Typing Faster

April 6, 2011

The Times They Are A Changing…

Filed under: Future of TV, Mad Men, Netflix — petertypingfaster @ 5:13 pm

So here’s a story that blew my mind a little bit: Netflix just bought the rerun rights to Mad Men.

Netflix, in a sign of its growing importance in television, will become Don Draper’s second home.

The home entertainment company has bought the rerun rights to the TV series Mad Men, making its online streaming service the next place to watch episodes after the show’s initial airing on cable network AMC.

So what did they give up to secure these rights?

Netflix will pay Mad Men producer Lionsgate between $750,000 and $900,000 per episode (dollar figures U.S.), according to people familiar with the situation.

That’s a nice chunk of change.

This follows on the heels of Netflix’s decision to get into the original programming racket with David Fincher’s House of Cards.

If all these moves pan out, Netflix is going to be an even bigger mover and shaker than they already are. Exciting times indeed.

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September 22, 2010

Community Tweets

Filed under: Future of TV — petertypingfaster @ 3:38 pm

The NBC comedy that is.

The premiere of NBC’s “Community” will begin with a scene played out online, in 140 characters or less.

NBC has announced that ahead of the sitcom’s Thursday premiere, “Community” will present what it’s calling a “Twittersode.” A scene will be acted out on Twitter feeds devoted to the show’s characters, who will be planning their second year at community college.

The scene will be composed of 80 tweets and will debut at 7 p.m. EDT, an hour before the show is scheduled to air. It can be followed at http://www.NBC.com/CommunityTwittersode.

Guess you gotta do something…

September 15, 2010

It’s Not TV. Or Is It? HBO’s Declining Subscriber Numbers

Filed under: Future of TV, HBO — petertypingfaster @ 7:04 am

For years HBO’s catch phrase “It’s Not TV. It’s HBO.” rang true. HBO was the channel of The Sopranos and The Wire. Rome and Carnivale. HBO would put shows on the air that no other broadcast network would think of touching. It carved out a niche for itself with bold, daring drama, and subscribers flocked to the channel because of it.

But not anymore.

As of the second quarter of 2010, “…HBO had 28.6 million subscribers…its lowest total in four years and the second of its first back-to-back quarterly declines in at least six years.”

So what happened? Why the sudden disappearance of subscribers? While execs at HBO were quick to point he figure at the “…unprecedented downturn in U.S. multichannel subscribers…” upon further reflection that explanation doesn’t seem to hold water. If it really was a general trend amongst all pay channels you’d expect to see the effects amongst all of them. Unfortunately that’s not the case.

HBO’s smaller pay-TV competitors, Showtime and Starz, saw increases in the second quarter; why HBO would feel the pinch from the multichannel meltdown but not its competitors suggests there may be other factors at play.

Starz and Showtime have both been on a steady rise for years: Showtime has increased by 6 million subs over the past six years, to 18.2 million in the second quarter, while Starz is close behind with 17.3 million, though its rate of increase has been less dramatic.

HBO is in a league of its own on a sheer subscriber basis, and its $1.2 billion in earnings dwarf those generated by its competitors. But that subscriber toll has been hovering between 28-29 million since 2006.

So if the general state of pay channel subscriptions, and the economy in general isn’t to blame, then what is? THR makes an interesting suggestion, namely that the key factor to blame is DirectTV.

The nation’s biggest satellite service has been locked in bruising carriage negotiations with HBO all year, according to people familiar with the talks, and applying pressure to get the desired deal terms by employing an unknown but brutally effective tactic: drastic reduction of the promotional support crucial to “upselling” HBO to subscribers.

For all the attention original programming like “True Blood” gets, it’s the less sexy subject known in the industry as affiliate marketing that is just as crucial a variable in the premium-TV business. Hunky bloodsuckers don’t sink their teeth into subscribers’ wallets without the efforts of distributors pitching in promotional dollars via direct mail, online ads, local events and the persistent hawking of customer-service representatives over the phones.

So when a distributor the size of DirecTV pulls back on all that, a pay-TV network is going to feel the pain like a vampire at sunrise. No matter how much HBO spends — even the $200 million forked over for “Pacific” — bang for the buck can’t be maximized without operators there to shill for the show.

“The marketing is hugely tied to how subscriber growth goes,” said Deana Myers, pay-TV analyst with SNL Kagan. “There’s so many elements to why subscribers sign up. It’s not all about original programming.”

And that’s the politics of show.

