Upfronts 2014: The CW Unveils its Schedule for the Fall TV Season

Last but not least for the major broadcast networks is The CW. Keeping it small, The CW only picked up four new shows, two of which are based on DC Comics entities.

THE FLASH [Drama – Tuesdays @ 8]: Barry Allen was introduced earlier this season on Arrow, with plans of having a backdoor pilot integrated. The network asked for a pilot but decided on its fate as separate from Arrow, so the backdoor plans never came about, but as expected, it got picked up regardless. Not being that familiar with the original source material, I’m not really in a place to comment on this, but I’m still not incredibly convinced that Grant Gustin was the right choice for Barry Allen/The Flash. He pulls off the geeky Barry Allen side; it’s the Flash side I’m concerned about. But hey, what do I know? Still looking forward to watching though, not to mention the inevitable crossovers with Arrow.

The Flash

iZOMBIE [Drama – Midseason]: This is the second show the network picked up that is based on a DC Comic, albeit one that is definitely not your typical superhero stuff. Liv (played by Rose McIver, previously known as Tinkerbell from Once Upon a Time) has been unexpectedly turned into a zombie and in order to maintain her humanity, she takes a job working at the coroner’s office, giving her access to brains that she needs. Of course, there’s a catch: with every brain she consumes, she inherits some of the person’s memories which she then uses to help solve cases. There’s obviously a procedural/case of the week style to this, but at the same time, this is VERY different. Not to mention, Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars, is the executive producer on this, so expect a lot more of its uniqueness to shine through. I’m intrigued, to say the least.

Pilot

THE MESSENGERS [Drama – Midseason]: A mysterious object crashes onto earth sending out a shock wave that kills a group of strangers. However, these strangers awaken shortly thereafter and learn that they are the key to preventing the impending rapture. It seems to me that these big mystery stories are very hit and miss. Obviously the mystery of how this happened and why did it choose these people are the hook, but the producers and writers have to be careful and make sure they make the story and the characters compelling enough to make viewers care. Also, none of the “answering questions with more questions” or plain old asking questions with no answers – that is more than infuriating as a viewer. I’m hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst.

Pilot

JANE THE VIRGIN [Drama – Mondays @ 9]: At 23, Jane has her life planned out – study to become a teacher while dreaming of being a writer, marry her fiance who accepts her insistence to save herself for marriage and her timeline for their future together. But all her plans get turned upside down when she accidentally gets artificially inseminated during what was supposed to be a routine check-up. As ridiculous as that sounds (really, how negligent of a doctor/nurse are you to “accidentally” do that to someone?), it’s obvious that this show is meant to have a lot of heart. If my guess is correct, this could make a decent pairing with Hart of Dixie.

Pilot"

Notables/Thoughts:

  • Surprisingly, The CW kept most of its current schedule in tact. Really the only big change is that The Originals got moved to Mondays @ 8. I like that The CW is trying to build their schedules more fully around their “established” shows (shows that they know have a very good audience), as opposed to putting the weaker and/or newer shows together. My only concern is that Jane the Virgin isn’t the most logical choice to follow The Originals.
  • On tap for midseason is Hart of Dixie and Beauty and the Beast, which if you ask me, the network will probably ship off to Fridays. As much as it pains me to say it, due to my love of Hart of Dixie, they are the lowest performers ratings-wise. I actually didn’t have much concern over Dixie’s renewal because it doesn’t get more in-house than that, being a Warner Bros. produced show and it’s filmed at the WB Studios lot with next to no special effects; in other words, it’s a cheap show to produce. BATB on the other hand…I don’t know. I got nothing. It’s renewal still confuses me.

So that’s it! All the broadcast networks have announced their fall schedules! For this Canadian, my scheduling doesn’t start until I hear what the Canadian networks are picking-up from all these new shows and how they plan to schedule them in for them for the fall.

Favourites of 2013

It’s that time of year, where everybody is getting ready for Christmas and the start of a new year. Meanwhile, entertainment outlets everywhere are doing their “best-of” lists to cap off the year. So to keep up with my own modified version of those traditions, I give you my favourites in music/movies/television of the past year.

