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Why it Would Suck to Live in Smallville

13 May

Tonight marks the series finale of the longest running sci-fi program in television history, Smallville.  It’s been over ten seasons and 200 episodes but tonight fans finally get to see Clark don the red cape and seize his destiny.  Though the show is not without its flaws, it is on the CW, witnessing the fully imagined origin of The Man of Steel has been a fun and adventurous ride.  While the show has relocated to the city of Metropolis, the first 4+ seasons primarily took place Clark Kent’s home town of Smallville, Kansas.  One of the charms of Smallville is getting lost in the universe created on-screen and imagining existing within it.  Every boy grows up dreaming he were his favorite superhero, and Superman is mine, and I still can’t help but wonder what it would be like to live in Smallville.  However, recently I rationalized that hope and decided that it would actually totally suck.

#5: You’re not Superman

If anyone has ever told you how they wished they lived in the Smallville universe, what they probably really mean is “it would be cool to be Superman”.  However, in a town that was populated with 45,000 residents, odds of you winning the Superman lottery are pretty slim.  Living in a town whose primary exports are corn and meteor rock would pretty and not having some super powers like x-ray vision would pretty much suck…

Who needs laser vision, super speed, cooling breath, or super strength?

…But more on that later.

#4: You don’t have super powers

Okay, so you’re not Superman, but plenty of people in Smallville were “infected” by the meteor rock, resulting in them gaining a unique super power.  Especially in the earlier seasons of the show, many episodes featured a new character, often an antagonist, who was granted ability by their exposure to kryptonite.   Some of the infected citizens of Smallville include:

  • Coach Arnold (started fire with his mind)
  • Desiree Atkins (super-pheromones)
  • Jake Pollen (breath underwater)
  • Alicia Baker (teleportation)
  • Ian Randall (multiplicity)

See, so you don’t have to be some alien from Krypton to have super powers in Smallville.  Unfortunately all of these “Super Freaks”, as they were affectionately known, had one thing in common; they were antagonists.  Aside from all of his abilities and his alien heritage, there was one more very important contribution to Clark becoming the Man of Steel – his adoptive parents.  They’ve actually covered this point extensively within many episodes, but in case you don’t watch the show (or have forgotten), let me remind you that it would take a lot of goodness and an incredibly strong will not to abuse your powers.  Most metahumans in the Smallville universe end up using their powers for selfish gain and end up either irreversibly damaging themselves or others to the point that Clark has to interfere and send them to the looney bin.  Hell, even Clark himself is at a constant struggle within not to abuse the variety of abilities that come along with his birthright. 

Pretty sure this isn't what Jor-El had in mind.

#3 You don’t know Clark Kent

Okay, so you’re not Clark Kent and being a “meteor freak” would only be cool until you got caught, but not everyone on Smallville has powers.  Plenty of primary characters on the show were normal human beings with no special ability what so ever:  Jonathan and Martha Kent, Lana Lang, Lois Lane, Chloe Sullivan, and Pete Ross.

Unless getting kidnapped and whining are super powers

You know who else in Smallville, Kansas is normal?  The 44,800 other people who aren’t infected and aren’t friends with (or related to) Clark.  Therefore, if you didn’t win the Superman lottery your odds of winning the Supermans’ BFF lottery are only slighty better.  Not that being Superman’s best friend is a job we’d want anyway.  All of the aforementioned characters are constantly getting themselves into some sort of trouble that requires Clark’s extraterrestrial abilities to resolve.  In season 1 alone, Lana Lang is kidnapped, has her identity stolen (literally), infected by meteor rock (multiple times), hit by an exploding gas pipeline, and gets trapped in a tornado.  Not to mention the love triangle between her, Clark, and Whitney taking their toll on her emotionally, because Clark continuously stands her up to save people (usually his other friends).

