Upfronts 2014: The Crazy Before the Storm – Renewals/Cancellations

I know the saying is actually “The calm before the storm” but when it comes to network upfronts, there’s no such thing as calm. First of all, how has a year passed already that we are once again back at upfronts, the time of year where networks announce their line-ups for the coming year in hopes to attract advertising dollars? The official Upfronts for the broadcast network aren’t until next week; however as is often the case, the networks have already begun announcing what current shows are getting renewed for another season, which are getting cancelled, and which new shows are going to be taking their place on the network schedule.

I’ll save my thoughts on the new shows for later, after the networks make their official announcements next week, along with the schedule reveal. For now, an update on which shows will live on and which got the axe.

ABC

  • Renewed: Once Upon A Time, Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Modern Family, The Goldbergs, Castle, The Middle, Resurrection, Revenge, Dancing With the Stars, Nashville, Last Man Standing
  • Cancelled: Trophy Wife, Suburgatory, Mixology, Super Fun Night, The Neighbors, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, The Assets, Back in the Game, Betrayal, Killer Women, Lucky 7, Mind Games

This time last year, we saw that ABC picked up a lot of new shows and it was inevitable that not all was going to see a second season. At the end of the season, ABC ended up only picking up three of its freshmen series: SHIELD, The Goldbergs, and Resurrection. If you think that’s low, well it is one more than they kept from last season, which saw only Nashville and The Neighbors getting a season two. The cancellations that hurt the most have to be Trophy Wife and Suburgatory – two funny, smart, and witty shows with a lot of heart that for reasons unknown, just did not connect. Suburgatory at least got three seasons in its run, doesn’t make the cancellation hurt any less, but at least we did get three seasons. And then there’s Trophy Wife, which for all intents and purposes, should have followed Modern Family in the schedule, even for a little while so it could get an audience.

CBS

  • Renewed: The Big Bang Theory, NCIS, NCIS LA, Criminal Minds, CSI, 2 Broke Girls, The Millers, Two and a Half Men, Person of Interest, Mike and Molly, The Good Wife, Hawaii Five-O, Blue Bloods, Mom, The Amazing Race, Survivor, The Mentalist
  • Cancelled: We Are Men, The Crazy Ones, Bad Teacher, Hostages, Intelligence,¬†Friends With Better Lives

To be fair, I don’t watch a lot of shows that come out of CBS; Big Bang Theory, Amazing Race, and Survivor are my only CBS shows. I was hoping that The Crazy Ones would get another season because the cast work so well together and it’s such a joy to watch how much fun they’re having; unfortunately even the star power of Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar couldn’t get the show to season 2. As much as I enjoyed it, I never saw Hostages getting another season because it felt like it was very much a limited series and to try to expand the show further or replicate the original hook would be ill advised. I’m not too heartbroken over that loss.

FOX

  • Renewed: Sleepy Hollow, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Mindy Project, Glee, The Following, Family Guy, New Girl, The Simpsons, Bones, Bob’s Burgers, Hell’s Kitchen, American Idol, Masterchef Junior
  • Cancelled: Almost Human, Enlisted, Dads, Surviving Jack, Rake, Raising Hope, The X-Factor

FOX is such an interesting network. Viewers can complain that the network cancels a lot of good shows (true), many of them rooted in sci-fi (also true) but at the same time, I appreciate the fact that FOX does try to give us different programming and when they truly support something they do their best to keep it on the air (thanks again for 5 seasons of Fringe!). Also, the scheduling on any network will never be perfect so no doubt I will complain about that endlessly. Almost Human had so much potential and unfortunately, suffered from the network shuffling the episodes around which caused some confusion to what was going on. You could also tell that the producers/writers were still trying to strike a balance between the procedural and mythological elements of the show, which now with the show being cancelled, has left a lot of questions unanswered. Poor Enlisted never stood a chance; it premiered late in the season (November) on Fridays (rough day/time for any show, let alone a new one), and again the episodes were aired out of order, making some storylines a little awkward. Additionally, Enlisted was a show that would’ve paired well with Brooklyn Nine-Nine had it been given a chance.