MUSIC – ALBUMS

  • Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience [The Complete Experience] – My year in music was made all the better with JT releasing 2 new albums this year. Some people didn’t like them for various reasons (songs were too long, not dance-y enough, a little self-indulgent?), but this was hands down my absolute favourite album of the year. I may be biased as a JT fan, but as a music fan, I appreciate that he can take musical risks while still keeping his signature sound. It was perfection to my ears.
  • Megan Hilty, It Happens All the Time – Megan had been known as a Broadway actress before starring in the TV series Smash, and though the show ended up being not so great in its two-season run, it was very much agreed upon that Megan was the best part of it. So it came as no surprise that she managed to get an album recorded and released, filled with original songs and covers. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the album is, particularly with the music selection, as it wasn’t just showtunes. For the covers, I loved her version of Switchfoot’s “Dare You to Move” and then one of the originals “Walk Away” was actually a song that was co-written by Carrie Underwood and Ne-Yo! There is just an easy feeling when you hear the album and I just fell in love with it.
  • PJ Morton, New Orleans – I only came to know about PJ when he started playing with Maroon 5 during the Hands All Over days as an additional keyboardist/vocal to fill out their sound live. Since then, he’s continued working on his own music, while playing with the band in a bigger capacity (taking over for Jesse Carmichael on keyboard while he takes a break from music). PJ had signed to Young Money Records (Lil Wayne’s label) and this album is his first release with the label. For me, this was just a solid R&B album from beginning to end, that really had a throwback sound to it (almost a Stevie Wonder quality to it) but decidedly modern as well.
  • Sara Bareilles, The Blessed Unrest – I feel as though Sara is just one of those artists who are just so damn dependable to make good music. This is her third album and you can hear the progression in her songwriting from her first album to this one. “Brave” is just a fantastic first single that follows in the footsteps of “Love Song” and “King of Anything” being sort of a pop anthem. The rest of the album is filled with wonderful piano pop that often stretches the musicality of it (I’m not sure I made sense there). Point is: she stretches herself as an artist/musician but in a way that fits into her style and personality, so it doesn’t ever feel like she’s trying too hard to do something different.
  • Matt Nathanson, Last of the Great Pretenders – What I said about Sara being so damn dependable as an artist, certainly applies to Matt as well. That the two of them released their albums on the same day this summer was a perfectly awesome coincidence. With this album, his eighth, Matt draws up a 40-minute ode to San Francisco, with all of its eclectic influences.
  • Beyonce, BEYONCE – She surprised the entire world when she secretly released this album on iTunes. I have always respected Beyonce as an artist and have really enjoyed her songs, but can’t say that I’ve been a huge fan. So I have to give her props for everything she did with regards to this album. As a whole, I think it’s her best one yet. I liked that she took different risks with the songs and that it’s a unique sound, but still completely Beyonce. There might not be a typical radio single, but who cares? When the music’s good, that’s all that matters.

MUSIC – SONGS

  • Lorde, Royals – I admittedly was late to the party in terms of hearing this song. I had heard about it but didn’t hear the song itself until sometime in the summer. I was hooked from the first listen. There’s a dynamic about the song that was just so different from anything else.
  • Megan Hilty, Bittersweet Symphony – Season 2 of Smash was a mess but for the most part, the music was still good. For some reason though, Megan’s cover of this Verve song stuck out. I already raved about Megan and her album up top, but I just fell in love with her version of this song. It’s just SO GOOD, I can’t even explain why I love it so much. I’ve always loved this song, but how they did re-did this song with Megan singing, it almost sounds like a different song
  • Ben Hazlewood, Knock On My Window – This is a case of I’m not entirely sure why it’s one of my favourites this year; I just couldn’t stop listening to it. Ben was a contestant on the first season of The Voice Australia and this track came off of his EP that he released. The song itself is pop with a very cool groove to it…and now that I think about it, it reminds me of Maroon 5’s “One More Night.” THAT’S probably why I’m addicted to it.
  • Jay-Z ft. Justin Timberlake, Holy Grail – Jay-Z & JT were just on a roll with their collaborations this year. With all the dynamics of the song, it probably shouldn’t have worked but it did. Justin sounds very melancholy starting off the song, then the hip-hop beat kicks in, with a little Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” sample put in, all serving as a backdrop to lyrics about the fickleness of fame. It is all kinds of awesome.
  • Glee, Make You Feel My Love + If I Die Young – I stuck it out until the end of season 4 of the show and I promised myself I wasn’t going to watch the show again (except the early episodes when it was good). Then tragedy struck with Cory Monteith’s untimely death. I was like everybody else, I wanted to see how the show would deal with such tragedy in their family, so I watched their tribute episode to him and his character. The episode itself was so emotional and it’s a wonder how any of them coped with such a loss. The two songs, sung in the episode by Lea Michele and Naya Rivera respectively, were particularly poignant and wrought with emotion that the tears were out of control just hearing them sing these songs.
  • Kelly Clarkson, My Favorite Things – I usually don’t listen to a lot of Christmas music, especially early on in the season; I usually limit it to a week or two leading up to Christmas. This year, all that changed and it’s completely Kelly Clarkson’s fault because she released a holiday album and one of my favourite songs on that album was this one. I’ve also never been a huge The Sound of Music fan, but good lord I love how Kelly jazzed up this song.

MOVIES

*This list is obviously based only on movies that I’ve been able to see this year. There’s many more movies that I haven’t gotten around to seeing or are too new (i.e. those darn Oscar-bait/contenders that just got released but are on several critics’ Best Of lists for the year).

