Tag Archives: Firefly

You Are Lucy and I Am Charlie Brown

“This time, you can trust me,” Lucy says to Charlie Brown, enticing him into their eternal battle of wills – kick the football and I won’t pull it away this time, I promise.

I love t.v. I love narrative in general and I get hooked into the story structures of t.v. shows over and over and over again. Even a “reality” show like Survivor has all the classic story elements that I crave and enjoy.

But I have been frustrated more and more the last few years. Here’s why:

– I have a busy schedule and like most people my age, I can’t be locked into watching a t.v. show at the same set time every week. Luckily, most shows are available online within 6-12 hours (sometimes a full day or week) later and I catch up with my “stories” when I have the time, which is often just a few hours or maybe a day or two after the original airing.

– The online viewing model seems to me an excellent one. I am still viewing advertisements, which should still be paying for the shows. In fact, I feel that I’m a more captive audience for online ads than the ones on my t.v. because I tend to walk away from the t.v. during commercials. I am watching the show at my convenience. Excellent, all around. But I’m not sure the Nielsen rating system is still in any way an accurate schematic (I don’t know how it could be) and to my knowledge, nothing else has replaced it. So how do networks know what shows I’m giving my loyalty and attention to? Theoretically, they should be able to track the downloads and online viewings, right?

– Yet, some of my favorite new shows are consistently getting canceled, sometimes mid-season or after only one season. This breeds a vicious cycle that makes me and other viewers wary of investing in new shows. Why care about characters that might suddenly disappear, give our attention to stories that will remain unfinished? But what are a studio’s “obligations” to the viewers of its shows? I feel like a full season should be a standard network-viewer “contract.” Promising shows should really get two seasons to build their audience. Yes, it’s expensive. However, as far as I’m concerned, so is my time and my attention.

You might ask what has brought about this rant. Monday, the list of canceled t.v. shows was disseminated. First, it includes 32 shows across the networks, which is quite a lot. Also, it features some great new shows that I feel weren’t given a solid chance. Last, there are many shows on this list that I thought were already canceled several months ago because of reports I’ve read in the past.

I’ll break down the list for you.

Canceled shows I didn’t invest in because I figured they’d be canceled:

Better with You, Mr. Sunshine, Off the Map (ABC); Perfect Couples (NBC)

Shows I might’ve watched, but thought were already canceled or off the air ages ago because of reports I read, so clearly their networks were not doing a whole lot to support them:

My Generation, Detroit 1-8-7, No Ordinary Family, V (ABC); The Event and Outsourced (NBC); Lone Star and Running Wilde (FOX); Life Unexpected (CW)

Canceled shows that had a really solid chance to build their audience (regardless of how you feel about the quality of the shows and their demise):

Brothers and Sisters (ABC); Friday Night Lights (NBC); Human Target and Lie to Me (FOX); $#*! My Dad Says (CBS); Smallville (CW)

Canceled shows I’d watch if they were given a second chance:

Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC); The Event (NBC)

Canceled shows I’m really pissed about because I’d invested in them:

Breaking In and Traffic Light (FOX)

FOX has long been guilty of creating pretty good shows and then scrapping them before they’ve had a solid chance, in my opinion. Keep in mind, FOX also airs two of the shows I talk about most, American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, but those are reality competitions and I don’t know that FOX has worked out their dynamic for scripted dramas and sitcoms. Out of all the networks on the list, FOX is canceling the most good shows, I think. Many on the FOX list had a good chance to sink or swim, but I think Breaking In and Traffic Light should be given more time. They are both hysterical half hour ensemble sitcoms, which I think we need more of on t.v. Good ones, that is.

So what are the networks gonna do next season? Give us 50 new shows, two thirds of which they’re prepared to sacrifice if we don’t invest quickly enough? Break our hearts again? Yank the football once more before we can kick a good, solid field goal? FOX, as well as all the networks, needs to create good shows and then stand by them. Have some faith in what you create, Networks.