September 8, 2010

Are Crouching Tigers, Hidden Dragons Taking Over Hollywood?

Filed under: Features, Future of TV — petertypingfaster @ 6:00 am

We all know that China’s become a force to be reckoned with when it comes to global economics. And it’s not just in the arena of cheap manufacturing, the world widgets and wig-wams, that China’s making strides. They’ve become a world leader in renewable energy technology. Who saw that coming?

But if there’s one area that China’s had trouble penetrating, at least in the English speaking world, it would be that of culture, and specifically film and television. Sure we’ll import the occasional martial arts or arthouse flick, but you could probably count the number of real blockbusters on one hand. For all intents and purposes China is still the Forbidden Kingdom when it comes to film and television, closed to all outsiders.

But that’s all starting to change. And change in a big way.

When Scarlett Johansson strode across the screen in “Iron Man 2,” she was wearing a form-fitting outfit made by Semir, a Chinese brand and an official sponsor of the blockbuster movie this spring.

That wasn’t the first example of Chinese firms getting in on the Hollywood product-placement game. In last year’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” a highway billboard featured another Chinese sportswear company, Metersbonwe.

“More and more Chinese brands would like to get their products placed” in Hollywood films, said Ben Ji, head of Angel Wings Entertainment and the man behind getting Semir clothes into “Iron Man 2.” His goal: to get a Chinese car in a James Bond film.

Product placement is just one example of China’s new love affair with Hollywood. Chinese production companies are looking to partner with Hollywood firms to make films and manage China’s growing number of theaters. Rumors persist that a Chinese company – spurred by the government, which wants to extend the country’s “soft power” into the cultural sphere – is on the prowl to buy a U.S. film studio.

Let us digest that for moment. China wants to buy a U.S. film studio. That would potentially be a huge influx of money into Hollywood, especially if the studio in question was (secretly) backed by the Chinese government.

But that’s still in the future, and in the present China and Hollywood are already doing some serious business together. We’ve already seen several high profile co-productions do well at the box office (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and The Karate Kid reboot). And there are several other high profile projects on the horizon.

In what would be the biggest – meaning costliest – co-produced movie, the U.S. company Hollywood MovieWorks has teamed with Beijing entrepreneur Sheng Boyu, 30, to make “Double Lives,” a film about a modern-day treasure hunt for two ancient Chinese swords. The film will star Pierce Brosnan and will be directed by Rob Cohen of “The Mummy,” who first became enamored with China when he directed “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.”

“Double Lives” has a $100 million budget, and Sheng said the Chinese side and Hollywood will approach it as equals.

“Our ratio is 50-50,” said Sheng, looking the part of a Hollywood producer in black suit, open-neck black shirt and black Gucci loafers. “My cooperation with Hollywood is an equal cooperation. I think it’s a trend that future filmmakers will cooperate and make more co-produced films, and Chinese audiences will enjoy the best of both Chinese and American filmmaking.”

China’s interest in teaming up with Hollywood is slightly murky (soft power? a bigger stage?), Hollywood’s reasons are simple, simple, simple. It all comes down to money. China offers great production incentives combined with a large cheap, experienced labor pool. Then there are the box office considerations.

China, the fastest-growing film market in the world. According to the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, China’s box office receipts totaled $780 million in the first half of this year – an 80 percent increase over those from the first half of 2009, with much of that attributed to the colossal success of “Avatar” here. The 2009 box office receipts were up more than 40 percent over those of 2008.

Ji said that as more newly affluent Chinese go to movies – instead of watching DVDs at home – the number of movie houses being built is soaring. “Two new screens per day – that’s crazy!” he said. Foreign companies are allowed to build cinemas in China but not manage them directly, Ji said, adding that he is confident the rule will be relaxed next year.

Ji predicted that China might also relax rules that allow just 20 foreign films a year. An increase in the quota could give further incentive for Hollywood producers to make films that appeal to Chinese audiences.

Co-produced movies do not count as “foreign” films under the quota. Filming and hiring local workers is much cheaper in China than in many other countries.

Gerbrandt said that U.S. box office admissions have been stagnant in recent years but that increased ticket prices have helped the industry grow. “Hollywood must open new markets to keep growing, and China and India are obviously the largest,” he wrote in an e-mail.

