Welcome to TV Breakage, a new weekly column here at InfiniteHollywood.com, that will cover the latest television industry news. We will try to focus mostly on items that would be of interest to the regular readers of this website. If you have a television show or channel that you’d like to see brought to attention here, feel free to comment and let us know.
NBC continues to struggle, with comic book oriented show The Cape having it’s season cut short by several episodes. No new episodes have been filmed, meaning these episodes were filmed with the concept of more episodes coming and should the show get canceled (which is VERY likely) there will be no sort of tie-ups or conclusions. In essence, NBC will once again leave you hanging, Heroes style. This is why when NBC debuts a new show that’s not a reality format, I wait until it’s ran at least one season.
I may make an exception if their new show Grimm gets picked up, though. It’s essentially Law & Order, but set in the world of Brothers Grimm fairy tales and is from the writing staff behind Buffy The Vampire Slayer/Angel, sans Joss Whedon. It sounds fascinating on paper, at the very least. Law & Order: LA will see ADA Rubirosa from the original Law & Order as a new cast member in hopes of reviving some interest in that somewhat fledgling show.
As mentioned above, NBC seems only really capable of making moderate reality show hits. Their scripted television is in the toilet. The Event which was supposed to be NBC’s version of Lost has performed so miserably that it’s return to TV has been pushed out of sweeps and is in serious jeopardy of not seeing a season 2. Late Night isn’t much better, with Leno’s Tonight Show doing considerably worse in the demos than Conan did in the same time period last year as host of Tonight. Perhaps a drama about the late night drama should have been on the peacock’s schedule this year.
On the subject of NBC reality shows, guilty pleasure The Celebrity Apprentice returns on March 6th. I still have a bit of a sour taste in my mouth from the last real Apprentice, in which Trump chose the wrong winner. Still, with Meatloaf, Gary Busey and Dionne Warwick in the cast, it’s sure to be fun. NBC also has a new reality show that will be in a block with Celebrtiy Apprentice on the 6th called America’s Next Great Restaurant. The show which features Bobby Flay and Curtis Stone among others as judges, will see the winner receive their own restaurant chain. Sounds interesting enough to me, but I’m generally a fan of the Food Network style cooking reality shows.
CBS is brushing off the recent drama and current rehab stint for Charlie Sheen and will use extra episodes of Rules of Engagement and Mike & Molly to fill in the gap for missing Two and a Half Men eps. I don’t watch the Charlie Sheen comedy but it’s a huge hit. Sheen’s rehab is to my reward as I do like Patrick Warbuton’s Rules of Engagement. The GF and I gave Mike & Molly about a half dozen or so episodes, but the plot is the exact same every episode and it’s just not very realistic to me. Even for a sitcom it seems overly contrived, although it’s doing pretty fantastic in the ratings.
Elsewhere on the eye, Shat My Dad Says looks like it will be canceled after this season, although that’s not a lock. It certainly seemed like a stupid premise for a show and the show received several retooling efforts before it finally hit the air. It seems that people’s love of William Shatner will only get folks to watch for so long.
The CW will have a new episode of Smallville tonight, as the final season starts to wind down. Unfortunately for me, I’ve been quite behind on this season. I had most of the episodes on my DVR, when it went ker-plunk. I haven’t found the rest of the episodes online, but I hope to catch up before Clark and Lois take their final bow.
CW also has a new show in the works called Awakening which is a drama of sorts set during a zombie apocalypse. I’m not sure if there’s room for more zombie TV shows, but with AMC’s The Walking Dead being a massive hit it’s no surprise that more zombies are going to get greenlit. I suspect the CW show will trend younger than the AMC effort with more of a hip vibe. CW usually does pretty good with horror/sci-fi type shows, and I much lament the loss of Reaper from a few years ago. It, sadly, never quite caught on the way it should have.
Good news for Conan fans as ratings have started to increase after a pretty significant drop in the post-holiday season. Of interesting note, the crew over at Comedy Central sent a rather scathing press release about O’Brien’s show’s ratings during their touting of The Daily Show’s recent late night ratings victory. It should be noted that O’Brien and Jon Stewart are good friends and this jab seems to be a Comedy Central-TBS scuttlebutt more than anything.
In other late night news, The Late Late Show’s Craig Ferguson will be appearing on Conan’s new talk show soon. This isn’t the first time that Ferguson has appeared on one of Conan’s talk shows, but it is the first time that the two have been together in years. Ferguson is the best new act in late night in decades and getting him and Conan together on the same couch should bring the hilarity.
I’ll confess to being largely ignorant to stuff like Storage Wars, Pawn Stars and Desert Car Kings but they all perform really well in the ratings. Who watches this stuff? Cable is largely a barren wasteland of reality TV shows either about celebrities who are famous for nothing or mundane everyday jobs that wouldn’t be interesting if they weren’t on TV. I really need to get in my pitch to executives for “Plumbers Battle” and “Ice Crosswalk Attendants”, because I’m sure they’d be hits. Add “Goodwill Donation Stars” to that lineup as well.
Thankfully there are a few cable channels bringing the goodness. USA will have a Burn Notice spin-off movie in April titled, The Fall of Sam Axe. Your’s truly is already planning to set the DVR. USA isn’t the only network with some good non-reality programming, as FX’s Archer is back and doing decent in the ratings. The most exciting news in terms of cable programming from where I sit is the return of Justified this Wednesday on FX. Season one was a really good, entertaining ride from start to finish. It was perhaps a little slower than some episodic television, but Deadwood’s Timothy Olyphant is brilliant in the lead. You should check it out, if you haven’t already.
USA’s WWE Raw saw a pretty significant spike in ratings post the Royal Rumble, up to a 3.5 total. Meanwhile WWE Smackdown on SyFy has been performing right at about 2.0 and WWE Superstars in the low .5 range. Meanwhile Spike TV’s TNA iMPACT was up as well this past Thursday with a 1.3 cable rating, the program’s highest rating since October 14. TNA averaged 1.93 million viewers over the course of two hours, which is about the third largest average audience in the program’s history.
Whether the Royal Rumble will have the same effect on Smackdown airing tonight or if TNA’s much hyped Feb. 3 episode will see a bump in the ratings isn’t known yet. The gap between WWE programming and TNA programming isn’t as large as some folks would have you believe. Raw will no doubt trend up heading towards Wrestlemania, but as a whole WWE has been trending down in the ratings for the majority of the last year while TNA has made some major strides despite a tumultuous year of scheduling changes and internal shakeups.
Sources for this column include Travis Yanan, Daily Variety, TVBytheNumbers, Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide and Baltimore Sun.
Feel free to leave me feedback and comments, as well as any programming notes you might want to extend to your fellow man. With that, the remote is yours.