NBC

  • Renewed: The Voice, Parks and Recreation, About a Boy, Grimm, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., The Blacklist, Hannibal, Law & Order SVU
  • Cancelled: The Michael J. Fox Show, Sean Saves the World, Welcome to the Family, Ironside, Believe, Community, Crisis, Growing Up Fisher, Revolution, Dracula
  • Status Unknown: Parenthood

I am incredibly happy that Parks and Recreation and About a Boy both got renewed for another season, but of course, I have to comment on the cancellations. Believe had a lot of potential and with the clout that the show had (Alfonso Cuaron AND J.J. Abrams are two of the executive producers), I thought maybe there was some hope; alas it wasn’t the case. Crisis, like its similarly premised Hostages on CBS, didn’t seem like it would be able to sustain itself in the long run so it only lasting one season is okay with me. I’ve enjoyed watching Growing Up Fisher, so it hurts a little to see it get cancelled, but I kind of understand. Then there’s Community: after the dismal 4th season, I’ll admit I was surprised and kind of upset that it did get renewed for a 5th season, if only because I was a pretty big fan of Go On and wanted to see it get a season 2. Having Dan Harmon back for S5 however, rejuvenated the show, so the fact that the show didn’t get the “Six Seasons and a Movie” it was gunning for, left me surprised and upset because it was getting so good again¬† and it just seems odd for it to get cancelled now.

THE CW

  • Renewed: Arrow, The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, Hart of Dixie, The 100, Beauty and the Beast, Reign, The Originals
  • Cancelled: The Tomorrow People, Star-Crossed, The Carrie Diaries, Nikita

Leave it to The CW to get the biggest rise out of me this week when it announced what other shows were getting renewed (Arrow, TVD, SPN, Reign, Originals all received renewals a while back). For years, I gave The CW heck for how it treated Nikita, but with it ending back in December, my efforts were inevitably going to go elsewhere. From the beginning, The Tomorrow People put a lot of work into fleshing out these characters and their world, which actually doesn’t happen a lot THAT early in a series. The back half of the series really got the ball rolling with its twists and truly delivering on the action, raising the stakes for our heroes + the consequences of the decisions they make. Then the season (now series) finale dropped hints as to what season 2 might have looked like and really, what could have been. The cancellation of TTP made me incredibly upset, but I was sent over the edge by what got renewed over it: Beauty and the Beast. I never understood the appeal of BATB and I have no idea who these fans are that somehow got the show renewed for a third season because the ratings and numbers are dismal. When it comes to ratings, The CW is weird, let’s just put it that way, and I know their business model is different than the other networks. It’s why Nikita got 4 seasons – the ratings might not have been the best, but it was well-regarded by critics (the ones who actually did watch the show) and fans, plus it had international appeal; can’t say the same for BATB. So again, HOW DID IT GET A THIRD SEASON? The mysteries of CW continue.

Like I said, the crazy before the storm. I will update once we find out the fate of some of the other shows still on the bubble, but now I turn it over to you. Which shows are you happy to see renewed? Which cancelled shows hurt the most?

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Can One Song/Event Change Our Views of Music Artists?

Have you hated a song so much that it negatively impacted how you view an artist? If they have been around a while, their back catalogue and the memories you have associated with that artist may stay the same, but after that ONE song, anything that comes afterwards is subject to major scrutiny. Or has that artist done something that in a way taints your perception of them, and thereby affects how (or even if) you listen to their new music. These random thoughts have popped up into my mind on several occasions as of late.

It all started when I heard Carly Rae Jepsen‘s “Call Me Maybe” for the millionth time. I don’t finish the song, mind you – it just pops up in commercials and whatnot, then annoys the hell out of me. The only song of hers from this period that I like is “Curiosity”, but due to the ubiquity and radio overplay of “Call Me Maybe”, it has caused me to have a certain distaste for every other song she’s done since (add to the fact that her album is not the pop music I like). It’s a shame because I was somewhat of a fan of her initial debut album Tug of War, released after her time on Canadian Idol. So while it was cool, for a little while at the beginning of all this nonsense, to see another Canadian artist get massive success, it annoys me now that it was for THAT song.

