Tuesday, April 25, 2017

TV: HBO's continued struggles

Clyde says we revealed secrets that shouldn't have been revealed.  Labreea argues we said too much. Renee insists we spoiled the whole thing for her.

They're referring to "TV: HBO finally scores another hit" and specifically to this:

Where is Ziggy's father?
Jane says he's out of the picture.
Is he?
There's a way she looks at Celeste that suggest Perry may be the father of Ziggy.
That would explain Jane's comments like, "I see this life -- and it's so wonderful -- but it's like, it doesn't belong to me."

In the final ten minutes of the seventh episode of BIG LITTLE LIES, it's revealed that Celeste's husband Perry is the father of Jane's son Ziggy.


BIG LITTLE LIES is an HBO mini-series that ran seven episodes this year.

That's the shortest explanation of what the David E. Kelley created and written (and produced) mini-series was.

A fuller explanation would include the fact that Academy Award winning actresses Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman were also producers.

And that the two women were part of an amazing cast that also included Alexander Skarsgard, Zoe Kravitz, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley.

That even Adam Scott got an outstanding moment or two in the mini-series.

Hopefully, someone would mention the amazing soundtrack.

It added so much to the mini-series.

But the writing was what carried it and provided the bedrock for the amazing accomplishments by the cast.

The writing.

What has been so lacking in so much of what HBO has offered over the last years as so many of their shows struggled to find an audience.

Take the alleged comedy GIRLS which wrapped up its sixth and final season this year.  Ten episodes, and not one managed to crack a million viewers.

Why in the world was this show kept on?

It didn't bring in viewers.

It wasn't funny.

DIVORCE is another HBO comedy with disappointing ratings.

But it's only had one season.

And Sharon Horgan's visison actually is comedic and Sarah Jessica Parker can actually act.

There's a strong argument to be made for a second season (which HBO has already commissioned) because this show could find an audience -- it really just needs a sexy male -- a Mr. Bigg, if you will, to bring some sizzle to the show.

What's the excuse for VEEP?

It's ratings didn't justify a third season, let alone the recently concluded sixth season.

BIG LITTLE LIES increased its ratings.

VEEP's just kind of cratered.

The biggest question about VEEP is how Julia Louis-Drefyus has won five Emmys for it so far.

The second biggest question about VEEP is why?

Why did anyone even bother?

It's yet another mockumentary.


Unless your name is Christopher Guest, you really need to move on.

Christopher Guest has perfected the genre in film and can stay with it as long as he wants.

On TV?

It really hasn't worked that well.

VEEP's inability to take off in six seasons was evident immediately.

It was a comedic stillborn that didn't deserve subsequent seasons.

How does HBO explain it?

Last week, in "TV: How the network brass fails the shareholders," we pointed out that network execs at NBC, ABC and FOX are betraying the shareholders by repeatedly making these single-cam sitcoms that do not (a) do well in syndication and (b) do not do well in the ratings.

CBS continues to rule the ratings with sitcoms.

It's been that way for 17 years now.


NBC's bringing back WILL & GRACE this fall for a limited run.  That's a smart move.  That sitcom and FRIENDS were the last big hits.

Everything since, one single-cam 'whimcom' after another, has failed.

The shareholders should be up in arms because so little money is being generated by these single-cam 'comedies' and they are in the business of making money.

Equally true, someone at HBO needs to be explaining how shows like GIRLS and VEEP got multi-seasons with such low viewership and so few laughs.

It's not impossible to pull in viewers.  BIG LITTLE LIES proved to be a hit on HBO, for example.  But you need strong writing and that's something that too few of HBO's offerings have had.

For those who felt we tipped them off to the ending of the mini-series (we had no idea if Perry would turn out to be Ziggy's father or not), our apologies.

Or for most of those.

To Renee?

If our comments spoiled the entire 7 episodes for you and not just the last ten minutes, maybe you should be an HBO exec because you seem to share their struggle with reality.


The issue of the response to our BIG LITTLE LIES review was noted in last week's "TV Roundtable."

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