Sunday, December 13, 2009

Why TV Fans Have To Suffer Through Hiatus

After watching the insane cliffhanger at the end of White Collar's mid-season finale, my younger brother was extremely frustrated because he had to wait until January 19th for a resolution. Well, for those of you who don't know this period of time or torture as my brother calls it where the Networks show reruns or reality shows until they start airing new episodes is known as a hiatus.

Don't you hate it when this appears on your TV screen.

The reasoning behind hiatuses which take place around the Holidays and over the Summer is not to make you angry, it's to give the cast and crew a well deserved break for all of their hard work. While watching TV it feels like the creators of your favorite shows deliver an episode on a 9 to 5 work schedule because it is sometimes put together so flawlessly that it looks easy. However it normally takes a 60-70 hour work week for a cast and crew to bring entertainment into to your living room. Based on this fact, even though a TV show going on hiatus is annoying like being forced to put down a good book, you got to remember that the people who help you escape reality have lives too and they look forward to spending the time off with their families. This means that if you are a TV watcher complaining about a hiatus, just suck it up and let the people who put their all into entertaining you have their vacation.

This is what the creators of your favorite shows are doing while you're watching reruns.

At the same time, there are circumstances when getting angry over a hiatus is warranted like when a show goes into reruns during a month where new episodes should be airing like October or March because that means it is going to get canceled. In this case you as viewers have every right to be angry because the people who helped you escape the stresses of school or work on a weekly basis are going to lose their jobs. Recently, fans of TV shows have been channeling their anger over shows being canceled into organized campaigns such as sending Mars Candy Bars to Network Execs at The CW for the purpose of keeping Veronica Mars on the air. On some occasions these campaigns have worked like when the short lived TV series Firefly was made into the movie Serenity, FOX put Family Guy back on the air and Chuck is now coming back in January instead of March.

Even though they make viewers like you and me scream at the TV screen hiatuses are extremely powerful marketing tools. This is due to the fact that if pulled off correctly a mid-season or season finale cliffhanger will cause the hiatus to be a period of time where audiences members hype a show by speculating what will happen next to everyone who will listen which will cause the anticipation for the premiere episode to be so high that the ratings will go through the roof. Digging back through TV History this concept worked the best with the Who Shot J.R. cliffhanger at the end of Dallas season 2 because at its time the season 3 premiere was the highest rated episode in US History with an estimated audience of 83,000,000 people.

Here is more about the Who Shot J.R. cliffhanger phenomenon

In my opinion even though the start of a hiatus at the end of a finale leaves me frustrated at first because I always keep wanting more, I totally respect them. Especially since they are just long enough to make me miss my favorite shows to the point that coming back to them is like reuniting with an old friend. As an avid TV watcher I love this feeling and I would not give up hiatuses for the world unless it foretells the cancellation of a favorite show.

Make sure you check out new episodes of your TV favorites and posts on this blog in March after a short hiatus.

The Late Show with David Letterman: A Bowl Full of Fun

My favorite thing to watch when it comes to late night television is the Late Show with David Letterman. If you haven't seen it the Late Show is structured very much like The Tonight Show based on it featuring stand-up, a live band and celebrity guests. However, even though Dave's show is the same as the other nightly talk shows I tend to like him better than his competitors. I can't really pin it down to one thing but I prefer watching Dave because Conan comes across as arrogant to me and Jay feels unapproachable almost as if NBC is whispering conservative jokes into his ear.

Conan and Jay, the Late Show's competition

Then when I turn on Dave I feel like it's a completely different ball game because he gives me a sense of comfort by being brutally honest with me as a viewer. Through doing this watching Dave feels like I'm hanging out with an uncle who tells crazy jokes. Now don't get me wrong there has been times that Dave has gone a little bit overboard and I occasionally agree when the media calls him out on some controversial jokes. I can also see why some of you as TV viewers can't stand watching him because of the mistakes he has made in his own personal life but I don't let that bother me. I'm not saying that I agree with what he did I'm saying that I enjoy watching Dave because his TV persona is highly entertaining and all about having fun which is shown by Dave laughing at his own jokes including ones at his own expense.