Rihanna is an interesting case study. When she first came onto the music scene, with ‘Pon De Replay” and then a little bit later with “S.O.S.”, I didn’t make much of her. It was a little fun to listen to at the time, but nothing felt special. Then she released her album Good Girl Gone Bad, buoyed by the release of “Umbrella” as the first single, which we can all agree was a complete game changer for her. That album, and its subsequent re-release, spawned numerous hit singles and she followed it up with Rated R, an equally solid effort that saw Rihanna get darker and edgier. But then she kept churning out a new album every year, and I got increasingly tired of hearing her songs on the radio. It’s like, take a break already!

It only makes sense now to include Chris Brown in this list. I was never a big fan of Chris Brown; he had a few songs in his earlier days that I enjoyed and only really cared for because we used them for Dance Crew back in my high school days. And then the pre-Grammy incident happened with Rihanna. What we thought we knew about him changed completely, and yet he continues to make more music and sell records. I have a friend who tried to get me to listen to one of his newer songs “Fine China,” but I couldn’t do it. I can’t stand him really and even a supposedly great R&B track, won’t change my opinion of him.

You want to know what really pains me to have to include in this post? Britney Spears. I’ve been a Britney fan from the beginning and love her style of pop music. Now to be honest, I have to admit that I was not a big fan of her last album, Femme Fatale – it was veering into the dance pop/EDM that I’m not into at all, though there was a handful of tracks that I legitimately liked. But then she was featured on the will.i.am song “Scream and Shout” and I honest to goodness hated it. I think it took me two (maybe three) months before I could listen to the song IN FULL, and that was because I couldn’t change the radio station. Yep, I hated the song so much, I could not listen to more than 20 seconds at a time. I think it was the Britney sing-talking(?) in a fake British accent that threw me off…well, that and I didn’t really hear much of substance in the lyrics (what lyrics?!). Now, she’s released a song for the Smurfs 2 movie and I could not care less about it either (doesn’t help that it’s for the Smurfs 2 soundtrack! THE SMURFS! Give me the original animated stuff, not this CGI stuff! Talk about tainting my childhood…Sorry, tangent.) Point is, I’m not particularly liking the direction that Britney is taking with her music. I still love all her old music (the Britney/Dream Within A Dream era was by far my favourite), but her new material really leaves something to be desired. Maybe that’s part of the problem: Britney’s music changes with the times and right now the big thing is dance pop/EDM. My musical tastes have changed and though I’m still a sucker for a GOOD pop track, my dislike of electronica/dance/techno pop still hasn’t changed over the years.

So are there any artists out there who you may have liked in the past, but now hold different views of? Has this happened in regards to other celebrities? What caused the change? Let me know in the comments!

The Issues of TV Scheduling

I know as of late, a lot of my posts have been about television, but I just can’t help it. I have always watched a lot of television and with that comes a lot of observations/thoughts/questions/concerns/pure enjoyment. The thought that’s been on my mind lately is the issue of program scheduling.

We currently live in a world where all our favourite TV shows (old and new) don’t necessarily have to be watched live and can be watched later on our DVRs and on the internet. We now essentially have the ability to create our own perfect TV schedule. At the same time though, the methods of measuring viewership of any given TV show is severely outdated and doesn’t give a precise count of how many people are actually watching a show. Nielsen ratings rely on the select households who have the Nielsen boxes, and watch shows live as they air. Progress has been made in that DVR viewings are being included up to 7 days after an airing, but again, internet viewing has yet to be accounted for. So where does that leave our TV shows that struggle in the traditional ratings? Social media is now playing a part in helping decide the fate of some shows – the more active the fan base, the better. But where a TV show fits on the network’s schedule sometimes plays a major part in viewership.

It’s probably just me, but I sometimes wonder exactly how network executives decide on how to schedule their lineup of shows. When Upfronts happen in May and networks unveil their schedules for the following season, a part of me wonders how much of the schedule is planned out ahead of the announcement and how much is a reaction of the other networks’ schedules. You look at something like The Voice and DWTS results show both being moved an hour earlier than it was previously; that can’t possibly be a coincidence right? That being said, all of the broadcast networks have yet to create a so-called “perfect schedule.”