So what does all this mean for the future? Who knows, but it’s probably a good idea for all of us to start brushing up on our Mandarin…

September 7, 2010

Mad Men: Working With the Pirates

Filed under: Future of TV, Mad Men, Marketing — petertypingfaster @ 9:51 am

It seems like we’ve turned a corner in TV’s ongoing quest to monetize the internet, and YouTube’s ongoing quest to monetize itself. Anyone who’s used YouTube in the last six months will have noticed something: There are a lot more ads than there used to be. But what’s interesting is how YouTube has started to share the revenue from those ads.

From an article in the New York Times:

Last month, a YouTube user, TomR35, uploaded a clip from the AMC series “Mad Men” in which Don Draper makes a heartfelt speech about the importance of nostalgia in advertising.

Viewers wouldn’t notice, but that clip also makes an important point about modern advertising — YouTube is an increasingly fruitful place for advertisers.

In the past, Lions Gate, which owns the rights to the “Mad Men” clip, might have requested that TomR35’s version be taken down. But it has decided to leave clips like this up, and in return, YouTube runs ads with the video and splits the revenue with Lions Gate.

This, of course, marks a serious shift in the relationship between studios, broadcasters and the “Internet.” A conversation that was once dominated by talk of lawsuits and copyright infringement has morphed into a conversation about how each side can maximize revenue by working together.

YouTube’s new profitable relationship with content creators was not always so easy. For a long time, YouTube executives spent their time across conference tables with lawyers worried about copyright violations, said Chris Maxcy, YouTube’s director of content partnerships.

“It was 90 percent lawyers in a meeting and the marketing people faded into the background,” he said. “Now the partners we are working with get checks that get bigger every month. And now when you walk into a meeting there’s almost no lawyers, or there’s a couple of lawyers but they are deal lawyers there to help you get your contract done.”

And YouTube is not just using your typical broadcast ads either. They’ve embraced the interactivity allowed by the internet.

When someone uploaded a recording of the Eminem song “Not Afraid,” for instance, instead of taking down the recording, YouTube ran pop-up ads that let people buy the song or the ring tone and shared the revenue with the copyright owner.

And we’re not talking peanuts here. It turns out that those little ads that Google’s running over top of clips can result in a tidy little profit, to the tune of $450 million. Sure, they’re not Google type numbers, but it’s enough for YouTube to squeak into the black for the first time in its history.

But how much of this new revenue is being passed along to YouTube’s advertising partners? Numbers are scarce for the media conglomerates like Lion’s Gate, but certain individuals with big enough followings can apparently make up to $100,000 a year from shared advertising revenue.

Good to see someone starting to get some money out of the internet.

August 5, 2010

Mad Men: Most Successful Show With the Least Amount of Advertising?

Filed under: Future of TV, Mad Men — petertypingfaster @ 9:51 am

There was an interesting article in Advertising Age the other day. In it they take a look at the advertising revenue, or lack thereof, generated by Mad Men. Despite Mad Men‘s continued cultural influence, advertisers simply aren’t ponying up cash to buy spots with the show.

Airings of “Mad Men” took in only $1.98 million in ad revenue in 2009, according to Kantar Media. In 2008, the show nabbed just less than $2.8 million, and in 2007, approximately $2.25 million. These are paltry amounts when one considers that a 30-second ad in an equally buzzy program such as “24” on Fox cost between $200,000 and $280,000 as the show, off its peak, headed into its final season.

Compound this surprising lack of ad revenue with the shows anemic ratings (season four premiered with 2.9M viewers when you factor in the live +7 ratings, but ratings have since fallen back to 2ish million) and one can’t help but start to wonder why AMC keeps making the show.

Advertisers will “only pay so much” to be in high-quality programs such as “Mad Men,” said Kris Magel, exec VP-director of national broadcast at Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Initiative, because its traditional TV reach is limited. “Once that cost hits a ceiling, the network has to make a decision: Can they afford to continue to make the show for the amount of revenue it generates?” he asked. “Sometimes they do, because the halo generated for the network as a whole and its other programs outweighs the expense. And sometimes they can’t.”

The “halo effect” is probably the best explanation. Mad Men is a critical darling, and the longer AMC can keep it on the air the more that halo will burnish the rest of the networks offerings.

Of course the foreign distribution and DVD revenues don’t hurt either.

That broader “after-TV” audience keeps “Mad Men” coming back to the TV screen each summer. Just as the executives at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce try to help their clients sell Lucky Strikes and Glo-Coat to the masses, so too do they attempt to bolster both AMC, which airs the program, and Lionsgate, the show’s production studio.