David Letterman giving his nightly monologue

The fact that Dave laughs at his own jokes like any other average person makes him stand out compared to his rivals at least in my mind because it shows he is focused on one thing making the average Joe laugh. Dave caters his jokes to the average American by having people just like them perform comedy in segments like Stupid Pet Tricks or having a bunch of students come in to do bird calls or science experiments. Dave also interacts with average folks during the course of his show such as the man who lives in the apartment in the studio, his mom in Indiana, and the guy in the Deli down the street. At times Dave even has to act as a translator between regular people and celebrities like when Joaquin Phoenix spaced out on the show.

Here's Dave's spaced out interview with Joaquin Phoenix

Honestly when I think about it Dave interacts with everyone during the course of his show from the audience to the orchestra led by the talented Paul Shaffer to the crew working behind the scenes. He even at times has had Regis Philbin run through the audience like a crazy man high- fiving people. Although Dave's fun with the audience doesn't stop there because he is always asking them silly questions that may earn one of them an entire pizza or cause the Horns section to proudly raise their hands. I guess out of all these examples the main thing I want you to get out of this post about the Late Show is to give Dave a chance because watching him is like going to a party where something fun is always happening.

Check out the Late Show with David Letterman weeknights on CBS at 11:35/10:35c or online.
Saturday, December 12, 2009

Veronica Mars: My TV Crush

One of my favorite cult shows is Veronica Mars. If you haven't seen it the show's title character Veronica played wonderfully by Kristen Bell is a girl that had a horrific Sophomore year of High School. Basically to some it up, Veronica's best friend was murdered, her Dad lost his job as Sheriff and she was dumped by her boyfriend which in turn caused her to get raped. Now if this was a normal teen drama the show would have Veronica contemplating suicide but what emerged from her tragedy was an incredibly smart, yet sassy girl with a concealed big heart who I still have a TV crush on til this day. Although, having a TV crush on Veronica is not the only reason why I was attracted to this show, it was the fact that Veronica Mars dealt with an universal issue everyone can relate to which is something bad happening to you in High School.

The event that turned Veronica Mars' life upside down

However, the show does not focus on that event in particular, it focuses on Veronica rising above her embarrassment by honing her teenage angst into a mystery solving ability which she uses to help fellow students who have been wronged like her and solve her best friend's murder. In fact I think Veronica rising above tragedy by helping people might make her an even stronger heroine than Buffy The Vampire Slayer based on the fact that she deals with issues and on occasion crimes that exist in the real world. At the same time, I could also make an argument that Veronica is stronger than Buffy because when I was watching Veronica Mars which was during my last two years of High School, I was overcoming my own High School tragedy just like Veronica and I think her using that event to become a better person played a part in helping me get over my own crap.

Who's a stronger heroine Veronica or Buffy? You Decide.

Sadly just as fans got to know her, Veronica Mars was taken away from us after three seasons for the purpose of The CW being impatient with the show trying to find its legs after moving Veronica to College which I didn't think took the show very long compared to Buffy season 4. The show's creator Rob Thomas tried to save Veronica Mars by connecting her best friend's murder to an conspiracy and making a season 4 mini episode where Veronica joins the FBI but it left us with unanswered questions. Now I guess the only thing we Veronica fans can do is hope those rumors of a movie is true.

Check out the Veronica Mars season 4 mini episode below...

Get Veronica Mars Seasons 1-3 on DVD or watch it online and keep an eye out for Kristen Bell, she's going to become a very popular actress in the next few years.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Thoughts On Kurt Sutter's Blog Post Why Network Scripted Drama Suck

If you don't know Kurt Sutter is the man behind the TV hits The Shield and Sons of Anarchy, a show I have raved about on this blog. Recently my respect for Mr. Sutter has risen even higher level due to the post he put on his blog entitled Why Most Network Scripted Dramas Suck. Basically in his post Sutter gives his two cents on the Leno debate by expressing the belief that development execs create shows based on what they think people want to see. Churning out clones of semi-successful shows or in other words looking for a hook to market instead of concerning themselves with story and character. Then Sutter goes on to praise FX for taking a chance on Sons of Anarchy by making the realization that the show's success rests on his shoulders not their own.

Kurt Sutter, the show creator that's causing a ruckus on the internet

The main thing that needs to be taken from Sutter's post for the purpose of standing up with him on a soapbox is that I whole heatedly agree with his viewpoint. This comes from the fact that I have a variety of very different types of shows in my weekly TV watching schedule from teen dramas like The Vampire Diaries to crude off the wall shows like Family Guy simply because I get bored of the repetition that exists in the form of CSI, Law and Order and all of its variations that are aired during the week. In order to better demonstrate my point I thought it might be best to give all of you my current TV watching schedule.


