. Some if it is totally deserved - if Bob Costas and Matt Lauer did indeed spend the duration of Kazakhstan's entrance in the Parade of Nations talking about Borat (as Twitter tells me they did) then obviously that's not journalism and just very ignorant. That being said, allow me to offer a couple bullet point forms of defense.

- Tape delay: There are pros and cons here. You have to keep in mind both that a) there is a 5 hour time difference between London and the east coast of the United States, and b) NBC is still a television network that makes most of its money broadcasting in primetime. The argument that social media has killed the tape delay is only half right. Sure, CBS should continue to be nailed for tape delaying the Grammys every year on the West Coast considering they air on a Sunday and are produced in Los Angeles; but NBC should not be nailed for airing this event in primetime because fun fact: the majority of Americans were working today, a Friday, at 4:00pm eastern time and would have no way of seeing this event live. That's not to say that one of NBC's cable channels, like USA, couldn't have aired this live instead of the three reruns of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" that it aired during those hours instead. That's because it's much easier for them to do that than for NBC to clear three hours from every one of their affiliates to air the opening ceremonies live. An event this big is going to be talked about, even if it's three hours later than when it actually happened. The West Coast tape delay of the opening ceremonies are proving that right now. NBC Sports is another contended to air this event live, but at the time they were already showing Olympic coverage in the form of men's soccer.

- America, ra-ra-ra: Please stop. America is far from the only nation to do this. If you watched CTV's coverage in Canada as I did, then you must remember watching Brian Williams and Lisa LaFlamme babble over footage of Canadian athletes walking through the entire stadium as between five and ten countries behind them were ignored entirely. The countries with the biggest teams, like Australia, Canada, and the U.S. among others, will usually have commercials aired over them because nobody wants to watch 200+ person teams walk through the stadium as the commentators have run out of things to read from the notes they printed off Wikipedia. The Olympics are extremely political, so it's kind of pointless to complain when more coverage is given to a team of hundreds than to a team of 4. Also, coverage will always vary by country because they're trying to try to offer you a take on the games from your own nationality. Because of the primetime tape delay NBC uses, they get complaints about their coverage focusing too much on the American team. Umm...what? They have three primetime hours to sum up the day's highlights, and the people who watch the games in that format want to hear first and foremost about the American team. Canadian television operates on a different model and because of that, coverage will be ongoing all throughout the day on the main CTV network and can therefore more easily cover a broader scope of nations that will otherwise be ignored. Don't blame NBC - this would happen on any major American network. It's just the biz, folks.

Friday, July 27, 2012

TV Review: Two seasons in, "Happy Endings" should have no trouble living up to its title

     "Happy Endings" cast, left to right: Zachary Knighton,
     Eliza Coupe, Damon Wayans Jr., Casey Wilson, Adam Pally,
     and Elisha Cuthbert. (Not pictured: cougar)

You may have noticed over the last couple of years (or longer, even) that certain TV seasons were dominated by a recurring theme or premise.

For example, last year ABC picked up three comedies about the plight of the white male: the first was "Last Man Standing", in which Tim Allen somehow baffled-by-modern-culture'd his way into a second season. The second was its original timeslot partner "Man Up", in which three white guys played video games in their basements while their wives looked on derisively (at least until November, when they were cancelled). The third, and easily the biggest offender, was "Work It" in which men were desperate enough to dress up in drag and act in one of the worst series in the history of television.

The year before that, however, was the year of the sitcom that followed the hijinks of three couples, connected in some way, that were each in different stages of their relationships. The first to premiere was ABC's "Better with You", which wasn't very funny but starred a lot of likeable people, like Joanna Garcia and Debra Jo Rupp. Next up was NBC's "Perfect Couples" which was just as unfunny and incredibly similar in almost every way except for being a single camera show (seriously, they even had Kyle Bornheimer compete against "Better With You"'s Josh Cooke as duelling showkillers - although as expected, both lost again.). Fox also had a similar setup with a comedy called "Traffic Light", which featured fewer couples but wasn't any funnier.

And just as all of those shows had either died or were about to die, in came the season's closing act: ABC's "Happy Endings", which is sometimes funnier in singular episodes than those other three shows combined.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2012 Emmy nominations post-mortem: The surprises, the snubs, and the shameful

     Kerry Washington of ABC's "Scandal" and late night host
     Jimmy Kimmel present the nominations for the 64th Primetime
     Emmy Awards.

The Primetime Emmys sting of disappointment every year, and this year they stung even earlier. Not long before the nomination announcements, Nick Offerman from Parks and Recreation Reads Tweets From Young Female Celebrities had to bail on announcing because of a travel delay. In the end, though, I was glad that the actor giving the funniest performance on television did not have to get up so early in the morning to announce to the world that his own show, the best comedy on TV, was being ignored in favour of shows that move at a glacial level in terms of character development and humour, like The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family.

I could write long, generic paragraphs about what I liked and didn't like, but I'd better go through the major awards category by category, so as to keep my thoughts under control and in their proper places. I'll also make note of who I think should win (as in who I feel is most deserving and who I want to win) and who I think will win. I have nothing to say about the miniseries and movie categories, so why waste time trying to write about them? A combination of joy and disgust after the break.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My hypothetical 2012 Emmy ballot

The nominations for the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards will be announced in a little more than 32 hours, so before that, I reveal my hypothetical Emmy ballot for I guess record's sake, as well as which nominee I'd vote for to win. I stuck to acting and series categories because I feel like there's too much to sort through with writing and directing categories and the variety and reality categories bored me. Onward...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: An adorkable season of Fox's "New Girl"

In an age of television comedy that can truly be considered golden (Parks and Recreation, Louie, 30 Rock, Happy Endings, Cougar Town, and literally on and on), the bar is understandably set high. A year or ten ago, a current hit like Modern Family would have been groundbreaking, not only as comedy but as television in general. Today's great TV comedies offer worlds with such great depth (think Pawnee, or the wide eyed curiosity with which Louis C.K. sees the world on Louie) and characters that constantly evolve (think Jeff Winger, or any number of Community characters). So when something like Modern Family embraces its role as a product sold by The ABC Manufacturing Network Inc. and over the years stays exactly as consumers seem to want, those who have come to know and love depth and evolution will understandably start to turn on it.

In comes Fox's "New Girl", a show whose very title might suggest beyond its literal meaning that whatever it is you're about to see, it's anything but stale. Is it? In some ways yes, and some ways no. On the one hand, it's perhaps the boldest show on television in how willing it is to take risks that have a fairly middling rate of success. But when those risks don't pay off, it's not much more than high brow slapstick, if such a concept is plausible.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Review: ABC's "Suburgatory"

There were a few contenders for the title of the 2011 TV season's best new comedy - many landed on Fox's "New Girl," a show which certainly knew its strengths but unfortunately has yet to solve some of its weaknesses (which is understandable, considering they're only about to enter their second season). A show in a similar state of embracing strengths but failing to recognize weakness was "Suburgatory", which unlike "New Girl" had more strengths to use in better ways and is probably a lot closer to weeding out its Alan Tudyk problem than the Fox sitcom is to weeding out its Lamorne Morris problem. As a result, "Suburgatory" was not only the best new comedy of last season, but was in many weeks the best new series of last season.