Thursday, May 30, 2019

TV: It's show runners, not show ruiners

What or if the wrong show runner was put in charge? It's a question that should plague NETFLIX and ABC.


For example, ABC won last Thursday night with the special THIS IS FARRAH FAWCETT but was it worth it?  Shoddy doesn't begin to describe it.  We had no problem with the friends and family remembering the late actress (one of us, C.I., was friends with Farrah).  We do have problems with 'experts' being brought on.  For example, a female 'expert' at one time in the special wanted you to know that Lee Majors was the star of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN and Farrah was starring in the first season of CHARLIE'S ANGELS when the two got married and they were like Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, no, like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie!

You see the problem?

In March of 1976, the CHARLIE'S ANGEL two hour telefilm/pilot aired.  In the fall of 1976, the tv show premiered.  She had married Lee Majors three years earlier.  Before their marriage, she appeared on two episodes of his series OWEN MARSHALL (1971) and, after she married him, she'd appear four times on THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN.  She played Sue on eight episodes of HARRY O and, like fellow ANGEL Jaclyn Smith, she did an episode of MCLOUD.  That doesn't begin to cover her TV work before CHARLIE'S ANGELS but that covers a lot more than ABC's two hour documentary did.

We were shocked by the gross stupidity of 'expert' Chris Connelly.  First of all, he referred to TV movies as the graveyard.  THE BURNING BED, SMALL SACRIFICES, BETWEEN TWO WOMEN, NAZI HUNTER, POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL, etc were not the graveyard.  They were some of the strongest roles written for women during that time period and Farrah was excellent in the roles.  His snobbery belongs to another era.  Equally true, they really didn't explore her film career which included working with Robert Altman, Alan J. Pakula and many others.  Nor did they explain how she attempted to go on Broadway or what happened there.

They did provide Alessandra Stanley as an expert.

We've always been kind to Alessandra here.  We've assumed she'd stay in her own lane.  She strayed.  Go back and you'll see past pieces we've done where we referred to Alessandra without naming her.  She savaged Farrah in a review that left Farrah in tears.  So it's a bit hypocritical for her to show up as an expert on Farrah.  Her trashing of Farrah, in 2003, was during a period where Alessandra was known for trashing women for their looks.  Her most ridiculous piece, of that period, praised Don Johnson's looks (he's had a lot of plastic surgery though the word apparently never got passed on to Alessandra) while going to town on Melanie Griffith. After that, she pulled it back a little.  But she really hurt Farrah with her cruel review.

Now we've done cruel reviews here.  But you won't see us going on TV and pretending to be upset that someone's dead and that their work was important to us.

Back to the useless Chris Connelly.  Ryan O'Neal, Farrah's long time partner, was like Robert Pattinson after TWILIGHT was released, Chris offered as a tip.  What?  TWILIGHT was the seventh top grossing film of 2008.  LOVE STORY was the number one grossing film of 1970.  No, Ryan was not like Robert Pattison.  The correct point of reference would have been Leo when TITANIC came out.  It matters, especially if your sole purpose in the documentary is to provide points of reference.

Chris Connelly knows nothing.  Possibly he was educated at the same institution of higher unlearning that Jimmy Kimmel was?

ABC won another night last week, when they let Kimmel have his way with a live broadcast.

We have no problem with live broadcasts.  We wish there were more -- more like NBC's 1981 broadcast of Sally Field performing in the play ALL THE WAY HOME.  But whereas Sally Field looked to staging a Pulitzer Prize winning drama, for Jimmy, the 'classics' mean restaging bad TV.  Yes, boys and girls, fifty years from now someone may be hauling SUPERSTORE and AP BIO out of mothballs.

Jimmy pulled ALL IN THE FAMILY and THE JEFFERSONS out of the past.  Why?

Neither has managed to be a hit in syndication.  Neither is a show anyone really wants to watch today.  And the 'political' ALL IN THE FAMILY, as Norman Lear knows but never told the public, actually promoted racism among viewers -- as CBS polling demonstrated.  We've covered this before

THE JEFFERSONS was a poorly written show that was saved by a very strong cast.  ALL IN THE FAMILY was an offensive show that nothing saved.

But there was Jimmy, the believer, joining with the over-rated Norman Lear to pretend that the two shows could be brought back for one night just like they were then -- oh, not really like they were, ABC wouldn't let the n-word be used, thankfully -- though CBS had allowed it all those years ago.

Nothing about the broadcast made sense -- including that it was on ABC when both shows were broadcast on CBS.  Marisa Tomei came the closest to achieving anything but the two live 'shows' were mainly an SNL impersonation skit carried out way too long.