Each episode of “Mad Men” costs approximately $3 million to produce, estimated Sandra Stern, Lionsgate Television’s chief operating officer, owing to the show’s large cast and the producers’ attention to the smallest historical details. To cover part of its costs, Lionsgate depends on a license fee paid to it by AMC. The licensing cost of a high-end drama could come in between $2 million and $3 million per episode. Meanwhile, Ms. Stern estimates Lionsgate is able to secure “slightly north of” $500,000 per “Mad Men” episode by selling it to international distributors. Digital revenue, DVD sales and merchandising add more dollars to the coffers, though some of those monies are shared with AMC.

While the revenue that comes in isn’t on par with what a broadcast-network crime procedural might generate, she said, “We declare success and victory with a much smaller audience.”

Interesting.

August 4, 2010

Jersey Shore

Filed under: Future of TV — petertypingfaster @ 1:32 pm

What have thou wrought?

When Jersey Shore ended its winter run on an unexpected high note, making a fantastic turnaround from derogatory exploitation to stroke of entertainment genius, the imitations came fast and furious. There were rumors of a Brighton Beach ripoff and a Persian version; a geriatric version has already made it to air. Second-rate copies of what had originally seemed to many like a second-rate idea—could Jersey Shore, continuing its runaway success in its second season on MTV, have created an entirely new category of identity-based reality television?

Tentatively titled K-Town and set in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, the show has yet to be picked up by a network, and who knows whether it will be. Not since 1994 have television audiences been confronted with an all-Asian cast. Margaret Cho’s All American Girl aired for one short-lived, turbulent season. Plagued by low ratings, ABC wrangled with Cho about her weight, not being Asian enough, and then being too Asian. By the end of the season, the only Asians left were Cho and co-star Amy Hill.

“A lot of stereotypes about Asians are good,” said Mike Le, one of the show’s producers. “We’re smart, we play the violin or piano, we’re hard workers, great at math. Our cast is like that, too, except they’re also sexy, stylish, and have swagger. Those are things people don’t think of when they think of Asians in media. They think Asian guys are asexual, girls are docile, repressed.”

To wit, the cast features Peter “The Situasian” Le, a gay porn actor who runs his own erotic website (NSFW!), and ex-stripper Scarlet Chan, who responded to the Craigslist ad by promising to bring in viewers “through my many mischievous and slutty episodes.” Chan, 24 and originally from Hong Kong, acknowledges that her lifestyle “doesn’t fit the traditional norm of what a nice Chinese daughter is supposed to do,” but says the point of the show will be to break down old stereotypes and create new ones. Even on the cast’s conservative end, Violet Kim, who is already being billed as the show’s Snooki because of her petite stature, doesn’t fit the “model minority” mold. Kim, an aspiring actress, doesn’t have a college degree. College was “never something I thought about accomplishing until I got divorced,” she says. She’s now a single mother at 27. It goes without saying that the show is already causing anxiety among certain Asian groups, a culture that prizes achievement and honor and shudders at anything that would bring shame or disgrace.

If this is the future of TV someone shoot me in the face now. Please.

July 30, 2010

Maybe We Should Just Give It Away: How the Free-to-Play Revolution is Changing the Gaming Industry

Filed under: Future of TV — petertypingfaster @ 8:56 am

So, full disclosure, I’m a gamer. I think pretty much everyone in my generation is to a certain extent, it’s just a question of whether they play browser based games (Farmville, Mafia Wars, etc) or if they’re into full on Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (MMOs for the uninitiated). Gaming is a huge business. Properties like World of Warcraft generate $250M annually in subscription fees from North America alone (factor in Europe and China and I don’t even want to know how much money they’re raking in).

The cost of developing a new game is in the same ballpark as shooting a mid-size feature. On their journey from drawing board to market most games will rack up a total cost of about $25 to $75M. The really big ticket games, like the new Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO, have reported budgets in the Hollywood blockbuster range ($200+M).

All of which is to say that the gaming and film business share a lot of the same hurdles and goals. So maybe we can learn something from each other?

One of the more interesting developments in the gaming business over the pas few months has been the shift from subscription based revenue streams to a free-to-play (with microtransactions) revenue stream. In fact, this trend has become so prominent that it’s been written up in the Wall Street Journal.

More videogame companies, angling for larger audiences for big-budget online games, are making their products free to play in the hopes they can make more money by charging players for virtual goods.