Seriously, what a jerk

Maybe Lana would have a little more patience if she knew why Clark was taking off all the time, but she didn’t.  None of Clark’s friends knew of his super abilities, because he and his parents knew the responsibility of bearing that secret.  They were right too.  Eventually each of Clark’s closest friends learned of his secret and none of them could handle it.  Pete tried to get Clark to help him with his problems a few times before having an emotional breakdown and moving away.  Lana tried dating Clark for a while before having multiple emotional breakdowns every episode and ultimately moving away.  Chloe joined forces to help Clark, and a wealthier yet less impressive hero in Oliver Queen before having an emotional breakdown and moving away.  Lois I won’t mention for S10 spoilers (but it has something to do with an emotional breakdown…).  Martha Kent had a midlife crisis (close to an emotional breakdown), became a U.S. Senator, married a washed up journalist, and moved away.  The only close friend or family member of Clark’s who didn’t have an emotional breakdown was his father, he just died instead.

#2 Your Job Sucks

Let’s recap.  You’re not Earth’s greatest protector, you don’t know him, and you don’t have any super human abilities (and if you do you’re in jail or a mental hospital).  Still, living in Smallville and a universe with superheroes and super villains is pretty cool; sure would make the news a lot more interesting.  It’s a shame you live in Smallville, a farming town.  Take a look at the ‘Welcome’ sign pre-meteor shower…

Yawn

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be a farmer.  Early mornings, hard manual labor, and pedaling crops for money are all among the things I try to avoid when hitting the job market.  The show clearly depicted the hardships the Kent family went through to keep their farm profitable and capable of feeding their family, and they had a super powered son to do their chores. 

Working on a farm isn’t the only occupation available in Smallville, you could work for Luthercorp; because working the most evil father son duo on the planet is a much better alternative.  Maybe you could even start your own business, like the Talon.  You know – the old movie theater that Lana Lang’s Aunt owned, which she restored to a coffee shop and was eventually bought out by Luthercorp.

#1 Natural Disaster/Death

What if you hate your job now, or you’d actually enjoy farm labor or working for the most evil man on the planet?  That brings us back to living in a universe of superheroes, that’s still pretty cool.  Too bad you live in Smallville, Kansas where it’s a toss up between which is a more frequent meteorological event – tornados or meteor showers.  Not the meteor showers you stay up late to be disappointed by as a child by either…

More of a ‘both your parents got crushed by an enormous space rock’ kind of disappointed.

 

It’s a wonder how the population of this town grew from 25,000 to 45,000 since the first meteor shower with all of its citizens dying by some super powered “meteor freak” or some crazy alien-induced storm.  Now that I think about it, this does answer one lingering question I’ve had for a while…

Why build a second high school if it’s just going to get ripped to shreds

Matthew Weiner Clears the Air on “Mad Men” Deal with AMC and Becomes My Personal Hero

1 Apr

by Chris Petersen

Earlier this week, several sources reported that the fifth season of AMC’s award-winning, period drama Mad Men was delayed until March 2012 due to some disagreements in the negotiations of creator Matthew Weiner‘s contract. The rumor was that Weiner was being offered $30 million for two years, but that AMC had the following stipulations that did not suit Weiner:

– There would be more product placement in the show.

– Each episode would have to be cut by two minutes to allow for more commercials.

– Weiner had to cut up to six cast members over the next couple of seasons.

And we're guessing he wouldn't cut the women.

These statements were all true, but it was unclear whether or not Weiner had accepted these terms when the announcement that the 5th season finally got the green light.

Weiner finally spoke up to a couple of different sources about exactly what is going on with the show now. Deadline reported that Weiner had claimed to have walked away four or five times over the last couple of days because he was objecting to some of the terms. Weiner said, “It was never about the money. I wanted to do the show I wanted to do and that the audience has come to expect.”

So, Weiner’s artistic integrity managed to come to a compromise with AMC for two more seasons, as well as an additional seventh season that Lionsgate, the production company, offered him (which will be the last season). While he conceded that the show’s episodes will be cut from 47 to 45 minutes, the full “director’s cut” will be available eight days later on Video On Demand (which is how I usually watch it anyway), and on the DVDs. He also managed to talk AMC down from having him cut cast members, which I’m sure the actors were relieved to hear, and he no longer has to add more product placement in the show.

He told The Wrap that, “I would have walked away from the show if we didn’t reach the deal we did. I’m very happy with the way things are going to be.”

I am proud of Weiner, who consistently makes great, quality television, and holds true to the heart of the show while keeping his audience in mind. Props to you Matt! I can’t wait for Season 5!

Your bald head shines a bright light of artistic integrity for others to follow.

