Monday, August 06, 2018

TV: Those summer offerings

Summer score card time and, no, we're not talking about the underwhelming box office performance on TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES.  We're talking about the summer offerings, scripted offerings.  And for summer?  We're talking about it the way it was learned by many kids across the US -- the end of May forward, because that's when most schools let out.  With that in mind . . .

a new illst

HULU's CASTLE ROCK, a new offering, works best as an allegory about the abuse of and preying on children.  Sadly, Stephen King's never really been interested in that -- despite the number of children in various screen versions of his horror stories whose lives have been destroyed (that list neither begins with nor ends with Jonathan Brandis).  Or at least not interested in that in terms of damage.  IT, for example, is notorious for the scene where the child Beverly engages in a gang-bang, or train, and she's 11.  Worse, in last year's hit film of his novel IT, Beverly's father attempts to force himself on her and it's all just for a plot device.

King flirts with rape and abuse throughout his novel, but he never really sees them as anything other than a growing experience -- which would explain why his books have always been so popular with film studios and TV networks -- predators in high places have always seen their exploitation of children as a 'gift.'

'Gift' is also Harvey Weinstein's defense -- he maintains that the women he harassed, he was actually in an arrangement where he had sex with them in exchange for roles.  The system protects the abusers and looks the other way.  Just asking Leslie Moonves of CBS.

. earnings call is yet another example of how too many wall street analysts are in the bag for companies they cover. OK Moonves wont answer questions abt the sexual misconduct allegations, but these cowards wont even ask him about succession, which is important to investors

A careful reading of Kings' works will reveal that he tends to identify with oppressors in his writing.  Again, there's a reason so many of his books turn into films, mini-series and TV shows.

CASTLE ROCK revolves around the town's large prison and an unknown person who pops up hidden in the prison (Bill Skarsgard -- his acting much improved following HEMLOCK GROVE).  He asks for Henry Deaver (Andre Holland) who is a death row attorney but years before briefly disappeared as a child.  Are the two connected?  Were both held by the former prison warden?

The warden's played by Terry O'Quinn (he kills himself in the first episode but shows up in flashbacks).  He's part of a very strong cast which also includes Academy Award winner Sissy Spacek as Henry's mother, Ann Cusak as the new warden (her finest performance to date, and that's really saying something), Melanie Lynskey as the only one who might really know what's taken place, and Jane Levy.  Scott Glenn is also in the cast and he's just as weird as he was in NASHVILLE and URBAN COWBOY.

Wherever it ends up going, it starts off as an interesting ride.

CBS can't claim anything of interest that they debuted this summer*.  They've been showing the second season of SALVATION -- a series whose low ratings once again reveal what a huge mistake the network made in cancelling Halle Berry's EXTANT.  Otherwise?  They've been burning off the hideous ME, MYSELF AND I and the slightly better LIVING BIBLICALLY.  While it's smart not to waste all the money that went into the shows, it's not helpful to announce that they are cancelled before you burn off the episodes over the summer.  Not a lot of people are going to rush to watch a show that they know is cancelled.

Let's move over to ABC which offered the charming TAKE TWO.  For a summer show, it's been a hit, scoring highter ratings than all three of the shows CBS offered combined.  NBC has had several shows this summer. MARLON held an audience but it lacked a suitable pairing.  While TRIAL & ERROR started out strong in its initial ratings, the show quickly tanked to the point that there probably will not be a TRIAL & ERROR season three unless NBC's willing to grasp that TV audiences just don't like whatever it is Kristin Chenoweth exudes.  Casting Chenoweth in the lead for season two was a huge mistake and NBC should have known better since they first tossed her on TV in her self-titled sitcom KRISTIN back in 2001.  It lasted six episodes.  More recently, they cast her in HAIRSPRAY LIVE! -- only to discover that, unlike Carrie Underwood, Kristen could not deliver 18 million viewers.  Other shows she took down include PUSHING DAISIES, GCB and SIT DOWN, SHUT UP.  We've never been fans of TRIAL & ERROR (and have noted how it's a rip off a recurring skit on THE KROLL SHOW) but even we felt sorry for it when NBC decided to impose Chenweth on the program.

NBC's biggest hit this summer, the biggest hit on any of the broadcast networks, has been Jennifer Lopez's SHADES OF BLUE.  Despite NBC announcing this would be the final season before a single episode aired, viewers have turned out in large numbers.  That's really not a surprise since SHADES OF BLUE is quality programming.  And, as Stan has noted, Jennifer has delivered what might be her strongest performance ever.  At a time when so many in the entertainment industry want to tut-tut over the lack of diversity here, there and everywhere, it's amazing that a successful show -- especially for ratings challenged NBC -- with a Latina lead would be so quickly tossed aside.  (Especially when Lopez also produces NBC's other summer hit WORLD OF DANCE.)

But NBC's not the only one to toss aside things quickly.  Over at THE CW, THE ORIGINALS added Danielle Rose Russell to the cast and promptly devoted every episode to her.  Not, mind you, to the performers that the audience had fallen in love with over the previous four seasons, but to this new woman they had never laid eyes on before.  The backlash was intense and the show picked up some of its lowest ratings ever in the process.  As we noted back on July 17th, " the final season of THE ORIGINALS which has not been about the characters you love but instead all about setting up teeny bop Hope for her spin-off.  It's shoved all the other characters except for Klaus to the side and THE CW might want to worry about that because by not sending the show off with a powerful last season, it's ensured that LEGACIES (the Hope spin-off) has generated tremendous ill will before a single episode has aired."  Marcia, Stan and Mike all documented the lousy end to a previously promising series.

THE CW spent very little time, effort or money promoting BURDEN OF TRUTH.  It also didn't spend any money producing it, it's a CBC show (which is currently filming its second season for the CBC).  Despite this, the Kristin Kreuk produced and starring program has done solid, for THE CW, ratings.  Kreuk has starred previously in SMALLVILLE and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.  There's a lesson there for THE CW, if they pay attention, viewers will tune in for their favorite performers.  They refused to tune in for THE OUTPOST.  No one should blame them, the show is unwatchable.  THE CW would be better off expanding the improv show WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY to two nights a week next season than chasing after something like THE OUTPOST again.

We started with HULU.  What has AMAZON offered this summer?  Nothing.  They've pinned all their hopes on JACK RYAN which debuts August 31st and stars John Krasinski.  Let's hope it's a winner and not just because we like John but also because their next 'big' offering will be in October, THE ROMANOFFS which stars a wide range of performers who showed promise . . . three decades ago.  When Paul Reiser's a 'name,' run screaming.  Loudly.  Like AMAZON, FOX decided not to submit any assignments this summer.

TNT had CLAWS and ANIMAL KINGDOM, probably the two best shows of summer after SHADES OF BLUE.  USA had a revitalized SUITS and a confusing SHOOTER (last summer's aborted season appears to have resulted in a more confusing season this year).

And NETFLIX?  Despite dropping one offering after another this season, few stood out.  One offering with real value was the second installment of THE JOEL MCHALE SHOW STARRING JOEL MCHALE. Another would be ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK's sixth season which managed to improve on the difficult fifth season and get the show back to its core.  Finally, they served up SECRET CITY, their most involving series since the first season of STRANGER THINGS.

So for those needing letter grades, it goes like this . . .

AMAZON I (indicates incomplete work)
FOX I (indicates incomplete work)


*CBS' ELEMENTARY is airing new episodes; however, it kicked off this latest season in the spring as did the network's CODE BLACK and ABC's QUANTICO.

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