Videogame makers in Asia, who years ago figured out how to make money from free services by began charging players for virtual goods on free services, like weapons and outfits. Now that approach is catching on in the U.S., even among makers of big-budget online games.

It’s an approach that’s had a lot of success in browser based games (Farmville being the prime example), but one that up until last year hadn’t caught on with the more expensive games.

The really interesting thing though is why this business model was developed to begin with.

The shift, which game companies in Asia figured out years ago, underscores how broadly a once foreign-seeming approach to business is coming to permeate the games industry.

U.S. games companies are far more dependent on retail sales of software in stores than their counterparts in Korea and China, where rampant software piracy forced local companies to be more inventive about making money through methods like virtual goods sales.

So just how big is the market for “virtual goods” in North America? Are people really going to shell out a bunch of real cash to access some digital pixels?

Total virtual goods sales this year are expected to reach $1.7 billion in the U.S., up from $278 million in 2008, according to ThinkEquity LLC, a research firm. Meanwhile, U.S. retail sales of game software are showing signs of weakness, falling have fallen 15% from a year ago to $531 million in June.

That’s quite the reversal. My next question then is…how can the film and tv business get in on this trend? Is there a way we could release a film for free, then charge people for access to additional content related to the film? Subscription based models have been tried for webisodes, without much success, but is there some other way that we haven’t thought of yet?

July 28, 2010

Old Spice Guy Single Handedly Turns Around Company

Filed under: Future of TV — petertypingfaster @ 9:44 am

There’s been a lot of skepticism about how much impact the Old Spice Guy’s viral video campaign would actually have in the real world. Naysayers would point to the fact that sales of Old Spice had been holding steady, or were even slightly down in the last quarter. Sure people may be watching the spots by the millions, but it doesn’t mean that they’re going out and buying the product.

Well, some recently released information throws some doubt onto the naysayers position.

According to Nielsen data provided by Old Spice, overall sales for Old Spice body-wash products are up 11 percent in the last 12 months; up 27 percent in the last six months; up 55 percent in the last three months; and in the last month, with two new TV spots and the online response videos, up a whopping 107 percent. “Our business is on fire,” Moorhead says. “We’ve seen strong results over all of our portfolio. That is the reward for the great work.”

I’m not surprised at all, and I’m sure the Old Spice Guy was confident that his mere presence would singlehandedly save the company. So does this mean we’re going to be inundated by similar campaigns in the near future?

I’m on a horse.

July 26, 2010

A Long Road Ahead: Critics Preview the 2010 TV Season

Filed under: Future of TV — petertypingfaster @ 11:52 am

So the US networks are about to throw their promotional machine into overdrive flogging their upcoming premieres. Every year there’s usually one or two shows that start to generate a lot of early critical buzz. Last year it was Glee and Modern Family. The year before True Blood was getting everyone’s attention. What show are people going to be talking about this year?

Well, if Broadcasting & Cable’s 2010 Critics Roundtable’s any indication, then it’s not much.

After last season’s critical and commercial success (think Glee, Vampire Diaries, Modern Family, The Middle, Community, The Good Wife and NCIS: Los Angeles) the expectations were high. Unfortunately…

That’s why this year’s freshman class of mostly indistinguishable series-and a few that look to be full blown misses-[was] all the more disappointing to a roundtable of top TV critics B&C polled about the new season.

“It’s almost as if people had something to prove last year,” says Matt Roush, TV Guide magazine’s television critic. “And now that they’ve proved it, they just kind of gave up this year in terms of developing anything that would really catch our attention.”

While the article goes into more depth, let’s just take a look at the highlights. What shows seem to be worth watching, what shows were the big disappointments, and what shows are just kind of meh.

THE BEST

Fox’s Lonestar and Raising Hope.

…Fox’s Lonestar, about father-and-son grifters who bilk unsuspecting investors until the son decides to listen to the angels of his better nature, is the drama pilot with the most potential. A fresh concept amid the glut of crime procedurals, it also has a likeable lead in James Volk, who plays the son. But everyone seems to be wondering how this show can sustain itself over the long haul.

The Fox comedy Raising Hope-from My Name Is Earl creator Greg Garcia-got high marks for its subversive quirkiness. Like Earl, the show revolves around a goodhearted central character stuck at dysfunction junction. Lucas Neff plays a twentyshomething with few prospects who ends up with a baby daughter after a one-night stand with a wanted felon. He’s surrounded by peculiar supporting players, in this case his scene-stealing family played by Martha Plimpton, Garret Dillahunt and Cloris Leachman.