  • Now You See Me – Fantastic word-of-mouth over the summer made my expectations high for when I did actually get around to watching it. It was a fun caper thriller featuring magic. The tone of the movie reminded me a lot of Ocean’s Eleven (with a slightly smaller cast of course) and though it wasn’t a perfect movie, it was highly enjoyable. Plus, bonus points for an original screenplay that’s not a remake/sequel/adaptation.
  • Thor: The Dark World – Getting Alan Taylor, best known these days for being a frequent director on Game of Thrones, to go behind the camera for this movie was a wise decision. Not to knock Kenneth Branagh for his work on the first film, but with this movie, you could really feel the scope of Asgard and the other realms. Add to the fact that there seemed to be a lot more going on in this movie than the first, everything just felt better and fuller, as if pressure had been lifted from having to make everything work. Bonus for me was getting to see Zachary Levi taking over for Josh Dallas as Fandral. Again, nothing against Josh, I just love Zac and seeing him on the big screen put a huge smile on my face.
  • Prisoners – First of all, look at the poster and check out the actors billed: almost all Academy Award nominees and/or winners. Not gonna lie, that alone made me go “Whoa” when I first heard about the movie. Then the trailer looked incredibly intense. Then when I finally got a chance to watch the movie, I saw for myself what all the talk was about after it premiered at TIFF this year. It’s a crime thriller that definitely borrowed influences from a bunch of different movies and the end result was just as what the trailer suggested – intense. Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal put in incredible performances in this movie. I myself am so looking forward to attending the In Conversation With Jake Gyllenhaal and Denis Villeneuve (the director of this movie, as well as Enemy, another movie starring Gyllenhaal) at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in early January, and hopefully they’ll talk about this movie
  • Gravity – Whether or not it is technically accurate doesn’t matter. Sandra Bullock gave the performance of her career here, essentially carrying the movie on her own, except for brief moments with George Clooney. The movie was exceptional in 3D, as director Alfonso Cuaron made you feel as if you were in space with Bullock. Everything was just visually stunning.
  • Philomena – I talked about this movie in my TIFF wrap-up post already, but I have to say it again, I’m really glad I was given the chance to see it. It’s not the typical movie I’d be interested in, yet after I watched it I was just so impressed by it. The fact that Steve Coogan, known mostly as a comedic actor, co-wrote the heartwarming script based on a true story, was a very welcome surprise and you also get to see a side of Dame Judi Dench you don’t normally see.
  • The Spectacular Now – I had listed this as one of the movies I was looking forward to watching in August, and boy did it ever live up to the praise. On the surface it is a love story, when Sutter (Miles Teller) the popular kid in school falls for Aimee (Shailene Woodley) the quiet girl – sounds cliche doesn’t it? On a deeper level, it’s Sutter’s coming-of-age story – how his unexpected relationship with Aimee changes him, his relationships with his family and friends, and his outlook on life. What made this movie stand out is that it’s not the Hollywood view of teenage life; this feels real with the awkwardness of dating and the anxiety of life after high school.
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – One of my most anticipated movies of the year and it did not disappoint. To some, Catching Fire (both the movie and the book) can seem like a rehash of the first movie with another Games and it serving as the bridge to the third (and fourth, for the movies). It’s not completely wrong to think that way because it’s kind of true. However, you can’t deny all the character development that occurs as we’re being set up for Mockingjay. Director Francis Lawrence also proved to be a great choice to take over for Gary Ross, as he brings a different style to the film.
  • Fruitvale Station – This movie is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, a young African-American man wrongly shot in a subway station in the Bay Area on New Year’s Day 2009. The film itself follows the final 24 hours of his life and shows him as a young man wanting to do right by his family, but has to contend with his past. Surprisingly, knowing what was going to happen didn’t make the fateful scene any less shocking because we just spent time getting to know him. It’s certainly a testament to writer-director Ryan Coogler and actor Michael B. Jordan for making us sympathize with Grant’s struggles in such a way that it still does shock us when the incident occurs.

TELEVISION (NEW SHOWS)

