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TV Hell - News

Reported By Ian Malone


Email Ian at ian@tvhell.net


TV Hell News



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Shows that are On The Bubble:

March 04, 2009
I was going to wait a couple weeks to do this but the cancellation of Life on Mars by ABC today convinced me to start this early. This year has been a weird year since we not only have rookie shows looking for a pickup but sophomore shows that were given a second chance for this year without proving themselves, thanks to the Writerís Strike. Iím going to go network to network listing the shows on the brink of cancellation and their odds at renewal. Iím not going to list shows that are definitely renewed so if you have a question about a show not listed send me an E-mail at ian@tvhell.net or you can check Headlines where I typically list renewals.


CBS

CBS is hard to judge since they have the most well rounded line-up of the five networks. With that being said The Unitís high budget and declining ratings leave it as the most likely target for cancellation. The only other two you should worry about are Cold Case and Flashpoint. Flashpoint should be renewed though since CBS rents the show from Canadaís CTV. Cold Case should be renewed too but donít be too surprised if its cancelled. Amazing Raceís numbers havenít been great these past couple of years but CBS is likely to keep it around in case something else fails.


ABC

This year has been a disaster for ABC. Private Practice is the only new drama left from the past two years. Life on Marsí cancellation leaves Ugly Betty as the only show people should worry about but thereís been enough bloodshed this year. You can expect pretty much everything thatís still on the air that isnít Scrubs or According to Jim will be back next year.


NBC

I did an article about NBCís line-up for next year so Iíll be quick on this one. Life, Knight Rider, and Kath & Kim should say goodbye and while Heroes and Law & Order arenít shoo ins for next year theyíll probably be back. I went on to do Fox and The CW before realizing I forgot to mention Lipstick Jungle. I suppose that says a lot about its odds.


Fox

We already know Prison Break is being cancelled this year so that takes a big question mark off the radar. Lie to Me has been doing pretty well but I want to see what being off the air for a few weeks will do to it. American Idol is taking up a lot of the line-up and we already saw Life on Mars bite the dust after a hiatus so I donít doubt that the same thing could happen to Lie to Me. That being said, Life on Mars didnít have American Idol as a lead in so Lie to Me should be fine. In Headlines 35 I stated that Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles has a better shot at renewal than people give it credit for. Unfortunately after looking at last weekís ratings that better shot means going from 0% to 0.5%. Dollhouse should be canceled as well.


The CW

If I was the President of all TV Iíd cancel the CW but unfortunately for everyone that isnít true. Despite a terrible line-up Privileged and Reaper are the only dramas left on the chopping block. The Game also could be cancelled but its getting close to the minimum number of episodes required for syndication so as of now I think itíll be renewed. The big question is, will there be original programming on Sunday nights.


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NBCís Lineup for 2009-2010:

March 02, 2009
As most of you probably know already, NBC has given Jay Leno the 10 oíclock slot Monday-Friday. This of course means that five fewer shows will either be back or premier next year. While I donít agree with this decision at all I realize that thereís nothing I can do to change it so I compiled a mock line-up for NBC for next year. This line-up does not reflect what NBC has decided on but should give all of you a good idea about what to expect. If there are multiple shows listed in one slot that means itís pretty much up for grabs with the first one listed are the most likely choice. Kings and Southland havenít premiered yet either so the inclusion of them in this list if 100% pure speculation.


Monday

8:00-9:00 pm Ė New show/Chuck/Kings or Southland
9:00-10:00 pm Ė Heroes
If I had to bet I would say that Chuck gets moved to Fridays if it comes back. However that would require NBC to take a risk, something Iím not sure theyíll do. Heroes hasnít been performing this year but I doubt that NBC will cancel it especially since Bryan Fuller has rejoined the staff. As for Medium, expect it back midseason.


Tuesday

8:00-9:00 pm Ė The Biggest Loser
9:00-10:00 pm Ė Law & Order: SVU
Iím 99% confident that this will be the Tuesday night line-up. I canít imagine anything else that would be on.


Wednesday

8:00-9:00 pm Ė New show
9:00-10:00 pm Ė Law & Order
My guess is that NBC will air two new dramas next year and the 8 pm Wednesday slot is probably going to be one of them. Knight Rider and Life are pretty much surefire cancellations and unless Southland or Kings both make it to next year thereís going to be something new at 8. As for 9 oíclock, some may disagree with me but I donít think NBC is going to cancel Law & Order the same year we say goodbye to ER. ER has had such a great final season that I donít think Law & Order will go without a similar final year that includes several faces from the past.


Thursday

8:00-8:30 pm Ė My Name is Earl
8:30-9:00 pm Ė Parks and Recreation/New show
9:00-9:30 pm Ė The Office
9:30-10:00 pm Ė 30 Rock
3/4thís of Thursdayís line-up is already set in stone as Earl, The Office, and 30 Rock have all been renewed. Iíve heard rumors about Kath & Kim being renewed but I donít see that happening at all. Parks and Recreation has been heavily hyped these past couple of weeks so I wouldnít be surprised if it was brought back. Its renewal would likely mean no new comedies on the fall roster but NBC usually brings one in around springtime anyway.