There are days on the schedule where the networks have gotten a very solid line-up of shows that are complimentary, or at the least somewhat make sense with one another (particularly in the 8:00-10:00 P.M. block). For example, the comedy blocks of CBS, FOX, ABC, NBC on Mondays through Thursdays, respectively. The CW pairing Gossip Girl and 90210 together, as well as Hart of Dixie and Emily Owens, M.D. makes sense. ABC Sunday has 3 different shows in Once Upon A Time, Revenge, and 666 Park Avenue that, to me at least, works pretty well together. Let’s be real, most of the CBS lineup works because at least 80% of the shows are procedural dramas.

On other nights, the networks can completely falter in their scheduling, making it seem like those scheduling decisions were afterthoughts. Friday nights in particular, on FOX, NBC, and The CW, are a complete mishmash of programming. FOX currently has one of Gordon Ramsey’s shows, leading into the final season of Fringe. On NBC, they were going to have 2 comedies anchor the night, and lead into the second season of Grimm. And worst of all, the CW seemed to think that just because they are both female-fronted, America’s Next Top Model and Nikita would make a great pairing (they don’t). How do any of these scheduling choices make sense?

Below, I offer up options/thoughts as to what scheduling changes should be made on the part of the networks:

  • For midseason, The CW should deeply consider pairing their new hit Arrow with Nikita (which is in desperate need of viewership despite the fact that it is easily the best/most well-written show the network has). An action-packed night of television? Who doesn’t want that?
  • Now, I know fans of Supernatural have been thankful for the move to Wednesdays, following Arrow, but the show already has a solid fan base and it’s in its 8th season – how many more viewers do you think there’ll be? Way I see it, once Fringe ends its run over on FOX, Nikita can swap with Supernatural, which will compete better against Grimm on Friday nights, and get paired up with the new series Cult when it premieres.
  • I still don’t understand NBC’s decision to air Rock Center at 10 P.M., after 2 hours of comedy on Thursdays. It just seems like a waste of a time slot on a night that people (particularly the all-important 18-34 demo) would actually watch scripted television. I know the 10 P.M. slot doesn’t necessarily have to flow with the other 2 hours, but NBC could have easily made a 3 hour comedy block – although now that we see a few of its new comedies aren’t doing so well, that won’t happen. To me, the easiest solution would be swap Rock Center with Grimm. Grimm could probably get away with adding some more scary stuff, if they have a slightly later time slot.
  • I’ve mentioned before that ABC’s Last Resort deserves a better time slot than Thursdays @ 8, even though I don’t watch the show. The problem is, there isn’t much room to play with in ABC’s current schedule. Private Practice is wrapping up, so Last Resort (assuming it gets a full season pickup) could take that Tuesday @ 10 slot. That would then leave the 8 P.M. Thursday slot for Body of Proof, which is slated for a midseason return. ABC also has 2 other new dramas (Red Widow, Zero Hour) waiting to be aired, though those don’t quite fit in that time slot either.
  • Speaking of shows that are on tap for mid-season – where is Smash gonna go? Last season, it scored the slot after The Voice, which is now being occupied by Revolution, and that’s been picked up for a full season. After this cycle, The Voice is coming back for another round, but it has yet to be known when exactly the 4th season will start. So there’s a small window where Smash could appear in between Voice seasons.
  • Though come to think of it now, Parenthood‘s current 4th season is only 15 episodes long, so it will be done by February. Also, Grimm is nearly halfway through its season (thanks to its really early start following the Summer Olympics) – so is it possible that Grimm will end early in the season? Or will NBC do an extended hiatus mid-season (which is almost always a bad idea) and give a new show a chance during that hiatus, then wrap up Grimm‘s season in May?
  • You know what I still like to complain about? The one hour results show of American Idol…and by extension, The X-Factor, and even DWTS + The Voice. It can so easily be done in 30 minutes, so why do they feel they need to stretch it a full hour? It’s so tedious!
  • It has also come to my attention that a lot of scheduling issues could be solved if there was LESS competition reality shows. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching The Voice and DWTS, but it takes up 3 hours of programming! They should move one or two of these shows to the summer, when there’s NOTHING to watch except SYTYCD. Not to mention, why hasn’t anyone thought about putting these shows on Fridays? The general consensus it seems is that a lot of people don’t watch TV on Friday nights, so why not make people watch by putting one of these (apparently) highly rated/well-watched shows on Friday? And no one really cares about the results show, so Saturday is a perfectly fine day to air it. If I’m not mistaken the UK does this already, so why can’t it work here?