Mad Men Season 5 Delayed Until 2012

30 Mar

Negotiations for AMC’s Mad Men have pushed the release date for the highly anticipated 5th season until March, 2012. This is coming from Deadline, who reported that the final arrangements in show creator Matthew Weiner’s contract and an already full Fall show line up for AMC, caused the show to be delayed.

Weiner was set to make $30 million over the course of three years, which would make him the highest paid show runner. However, the negotiations hit some snags when AMC said that his contract would then force him to cut two main cast characters, cut two minutes off each episode and add more product placement. Weiner, was apparently not willing to budge about that, wanting to maintain the integrity of the characters, storyline and each episode. He probably also saw the irony that a show about an advertising agency would be plagued with product placement.

While the show has already been greenlit for production of the 5th season, there is no word yet as to whether Weiner conceded to the terms of the contract. I hope not, because I like the show the way it is and wouldn’t want it to become obvious about product placement to the point where it is distracting.

I'm looking at you "Dexter"

Also, that additional product placement would have to be tailored to the 1960’s which might prove tricky.

As for cutting two characters, that would be difficult right now, since most of the main characters have already survived one downsizing in the show and it would be hard to watch more of them leave. I can’t even imagine who they might be, but my guess would be that if it came down to it Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) and Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Stanton) would be the prime candidates to leave, even if it would painful to watch them go.

I am disappointed that AMC is being so stingy with their most prestigious show. They seem to be coddling  their new baby, The Walking Dead, even though it is much lighter fare. They could probably afford to cut at least four minutes off each episode because most of the time ther commercials end up being smarter and more entertaining. Whatever happens, one thing is for sure, I can’t wait for more Mad Men.

Will Ferrell Not Joining “The Office” Full Time

30 Mar

Several fans’ hopes were lit up when they saw Will Ferrell show up at the end of last week’s episode of The Office. To add to their excitement, Ferrell told US Magazine at the Comedy Central Awards on Saturday that things were “looking good” for him joining the show full time after Steve Carell‘s exit.

Sadly, that is not the case. Paul Lieberstein, the show’s producer, immediately came back to NYMAG and said, “Will was joking — but he commits to his jokes so fully that we’re hoping he’s with us long term, just as a bit that won’t end.”

He essentially just put the audience in a glass cage of emotion.

This is no surprise, since Will Ferrell’s cameo was announced back in January and was touted as a four episode arc. Just days before that, Greg Daniels, the show’s executive producer, had told Pittsburgh’s Post Gazette that Michael Scott‘s replacement would be someone who is a regular (i.e. Darryl, Dwight, Andy, Jim etc.). Plus, it would be really hard to imagine Ferrell sticking to a full time tv character.

No matter how much we would like to see that happen.

So, enjoy Ferrell on The Office while you can. He is next set to appear on the episode airing on Thursday April 14 on NBC.

Mitch Hurwitz’s Guide to Getting a Sitcom Cancelled

16 Feb

Arrested Development is arguably one of the best TV sitcoms of all time. Its unique characters and smart script, that many times rewarded faithful viewers by setting up jokes with punch lines several episodes later, set a standard for other shows to follow. The mystery has always been why it never garnered the viewership during its 3 season run (one season winning the Emmy for Best Comedy Series) to keep it alive. Mitch Hurwitz, the writer of the show, also had several other shows get cancelled after short runs on TV, the most recent being Running Wilde. He recently wrote an article for the UK Newspaper, The Guardian, entitled Guide to Getting a Sitcom Cancelled which satires his own success, or lack thereof:

Have a confusing title

Come up with an unwieldy title that perhaps comes from the realm of psychology, so that the title of your show is almost instantly forgettable. For example, if you were to call the show Welcome Matt, an audience could immediately understand the concept: this must be a character named Matt and he must either be a welcoming person or stepped on. If you call a show Arrested Development it’s confusing and sufficiently disorientating to guarantee that a wide audience never discovers the fruits of your labor.

Audiences love fast cars and exciting vehicles

So see if you can put in some heavy machinery like a stair-car, that isn’t easily associated with speed or sex appeal.