  • Orphan Black – I was one of the idiots who didn’t watch this show when it first aired. Despite reading tweets by entertainment writers telling me to watch it, I just didn’t know what it was; I may have also mixed it up with some other show in this brain of mine. Anyways, after getting proverbially hit over the head multiple times to watch this, I binge-watched it over one weekend and was immediately hooked after the first episode (hence the binge-watch). I mean it’s sort of a sci-fi show (it deals with clones after all!), but it also has all this character drama, a hint of a thriller, which also deals with psychological/sociological ideas. Plus, Tatiana Maslany! The girl plays SEVEN different characters with such ease, you forget that it’s just her. Also, being Canadian, I was so surprised to see that this is a Canadian made/set show. I know they say it’s a little ambiguous about where the show is set, but it’s fairly obvious it’s Toronto. The funny thing about all this is that at SDCC, my cousin was all about this show trying to get the autograph signing; she didn’t get it, but I ended up trying to take pictures of Tatiana, Dylan Bruce, and Jordan Gavaris for her during the signing, not realizing I was taking pictures of people I was about to obsess over! Now I can’t wait for my next Comic-Con (be it Toronto or San Diego) so I can try harder and meet these wonderful people!
  • Sleepy Hollow – A sort-of re-imagining of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, where Ichabod Crane wakes up in present day Sleepy Hollow to fight the Headless Horseman. Sounded awesome, with a dash of ridiculous, didn’t it? – which is kind of what it ended up being. It’s a show that ended up striking just the right balance of mythology, character, drama, action, supernatural, campy fun, and humour. Executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci definitely know something about that balance, having worked on Fringe, but Len Wiseman and Ken Olin also bring a lot to the table. And the cast – regulars Tom Mison, Nicole Beharie, Orlando Jones, Katia Winter; plus recurring stars Lyndie Greenwood, John Noble, John Cho – just make everything work.
  • Almost Human – I was so excited about this show when it got picked up at Upfronts back in May because it’s from J.H. Wyman, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk, the three people who were very much responsible for my beloved Fringe. Then I saw the pilot at SDCC, which re-affirmed my excitement. It’s a futuristic take on the typical procedural and that in itself just makes things more interesting because it’s a new realm of crime and technology. Add to that, the fact that this is like a buddy-cop drama, with Karl Urban’s damaged human, Kennex, being forced to team up with Michael Ealy’s emotional and wickedly awesome robot, Dorian.
  • Trophy Wife – The name has been an issue; a case you thought ABC might have learned from when they aired Cougar Town, a show that was also MUCH more than its name suggested. At times, you can have a hard time grasping how Bradley Whitford’s Pete ended up with either of his two ex-wives – the cold and stern Diane + the carefree Jackie – or his current younger wife, Kate. That suspension of disbelief aside, it’s a really funny and cute show. The dynamics between the adults, as well as the kids, are terrific. They’re all such characters that somehow work extremely well together. And yes, Albert Tsai’s Bert almost always steals the show whenever he shows up.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine – I mentioned in my fall check-in post how this cast works phenomenally well together. It was like a well-oiled machine, right from the get-go, and I count on them for my weekly laughs. I just need other people to also watch this show.

TELEVISION (RETURNING SHOWS)

  • Nikita – I’m going to keep this short. My favourite show/obsession just ended its run as one of the most underrated series in recent memory. I’m going to miss it SO MUCH.
  • Arrow – If there’s a show that just continually tries to outdo itself, this is it. Through the second half of the first season and going into the second, the writers just know no bounds. Particularly with this second season, where it seems like DC just let them go nuts with the universe and include whatever character they want. I think it’s a real testament to everyone involved with the show that they can make people like me, who don’t know the source material, still be excited about a character reveal. They’ve just done such a great job building their version of Starling City, plus Oliver’s world and relationships, that it’s very easy to get wrapped up in what’s going on.
  • The Mindy Project – Mindy is on a roll. This rom-com + workplace comedy is non-stop laughs, not just from the leads but also by the supporting characters. I don’t know what to say about it, except that more people need to be watching it! I mean where else are you going to see Chris Messina dancing to an Aaliyah song? (Seriously, watch it for yourself. It is hilariously awesome.)
  • Suits – I love this show. There’s some legal stuff that happens on the show but that’s not important. The important thing is the relationships that occur between the characters and how they seemingly riff-off each other. That, plus the pop culture references! In all seriousness though, this is a show that is the very definition of a dramedy – a drama series that infuses a lot of humour and heart. One of the best examples from this season is how they handled what seemed like a throwaway storyline involving Louis and a cat, and gave it the same depth and weight as any other legal case.

That’s it from me. Here’s hoping for the best in 2014!

2013 Fall TV: How’s Everything Shaping Up?

We’re well into November, so I figured now is as good a time as any to check-in on the TV season thus far. Let’s jump in!

NEW SHOWS

I’m not sure if this is the case for a lot of people, but heading into this season, I was incredibly cautious about all the new shows. There were some that I was legitimately excited about/looking forward to, there were some that I knew I wanted to steer clear of, but there were A LOT that I wasn’t sure about. Trophy Wife was one of the shows that felt like it could have went either way for me. The more I watched it though, the more I fell in love with it. Misleading title aside (think along the lines of Cougar Town), the show is a different take of a “modern family” and the cast just have incredible chemistry and comedic timing (which includes the kids). I’m still not sure how I feel about The Crazy Ones, a pretty funny series especially when the cast gets to bounce off each other (which happens a lot), but there’s a little something missing for me. Sean Saves the World and The Michael J. Fox Show have their funny moments, but there’s nothing big that ties me to them and makes me want to watch. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the people working on both shows but I find myself watching it whenever, and not necessarily seeking it out to watch it. Must see TV they are not.

