Friday, March 1, 2013

Can Donald Trump Save NBC ?

NBC, the network that once gave us "must-see TV", is now giving us "who's watching?" TV.
The Peacock's numbers have been so bad in 2013 that Spanish-language Univision boasts more viewers.

A new Thursday evening drama called "Do No Harm" about a doctor with split personalities earned the distinction of being the lowest-rated new drama of all-time, with an 0.7 rating among viewers 18-49. The show was cancelled after only two episodes, replaced by reruns of "Law and Order". It seems like eons ago when NBC's Thursday night line-up offered viewers "Cheers", "The Cosby Show" and "Seinfeld".

Both new and returning shows are flailing mightily. "1600 Penn", a sitcom about a fictitious first family was promoted heavily and its debut episode was repeated days after it's premiere in an effort to give the show the widest audience possible. Despite a familiar cast including Jenna Elfman and Bill Pullman, the sitcom is on the brink of cancellation.

So is Matthew Perry's latest post-"Friends" effort "Go On"  a comedy about a bereavement support group. Mining laughs from grieving characters, no matter how motley a crew, is an uphill climb.

Returning "Community" has an avid, but miniscule viewership. It replaced "30 Rock", which, for all its Emmys, failed to generate buzz for its series finale.

Even long-running "The Office" is quietly marching along to its final episode without a countdown or any discernible buzz.

Can "The Apprentice" help NBC get some of it's mojo back ?

It's probably too much to ask of any one show to lift a network, but at least Donald Trump will bring some much-needed swagger back to the Peacock.

"The Apprentice" is one of the few water-cooler shows not on Showtime. Each episode inspires subsequent debate and buzz by Billy Bush, Wendy Williams, the cast of the View, and all the 7 o'clock entertainment shows.

It's directly because of 'Apprentice'-rub that Arsenio Hall is back on late-night and Pierce Morgan has Larry King's old job on CNN.

Have we seen it all before ? Yes. But following a season of "The Apprentice" is kind of like following a season-long pennant race in baseball : you're invested and you care who wins. This, despite the train-wreck recasting of Gary Busey and LaToya Jackson.

So, can Donald Trump save NBC from its ratings malaise ? On Sunday nights he will.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Couch Potato Cop: CBS' "The Job" gets sent packing

Couch Potato Cop: CBS' "The Job" gets sent packing: CBS reality show "The Job" was cancelled after two episodes and a negligible 0.7 rating among viewers 18-49. That is almost an historically ...

CBS' "The Job" gets sent packing

CBS reality show "The Job" was cancelled after two episodes and a negligible 0.7 rating among viewers 18-49. That is almost an historically low viewership for a network show in prime time.
A program in which desperate, unemployed people compete for a single job in 2013 isn't exactly escapist fare.

"The Job" filled the same Friday night time slot of legal dramedy "Made in Jersey", which also was cancelled after only two episodes. Viewers had a hard time embracing its premise : a Manhattan attorney overcomes an almost insurmountable handicap : being born in the state of New Jersey!
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"The Amazing Race" usually strains mightily to present a Noah's Arc-like roster of "two of everything" to appeal to every demographic. TAR's 22nd season recently kicked off with the requisite multi-culti cast, which includes a team of two Roller Derby Moms to represent that limited niche, yet no Latinos.
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While it's not uncommon for a successful network show to inspire imitators, it's exceedingly rare for a bomb to do so.
Such is the case for Fox's "Stars in Danger: the High Dive", a one-hour "experiment" in which C-list celebs tried their hand at Olympic-style diving. SID belly-flopped in the ratings, attracting an unimpressive 3.4 million viewers when it aired in January.
Yet that's not stopping ABC from mounting its own diving show "Splash" (what's the deal with all the one-word titles all of a sudden?).
The "Splash" roster includes Nicole Eggert, Kendra Wilkinson, Chuy from "Chelsea Lately" and comedian Louie Anderson. The late addition of Miss Alabama Katherine Webb means that the show can count on Brent Mussberger watching.
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Most people weren't even aware that Rex Reed was still reviewing movies when the Melissa McCarthy flap hit the fan.
I had thought Reed had retired some time after serving as a judge on "The Gong Show" in the Seventies.
While Reed is free to dislike "Identity Thief" -- as a majority of critics did -- his description of McCarthy as a "cacophonous, tractor sized...female hippo" is a personal attack that has no place in a film critique.
But there's something also wrong about the producers of "Identity Thief" assuming the moral high ground.  With its many scenes of Jason Bateman duking it out with McCarthy --heck, even slamming her with a guitar --the film seems to be saying that it's OK for men to get into physical altercations with women as long as the women are plus-sized.
It's hard to imagine the exact same inter-gender battle royales taking place with, say, Tina Fey or Amy Poehler in the McCarthy role.
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While Fox's "New Girl" gets decent ratings, I don't know anyone who would call it laugh-out funny. Compared to "Seinfeld", it's a drama.
I've never quite understood the premise of the show: Jess breaks up with her boyfriend so she feels compelled to live with three male strangers... Huh?
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re: the studio audience members of ABC's "The Chew"
These fine folks obviously have a lot of free time on their hands to sit in a studio for an hour to watch other people cook. Do you suppose these are people who wanted to see a television taping while visiting New York and couldn't get tickets for Letterman, Fallon or "The View" ?