We did wonder what the hell Kerry Washington was doing playing Helen Willis?  Kerry's not known for comedy and the broadcast certainly didn't change that.  More to the point, though, if anyone was going to take on Roxie Roker's role, it should have been Zoe Kravitz.

Does Jimmy Kimmel not get how offensive Kerry Washington playing that part was?  Zoe is not just a talented actress who can do comedy and drama, she's also the granddaughter of Roxie Roker.  Why the hell wasn't she even offered the part?

As George Jefferson, Jamie Foxx struggled to stay in character and even broke it at one point when he flubbed a line.  But even worse was Wanda Sykes who, though only four years older than Foxx, seemed much, much older and also never seemed to grasp who or what Louise Jefferson was.

It was a waste of time and maybe, before Kimmel next stages a live production, someone could expose him to the actual classics or, barring that, at least to what passes for classic TV.  Hint, avoid the tawdry efforts of Norman Lear and look instead at the shows MTM produced -- THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, THE BOB NEWHART SHOW, WKRP IN CINCINNATI, NEWHART, etc.

ABC didn't air WHAT/IF -- NETFLIX is the network for that show.  But Mike Kelley finally found real success as the creator of REVENGE which aired on ABC.  One of the reasons WHAT/IF didn't air on ABC?  Kelley ruined REVENGE so much that before season two was completed, ABC had announced that he was leaving.

Mike had a problem with casting.  There were rumors involved on that topic but we'll just note that his idea of a man wasn't always ABC's idea of a man.

He still has that problem.

The average WHAT/IF review tells you that Academy Award winner Renee Zellweger is worth watching but no one else.

That's not reality.  The entire cast does a strong job except for one.

29-year-old Jane Levy plays the lead role, Lisa, and she's wonderful and more than carries her own.  She can't, however, also carry Blake Jenner who plays a bad actor playing her husband.  Or is he just a bad actor?  Yeah, he's just a bad actor.  He's also 26-years-old.  Three years younger than Levy.  More to the point, also younger than his character who is supposed to have graduated high school ten years prior.

Among other things, he's also a murdered a man, flamed out in professional baseball and much more.

But Blake Jenner has no experience -- life or acting classes -- to draw on.  He does have the worst sunburns since FOX tried to pursue the teen crowd.

Why is it that Mike Kelley hates men?

As ABC told him, stop casting tall boys as men.  It remains a problem for him.

And it remains a huge problem for WHAT/IF.

At one point, we're supposed to believe that not only is Jane Levy's character attracted to Blake Jenner but so is Renee's character.  It's impossible to believe that.  In an early scene, Renee orders a drink and asks Blake Jenner to have a drink with her.  He says it's against the rules.  It's much easier to believe it's against the law -- him not looking like anyone who's reached the age of drinking.

Repeatedly, he's referred to as "the boy" throughout.  You never raise your eyes over that.  The one time he's called a "man'?  That pulls you out of the show and back into reality.

Mike Kelley's concept of manhood was always a problem for REVENGE -- Danny, Declan, etc.  It's an even bigger problem here when Renee is toying with Blake -- toying with a child.

There's a laughable ten year high school reunion that takes place late in the mini-series.  Blake Jenner's surrounded by actors playing 28 and 29 year olds.  And they all look the part.  While he looks like one of the graduates brought along their kid. 

His acting is weak and awful.  Though he shows his naked ass repeatedly, he has zero sex appeal.  And he looks too damn young to play the part (and, in fact, he is too young to play the part).  This is one of the three principal roles and Mike Kelley has miscast it -- it is a ghastly miscasting.

As Mike ruined REVENGE -- as he became more interested in a new actor than he was in the show's main character Emily Thorne -- ABC repeatedly told him that he was destroying the show.  He didn't listen and that's why ABC removed him from the show.  The rumors swirling around Mike and the flavor didn't help either.  Post-REVENGE, the flavor has repeatedly attempted to find fame and failed -- maybe next fall on NBC will turn out differently?  (We would guess not.  But let's see.)

Mike Kelley should not be allowed to cast roles and that's why he's not with ABC.  NETFLIX continues to waste money -- their business model remains a failure.  They're also making stupid decisions.  WHAT/IF should have been a tight and addictive thriller.  Thanks to Blake Jenner (and Mike's misguided tastes), it's not.

The lesson for ABC and NETFLIX last week should have been that everyone is not a show runner, that show running is a skill.  And that before you hand over funds to someone who claims they can execute a program well, you use the best of your abilities to make sure that is the case.

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