Sunday, April 22, 2012

TV Roundtable

Ty: Last week, Dona and I did "Revenge: A discussion" with Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude which was the third most read article last week.  We got plenty of e-mail on it including why we didn't allow others to take part.  We actually invited Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. because Ann has written of the show.  She thanked us but said no thanks because it's "Rebecca's show."  She also pointed out that of all the non-Third Estaters Rebecca's been contributing here the longest and thought it would be good to have a feature with just Rebecca and the Thirders.


Dona: If you're wondering, the most read features last week?  At number one "Carole King's Conditioned Role and Desire (Ava and C.I.)" and at number two "TV: It's the context, stupid."  Because there are others covering TV in the community, we thought we'd check in with all of them including Rebecca.  We'll start with Rebecca.  Revenge came back Wednesday.  Were you excited?

Rebecca: I really was.  And thank you to everyone who promoted it at their site in the community.  I asked because ABC's still not announced whether it's renewed for a second season or not.

Dona: Let me note your coverage and some of the stuff at other sites last week on the show:  "revenge," "revenge is back," "Revenge and Carly Simon," "Revenge tomorrow," "revenge," "ASCAP honors Carly Simon," "Revenge returns on ABC Wednesday night,"  and "Revenge, Nikita and Fringe."   There's more.  A few people e-mailed that they were surprised C.I.  promoted it Tuesday and Wednesday morning. 

Ty: Yeah and on what Rebecca was just saying, I think it would seem an obvious renewal.  But these days what's obvious, right?

Rebecca: Right.  It did come in number one for the time slot.  The episode was really something.

Dona: You emphasize Emily, the ending where she beats up the man who beat up Jack and ordered the attack on Daniel, in the night-of post and then you talk more about Victoria in the night after.  Explain that.

Rebecca: The ending was really powerful.  We saw Jack get beat up by this thug that Victoria hired.  And that's when it really ended for fake Amanda and Jack.  Emily was pretty much unable to help on that and Nolan pointed it out to her and pointed out how Jack was hurt and that's supposed to be the last thing she wanted.  Wednesday night, when the show returned, Victoria decided she could get around the judge who wouldn't let Daniel be out on bail.  How?  By having him beat up in prison.  So she had the same man organize that.  Daniel was beaten badly.  Emily almost instantly figured out that Victoria was behind Daniel's beating.  So she found the man -- I don't know how -- and she wore that black wig she wore on the first episode when she was the maid and, in a later episode with a flashback, when she first met Daniel at Jack's bar only he didn't notice her.  So she's in that black wig and getting the man to talk about Victoria while she records it on her cell phone.  Then they leave the bar and he's thinking they're about to have sex.  They're by his car and he's asking if they're really going to do it right here in the alley and she's all for it.  She leans into him and tells him, "This is for Jack."  He looks confused and then she beats the crap out of him.  That was a powerful conclusion and important to the story.

Ty: She also says, at the end, that it was for Daniel.

Rebecca: Right.  What did you think of that?

Ty: I thought the emphasis was placed on Jack and that was because she's in love with Jack.

Dona: Same thought here.

Rebecca: Yeah.  So it was a really strong episode to return on and we had the dreadful Mason Treadwell back again as well.  Ty's favorite takedown.

Ty: Right.  And because Emily set it up so that it looked like Victoria burned his house, he ended up killing Charlotte's tale of the second person on the beach and now they need a new strategy to get Daniel off -- he's accused of murdering Ty.  He shot him once but didn't kill him.  Takeda did.  Anyway.

Dona: So that's Revenge.  We're also joined by  Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;  Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);  Mike of Mikey Likes It!;  Ruth of Ruth's Report;  Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends;  and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.   Let's move quickly to Kat because she's participating in another roundtable which starts as soon as we let her go.  Kat, you were among the ones who posted about Revenge returning Wednesday night and included the screen snap.  In that entry, you wrote about McMillan & Wife.  That was a TV show from the early seventies that starred Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James.  You wrote about watching it in real time with friends and snacking and getting stoned.  And it was a very popular post with several people who contacted us to ask why don't you write about TV more often?

Kat: As I say in that post, if I were home during the week -- instead of on the road with Ava, C.I. and Wally -- I'd be watching TV and probably writing about it.  But instead I'm on the road.  We either get back to the hotel or C.I.'s home in the DC area and I turn on the TV and click and click and click until something interests me.  Or I pull something up on the laptop.  I'm not home, I'm not in one time zone.  It's impossible to follow a TV show.  For me, it's impossible.  I did watch The New Adventures of Old Christine and loved that show.  But I was able to watch that because Ava and C.I. would watch it.  If we missed it, we'd stream it.  And if I'd forgotten, I'd remember the next morning when they were talking about it and I'd say, "Shh! Shh! Haven't seen it yet!" And then I'd stream it that night and we'd talk about it the next morning.  I'm not a TV snob. I'm a TV junkie.  The TV's always on at the house unless the stereo's on.    There are many shows that interest me today -- Being Human, Alphas, Whitney, Revenge, I could go on and on.  But I just don't have the time to watch and it's too hard to keep up when I'm at home on the weekends, California, and then Tuesday I'm in Florida, or Georgia, or some other time zone.  It's just too much.