Whether or not any of the above actually happens, is beyond me. I am not a television network executive, I do not make these decisions. The business and politics of television baffles me and frustrates me just as much as the music industry. It pains me to see lack of viewership for some of my favourite shows, due to a weak or a non-complimentary lead-in. There just has to be a way for the networks to properly measure how many people actually watch a television show, that’s not based purely on Nielsen ratings. Not to mention, I live in Canada, so my viewership isn’t exactly accounted for in the grand scheme of things. I would love nothing more than to at least see my internet viewing count for something, but I can’t access Hulu or watch any videos on any of the official network websites, so that’s kind of a problem.

So fellow TV viewers, if you were a network executive, how would you schedule the shows on your network? Furthermore, despite this not being brought up in the post, do you think it’s time for the broadcast networks to adopt a model of less episodes a season, similar to the cable networks? Don’t you think that would solve a lot of scheduling issues, with too many shows and not enough airtime? And seriously, why hasn’t anyone tried putting a reality competition show on Friday nights? Share your thoughts below!

Watching Movies for Entertainment – Isn’t That What It’s All About Anyways?

This comes about almost two weeks after watching This Means War (and also after Entertainment Weekly posted something similar in its PopWatch blog, but I swear I totally meant to blog this anyways!)

This Means War, a romantic-action-comedy starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Tom Hardy, was released on February 17th (with previews on Valentine’s Day). The movie was in development for quite some time, and the earliest I remember hearing about this movie was when Bradley Cooper was attached to it. But apparently it was in development way before that. Now, with Reese Witherspoon going back to doing what she does best, which are romantic comedies, I was already sold. I wanted to watch it as it was, and then they cast Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, which to me became a bonus. Then as the movie got closer to being released and critics started giving us their two cents about it (which was essentially that it wasn’t good), I was still determined to go see it opening weekend. And so it opened in movie theaters everywhere and I went to go see it. 1 hour and 40 minutes later, I walked out of the movie theater saying “I liked it!”

Now despite being quite predictable and filled with a lot of cliches, I found myself thoroughly entertained by This Means War. None of it can be helped. By that I mean, it’s a romantic comedy, it’s hard not to make it predictable and full of cliches. But the cast try their damned hardest to give you something fun to watch despite it all, and doesn’t take itself too seriously that you just can’t help but be entertained by it. I mean you’ve seen other rom-coms where they try and pretend that their movie is so different from anything else in the genre, but really you end up sitting there and saying “No, you just accept the fact that you’re like everybody else. Different set up, same ending.”

What This Means War has going for it is that it’s got an action element to it, which ever so slightly gives it something different than other rom-coms. Not to mention there’s an awesome bromance going on, on top of the romance. It’s like Chuck but without all the nerdy stuff (makes sense seeing as how McG, a producer on Chuck, directed TMW). The movie’s got it flaws certainly, but again, by not taking itself too seriously, it makes for a perfectly enjoyable movie watching experience.

Which brings me to my random thought for the week: at what point did we become SO critical about watching movies? Sure, everybody’s got an opinion about movies they see. Lately however, it seems as though every little thing about a movie is dissected, from the general plot and casting to trailers and promotional pictures. And when certain movies don’t meet the high expectations set by others, they’re considered failures. Not every movie can be Oscar worthy and those movies which are smart and do bring something different to their genre should be applauded. However, what happened to just taking a movie for what it is and enjoy it, allow yourself to be entertained by it?

Prior to seeing Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol over the Christmas holidays, I will admit that I had my reservations about the latest installment of the series. After watching the movie, all I can say is that I was entertained by it. Do I remember much about the plot? Not really. Did I still have a good time watching the movie? Absolutely. The actors looked like they were having fun making the movie, which in turn made me enjoy the movie. It wasn’t like watching Transformers, where everyone took everything a little too seriously, which is incredibly stupid considering the movie is simply a 2-hour excuse to see robots fighting.