Matt Roush: “Lonestar has a great new star with a lot of charisma. It’s different from the other shows, but the pilot made me wonder what would happen next.

Ellen Gray: “In spite of myself, I loved Raising Hope. It’s very clever. There seems to be some heart in it. I could not stop laughing, and at the same time I hated myself at times for laughing-which may be the absolute essence of any Fox comedy.”

THE WORST

$#*! My Dad Says, Hawaii Five-O, My Generation and Body of Proof.

Several shows made this list, including $#*! My Dad Says, Hawaii Five-O, My Generation and Body of Proof, which stars Dana Delany as an infallible medical examiner. But the show that prompted the most impassioned lambasting was NBC’s Outlaw. The improbable premise has Jimmy Smits as a womanizer, gambler and Supreme Court justice who quits the bench to go back into private practice, where he’s determined to fight for the downtrodden. Early in the pilot, there is a scene in which a young woman from the ACLU harangues Smits’ hang-’em-high jurist as he’s emerging from a casino.That they end up in bed together is only one of the pilot’s dubious turns.

ABC’s My Generation and CBS’ $#*! My Dad Says are the runners-up on the indefensible list. My Generation, about a group of friends, shot mockumentary-style in the present day and 10 years ago, elicited strong reactions from critics for its self-conscious characters and messy construction. When CBS bought the rights to a Twitter feed-$#*! My Dad Says-for a sitcom adaptation, it made headlines. The show itself, which stars William Shatner as cranky septuagenarian who barks out one-liners, is not likely to make the right kind of headlines for CBS.

Robert Bianco: “$#*! My Dad Says is completely inept and miscast and ill-conceived. It’s an abominable show. But Outlaw is a howlingly bad show. A Supreme Court justice stops in the street to argue with a young ACLU girl about an upcoming case? Yeah, happens all the time; just can’t muzzle those Supreme Court justices.”

***”The mock-documentary structure of My Generation is just terrible. This constant cutting back and forth makes the ludicrousness of that conceit all the more obvious. And five minutes in, you realize that someone is going to represent every single social and pop culture aspect of the last decade. It’s so tedious and stupid and unbelievable.”

David Bianculli: ***”If Outlaw were just performed differently, it could be a very funny spoof of itself. They could use the same dialogue, add a laugh track and tell the actors to wink at the camera. $#*! My Dad Says should prove that you shouldn’t make deals like this. You expect the things the father says to be home runs, like Archie Bunker-isms. And they’re not. At one point, he says, ‘Rule No. 3: No stupid jokes while I’m talking.’ So, I’m thinking, well now, we’re into mime for the rest of the half-hour.

“[My Generation] is very contrived. It’s pandering to nostalgia for people who are too young to have nostalgia.”

THE MEH

Undercovers, Running Wilde, Mike & Molly.

Roush: “Undercovers kind of feels to me like a USA Network show with a bigger budget. It’s not as special as you want it to be. It doesn’t have the teeth, the edge, when you think about how Alias burst across the scene. It’s just a very genial show about two really beautiful people having spy adventures. I’m very conflicted about Running Wilde because that’s the kind of show I should like. But [the characters] are so patently unpleasant. There should be some charm in that smarm, but I don’t see it.”

Gray: “Undercovers just didn’t do it for me. I much prefer to watch Chuck. They’re very pretty. But I think maybe that’s it: They’re so pretty, they’re so competent. It’s almost like, what’s the problem? [Critics] have that innate we-love-Mitch-Hurwitz gene, but I was disappointed. Running Wilde seemed a little too precious. It’s one of those shows where there’s a lot of talent running around being clever. But I’m not feeling a whole show yet.

“I could see Mike & Molly becoming something. I have learned to never bet against Chuck Lorre. He’ll keep tweaking until it works, which I think we saw with Big Bang Theory.”

***Maureen Ryan (Chicago Tribune): “Undercovers certainly looks like a J.J. Abrams project-it’s glossy, classy and engaging. Whether the world needs one more spy drama remains to be seen. It certainly feels a little too light to rescue an entire network-NBC needs a lot of help and this show might perk along nicely, but it does not scream “Peacock Savior!’ I think Will Arnett and Keri Russell are talented, but their new comedy, Running Wilde, is kind of painful to watch.”

There you have it folks! Hopefully some of these shows are better than the critics think, otherwise we’re in for a long 2010 season.

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