Try to do too much for a 20-minute programme

If in your particular medium an audience is used to a simple plotline or maybe one or two stories, see if you can get eight in there, and find a way that they somehow intertwine. Also, it’s important that you have a lot of anxiety when they don’t intertwine, sufficient to deprive yourself of sleep so that you are miserable during the production of the show – but then upon completion of the show, you’re guaranteed to be miserable, because nobody will watch it.

Add a sprinkle of incest

They’ll never admit it, but viewers love sex. In fact, they love any sort of titillation, with the exception of incest. So focus on that.

First impressions are everything

So if you can screw that up, you’re made. With Arrested Development, we tried showing the deep disdain that connects a family. We wanted to hold up a mirror to American society. And, just as predicted, America looked away.

Don’t be afraid to give characters the same names

Audiences tend to run from confusion. So a show, for instance, where one character is named George Michael, one character is named Michael, one character is named George and one character is named George Oscar (and perhaps another character is named Oscar), will be the kind of show you can almost guarantee people won’t develop a fondness for.

Make easy jokes about minority groups

Whether they be Mexicans, Jews or homosexuals, any group can be dismissed with a few stereotypical cracks. At least, that’s what we tried to do. And given their “lack of coming to the party”, it seems we succeeded!

Squander iconic guest stars

As an example, Liza Minnelli has famously appealed to the homosexual audience. Note: it’s very important to alienate the homosexual audience first, or they might “come to the party”.

Don’t bother with a laughter track

Audiences don’t always know “when to laugh”. By omitting a laugh track you can almost guarantee they’ll never find out.

Audiences like nicely dressed characters. They also enjoy nudity

Split the difference by putting your character in a pair of cut-offs and call him a Never-Nude. Advanced: feel free to dip him in a vat of blue paint. That’s a real turn-off.

Make a show for British sensibilities

And then show it in America.

Great Odin’s Raven! Will Ferrell to Appear on “The Office”

27 Jan

The end of this season of the NBC TV show, The Office, is gearing up to potentially be one of the best yet. Not only do we know that Michael Scott will leave by the end of this season, but along with that comes the mystery of who will replace him. Now, to make matters even more interesting, Will Ferrell is confirmed to appear in a 4 episode arc during the events leading up to Michael’s departure.

Sweet Grandmother's Spatula!!!

The Wrap, and several other sources, reported this last night, and apparently he will appear in three episodes before Michael leaves and one after. He will play another branch manager, who is equally, if not more, inappropriate than Michael.

I think this is great. I think the rapport between Carell and Ferrell will be comic gold. It has been a while since Michael has done anything incredibly outlandish. He has had his moments this season where he was inappropriate, but not to the painstaking point of incredibly awkward, like he would do in Seasons 1-3. I hope when these two unite on the screen, we can return to some great gut-busting flubs in office management.

Rumor has it they are going to start a Dunder Mifflin branch war and brawl in the streets.

What do you all think? Is Ferrell a good fit for the show? You can read more about the rest of this season here.

Will Michael Scott Be Leaving “The Office” Before the Season Finale?

18 Jan

By now,  just about everyone has heard that Steve Carell, who plays the character Michael Scott on NBC‘s The Office,  will be leaving at the end of the current season. But, during a recent interview with Pittsburgh’s Post Gazette, Greg Daniels, the executive producer of the show, is saying that it will happen a couple of episodes before the season finale. So, this means that sometime in late April, Michael Scott will leave the show.

Daniels said that giving Michael the boot before the end of the season would give viewers a chance to feel things out without Steve Carell. It also might have something to do with the fact that he will probably get a huge ratings boost for not one, but two episodes. Additionally, he said that the potential candidates would be Daryl, Dwight, Andy and potentially a few more. The person who chooses the successor to Michael Scott will be Kathy Bates.

Who has been playing less and less interesting roles since Misery.

He also mentioned that Amy Ryan, who was Michael Scott’s love interest in Season 5, will be returning a couple of episodes before that. 

Let's hope he doesn't find her like this.

These rumors, that actually seem pretty solid coming from Daniels’ mouth, lead me to believe that Michael might leave the show to be with Holly and depart the show on a high note. It would be hard at this point to imagine him leaving the show for some other reason, but I could be surprised. I hope they pull this off well, since the last couple of seasons have been kind of a drag, with the exception of a few episodes here and there. I look forward to seeing how this plays out.

 The next episode airs Thursday, January 20 on NBC.