Now, on to the slightly related topic of the Castle finale, appropriately titled “Knockout.” How is this related to my giant rant above? Well, first of all, it’s still about t.v. Second of all, one of Castle’s stars, Nathan Fillion was in not one but two shows that fell victim to FOX’s wishy-washiness (Drive and, ahem, Firefly, anyone?). Third, the finale happened to air on the same day the canceled show list was disseminated.

Castle is a fun, gripping show, a worthy vehicle for Nathan, finally, at long last, hallelujah, on a network that will support the show and create interest with tie-ins (novels, graphic novels, etc). It’s one of my favorite shows, especially because it has such a great cast and also all the qualities I loved about Bones in the earlier seasons. I’m still watching Bones because I love the characters, but it’s lost some of its sheen.

One of the elements I like best about Castle is that it is unafraid to be cheesy and emotional and sometimes feels like a sitcom wrapped up in a drama. This feels like old-fashioned, classic t.v., even while it is cutting edge. So it shouldn’t surprise me that every part of Castle‘s Season 3 finale felt inevitable in that way that good storytelling always feels. While the storyteller in me can appreciate the Castle finale’s unflinching and yes, even cruel twists, the viewer in me feels absolutely shellshocked, almost betrayed. And pissed. Pissed that they punched me the guts like three times in an hour and then walked away for several months, leaving me nursing my wounds and dying for more.

But you know what? You better bet I’ll be tuning in next season. And for that, I must congratulate them.

For a moment at the end of “Knockout,” in light of the canceled show list, I was very afraid that this was the end, that Castle was one of the unlisted “bubble” shows and it might not be back. I had to remind myself that it’s a popular show and that ABC has just as much invested in it as I have invested (some would say more). But that fear, that paranoia, is the best example that I can give you of what the networks have done to us with their “yanking back the football” behavior.

Should I, like Charlie Brown, continue to trust all the Lucys promising me big and then yanking it all away? Despite all the times that I have been burned and lost “stories” that I loved, should I trust the networks? Like Charlie Brown, I hate looking stupid by falling for it again and again, but just like him, there’s no other choice for me. I love stories too much not to take the kick of faith every time.

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Filed under art, musing, pop culture, random rant, t.v., technology

A yummy all-media post

Going back to one of my favorite things to blog about – media. Yum.

Let’s start with movies. In a distant time and place (okay, say for a while before spring 2007 and in Baton Rouge), I used to have a Sunday-movie tradition that got disrupted by graduation, my European tour and moving to New Orleans. I re-established it with Confessions of a Shopaholic. I haven’t read the books, but I did enjoy the movie. I remember reading somewhere (EW?) a review that questioned whether big-spending would go over well with a recessed audience. But I think some of the messages of the film – don’t count just on material possessions, credit cards and debt collectors are the devil – is all the more poignant because of this recession. Isla Fisher is amazing and I always love Hugh Dancy (oh yes, I do), so even though I felt like the romantic elements were a little rushed, I still believed them cause the actors are awesome at what they do. I love that Isla Fisher is such a physical comedienne, which is reminiscent of the best of Debra Messing (I’ve been a fan since 1998’s 13 episodes of Prey, which was NOT comedy) and, even better, Lucille Ball (who I’ve been compared to in my dizzier, hopefully more brilliant moments).

Now let’s talk t.v. I think I’ve come out as an American Idol fan before and if I haven’t, I suppose this is my big confession. I started watching a few seasons ago and probably got hooked cause it was fun to watch with my neighbors and friends. Now I’m just hooked. The good, the bad, the ugly, I’m there. Sad to say. I am more reluctant and less enthusiastic about the early train-wreck auditions, if that does make you feel any better. Enough defense. 🙂 So far, though this season is definitely weird, I’m entirely satisfied with the first six going through. I looooove Alexis Grace and Allison Iraheta really blew me away (she wasn’t really on my radar before her performance). However, if anybody is reading this, I do hope this is heard – Megan Corkrey and Stevie Wright MUST, must, do you hear me, be wild card picks for the top 12. I’ll tell you now, I don’t care what happens to Megan Corkrey on this show – I will buy any c.d. she puts out. I love her voice. It’s probably too early to say the word “favorite,” since I haven’t even seen 12 people perform and I do love some others, but… Predictions for the three picked from this last set of 12 (really, AI, confusing) are: Scott MacIntyre, Lil Rounds and let’s say…Alex Wagner, but I remember liking Kendall Beard, too. Let’s see what happens tonight.