The shows which I was unsure of and subsequently dropped after watching a few episodes? Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, Reign, Back In the Game, Super Fun Night. With Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, I was already disappointed that they had decided to make it an actual series and part of the primetime lineup, instead of their original plan to air it during flagship OUAT’s winter hiatus. As I watched the first two episodes, I just found myself incredibly bored and the CGI incredibly distracting. OUAT’s VFX were never great (pretty good though with the budget they’re working with), but because it’s used sparingly, I can deal with the occasional green screen scene. For Wonderland, it is seemingly all green screen special effects and thus incredibly distracting. I honestly had no intention on watching Reign in the first place, which in itself is surprisingly considering I usually love watching historical/period dramas. I think people labelling it as “Game of Thrones meets Gossip Girl” just completely turned me off. Then hearing a good number of critics/journalists actually liking it, I figured I should at least give it a try. After watching the pilot, I didn’t change my mind about it – I just didn’t like it. Back In the Game had a feeling that harkened back to older sitcoms, while trying its hardest to feel completely modern; therein lies the problem. While trying to be yet another take on the “modern family,” there was nothing that seemed fresh about it. As for Super Fun Night, I tried really hard to like it because of Rebel Wilson, but I didn’t find it funny at all.

One show that I was legitimately excited to watch this season was Dracula and unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations and I found it kind of boring. Then there’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Above almost all the other new shows, this one had the most buzz and anyone who is a fan of the Marvel universe was excited to see this one. The pilot episode was great, but after that, it took more than a few episodes before the show found its footing. I was more than happy to stick with it and see how they were going to develop it, despite some inconsistencies and blah moments, but I know a lot of people let it go as well. It’s not that it’s a bad show; I personally think we all may have had such high expectations for the show that when it didn’t deliver to those standards, we inevitably got disappointed. I was excited to watch The Tomorrow People because it’s another take on the humans with superpowers story we’ve heard/seen in various movies and TV shows before it, which ultimately could’ve proved to be too familiar. While not amazing (I’m still bothered by the fact that they made Robbie Amell’s Stephen a high school-er and the triangle set-up between him, Cara, and John), the show has still managed to make us care about these characters and what they’re doing. It helps that they gave backstories to Cara, John, and Russell so early (in episodes 3, 4, and 6, respectively).

But enough with the negatives. Let’s talk about the shows that I was excited to watch and then invariably impressed. Sleepy Hollow. Wow. Without a doubt one of the best new shows this season. It gave the original story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman a supernatural twist, but it also knows not to take itself too seriously by infusing some humourous moments. Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie, as our two leads, have chemistry in spades, though contrary to popular opinion, I’d rather them stay platonic a la Sherlock and Holmes on Elementary. Also, the supporting cast in Orlando Jones and guest stars Lyndie Greenwood and John Noble just make the show work on so many levels. It might be a little bit early for me to say this but I love Almost Human. As of posting, the show had only aired 2 episodes, and I had already seen the pilot at SDCC. The pilot for me wasn’t perfect, but it set the ground work for the series. Episode 2 was pretty much what Fringe fans loved, but in a new show: drama, humour, heart, against a ridiculous backdrop (in this case – sexbots). Adding to the FOX love, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has delivered on the laughs every episode. With Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher fronting the show as the smart man-child detective and the serious Captain of the precinct, and the Park and Recreation guys in charge, it had to be funny. What made it great was that the entire supporting cast works so well, you’d have thought that they have all worked together prior to the show or that it wasn’t a freshman series at all.

RETURNING SHOWS

I wanted to talk about returning shows mainly for one reason: Arrow. It’s first season was great, with establishing the characters, Oliver’s story from when he was on the island and how that affected him to become this vigilante/hero, and all the action. This season, DC has seemingly given the show and its writers an all-access pass to characters in the DC universe, and they are just running with it. Just when you think they can’t get any better, they do. Twists, revelations, further character development (hello, Thea Queen for being the most improved), wonderful guest stars. The writing is top notch and they are just firing on all cylinders.

Revenge got a lot of flack for its convoluted second season, but this season has been a return to form. Is it nearly as awesome as its first season? No, but they’ve done an admirable job in trying to make us forget the mess of last season. Flagship Once Upon A Time seems almost like a spin-off of its own show with the focus being primarily on the core characters and their journey through Neverland to save Henry. Another ABC show, Scandal, continues to be the epitome of CRAZY awesome storytelling. Sometimes I forget Shonda Rhimes is in charge of Scandal, because obviously she’s still attached to Grey’s Anatomy (which I stopped watching years ago). The Mindy Project is as funny as ever, and it’s been great to see Adam Pally (who’s practically playing a straight, only slightly more professional version of his Happy Endings‘ Max) join the cast.

How I Met Your Mother, now in its final season, has been hit and miss with this idea to make the season take place over the entire weekend of Barney and Robin’s wedding. There’s been the usual HIMYM antics, which are still funny. However, the whole storyline with Marshall traveling with Sherri Sheppard’s character just didn’t do anything except keep Marshall away from the rest of the gang. The good part though? Getting to see more of The Mother.

What new shows have you gotten hooked on? What’s been surprisingly good or surprisingly disappointing? Which returning shows are still making your time worthwhile? Let me know in the comments!