Center Stage. Take the Lead. Step Up. Burlesque. The new Footloose. They aren’t great movies, but I love them. Everyone knows that you don’t watch dance movies for the acting, you watch them for the incredible dancing talent on screen. Look at Step Up 4 that’s coming out this summer. I don’t know anything about the storyline (except that it’s set in Miami) and frankly I don’t really care because I know the dancing is going to be awesome. Same thing with Cobu 3D (date TBA). I know the general plot line (a modern day dance version of Romeo & Juliet), Derek Hough is the lead, Tabitha & Napoleon D’Umo choreographed – I’m totally looking forward to it. In the case of Burlesque and most musicals these days, the all-around musical performances are fun to watch.

At the end of the day, not every movie is perfect. The ones that have great everything (acting, writing, directing, music, etc.) are incredible and deserve all the praise that it gets. Movies that are from beginning to end terrible, deserve all the negativity and bad words towards it, because you just wasted 1.5 hours of your life that you’re not getting back and you wonder how that movie even got made in the first place. But if a movie has more than a few redeeming qualities, you can’t call it a bad movie – just not a very good movie. Fact of the matter is, if you leave a movie feeling as though you had a good time watching it and you were entertained by it, that’s all that matters.

Representation of Pop Music at the Grammys

It has been about 2 weeks since the Grammy Awards, and for some reason, I came to thinking about the nominees. I’ve always been a lover of pop music; I make no qualms about it. And when it comes to the Grammys, you will usually expect me to be excited most about the pop categories. I’ve had my problems about the pop categories at the Grammys for some time now. I mean almost anything can qualify as pop it seems, even if it belongs in another genre category. Or even if that same artist is actually nominated for a different song, in a different genre. What actually qualifies as “Pop” then?

That was before, when the male and female performances, plus the group and collaboration performances were their own award. Now, with the awards for male and female being merged into one, and the group and collaboration awards merged into one, you would think that it’d be: a) more competitive as to what were the best songs of the past year; and b) more definitive of what pop is considered as.

I mentioned in the Grammy winners post how weird I thought that Coldplay and The Black Keys were nominated alongside Maroon 5/Christina Aguilera and Tony Bennett/Amy Winehouse. Granted, there aren’t that many pop groups out there, but surely they didn’t need to reach out far to get the 5 nominees?

This year my biggest pet peeve was with the Best Pop Vocal Performance. Like I said previously, I’m glad Adele won and deservedly so. But it seemed to me that all of this year’s nominees were 5 of the most popular songs of the past year, though in my opinion, not particularly the best (except for Adele of course). For most other music award shows (American Music Awards, MTV VMAs, Billboard Awards), popularity is a key factor in awarding the winners. The Grammys are supposed to be about more than popularity – it’s supposed to be about the music.

I rant about this because there are a lot of artists out there, who by Grammy standards should be eligible for the awards. Based on the nominees, it seems like you have to be very well-known to be considered; there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. There’s a lot of talent out there that goes unrecognized and wouldn’t it be nice for them to FINALLY get recognized for their hard work. Sure, some artists could care less about winning a Grammy, but as a fan, I’d like to see my favourites get some support and win awards for being great musicians + writing great songs. And don’t we all just want to get recognition for our hard work, whether we’re musicians, actors, or general office folk?

I could understand the omission of say, Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts” from this year’s awards because technically speaking, it was released July 2010 so it was eligible for last year’s show. But what about Matt Nathanson’s “Faster”, Colbie Caillat’s “Brighter Than the Sun”, James Morrison’s “I Won’t Let You Go” or “Slave to the Music” and Sara Bareilles’ “Uncharted” or “Gonna Get Over You”? Yes, I am fully aware that I’m speaking as a biased fan of all these artists, but these songs were better than “Firework” and even “Perfect”.

Maybe this all stems from the fact that these songs were extremely overplayed on radio, making me give a rather negative feeling towards them. But the point of the matter is, I’d like to see the wealth being shared, with a more diverse group of pop artists being nominated. Not all artists get the luxury or luck of commercial success. Maybe the Grammys can actually give others that chance of greater success by acknowledging their work.