[3.6: I must’ve had a premonition that they’d pick four contestants, rather than just three. And I was right about two of the last set of three before the wild cards. That was a pretty easy call, though.]

More t.v. Can I just say that, after catching up with all three episodes of Dollhouse so far, I am a BIG fan. No, I won’t be staying in on Fridays to watch it, but YES, I will watch it. Hear that, Fox peoples? Let’s have a deal here and now, between you and me. I will watch it, do not cancel it. But then, I knew I would love it, since I do love my Joss Whedon (insert collective sigh for Firefly here). Big fan of Eliza Dushku, too (in part thanks to Joe, love you dear). This show is smart, funny, addictive. And it’s slick and pretty. Has all the best elements of classic Whedon, also reminds me of Alias a bit (which is great as J.J. Abrams is another big love of mine). I think, honestly, it would’ve been paired better with Fringe than The Sarah Conor Chronicles (Fringe has a strong, kick-ass woman lead, too and my mamma mia! and I text throughout the episodes), but maybe the Fox folks felt that was too much science and technology and weird conspiracy for one night. I will bow to their greater knowledge of these things – provided they don’t cancel either Dollhouse or Fringe. Have I revealed yet just how big of a dork I am?

Now, books. Reading this cool French girl-adventurer book called The Princetta (and the Captain, apparently). It’s massive and translated and really, really good. Just finished a fun (if a bit weird with the Brit-infected “New Yorker” main character) book called Me and Mr Darcy. Not as good as Austenland, a bit too reminiscent of Bridget Jones, but fun nonetheless. Also, while I’m always a big fan of Sarah Dessen, I was blown away by Lock and Key. Even wrote the author a very personal fan letter.

And something I’ve been wanting to blog about for a few weeks. Let’s see if you can follow this. In a distant time and place (okay, circa 1996 as far as my documents certify and in Georgia), I started reading an author named L.J. Smith. I became a BIG fan, getting involved in a massive fansite online (remember in my first blog when I talked about first engaging in an online life?) called The Night World, which was devoted to all of her books. She wrote several trilogies and a quartet of books (after two linked stand-alones) before beginning a longer series called The Night World, which was supposed to be 10 books long, the last of which, Strange Fate, would be released right before the new millinnieum (which featured in the series). However, due to mysterious illnesses and etc., the book’s never been released. Now it’s 9+ years later and, to my knowledge, the book’s still not out. She’s reappeared, writing under the name Ljane Smith and according to her website, she’s still writing Strange Fate. And coolest of all, as I discovered while at my not-so-local bookstore (I was in Baton Rouge), her series’ are being re-released, omnibus style!! There’s lots of L.J. (as I’ll always know her, short for Lisa Jane) news lately, actually. The CW is apparently creating a t.v. show from The Vampire Diaries. It has a lot to do with the success of the Twilight books and movie, almost certaintly, but these books pre-date all that and rock in their own right. As I said in my comment responding to this piece on Pretty Scary. However you get into L.J. Smith, get into her. I love these books. They predate when I was educated about writing (and judgmental) and just enjoyed books for all their cheesy potential (see: Dean Koontz). And you know what? I was a kid when I read L.J. Smith and Dean Koontz. And all these years later, I still get crazy excited about them, still enjoy their books. So that must say something… Can you tell me what? 🙂

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Filed under American Idol, pop culture, t.v.