Friday

8:00-9:00 pm Ė Chuck
9:00-10:00 pm Ė New show/ Kings or Southland
Ok, this is basically complete guessing. However, Chuck can be considered a cult TV show and cult TV has always faired better on Fridayís than other shows. As for the 9 pm slot Iím praying its not Kings because Ian McShane is one of my favorite actors (no not because we share the same first name). Judging by the commercials, Kings is a dark drama, which would make it fodder for a 9 pm slot, and Iím pretty confident that every other 9 pm slot will go to the shows I listed.


Sunday
8:15-whenever pm Ė NFL Football (starring John Madden, the worst commentator Iíve ever heard)

No questions asked about this one, unless you disagree about Madden. The spring line-up is far away but donít be surprised if Medium gets relegated here.

ERís final season made making the line-up a bit easier but this seems to be the end of the line for Life, Knight Rider, and Kath & Kim. Any questions or comments about the line-up send me an e-mail at ian@tvhell.net and remember all replies are put in my Q&A page, which can be accessed via the link at the top of this page.


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The Future of Cancelled/Ended Shows:

February 21, 2009
Last Tuesday brought an interesting new release to the shelves. Dead Like Me, a dramedy on Showtime that aired from 2003-2005 was resurrected in the form of a direct to DVD movie. This isnít the first time that this has happened but with talks of movies based on Veronica Mars, Arrested Development, and Battlestar Galactica floating about, people are going to ask the question can ended or cancelled sows be resurrected?

Before I go any further let me point out that the odds of any show continuing past its finale whether it be spinoff or movie are very slim. However, the exceptions to the odds have all been for the most part in the past few years. If the Serenity, the feature length film based off of the Fox show Firefly had been a box office hit I bet weíd see more shows brought back. Serenity was a success on the DVD market and Iím sure that had something to do with the recent Highlander movie, Babylon 5: The Lost Tales and the Dead Like Me movie. The DVD market has proven to be more viable than the TV movie market has. Ask Chuck Norris how the last Walker Texas Ranger movie did, and that was before CBS did away with movie block. Broadcast networks are the only TV channels with the resources to make a good TV movie based on a past TV series happen and in this era of TV there isnít any room for them. TNT may have been able to produce The Librarian Trilogy but that was done mostly using unknown or unpopular actors. A TV movie featuring the cast of Friends would never be produced on any network other than NBC (and yes I understand that a Friends movie would most likely be released in theatres I was just making a point).

I brought up the box office failure of Serenity for a reason. This new market of brining old shows back for another adventure is not proven to be successful by any means. That means that we the fans must give a little to the studios to show that we care. My policy of only buying TV DVDís at 40% off or higher or on eBay for prices that I assure you are mind blowing has allowed me to acquire a rather large collection of them. This past Tuesday I went out and bought Dead Like Me: Life After Death for full price. Why would I do that? MGM went out on a limb and made a movie about a show nobody ever though would make a comeback and I wanted to show him or her I cared enough to buy the movie. There arenít going to be any more movies if everyone waited a year to buy them at half price. Fox took a big gamble with its Futurama DVD movies and the fans came out and supported the show, which had been off the air for four years. For those fans out there who donít like Sci-fi but want to see episodes of their favorite shows back, make your voice heard. Studios are really reluctant to spend money on unproven pilots these days so the time is now to act if anyone ever wants to see a Sopranos movie or something like that.

I donít expect any of you to go out and buy movies you donít want. If there are any Dead Like Me or Futurama fans out there, you have to lend your support to see DVDs like this made. Life after death for shows that remain unforgotten in TV Hell can happen but the support has got to be there.


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My Network TV: A Victim of the Economy?:

February 17, 2009
If you havenít heard already, the execs at My Network TV have announced that they will stop producing original programming for the network save for Friday Night Smackdown! Smackdownís arrival on the network as well as its failed attempt to bring telenovas to primetime are really the only two relevant things in My Network TVís short existence which explains why it is rarely mentioned on this site. Most new networks have spend years trying to build a line-up so it wasnít really surprising that My Network TV didnít take off in its first couple of years. The decision to abandon ship less than three years after its debut is unheard of, which leads me to believe that the economy is the reason My Network TV is closing up shop.

HBO, Showtime, UPN, USA, MTV, VH1, FX, Bravo, Sci-fi, TNT, and Iím sure a lot more all have one thing in common. They all took time to take off to the success stories that they are now. I included UPN on that list and while it may not be around anymore, UPN successfully reinvented itself from its original format which focused mainly on Sci-fi and action adventure. After years of being known for nothing besides Star Trek and for picking up other network scraps like Buffy and Roswell, UPN switched its target demographic to women and African Americans where it produced some very successful comedies which helped turn the tide in its battle with the WB. HBO is known more for The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and Sex and the City than it is for Tales from the Crypt and Arliss. Showtime has been featured in the news for Dexter and Weeds but most people forget earlier shows like Soul Food and Jeremiah.