A First-Timer’s Account of San Diego Comic Con 2013 – Day 3

For years, I have wanted to go to the infamous San Diego Comic Con. The ultimate nexus of all things pop culture. This year, thanks to my cousin agreeing to go with me, I made my way. This is the account of my 4-day experience at the center of all things nerd.

DAY 3

While Friday was all about Nikita for me, Saturday was all about How I Met Your Mother. I wanted badly to be in Hall H Saturday for all the movie panels, plus EW’s Women Who Kick Ass panel (which featured, among 4 others…Maggie Q! Duh, I would do almost anything for Maggie!), but decided against camping out starting at 3:00 in the afternoon Friday (I’m fairly certain I remember reading a tweet that people were already camped out at that time). I also decided against lining up for my chance at autographs again (on deck for today would have been Arrow, HIMYM). So like I said, Saturday = How I Met Your Mother. Now HIMYM might not seem like a typical show to be featured at SDCC, but we all knew well that regardless of that, the panel was going to be well attended. So making our way to the Indigo Ballroom, situated at the Hilton next to the convention center, my cousin and I waited in line at 7:30 A.M., and yes, there was already quite the line in front of us when we arrived.

By the time we got into the Indigo, we had to wait out two other panels before getting to our main event. The first was Machinima, a website/YouTube video network focused on the gaming community. This panel in particular, was focusing on fan films. Similar to my feelings about the World of Heroes panel, it was really cool to see and find out about all this original/creative content. There was only one name in the panel that I recognized and that would be Kevin Tancharoen, who was there for his Mortal Kombat: Legacy webseries. I, however, know him best as a former dancer/choreographer for Britney Spears, during the “In The Zone” era.

Machinima panel

Machinima panel

The second panel was for Geek and Sundry, Felicia Day’s video network. I had no idea what this was coming into SDCC, and when I have time, will now have to check out the shows she has on her YouTube network. It all just seemed really fun and cool. Felicia Day was obviously on the panel, as well as frequent Geek and Sundry contributor Wil Wheaton (all I hear in my head is Sheldon from Big Bang Theory yelling “WHHEEEAAAAATTTOONNNNN!!!”)

Geek and Sundry panel, with Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton

Geek and Sundry panel, with Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton

And then came How I Met Your Mother! Right before the panel began, there were some awesome fans who began to chant “Shrimp fried rice! Shrimp fried rice!”, which was obviously then followed by “CAN-A-DA! CAN-A-DA!” I had to represent and chant along to “CAN-A-DA!” before it quickly died off. The panel then started with a special video, that seemed like it was just the start of the first episode of the next season. Before I knew it, I started hearing censored expletives coming from Ted’s grown kids (aka Lyndsy Fonseca and David Henrie), cursing out their dad for spending eight years telling his story. It was SO FREAKIN’ HILARIOUS!! CBS has already made the video available online, so go watch it if you haven’t already. After the video finished, the cast and producers came out to massive applause, like the rockstars they were. Honestly, for a show that apparently had no right/reason to be at SDCC (said certain people on the internet after the announcement was made), you never would’ve guessed it by the reception they received. For me, it was just so much fun being in that room with the cast and all these fans. We got treated to more insight into the longest weekend ever (in case you haven’t heard, the final season will take place over the course of Barney & Robin’s wedding weekend). We still have the last slap to look forward to. Return of former guest stars? It is a wedding, so hopefully we will get to see Lucy Hale return as Robin’s sister (I almost forgot about her!) and John Lithgow as Barney’s father, but we at least know for certain that Wayne Brady is back as Barney’s brother James. Random tangents involving seeing how the interpreters sign everything they’re saying. Also, there were no less than three musical interludes: a “Let’s Go To The Mall” sing-a-long (Cobie was having trouble at the beginning, but Neil was more than happy to fill in the missing lyrics for her lol); Jason, by request, sang a bit of his Dracula musical; and everybody sang the “Bang Bang” song.

The cast of HIMYM coming in to a fury of applause and screams like the rockstars they are. (L-R): EP Carter Bays, EP Craig Thomas, Director Pamela Fryman, Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan

The cast of HIMYM coming in to a fury of applause and screams like the rockstars they are. (L-R): EP Carter Bays, EP Craig Thomas, Director Pamela Fryman, Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan

Unfortunately, the fun of the HIMYM panel had to end, much to everyone’s dismay. After that, my cousin and I didn’t really have any other panel that we immediately had to go to. So we headed on over to the exhibit hall, take everything in, and hopefully get to see some celebrities. I’ll tell you this, it gets crazy in there when there are autograph signings. You may try your best to get a shot of the celebs doing the signing, but the con has a strict “shoot and scoot” policy – take one picture and go. I understand the policy, but at the same time, you can’t guarantee that you’ll even get one good shot, especially with the tall guards blocking your way.

