Saturday, May 12, 2012

MAY UPFRONTS, AND I DON'T CARE! MAY UPFRONTS, AND I DON'T CARE... (Ah, don't tell the Bitch in Apt. 23 that I said that, okay? Thanks.)

Pretty much every Hollywood watcher, myself included, has been paying close attention to the latest news that comes from the major networks right now, as it's time for the May Upfronts, where they announce which pilots they'll be picking up, which they'll be renewing next season, and which ones they're cancelling. It's their big announcements for next fall. I've been paying very close attention. I've got multiple cheat sheets and loglines about all the major pilot scripts in production, been reading up on which show might get cancelled, and other stuff like that, and while occasionally I read some good news, like how everybody has resigned on "The Office", despite rumors of an entirely new cast, (exception, Mindy Kaling, who's got a pilot script in FOX that was just picked up.) and some sad news, like the announcement of this upcoming season of "30 Rock" being shortened, and it's last season, and some odd news, like TBS picking up "Cougar Town," despite the fact that it's totally sucked for three years, but despite all this, I finally just looked around and said, "I don't have any idea what to make out of this." In fact, I won't know what to make out of all this for, (May, June, July, August, September) five months! Until then, I got nothing. I can speculate, but... what good would that do? Sure, I can look at logline, see who's casted, look who's producing and making it, look what network picked it up or not, and look and go, "Oh, that's sounds like a good idea, that might be a good show", or "Man, that sounds terrible, why would they pick that up," or "God damn it, why do they keep letting Joss Whedon write?" but until I actually watch these shows, I'm not gonna know if any of the networks did well or not. Sure, there's a little bit of a disgruntled writer in me, saying this, who wishes he had a pilot in production, or at least considered for production, but if I feel like this, than I'm pretty certain that most everybody who isn't paying particular attention to the upfronts must be thinking the same way, if they're thinking at all. They're gonna be waiting for the commercials, promos and trailers to start on the new shows coming in the fall, or at least until the network puts out their annual preview half-hour shows, which showcase what's going to be on the network in primetime this fall, but hardly anybody ever watches those things, on purpose anyway. Basically, we got five months to wait and see if any of this crap the networks are shoving at us is gonna be worth a damn or not, and we all know that most of it, is eventually gonna be, not.

So, what can I do? I can't honestly look at this and make any kind of logical analysis of the upfronts yet, and I don't want to turn into a prognosticator 'cause frankly, I don't know enough, and haven't the seen any of the shows and/or pilots, so basically I'd be a palm reader if I did that. So really, all I can look at is, what decisions did the networks make, in terms of renewing shows, which ones did they renew, which ones were worth it, and so one and so forth, (Sigh) but so will everybody else-

Alright, you know, let me put my state of mind, completely out there. In regards to the upfronts, the only thing that I truly gave a shit about is that ABC renewed "Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23", and that was it. Everything else was either a foregone conclusion already, ("Modern Family", renewed, "The Big Bang Theory," renewed, "The Voice," renewed, these weren't exactly hard decisions) something I didn't care about one way or another, ("New Girl," renewed, "GCB" cancelled, "Community," renewed, "Are You There, Chelsea" cancelled, "Whitney," renewed, for some reason.) and a few, why-the-hell-are-they-keeping-that-crap on the air. ("Touch", renewed, and FOX, you've got some explaining to do on that one.) Nothing else really made a damn bit of difference to me, and nothing was so shocking that it caused a ripple effect (and that includes "30 Rock"'s last season, which had been rumored for some time to begin with). "Don't Trust the Bitch...," and from here on in, I'm gonna call it, "Don't Trust the Bitch..." instead of "...B----...", was the only thing that I thought could go either way, and was genuinely excited to find that it got renewed next year. Not shocked per se, the show did recieve good ratings in the coveted, post-"Modern Family," spot, even against "American Idol," and it recieve very high critical praise. I especially have praised it, with multiple notes on my twitter over the past few weeks. It's actually, very quickly become one of my favorite TV shows. It's gleefully chooses to go over-the-top every chance it gets, and frankly, that's refreshing. It's the kind of show where even if the jokes don't work, I think I would've praised the attempt 'cause at least they're trying something (Thankfully, they do work). Let me give you an example, eh, only certain things can ever, reasonably happen on eh, let's use "2 Broke Girls," as an example, which might be an interesting comparison actually since they both involve two young girls who have just moved in together to a New York apartment, and have issues with money. "2 Broke Girls," despite it's flaws, one of the things the show does reasonably well is that it goes out of its way to be faithful to the situation and premise. They're broke, and they're struggling for money. One of them has an idea for a cupcake shop or bakery, or something like that, and they're saving money for it, and doing all the odd jobs to get it. It's really a throwback to a "Laverne & Shirley," Lucy and Ethel-type show, with a few sporadic, oddball supporting characters thrown in. Now, "Don't Trust the Bitch..." takes a similar situation, and other familiar sitcom scenarios, and decides to ask the question, "What's the most absurd thing that can happen right now?" The most recent episode of "Don't Trust the Bitch..." the Dreama Walker, June character is late on her rent, so in order to make some extra money, she has an idea to make homemade jam, and sell it at the coffeeshop she works at. At first, Chloe, (Krysten Ritter), seems okay with the idea, and helps June, pursue this goal. Instead however, Chloe hides all the jars of jam in a neighbor's apartment, and has been secretly videotaping June making the jam, and edited it to create a fetish porn website. Not exactly the support you'd hope for in a roommate, unless you're watching it on TV of course, and it's not you.  The show continues to get more absurd from there actually. The show has a way of taking A+B, and somehow finding Z as the answer. It helps when you create a completely moralless, self-centered character like Chloe though, who's capable of doing just about anything. Also different, is that, while there's been plenty of odd couple shows of contrasting roommates, you rarely get shows where the roommates will really be against each other much of the time. Oscar and Feliz helped each other out, so did Laverne and Shirley, Larry and Balki, Will and Grace, even, they mostly played to the two against the world theory of TV comedy pairings, originated by Carl Reiner with "The Dick Van Dyke Show," (Or 4 against the world in the case of "The Golden Girls" despite the insults they slung at each other.) But, these roommates shows have never had such a self-centered character before as Chloe. She's out for herself, and she's okay if there's collateral damage, including her roommate(s) (She's had past roommates who still float around the show) or even if it's her friends, or friend, really, which is the great part played by James Van Der Beek, as a wonderfully exaggerated version of himself. (In case you're wondering, I never watched "Dawson's Creek," well, never past the theme song. I do like Paula Cole, before she became Christian.) "Don't Trust the Bitch..." is Chloe vs. June, vs. anybody else who happens to get in her way. It's more Darwinian, than any sitcom I've seen in years, and yet the absurd things they do, they're done so freely and insuciently. Showtime's "Weeds," also has a similar style, but not many other shows allow themselves to be so gleefully outlandish, without jumping the shark immediately. Forget jumping the shark, I think Chloe ate the shark. I don't think the show came out in time for Emmy consideration, but I hope they're paying attention for next here, and thanks to ABC, they've correctly chosen to keep it on, next year, and hopefully for about four or five or more after that. Why they're keeping "The Middle", on the air? Ah, well, some mysteries of the universe are never really meant to be explained are they?

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