The point Iím trying to make by talking about the pasts of UPN and HBO is that both networks took many years before they gained exposure. The ratings success that ABC and CBS have enjoyed over the past couple years was a result of many years of piecing together a solid line-up. No network just popped into existence and has had any immediate success, look at The CW. I donít think the executives at My Network TV are stupid (I could be wrong), so the only reason I can think of for My Network TVís demise is that funding for a revamp of the network fell through. My Network TV had a good thing going these past couple months and Friday Night Smackdown! was a great building block for the rest of the line-up. Instead My Network TV will focus on airing movies and reruns of Law & Order Criminal Intent. I donít see this format as permanent because sooner or later another revamp is inevitable. Until then My Network TV will serve as an example of the effect of the economy on TV. Pilots for next year are being described as ďconservativeĒ and big budget shows like Lost and 24 are bound to be scaled back. This isnít exactly fun coming off of a horrible writerís strike but I hope the TV industry can get its bearings.


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Battlestar Galactica:

February 08, 2009
I gave The Shield the honor of its own tribute back in November for I felt that it had made a big impact on television. I will now give the same honor to Battlestar Galactica.

Battlestar Galactica has a lot in common with The Wire. Critics couldnít get enough of them and both of them have been snubbed at the Emmys and Golden Globes throughout their runs. This article isnít about that though, its about honoring Battlestar Galactica, one of the greatest shows of this decade which will conclude its run on the Sci-fi Channel in a couple of weeks.

Battlestar Galactica began as a miniseries in 2003, which was a remake of the short, lived Battlestar Galactica in 1978. Aside from the some of the characters and ships names and the presence of Richard Hatch as Tom Zarek the reimagining shared little in common with its predecessor (not immediate predecessor due to the short-lived spinoff Galactica 1980).

From episode one the new Battlestar Galactica was different from pretty much every other sci-fi show that ever aired on TV. The comic relief present in the other two shows tat aired as part of Sci-fi Friday, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis was absent and the tone was noticeably darker than any other show Iíd seen in a long time. The term space opera doesnít really quite cover the entire spectrum of the shows dark and violent nature. The show turned Cylons into humanoids, adding a whole new dimension to the battle of man vs. machine. Space battles were still there but it was the shows dialogue between the characters that really defined the series. Galacticaís character development including the maiming of a few characters has been relatively unheard of in the sci-fi world.

Science fiction on TV is a lot like knuckleball pitchers in baseball. There are never going to be a lot of them but they are never going to become extinct. After Star Trek: Enterprise was cancelled, ending the 18-year run of Trek on TV; I was worried about the future of the genre. Stargate SG-1 and Charmed carried the torch for little while but the success of Galactica did a lot for the genre, certainly more than the last Trek did. With Galactica ending, Heroes and Lost are really the only ďhitĒ sci-fi shows on TV right now unless you want to count Supernatural, Smallville, Eureka, or Legend of the Seeker, none of which are that big. Battlestar Galacticaís spinoff Caprica will premiere sometime in the next year or so but who knows if itíll be up to par with its predecessor. Regardless of how good it is, it doesnít change the impact that Battlestar Galactica has made on TV and I encourage you all to check out one the best shows thatís been around the past couple years.


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USA: The Underrated Cable Network:

January 26, 2009
Iíve often said that the Cable Big Three is FX, TNT, and USA, a term defined in our dictionary on the main site. Since I wrote that a couple of years ago weíve seen AMC, A&E, and TBS join in the cable battle and Comedy Central and Sci-Fi channel retain their relevance in the ďcable warsĒ. With all the attention being directed toward AMC for its Emmy win, FX for The Shieldís finale, and TNT for its ratings success, people have really let USA slip under the radar in terms of exposure.

USA Network has been in the first run programming business for years with shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Highlander: The Series, Duckman and Forever Knight, but USA Network began gaining exposure in 2002 with its new programs Monk and The Dead Zone. Monk was a huge critical success and earned Tony Shalhoub three Emmyís. Both shows served as the core of USAís lineup, which was joined by The 4400, Kojak, and Psych with the latter still airing today. Burn Notice, In Plain Sight, and the Starter Wife have joined the line-up in recent years and all have been successes for the network. USA also airs WWE Monday Night Raw which gets around five million viewers a week.

USA has brought in the ratings but with the exception of Monk, has never been a big contender at the mainstream awards shows. While cable as a whole doesnít have a big presence at the Emmyís, FX and TNT have been big names at the Emmys and Golden Globes in recent years yet for the most part USA Network goes unnoticed. The ratings are comparable so why donít the voters acknowledge USAís programming.

I recently recommended Burn Notice to a friend. He described the show as ďfunĒ, a term I have avoided using because it implies that the rest of my shows are not fun to watch but the term applies to a lot of USAís programming. Burn Notice is an entertaining spy show that deals with problems without ďcompelling dramaĒ. Burn Notice and Psych inject a fair amount of comedy into their programming which may confuse voters as to where to put them. Dramedies have gone unnoticed by the Emmys and while I donít use the term dramedy to describe any of USAís programming, the amount of comedy in the shows may forfeit them a shot at an Emmy. The only exception to this is ABCís Boston Legal. Boston Legal has a lot of comedy in it but has two best drama nominations.