Heroes, Chuck, 24, Castle


V, Sons of Anarchy


The Vampire Diaries, Fringe, Supernatural, 30 Rock, The Office


Smallville, Dollhouse, White Collar


Family Guy

*Shows are not all currently showing new episodes

With this list I can see someone making an argument that Smallville and Heroes are similar to each other due to the superpowers concept. Although with something like Chuck and 24, they both focus on a secret agent but one show is a dramedy and the other one is completely serious. The bottom line with my TV schedule is that there are thousands of ways to explain how all these shows are all different from each other but what's important is that this line up keeps watching TV fresh. However with my schedule containing many fantasy based shows like V or shows off the beaten path like Chuck I run the risk of being heartbroken because these are the types of shows that Network Execs see as risky. Then again I would much rather suffer the heartbreak of TV Show cancellation than having to stomach one of David Caruso's cheezy lines he spouts off at the beginning of every formulaic episode of CSI Miami. With that being said I do have a friend who watches every form of CSI and NCIS during the week but I respect him for it because he also watches my TV schedule on top of those shows. On the other hand for those people who just center their schedule on just watching all the forms of CSI and Law and Order, you can do what you want but just know that I think you have no lives.

CSI and Law and Order, two incredibly formulaic shows

Going in the vein of Kurt Sutter's post I do feel like Network Execs need to put their faith in cutting edge shows like Sons of Anarchy instead of shows like Cold Case where every episode starts with a cardboard box being taken off a shelf to be opened and ends with a box being put on a shelf to be closed. The reason behind this is that I believe Sons of Anarchy's success can be attributed to people's desire for a good story to escape the frustrations in daily life caused by the Recession or whatever else is going on in the world. So Kurt Sutter if you happen to stumble upon this post I want you to know that I would totally be interested in writing for Sons of Anarchy after I graduate from Columbia College in May because I would much rather work on a show that will knock an audience's socks off than doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lions, Tigers and Mid-Season Finales, Oh My!

When it comes to the TV watching season I really look forward to the weeks where they show the mid-season and season finales. Both of these occasions are incredibly bittersweet because it's the time where the cast and crew bring their A-games really sparking my imagination but at the same time the word finale means that I have to wait a few months for new episodes to come out. Currently this is the time of year for mid-season finales and I thought that in honor of this event I would give my opinion on what were the best mid-season finales out of all the shows I watch on a weekly basis.

However before we get into that I would like to give an Honorable Mention to Sons of Anarchy because even though the show's finale featuring a new rendition of Gimme Shelter was not as epic or shocking as the two finales that I chose, the show had the best first half of season out of everything on Television. I would also like to apologize if the reason why I chose these finales comes across as vague, I just don't want to spoil things for those of you who plan on catching up with these shows on your DVR or waiting for it to come out on DVD.

The best show of the Fall 2009 season.

So without farther adieu here are the best mid-season finales of 2009...

White Collar

A few weeks ago I raved about the dynamic between Con Artist Neal Caffery and FBI Agent Peter Burke in the shows pilot. Today I can happily say that the show maintained the chemistry between these characters to the point that TV Guide has called White Collar the best new show of the Fall TV season. What made the mid-season finale one of the best of 2009 was the fact that it ended with a shocking twist that obliterated some major character back story and possibly changed the status quo of the series. This is an incredibly ballsy move for a show in its first season but it is also kind of smart because the twist will bring myself and I hope other viewers back to the show just to see how the heck the writers are going to pull this off.

See what the Fall's best new show is all about.


I have said on repeated occasions with this blog that season 9 of this show has been epic to the point that it feels like the Producers are creating mini-movies every week that are on the level of the Christopher Reeve Superman film. In fact the mid-season finale Pandora may have surpassed that movie based on the fact that the episode contained major character deaths and actually showed a fight between two super humans instead of having it take place off screen which is something I thought was impossible on The CW's budget. However before you Smallville fans get your tights bunched up there is a twist to the character deaths and no they are not a dream like on Dallas. Instead the supposed deaths and the all out fight scenes that took place in the episode were just used as a way to tease the Smallville TV movie that is coming down the pipeline. Supposedly this TV movie penned by superstar comic book writer Geoff Johns might just be one of the biggest special effect extravaganzas in TV history and I think this mid-season finale did a great job of proving to Smallville's now growing audience that something like a two hour event filled with superhero guest stars is possible. Although on a personal level what impressed me the most about this episode was the fact that they took the classic superhero versus super villain story established by Superman comic books 70 years ago in a whole new direction.