Ming Na during the SHIELD signing at the Marvel booth

Ming Na during the SHIELD signing at the Marvel booth

The cast of Once Upon A Time signing at the ABC booth (aka the Jolly Roger)

The cast of Once Upon A Time signing at the ABC booth (aka the Jolly Roger)

Managed to get a good shot of Kristin Bauer and Ryan Kwanten getting ready for their autograph signing at the WB Booth. Behind them on the other side, is Tom Cruise (and Emily Blunt) signing for their movie "Edge of Tomorrow"

Managed to get a good shot of Kristin Bauer and Ryan Kwanten getting ready for their autograph signing at the WB Booth. Behind them on the other side, is Tom Cruise (and Emily Blunt) signing for their movie “Edge of Tomorrow”

After a couple runs up and down the exhibit hall, trying to pick up swag and get pictures of celebs, I suggested we make our way to Ballroom 20. The Vampire Diaries panel was happening at the time, but I was much more interested in getting in for the Arrow panel. Well, turns out that there were still empty seats for the TVD panel (it had followed the always popular True Blood panel, which always gives out good swag apparently), so we were able to walk straight in.

The Vampire Diaries panel L-R: Kat Graham, Ian Somerhalder, EP Julie Plec, Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, EP Caroline Dries, Candice Accola

The Vampire Diaries panel
L-R: Kat Graham, Ian Somerhalder, EP Julie Plec, Nina Dobrev, Paul Wesley, EP Caroline Dries, Candice Accola

After about 5 minutes, the TVD panel was done and we shuffled our way up closer for the Arrow panel. Arrow quickly became one of my favourite new shows of last season, and after the fantastic season finale, I have been quite eager to see what they have in store for next season. The panel began with a preview clip for the season two premiere, and it was fantastic and thrilling to say the least. This panel was on Saturday, and they had only begun filming the new season on the Monday, so they apparently got A LOT of filming done and managed to package it together as a special clip for SDCC. Talk about movie magic and commitment to the fans. Days before, fans found out that we were getting introduced to Black Canary on the show, but it isn’t Laurel, so there was an interesting discussion during the panel of how the show likes to take what fans of the comic book know and flip it a bit. The first Green Arrow we meet, isn’t Oliver but is Yao Fei. When we first met Tommy Merlyn, we were led to believe that he becomes the Dark Archer of the comic books, but turns out it’s his father, Malcolm. So similar to those, this is just the beginning of the Black Canary storyline. Partway through, we got treated to a special appearance by John Barrowman, who joined the cast for the rest of the panel. All in all, some great insight into next season and what we can look forward to.

Arrow panel L-R: EP Marc Guggenheim, EP Andrew Kreisberg, Colton Haynes, Katie Cassidy, Stephen Amell, Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, EP Greg Berlanti

Arrow panel
L-R: EP Marc Guggenheim, EP Andrew Kreisberg, Colton Haynes, Katie Cassidy, Stephen Amell, Emily Bett Rickards, David Ramsey, EP Greg Berlanti

 

Midseason TV Report: What’s Going On With All the Shows?!

On the heels of FOX cancelling freshmen series Ben and Kate, I thought it would be a good time to check-in on the TV season thus far. The 2012-2013 TV season started promising enough, with a batch of new shows vying for our attention and space on our DVRs. But it seems, to this TV fan anyways, that this was a particularly rough year for a lot of shows, not just the new freshmen series.

TOO MANY COMEDIES = FEW LAUGHS

The biggest issue that came about with the new season was that 3 of the major networks decided to schedule a chunk of their comedies on Tuesdays. Sure, it probably seemed like a good idea early on, but it became clear that with 8 comedies vying for similar audiences in a two-hour block, there were casualties to be made. After making their debuts, Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project got more episode pickups beyond the initial 13, despite middling ratings. FOX put faith in the shows growing in viewers, but for some reason, the numbers just weren’t there for Ben and Kate. Critics approved and enjoyed the show, but seemingly out of nowhere, FOX halted production and pulled the show from the schedule. In its place, FOX is doubling up on Raising Hope, currently in its 3rd season, and putting its season finale at March (which could be taken as a bad sign for the critically adored show).

Over on ABC, the story is just as troubling. After cancelling 666 Park Avenue (more on that later), ABC had decided on putting Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B**** in Apartment 23 in that timeslot, on top of its current Tuesday timeslot, so that all their episodes would air before DWTS came back and they introduce some celebrity diving show. However, after two weeks of not so great ratings on Sundays, ABC effectively pulled the plug on Apt. 23, while Happy Endings will double up on episodes on Tuesdays. Again, it seems like Happy Endings is getting burned off, which might be a sign of trouble ahead for the show.

NBC is struggling with their own Tuesday comedies, Go On and The New Normal. Go On, the ensemble comedy starring Matthew Perry, has a solid viewership (some say due to its former Voice results lead-in), but not a lot of people talking about it. The New Normal had a lot of people talking early on, with people either loving or hating it, and now has settled in with those who liked it and not much else.