Itís been a long time since I cared about the Emmys and I donít think USA really cares all that much either. Instead of making drama that is manufactured for the Emmyís, USA has created a line-up of unique shows that have been ratings hits without making big waves at the Emmys. This isnít an attack on shows that get nominated but it shows that you donít need a rack of Emmys to be a good show. USA Network may never be a big Emmy contender but I encourage you all to check out the shows on USA, most of them are pretty good.


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Scrubs and Smallville, Hanging around too long?:

January 21, 2009
There are four shows currently on television that are in their eighth seasons, American Idol Scrubs, Smallville, and Law & Order Criminal Intent. Two of which are likely returnees (American Idol, and L&O: CI) and the other two have recently made headlines about their futures. While there are a couple shows older than them on TV and a bunch more that are in their seventh seasons, There arenít as many old shows as there used to be. Sitcoms have been known to last as long as eleven seasons and while dramas are much more across the board; few reach the milestones that ER and Law & Order have. Critics have jumped on Scrubs recently and Smallville lost a good chunk of its cast last year. ER and Law & Order have none of their original cast members left but cast changes were part of their history. Scrubs retains its entire original cast and most long running guest stars and Smallville lost most of its remaining original cast members last year. Zach Braff, Scrubsí star and narrator has stated that he will not be back next year but ABC is still in talks to keep Scrubs around. Smallville, still a ratings hit (The CWís definition of ďhitĒ), is likely to return. While you can debate all you want if they are still good shows, itís almost universally accepted that both shows are past their primes.

Itís hard to truly tell when a show should go off, especially these days. ABC has very few comedies and The CW has very few, if any, hit shows. While Scrubs may have just transferred to ABC, itís still an important piece to their line-up. Smallville, which has been paired with Supernatural on Thursdays, is also very important to The CW. I canít imagine Scrubs without Zach Braff, and the idea that ABC can bother me. If Friends ever lost one of the six, the show would be awful as its spinoff Joey proved. As for Smallville, there is no show without Tom Welling so Iím less concerned about them losing anyone else seeing as Welling as Allison Mack are all thatís left anyway. There havenít been many new shows that have been hits lately but keeping the old ones around past their prime is a crime to TV.

NYPD Blue is a good example of a show that went out with some dignity on its own terms. After 12 seasons and solid ratings, the creators ended the show. 12 seasons was enough and only two members of the original cast were still around. Smallville is in a similar boat except that its show runners have left the show. This puts the decision to end the show in the hands of The CW more or less, which can be damaging to its quality and certainly the peopleís lasting impression of it.

Scrubs id very similar to its former Must See TV partner Will & Grace. Both made it to eight seasons and both have their original casts. Will & Grace however took its final bow before anybody left and Scrubs may try to go on with only part of the gang.

Sorry if this comes across as an attack on long running shows especially since my last article was an outright attack on Cablevision. My view on long running TV is if itís still close to its golden days then keep it around but when the prime is clearly gone, itís time to call it a day. Scrubs used to be one of my favorite shows but I donít really laugh anymore when itís on. People can say donít watch it all they want but I donít want to remember Scrubs like this when its hopefully gone in 10 years. As for Smallville, Iím ok with it sticking around because I donít think Supernatural is going to outlive it by much and Iím impressed with how its done of Thursdays for so long. ABC and Bill Lawrence need to think long and hard about what a potential ninth season would be like and I hope Bill Lawrence learns from his old show Spin City. You donít take away the lead and expect anything but the worst.


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Voom HD:

January 07, 2009
If you havenít heard of the Voom HD channels, youíre probably not alone. Voom HD is a service of 15 HD channels formerly offered to DirecTV and currently offered to Cablevision users. Most of these channels are genre specific movie channels such as Kung Fu Channel or alternative sports channels such as World Sport. Iím a big fan of Canadian football so my first contact with Voom was through its broadcasts of the Friday night CFL games. Voom hasnít been mentioned on the site because it produces no scripted, and very little unscripted original programming.

If you havenít checked Voom out yet, you better hurry up. Last month Cablevision announced Voom would be dropped sometime later this month. I personally am not happy with this because Iíve seen some of the stuff theyíre planning to replace Voom with and Iím not impressed. These include Comedy HD (no not comedy central), Pets HD, and a few others, which appear to be generic replicas of popular cable networks. Say what you will about Voom, thereís nothing else like its channels on TV.

I write about this not so much because I canít live without 15 subpar HD channels obviously there are other channels to keep me entertained when all my shows are in rerun mode. Itís more because its not fun to have channels that you watch taken away. Iím sure some of you donít care but if thereís one thing Iíve learned from writing for this site these past couple years if that we here at tvhell tend to get annoyed when we have stuff taken away from us. Whether or not itís channels or TV shows it sucks when what we liked to watch isnít available anymore. This is just another move by Cablevision that angers me.

Cablevision has a big revamp announced for February. Theyíve been pretty hush hush about it but hopefully it includes BBC America. Or maybe some HD programming that is actually looks like HD. Whatever it is, Cablevision needs to give its subscribers a reason to keep paying and removing a service like Voom is not a step in the right direction.