Ty: Alright.  And I loved your post, Kat.  Now as Kat leaves us, she mentioned a TV show, one that three people in this community cover.  Ann noted something last week about the show she, Betty and Marcia cover.  Ann?

Ann: We cover the NBC sitcom Whitney.  We suddenly stopped writing about it.  We did that because it's finished it's 22 episodes.  The first season concluded with the wedding that wasn't between Whitney and Alex.

Ty: Will it be renewed?

Marcia: No word yet but it should be.  It drew a bigger audience than 30 Rock and Community.  In fact, it was NBC's only sitcom success this season.  The Office crashed and burned in the ratings.   Up All Night did okay-ish on Wednesday nights but when it was swapped with Whitney, the thinking was that this is where Whitney fails and Up All Night takes off.  That wasn't the case.  Whitney considered to deliver an audience on Wednesdays -- and  was NBC's highest rated program that night week after week despite leading off the night -- while Up All Night lost viewers in the move.  Whitney's NBC's success.  And that was with nothing but sexist attacks on the show.

Betty: Which was the main reason we started blogging about it.  Back in October, Ava and C.I. wrote "TV: The perverts still drool over Shirley Temple" and that's what really prompted Ann, Marica and myself to write about the show, to blog on it every week.

Dona: You felt it was treated unfairly?

Betty: Absolutely.  The reception to this show was so hostile and so hateful.  And Ava and C.I. called it, this was sexism running wild.  The Water Cooler Set is men and women who want to please men.  So there was no one to defend this wonderful sitcom until Ava and C.I. did.

Ty: That piece, "TV: The perverts still drool over Shirley Temple," is both the most commented on of this TV season and also the most read.  It's hugely popular and the bulk of the e-mails on it are from TV critics for newspapers, TV stations and online publications.  A growing number of which agree with Ava and C.I. that the show got a raw deal, critical reception wise, due to sexism.

Marcia: And that article popped up everywhere.  You'd visit a newspaper's blog and the blogger would mention it or it would be in the comments.  This happened over and over.  That article that Ava and C.I. wrote really helped end the public stoning of Whitney Cummings and her TV show.  Make no mistake, that wasn't criticism that was being handed out, it was a public stoning.

Ann: And it's a hilarious show.  But it's a show that allows women as much space and time as men.  I asked C.I. about Friends and how it was reviewed?  When it first came on, the show was considered lightweight, too much was made of the women's looks with the implication being that they were too pretty to be funny -- that's Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow -- and it was just dismissed.  But what the middle-aged critics couldn't grasp was that Marcia's generation embraced the show.  It was their life on the screen.  The Office isn't any woman's life.  Sorry, boys.  It's funny that when a show tries to focus on the lives of women and men or of just women, it gets trashed and attacked and then ignored.

Betty: Which is what happened with The Adventures of Old Christine.  The Water Cooler Set attacked that show and refused to note it or include it.  After we were calling that out, Ken Tucker did note it finally, the show, that the show was still funny, and I'll give him credit for that but that was about three or four days before CBS gave it the axe.  Imagine if Ken and other men had used their platforms to focus on something other than all-male shows?

Marcia: And the bulk of the women critics are just as bad because they don't want to be seen as "women."  Heaven forbid.  So they refuse to call out the sexism and then the men will point out that none of their female colleagues see any sexism or they'd be writing about it.  It's the circle jerk of life.

Ann: But one thing I've noticed, and Betty and I've talked about this again this week, more and more women are writing pieces on TV in the last weeks that mention Whitney in a sentence or two here or there.  They're not trashing the show.  Sometimes they're praising it.  But it would appear that some of the female TV critics have realized that a funny and solid show was trashed because it threatened a bunch of sexist pigs.

 Ty: Ruth?

Ruth: Sure, I will jump in.  That is why Ava and C.I. are so important.  Week after week, they will tell their truth.  They're strong voices with a huge audience and they can have an impact.  They can say, "Enough!" and sexist pigs will begin to fear that others might join that call.  They were the first to defend Ashley Judd when she was the victim of sexist attacks and they remain on the frontlines of the gender region.  They are not afraid to explore it, they are not afraid to defend women.  They make a huge difference and I believe that there are young girls and boys who read them and will change the shape of the Water Cooler Set when they come of age.  They have seen reality and they know it can be addressed.  I have huge hopes for them.

Ty: And your hopes for Cougar Town?

Ruth: None at all.  The show is still funny and still one of the few with a heart.  But it does not get promotion and it is a poor fit partnered with Tim Allen's throwback comedy.  Mr. Allen's show is like something from the 80s.  Cougar Town is addressing life today.  It is a jarring experience.  Had it been left on Wednesday nights, I think we would be getting another season of the show.

Dona: We asked Rebecca and Stan to look at the ratings.

Rebecca: There's drop off after Tim Allen's show, as Ruth pointed out, it's not a good fit.  But, that said, Cougar Town's still been doing better than most of ABC's Wednesday night sitcoms -- that includes Happy Endings.