See what's coming down the pipeline for Smallville in 2010

Now that I have given you what the best mid-season finales for 2009 are, at least in my opinion, the best thing you can do is watch these episodes of White Collar and Smallville to get a better grasp on my thoughts about them or just because you might be interested in one of these shows.

Check out reruns of White Collar at various times on USA and new episodes starting January 19th.

Check out reruns of Smallville Fridays at 8/7c on The CW and new episodes starting January 22nd.

It's A Jungle Out There No More

I know that I posted about this a few weeks ago but last night USA's Monk came to an end with an ending that was fitting for the Defective Detective. Now before any of you Monk fans get worried that I am going to spoil the finale, have no fear, in fact this post is barely going to touch the last episode because it is not a review, it's a tribute to the character and the show that was such an important part of my Friday night for the past eight years.

Eight years ago I got into Monk because USA kept showing promos for the show while I was watching the movie Billy Madison. At this point in time Cable shows were kind of a joke at the time unless they were on HBO because shows like Rescue Me and The Shield were not in existence but for whatever reason I watched Monk anyway.

An example of a promo that got me to watch Monk

When I first met Adrian Monk through the use of my Television I was uncomfortable with him just like the other characters on the show because I wasn't sure if it was right for me to laugh at his struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. However after I watched my first episode of the show I realized the humor did not come from Monk's struggles but the inability of people around him to be patient with his desire to be clean and free of germs. In fact through the eyes of various villains on the show they felt that Monk was less than a man due to his many phobias but he always would prove them wrong by using his OCD as a gift to solve the murders they committed. This is what caused me to identify with the character of Monk because as a person in a wheelchair I have run into a few people who have doubted my abilities and the fact that Monk deals with same challenges makes me want to root on the character in every episode. At the same time this plays a part in why Captain Stottlemeyer is my favorite character on the show.

My favorite Monk character Captain Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine)

When I was first introduced to the Captain I enjoyed the character because his frustration towards Monk's phobias and his dim witted partner Randy made me laugh. However as time went on I began to respect the character tremendously because through out the course of the show the Captain goes from being the one who is most impatient with Monk to being the one who understands him the most. This story arc with the Captain is something that always made the show extremely unique because I feel that it opened the eyes of people who might be inexperienced with people who have disabilities and I don't think this type of character progression will be done for awhile because it was so well pulled off on Monk.

Soon after I started watching Monk, my Dad introduced me to Columbo and I used that show as leverage to convince him to check out Monk. From there on out every Friday night in the Mid-Summer and Winter revolved around watching Monk. However like with any show Monk had it's bad phase which was seasons 4 and 5. The weakness behind these seasons came from the fact that Monk switched assistants which made the show not as funny and in the opinion of an instructor of mine at Columbia it made the writers forget Monk was a Cop Show. The show was turning me off because they brushed the series long story arc of Monk solving his wife's. Then in season 6 Monk's new assistant Natalie began to click with the other characters to the point that I liked her better than his old assistant Sharona by the time we got to the end of the series. Season 6 also ended in a two part story arc that helped hold me over on Monk solving his wife's murder until the final episode.

Dale "The Whale" Biederbeck, a man involved with the death of Monk's wife and his Professor Moriarty

Although, through the good and the bad, myself along with the rest of the show's audience became so attached to the character of Monk that we looked into the killer of his wife's eyes with the same amount of anger he felt and at the end of the episode we found it hard to say good-bye. On that note I would like to thank the Cast and Crew of Monk for gracing my living room on Friday nights for the past eight years and I'd like them to know that when I see anyone being a little compulsive or obsessive I will think upon Adrian Monk with very fond memories.

Watch the USA stars say good-bye to the man who made their shows possible...

Check out Monk Seasons 1-7 on DVD and click here to find out when you can check out reruns of Monk on USA.