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The 2008 Fall Season:

December 27, 2008
Well weíve reached the halfway point with no strike (knock on wood there still could be an actorís strike). This first half is hardly the bounce back season we all wanted it to be but it certainly wasnít a complete failure. Despite dips in ratings for pretty much everything on TV, there were a couple bright spots. Letís take a look at the good and the bad from the fall 08 season.

The Good:

Well to start off, I think everyone was just glad to have all their shows back. The fall season saw new shows such as Fringe and The Mentalist really take off and revive the careers of Joshua Jackson and Simon Baker. NCIS skyrocketed in the ratings defying all normal trends that television has shown us in the past 20 years. 90210 helped bring The CW a few feet away from the edge of the cliff and True Blood made us all remember that HBO didnít die with The Sopranos. Mad Men and Dexter returned to improved ratings and The Shield took its final bow in a way that no one couldíve predicted. Sons of Anarchy showed that while The Shield may be done, there is still plenty to look forward to on FX. While it may have a long way to go My Network TV saw huge increases in ratings, thanks in part to its acquisition of Friday Night Smackdown!

The Bad:

The networks didnít fare as well as HBO, Showtime, FX, AMC, and the rest of the cable networks did. CBS took back its throne but not without some loss in ratings. ABC lost three of its sophomore shows, Dirty Sexy Money, Pushing Daisies, and Eli Stone (though thereís a small chance DSM could come back). ABC also saw Private Practice take a dip in ratings, and youíll be hard pressed to find anyone with praise for Greyís Anatomy this season. Despite a minor hit in 90210, The CWís Sunday Night lease to Media Rights Capital was a bomb and so was pretty much everything it tried to put on the air.

The Ugly:

Thought I forgot a certain network? Well, while ABC and The CW arenít looking too good right now, NBC was so bad that it wouldnít have been fair to include it in with the others. All of its new shows, Knight Rider, My Own Worst Enemy, Crusoe, and Kath & Kim were failures. Life and Chuck are critically popular, but donít do much in the ratings department. Law & Order: SVU and ER have seen ratings declines. But who could forget Heroes, NBCís saving grace. Heroes went from being one of the best new shows two years ago, to being one of the most pathetic shows currently airing on TV. To top it all off, Jay Leno and his enormous chin will move up an hour and a half so that when 10 oíclock rolls around every night, you can see Jay instead of anything else you might have wanted to see. NBC may call this a strategic way to keep Leno from going to ABC or Fox, but I call it throwing in the towel.

Well that wraps up the 2008 fall season. Overall with the ever-growing presence of the Internet and DVRís as well as recovering form the writerís strike, we did all right. Hopefully with Lost, 24, and American idol coming back in January, we can see some growth in ratings. Until then, I invite you all to share your favorite or least favorite moments from the fall season on our message board or you can e-mail me at ian@tvhell.net. Remember all e-mails sent to me go to my mailbag, which can be accessed, from the news page. Happy Holidays everyone.


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Crime Dramas:

December 10, 2008
For the past few years Iíve been saying that crime dramas will fall due to the fact that there are so many of them on TV. Well last year, crime dramas took a dip, but ever since the Strike ended, crime shows are some of the few to not take big drops in ratings this year. NCIS recently pulled in 18.8 million which made my jaw drop and now CBS is thinking of a NCIS spinoff to itís line-up thatís composed almost entirely of procedurals. So why are the ratings so good?

Iíve thought about this theory for a while and I canít give it my full approval, so Iíll let you guys make up your minds for yourselves on this one. Crime shows tend to be more successful in the ratings due to the fact that they are fairly easy to watch if youíve missed an episode or you are a new viewer. This makes it easier for shows like NCIS to get viewers after being on for a couple years as opposed to Lost which is one of the most unwelcoming shows to new viewers that has ever been on television. Another theory is that people didnít want to start watching a length soap opera style drama after spending as long as nine months away from it. This idea seems less plausible due to the continuing success of cable shows, which often take nine-month breaks between seasons and still grab viewers. The chances of people finding other shows to watch after having their nightly line-up disrupted for close to a year is big enough to at last partially explain why Greyís Anatomy is doing poorly this year.

I donít want to throw my opinion into this too much but another reason why serialized dramas are doing poorly is because they are old and stale. This applies more to Greyís Anatomy and Desperate Housewives more than any other show but think about it. How many positive reviews have you read about either this year? Itís not unheard of for shows to lose ratings as the quality disappears. This idea doesnít apply to all of them though. The trio of recently cancelled dramas, Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, and Pushing Daisies were all in their second seasons when they received the axe. A possible explanation could be that there wasnít enough time to get hooked on them, and then when they came back people had lost interest. It may be hard to think of it from that angle because if youíre reading this then you obviously interested in television or else you wouldnít be looking at a website that focuses on it.