The new season has certainly been rough on a lot of comedies, and not just for the aforementioned Tuesday shows. CBS’ Partners and NBC’s Animal Practice were pretty much D.O.A. NBC cancelled Dane Cook’s Next Caller before a single episode even aired. FOX’s The Goodwin Games saw its episode order cut from 13 to 7, and no sign of when (or even if) those episodes will see the light of day. Second season show Up All Night took a hit creatively upon its return and are currently in the midst of reformatting to a multi-camera show (think more along the lines of Big Bang Theory; filming in front of an audience). Community was supposed to come back for its fourth season in October, but NBC put it on benchwarmer status, before finally giving it a February premiere date. Yet don’t even get me started on the shows that somehow find a way to survive.

RISKS PAYING OFF?

This is not a knock at the general viewing public (or maybe it is?). With cable networks thriving with their original programming (Homeland, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, etc.), the broadcast networks served up some different offerings for the new season to varying degrees of success. NBC got off easy when it found itself a hit with Revolution, a show that hooked people in with its premise of what happens when all our power/technology goes off?

ABC, on the other hand, continued its rough season when it was 0/2 for new dramas, 666 Park Avenue and Last Resort. 666 Park Avenue struggled to find its footing for the first couple episodes and was quickly deemed as a campy thriller/guilty pleasure. A lot of people shot down Park Ave for its not-so-scary storytelling, to which I can’t help but say that it’s a broadcast network show – American Horror Story, this is not. Alas, some people dropped the show as it was getting good and new viewers were nowhere to be found. When the announcement was made that ABC was cancelling the show, they had initially promised to air all 13 episodes, but then completely pulled the show off the schedule with 4 episodes left (that will supposedly air some time in the summer). Last Resort was an ambitious effort to begin with and paired with its terrible timeslot, it didn’t seem like it was going to last very long. Despite strong writing and a top notch cast, the show seemed to appeal to a more male audience, on a mostly female-oriented network.

Though not as much of a risky show as the other 3, ABC’s Nashville is still quite a wildcard. While it was deemed as another musical series a la Glee, the outcome was a much more drama and character-driven series that happened to be set in the world of country music, thereby allowing music to be organically introduced into the show. The show is certainly not without its flaws, but overall, it is a great show. For some reason however, the ratings are not what was expected of the show, leaving questions as to whether it will be able to earn a second season pickup come Upfronts (or earlier).

WRITING SLUMPS

Not to be rude, but there are some shows that I think have suffered in quality lately. Revenge, coming off of winter break has finally picked up steam and gotten a little bit back to basics. But before break, it was a huge mess with all this Americon Initiative stuff that made absolutely no sense, the stuff with the Ryan brothers and the Stowaway, even the storyline of Emily/Amanda’s mom felt a little underwhelming and unnecessary.

Glee is trying its hardest to balance the McKinley and NYADA storylines, but when I’m not furious with them over musical choices, I can’t quite seem to connect to the new kids. I keep wanting to see Dianna Agron, Naya Rivera, Amber Riley, Harry Shum Jr., and they are nowhere to be found.

What should’ve been a huge creative kick with Elena becoming a vampire on The Vampire Diaries, has instead become an incredible bore with the focus on finding “the cure.” Even the thing of having Damon and Elena finally hooking up got ruined by the idea that Elena was sired to Damon. Now with the writers and the network trying to do an Originals spin-off featuring Klaus and Elijah in New Orleans, I can’t help but not want it to happen.

SHOWS THAT HAVE IMPRESSED

I hate to sound so negative in all these analytical postings, so let me turn around and muse about some shows that have done well so far this season. Who would’ve thought that one of the biggest hits of the fall would end up belonging to The CW? Arrow was far and away one of the biggest winners of the fall TV season, and one of the few new shows this season that seem to be a certainty for renewal.

Scandal premiered late last season with 7 episodes, but came back firing on all cylinders for its second season. Shonda Rhimes created a show that certainly didn’t feel like Grey’s Anatomy or Private Practice, in any shape or form. Its steady ratings increase certainly show that more and more viewers are catching on to this seductive series.

Though it only premiered this past week, I am already very impressed with FOX’s The Following. Lots of people tuned into the premiere, despite all the controversy of whether it was too violent, particularly in the wake of such violent tragedies around the U.S. We’ll have to see if those numbers stick for the next few weeks.

Of course, some of the other new shows that I have enjoyed this season so far have received middling ratings including The Mindy Project, Go On, Nashville, and the now-cancelled Ben and Kate. Of the returning favourites, Nikita continues to not disappoint and impress on so many levels, while How I Met Your Mother is finally guiding us towards the pivotal meeting of the mother in question.

So moral of the story is: no matter how good (or bad) the show is, ratings are everything, and dictate whether or not your favourites survive. There are still a bunch of new shows that will premiere in the coming months, heading into the circle of TV life that is Upfronts. In the meantime, sound off on your thoughts of the TV season thus far!