Stan: We're not breaking it down into 'niches' or age groups, we're looking at total viewers.  Water Cooler Setters seem to think they should talk about the 'desired market.'  Are they critics or are they p.r.  A show needs viewers to survive, we're focused on viewers and believe the networks should be as well but when the Water Cooler Set is so busy trying to be cool, no one's around to point that fact out.

Dona: Should it be renewed?

Stan: On the basis of the ratings, yes.  If ABC can't find a place for it on Wednesday nights, I'd suggest they move it to Sundays and pair it up with something.

Rebecca: Because it's been a long time since Sundays have had sitcoms.  But for nearly twenty years, CBS owned Sunday nights because of their sitcom line up.

Ty: Alright.  Stan, you started the TV season covering Body of Proof and The Good Wife.  You are now done with Body of Proof.  You've blogged on that repeatedly but people still have trouble believing that.

Stan: I hate Matthew Perry and can't wait for him to be off The Good Wife.  But that's not going to run me off from the show.  With Body of Proof, this Quincy update suddenly decided that the way to get ratings was to terrorize America about a biological scare.  The two-parter got the show great ratings.  It also killed any enjoyment I had of the show.  I didn't like it when Bully Boy Bush used fear to pump up his poll ratings or grab a few votes.  I don't like it when a show does the same.  I'm done with that show.  And this is it. I may repost this at my site but this is it for me explaining that I'm done with the show.

Ty: "I think I'm done with the sofa, I think I'm done with the hall, I think I'm done with the kitchen table, baby."  As George Michael sings. Mike, are you done with Fringe?

Mike: Getting there.  I hear Ruth talk about Cougar Town or Ann, Betty and Marcia about Whitney and they love the shows.  I used to love Fringe.  But, this is like Stan, don't dick me around. Here's the show's big problem: Olivia and Peter have chemistry.  Season one really didn't seem prepared for that.  Season two was about trying to figure out how to give the fans what they wanted.  Season three became about figuring out how to keep them apart.  Season four has been that only more so.  Quit thinking this is a problem.  I don't know where the idea of a couple became a problem.  Didn't Hart to Hart run for years and years?  Or Kat's McMillan & Wife.  When did the idea of keeping a couple apart become catnip?

Ruth: Probably in the 80s when ABC found success with Cybil Shephard and Bruce Willis in Moonlighting and NBC with Ted Danson and Shelley Long in Cheers.  Keeping them apart doesn't last for seasons.  Viewers want some form of closure.

Mike: And the jerking them apart is insulting.  It really is insulting.  So if it comes back, season five will most likely be another season about keeping them apart.   I'm much more interested in Nikita which doesn't have the problem of: How can we make the audience miserable by keeping Nikita and Michael apart.  That's a lively show that just gets better and better with each episode.

Dona: Betty, Desperate Housewives ends next month, for good.  Your thoughts?

Betty: I started blogging about it last season and that was because Vanessa Williams joined the cast.  I've now watched two seasons.  It's an awful show.  It will not be missed.  Teri Hatcher is extremely talented and in the entire two years I've watched, they've failed to come up with a storyline for her.  Meanwhile, the show's so racist and backward that it's not even Plessy v. Ferguson.  It's just separte.  There's nothing equal about the way Vanessa's Renee is treated.  And it's obvious she was just added to draw attention to the show.  They've had no interest in treating Renee like a main character.  She usually gets two scenes an episode.  It's disgusting.

Ty: They really should be ashamed for how they've wasted Vanessa on the show.  Marcia, you're also covering Unforgettable.  Talk about that a bit.

Marcia: This is a detective show where they solve a crime every episode.  It's different in that it stars Polly Montgomery as Carrie who has the ability to remember everything.  She uses that gift to solve crimes.  The rest of the cast is really strong including Dylan Walsh and especially Jane Curtain.  Jane Curtain should get an Emmy nomination, she's just so great on this show.  It airs Tuesdays on CBS.  Will it be renewed?  It usually stomps ABC's Body of Proof each week.  It's a hit and that should be enough but some are saying that even though it would be a huge hit on ABC or NBC if it had the same ratings as it does on CBS, on CBS where there are so many hits already, it might not stand out.  Ringer is another show I love.  It airs on the CW and just wrapped things up with an amazing finale.  I hope the CW brings it back next year.

Dona: And lastly, Stan, you've decided to replace Body of Proof with another ABC show.  Tell us about that.

Stan: Ashley Judd stars in Missing as a woman who left the CIA when her husband died.  Now she's back in the game due to the fact that their son has been kidnapped. This is a really good suspense and action-adventure show.  I'll be writing about it each Wednesday because it airs on Thursdays.  That way, if you read my post on the show and think, "Hmm. I'd like to check it out," you just have to tune in that next night.

Dona: Will it be back?

Stan: Maybe.  It's a hit.  When the non-stop attacks on Judd and the show were taking place, it struggled in the ratings.  But as she and others have stood up, the ratings have gotten firm and it's a hit for ABC -- especially on the most watched night of the week.

Ty: Alright.  That's our TV roundtable.  This is a rush transcript.

Dona: And our   e-mail address is

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