Crime dramas rarely stray from their mold and in that sense itís definitely something people can take comfort in. While The Shield and The Wire both ended this year, I take comfort in the fact that even after 15 years I can still tune in on Tuesdayís and see John Munch put the bad guys away, regardless of what show heís starring on (Iím a big Homicide: Life on the Street fan in you were wondering). Not everybody likes having an hour go by with nothing happening or watching a full show just to see a cliffhanger tell them that they have to wait another week for some resolution. Genre popularity will have its ups and downs through the years but itís safe to say crime dramas will always have a presence on TV.


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ABC: The Biggest Letdown of the Year?:

December 03, 2008
Last yearís Writerís Strike hurt every network, ratings are universally down. Yet like the Montreal Expos were poised to win the World Series in 1994 before the Baseball strike, ABC had a lot of potential as well. Instead three of its new shows have been cancelled and CBS has taken back first place with its line-up of crime dramas. All signs pointed to a decline in CBSís aging line-up yet shows like NCIS have skyrocketed in the ratings. I even predicted ABC would have a good shot at first in my summer analysis yet the complete opposite has happened. So why is ABC doing so poorly.

ABC in stark contrast to CBSís theory that an episode of a show should have a beginning and an end with resolution at the conclusion of the hour relies on character driven serials. This method has proven to most successful with Greyís Anatomy and Desperate Housewives but three of the four most recent serials to join the line-up, Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, and Pushing Daisies, were cancelled by ABC. One of the reasons for the failure is that Dirty Sexy Money and Pushing Daisies hadnít aired new episodes for nine months when they returned this season. While thatís something cable networks can get away with doing, obviously it was not the case for network viewers. Eli Stone came back after the strike was over last year but I guess that didnít help much either. Another factor is the Wednesday line-up, which was composed of Pushing Daisies, Private Practice, and Dirty Sexy Money. Airing three shows with no proven established audience is a risky move and in times where ratings are down it may not have been a good move at all. Rookie shows often need lead-ins and while I love Life on Mars, it was stupid to pair it up with Greyís Anatomy when you had three other shows with closer demographics to Greyís than a cop show set in the 70ís. Eli Stone had a better lead in than the Wednesday line-up but yet again did just as bad.

Shows get cancelled, thatís a sad fact we all know. Ratings are down and lead-ins are more important than ever. I wasnít too fond of Pushing Daisies but Dirty Sexy Money and Eli Stone were staples in my line-up. Itís sad to see some good shows leave the air because of poor scheduling by the executives. NBC may be tanking worse that ABC is but the quality of the shows on ABC this year couldíve gotten it first place. After this mess a third place finish a reasonable prediction. Dancing With the Stars had a strong year and Lost, which wonít draw the numbers it did in 2004m will hold its own. Life on Mars is a great new show. Sadly ABC is poised to squander this year because it didnít protect its unproven shows. You canít just blame all that on the Writerís Strike.


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The Shield:

November 21, 2008
Next week FXís The Shield will conclude its seven-season run. While much has changed in the world of cable television since 2002, itís safe to say that The Shield played a big role in what cable has become today. While all good things must come to an end lets look at the impact that Vic Mackey and the Strike Team have left on TV.

In 2002, there werenít a whole lot of cable shows. Even fewer of them aired on basic cable where words that Oz and The Sopranos got away with were not tolerated. The Shield took advantage of the FCCís policy which allowed shows that aired on cable past 10:00 pm to get away with more violence and indecency then its primetime competitors. The Shield took the concept of the cop show, and added a whole new dimension to the characters, far from the law abiding detectives on Law & Order or CSI and showed the LAPD from a point of view the network TV had never been brave enough to attempt. Coupled with an unconventional method of filming, The Shield raised more than a few eyebrows when it hit TV in March of 2002.

In addition to its groundbreaking contributions to basic cable, The Shield has been very popular with the critics over the course of its run. The Shield has been nominated for a few Emmys including a win for lead actor Michael Chiklis. The Shield also managed to get Glenn Close and Forest Whitaker to star in the fourth and fifth seasons respectfully. Few shows can say that it has had Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe, and Tony award winning actors star on its shows. Other stars include the Emmy nominated CCH Pounder, Walter Goggins, Jay Karnes, and Benito Martinez. While Mad Men may have earned the distinction of being the first basic cable show to win the Emmy for Best Drama, itís hard to believe that AMC would even have an original show if The Shield had bombed, not now at least.

Few cable shows have been on the air for eight seasons so just for that The Shield should be applauded. But if you take a look at what FX has become since The Shield became its first foray into original dramas, you have to give it credit. FX led the surge of cable networks developing their own series and The Shield was at the frontline of it all. Whether or not you watch The Shield, I urge you all to tune in next Tuesday to watch one of TVís true masterpieces take its final bow.


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First Run Syndication, Can it Come Back?:

November 03, 2008
If you read the most recent Headlines youíll see that I mention that a new series called The Legend of the Seeker debuted this weekend. This has been the first new show to air in syndication since I believe She Spies back in 2002. The main reason behind first run syndicationís decline was the rise of scripted cable series, which provide more stability, better advertising, more prominent actors, and in most cases more money to help shows survive. I was pretty shocked when I found out that Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert were making a new show to air in syndication and it brings the question of how will syndicated shows survive in a world where cable TV has gotten much bigger since the Golden Age of first run syndication.

