I've always believed that those who don't understand history are doomed to repeat it, so it seemed high time for me to make an honest account of how I spent 2010 before making any goals for 2011: I spent it watching television.
My resolution? I'd like to watch less television. Well it's more complicated than that - I'd like to watch more good TV and less bad TV. Allow me to recap 2010 for you, so you'll see why:
Starting Tuesday, ABC Family will show 'Friday Night Lights' every weeknight at 6PM ET. The network will air every episode of the drama, in order.
However 'Friday Night Lights' has an unusual history, and some episodes are longer than the normal hourlong-drama running time of 42 to 44 minutes. So which version of the show would ABC Family use, and were there any additional cuts for content?
HBO confirmed the news amid a string of successes for the show. 'True Blood''s third season premiered two weeks ago to a record-breaking audience of 5.1 million, topping its season two premiere by almost 40 percent. The season two opener was HBO's biggest hit since 'The Sopranos' series finale in 2007. Then, on Jun. 21, the network announced that it had renewed 'True Blood' for a fourth season, which is expected to arrive in summer 2011.
Shows like 'The Wire' are best appreciated when they're unedited. Take 'The Sopranos' for example. It's difficult to watch that program in edited format on a basic cable channel. I recall a comedy sketch which parodied this concept in which the edited-for-television episodes of 'The Sopranos' were each three minutes long. While that's an exaggeration for comedic effect, it does emphasize a point. When a show with adult themes like 'The Wire' is edited for content, it loses something in the translation.
Fortunately, DirecTV subscribers have nothing to worry about. They get to enjoy it as it was intended to be.
Mind you, the show's language is somewhat racy for basic cable. There will be some bleeping here and there. At least there's no prevalent nudity in any episode that I recall. There is some adult subject matter, but nothing basic cable hasn't seen before. Hey, if The Sopranos can make it to basic cable then Larry David should have no problem.
Given Susie Essman's vocabulary on the series, she may have every third word bleeped. That could possibly make her lines even funnier.
I'm going to assume (if I may be so bold) that a lot of people are going to be watching Conan tonight. Not just old fans of Late Night or even fans of The Tonight Show. I bet there will be a lot of David Letterman fans watching and maybe even people who don't regularly watch late night television. Tonight is an institution and a lot of TV fans are going to be interested in seeing what exactly Conan is going to do on his first night.
I'm going to predict here and now that he'll thank Jay Leno (unlike Leno, who didn't thank Johnny Carson on his first show). So what are you going to watch?
You missed all of the Saturday Night Live Weekend Update specials that aired over the last three Thursdays, huh? And, you refuse to watch them online over your 128KB phone line connection. And, you didn't want to watch the clips on one of the many web-based video channels and blogs (including this one) because you are one of "those" people who need to see the show in its entirety. So, you're pissed and ready to take out the first person who asks 'Hey, did you watch the SNL special?'.
Fret not, psychotic one! You'll have one more chance to see all of the SNL specials at one time this very evening. Starting at 9:30, NBC will be airing all three episodes at once. This will give you the chance to see Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, Will Ferrell making an appearance as the current President Bush and Andy Samberg throwing up all over himself . If you can stay awake past your local news you'll get to see a brand-new episode of SNL at its normal time with host Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and musical guest Coldplay.
Now you have your second chance. If you miss the SNL specials now and you forget to record them on your DVR then you have no one to blame but yourself. No pressure.
Joal Ryan of E! Online points out that Camp Rock could still beat High School Musical overall, "The Jonas Brothers are far bigger stars than Efron or any of his costars were in January 2006, when the first HSM premiered." He goes to say that the real test of Camp Rock will be if it has the ability to rule the ratings in the inevitable many, many reruns.
Television is a big part of my life. I've grown with it. I spend hours with it every day. So it's about time, I give thanks for having television in my life!
TBS prides itself on its evening comedy line-ups and I have to admit that I often get sucked in to watching some of my favorite episodes of Family Guy, Seinfeld and Friends. I can definitely see myself doing that with reruns of The Office, too. The net also plays reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, and Sex and the City. Even though I don't particularly like those last three shows, it's nice to see The Office joining their ranks as classic comedies.
Fox-owned stations will also get to start playing The Office reruns during local access starting fall of 2009.
Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant must be thrilled. Syndication can make some big money for them.
**UPDATE: TBS also bought My Name is Earl. Reruns start in fall 2009.
Remember when NBC had a slogan for their repeats, "If you've never seen it, it's new to you!" I thought it was actually pretty much true, if a sneaky way to sell reruns.
Now they're going one step further. Next week the network is going to show two repeats of The Office. But instead of just airing them as they aired before, they're going to be recut into an hour-long episode, mixed up a little bit and with deleted scenes added to put in a whole new subplot that you didn't see in the first airings of the episodes. They're dubbing them "Newpeats."
As regular TV viewers, we can easily list our favorite shows of all time. And we can name the shows on the air right now that we love and never miss. My list of the latter would include The Office, Heroes, Studio 60, The Late Show With David Letterman, Ugly Betty, and Jericho. And this season, I added another show to the list. One I had never really watched before.
Yeah, I think I had seen an episode before, but I never really watched the show. I think other shows I liked were on at the same time, I didn't want to get caught up in another medical drama, and I think that episode I saw wasn't one of the better ones and it didn't make me want to tune into the show again. But then a funny thing happened. Last year I started watching the show late at night, after the Friends reruns on a local station, and I completely fell in love with the show. And it's not just that I "like" the show now, it has actually become one of my favorite shows of all-time. I watch the episodes and I think "how the hell did I miss this show all these years? What was I thinking?"
Do you have a show like that?
Others were wondering, too, and David Bauder of the AP got some reaction to it. CBS really didn't give a reason other than just state that they will fly Katie Couric in from an overseas vacation to anchor funeral coverage, and that they reported the news as soon as they saw it. In the article, Bauder cites a 2004 incident where a CBS News producer was fired for breaking into CSI:NY to report the death of Yassir Arafat rather than do the agreed-to crawl. Whether or not that was a factor in this decision is unclear. But the logical reaction would be that a former President would merit a break-in, don't you think?
Fortunately, HBO thought ahead. Alternative shots and scenes with tamer dialogue were filmed alongside what originally ended up on the air. Less than one minute and no full scenes will be edited out of the seventy-seven episodes destined for syndication, or so they say. If Sex and the City can be cut down to a thirty minute basic cable-friendly show with no dirty talk, than anything may be possible. Do what you will to The Sopranos - just don't get any fancy ideas about syndicating Deadwood.
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