First run syndication has existed almost as long as TV has, though generally in the form of game shows and talk shows. Shows like the Muppet Show and SCTV would bounce around between networks and syndication in the 70s and many comedies like Punky Brewster and Itís a Living would continue to air new episodes via syndication after their respective networks had canceled them. The real Golden Age of first run syndication happened in the late 80s with Star Trek: The Next Generation which gave first run syndication the credibility it needed to bring more shows into the mix. Baywatch entered syndication in 1991 after NBC sacked it. Baywatch would go on for ten years in syndication and remains one of the most popular shows of all time. In the early nineties, Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert created Hercules: The Legendary Journeyís which was successful though is best known as the show that Xena: Warrior Princess spun off from. Other prominent syndicated series include Highlander: The Series, Babylon 5, Earth Final Conflict, and Andromeda. First run syndication mainly aired sci-fi and fantasy series usually filmed outside the country.

First run syndication saw itís downfall when the new millennium came about and cable networks like HBO, FX, Showtime, and the Sci-fi Channel, began airing their own scripted series. With The Legend of the Seeker becoming the first new scripted show to air in syndication in six years, the question comes about, can syndication come back? Despite my love of Hercules, Andromeda, Sir Arthur Conan Doyleís The Lost World, Babylon 5, and so many more I just donít see first run syndication making a successful comeback. Cable provides a much better home for shows and the quality of them is much better than those of even the early 2000ís. On top of that, The Legend of the Seeker is a horrible show, with none of the great writing and acting that Hercules and Xena gave us. All good things must come to an end and while I will always think fondly of the cheesy sci-fi shows of the mid 90ís, I donít wish them back.


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Why TV Ratings Have Been So Low:

October 03, 2008
Well the wait is over and the 08-09 season has finally kicked off. The big question I was thinking about going into this September was how would the ratings look. Obviously the days where everyone watches a show in its scheduled timeslot are over but ratings seem to be down even for todayís standards. CBS is the only network to see its viewership increase and ABC and NBC have seen serious declines. As for The CW, 90210 and Gossip Girl have hardly been the saving grace the struggling network has been looking for. So why are ratings so bad?

Heroes is one of the shows Iíve been getting asked about a lot lately. The two-hour premiere snagged only 9.8 million viewers in its initial broadcast. This number doesnít include the viewers who tivoed it and then watches in longer than 24 hours later. I for one did not watch it on its first broadcast and only watched it when I found the time to squeeze in two hours of television into my schedule. With the amount of commercials this day in age itís not surprising to see that other people declined to sit through 40 minutes of commercials as well.

Thereís been a trend in the shows that arenít doing well this year. The dramedies and long serial dramas have been doing especially bad while CBSís stronghold of episodic crime dramas have done pretty well so far. Foxís House, Fringe, and Bones have also shown similar strong ratings. Itís been 11 months since viewers have seen some of these shows and part of the reason dramedies have been doing too well is that they arenít living up to the giant expectations that come with being off the air for so long. I didnít remember what had happened on Heroes all too well until I picked up season two on DVD a couple weeks ago. You canít really expect tens of millions of people to do the same. Watching a show like CSI or Without a Trace is satisfying because you donít really need to know the characters to follow the story and to feel some sense of resolution when its over.

Aging shows such as ER and The Shield have seen significant declines this year, somewhat surprising seeing as both are entering their final years on TV. Whether or not this is because people are tivoing them or watching online is vague to me but neither are big hits on iTunes. This TV season definitely will be one of great change.

The way we watch TV is changing, thatís nothing new. But Iím not convinced that millions of people are headed online to get their TV entertainment. The question of what has happened to the ratings is something I canít give you a definite answer on but I can tell you that if ratings donít pick up budgets are going to go down and some of our favorite veteran shows are going to enter TV Hell sooner than anyone wouldíve hoped.


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The Future of Sci-Fi:

September 02, 2008
Sci-fi TV is a lot like knuckleball pitchers in baseball. They hang on the verge of extinction but never really ever go away. Following the recent cancellation of Stargate Atlantis and the not so distant ending of Battlestar Galactica Iím a little worried about what the future hold for one of my favorite genres.

I first started to question the durability of Sci-fi when Enterprise bit the dust a couple years ago. Whether or not you agree with UPNís decision it was a little sad to see no Trek on TV for the first time in 18 seasons. Stargate SG-1 filled that void for a couple years but even that folded after 10 seasons. Battlestar Galatcica certainly brought Sci-fi to the limelight again but Iím not completely sure Caprica will be a surefire hit. Enterprise was a prequel after all wasnít it? While were on that topic who knows if the new Stargate will be a success. Only time will tell.

Sci-fi has seen resurgence on network TV once again. Heroes, Lost, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles have all been pretty big hits. Depending on the success of the new Star Trek movie we may see a revival in a weekly series for the greatest Sci-Fi franchise of all time as well. While Sci-Fi may not be extinct this certainly is a passing of the torch as most of the older shows bid adieu to weekly series. Iím sure this is enough to get any fan a little nervous in this ever-changing world of television. I canít really say that Iím all that thrilled about the Sci-Fiís recent decisions regarding their programming though.


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The Longevity of Shows Today:

July 12, 2008
These past couple years weíve been saying goodbye to a lot of long running shows without really seeing any other ones look like theyíre going to last 10+ seasons. In fact the number of long running shows on TV has been steadily declining over the past few years with shows like NYPD Blue, Stargate SG-1, and 7th Heaven bowing out after hitting double digits. You have to wonder what current shows have five more years left in them.

The formula for a TV show to have a long life is pretty simple. A show has to be successful and it has to be successful for a long time. Keeping the budget from getting out of hand is another factor in the formula and shows like Stargate SG-1 and 7th Heaven survived because of that. Another strategy to keeping the fans interested is a rotating cast which Law & Order and ER, the two longest running dramas currently on TV, use. A fairly constant location is a factor in most long shows survival since building a new set is pretty expensive. These factors can be seen in pretty much every show thatís lasted more than eight seasons.

Now letís take a look at some current TV shows that have been around for at least four seasons. Desperate Housewives is an example of a show that at its current place in time has all the makings for a long running show. However the old rules didnít really take into consideration the dramedy and even the showís creator has stated that he doubts the show will go on past seven seasons. The thing about dramedies is that the constant drama between the main characters gets old and after awhile you have to recycle some storylines, which is risky for ratings. There really havenít been any dramedies that survived ten seasons. Greyís Anatomy falls into the same boat but itís medical premise and recent cast changes could keep it around a little longer.

Then thereís Two and a Half Men, one of the most popular sitcoms of the new millennium, which inevitably will suffer from a potential Cousin Oliver syndrome, seeing as Angus T. Jones canít stay young forever. Sitcoms these days have had relatively short lifespan but if Scrubs can survive the inevitable loss of Zach Braff it could last a lot longer than anyone expected it to.

One show I think can last 10+ seasons is House. House has all the making for a long running show, only one actor the show canít continue with, a constant set, and constantly changing storylines. This isnít a guarantee that it will by any means but I think House has the best shot at making it to 10 then any other shows do.

The TV world changes pretty frequently and who really knows what shows are still going to be around in five years. All I know is that there arenít going to be as many still around and there were in the past. TV is getting more expensive and with the increased budget comes the decreased lifespan.


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2008-2009 Network Analysis Wrap Up:

June 23, 2008
Well if you havenít read my previous five articles I recommend doing so before reading this one. With the Writerís Strike ending and TV land returning back to normal the one question still remains. Which network will be number one next year?

Fox came out on top this year which isnít too terribly surprising considering American Idol was the only program getting big ratings. The thing that people donít necessarily realize is that CBS has been on a downward spiral for the past two years. Itís line-up composed almost entirely on procedural cop shows will inevitably fail them, something Iíve been predicting as long as Iíve been writing for this website. Weíll see some of the ratings bounce back as the shows put out full seasons but I doubt they will return to the way they were.

Fox is destined to win the ratings war this year but the future is looking good for ABC and NBC. Quite frankly I think both of them have put out their best line-ups in years. Fox needs some stability in itís line-up that isnít looking so hot with Prison Break getting well past its life expectancy and American Idol which canít go on forever. Keeping high ratings is all about consistency as the network brings new shows in to replace the aging veteran shows. With that being said, if NBC can get the kind of ratings out of the Law & Orders that it did last year, NBC could be a force to be reckoned with.

CBS isnít going to reclaim first place with the line-up is as now. NCIS, The Unit, and many other shows have seen declines. CBS needs some fresh blood that doesnít have cop show written all over (Moonlight anyone?). I think the trend this year will be that the older shows start to see bigger drops. CSI, Desperate Housewives, Greyís Anatomy, American Idol, and many more simply canít stay on top forever and every few years comes the passing of the baton. Iím not saying any of them are going to get cancelled but I doubt ABCís Sunday night line-up is going to be anywhere near how good it used to be.

The network analysis should give you a good idea about how the fall is going to turn out but once January comes, the game will change. Predicting TV ratings is a hard thing to do but if you follow the patterns youíll start to see the many trends that exist. Weíll see what happens around this time next year.


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2008-2009 Network Analysis Ė ABC:

June 21, 2008
For as long as I can remember, ABC has had a bunch of high rated programs but has struggled with its low rated shows which rank among the lowest rated in the Big 4. I saved ABC for last because I hadnít really taken a look at its schedule yet but here it goes.

Monday Night:
8-00-9:30 PM Ė Dancing with the Stars
9:30-10:00 PM Ė Samantha Who?
10:00-11:00 PM Ė Boston Legal
In comparison to what the other networks have on Mondays, ABC has a shot at winning Mondays. Dancing with the Stars has continued to be a force to be reckoned with but Boston Legalís meager thirteen episode order means that the not so hot spin-off of The Practice might call it a day early. Even with Boston Legalís ok ratings, this is still a good line-up.

Tuesday Night:
8:00-9:00 PM Ė Opportunity Knocks
9:00-10:00 PM Ė Dancing with the Stars
10:00-11:00 PM Ė Eli Stone
I liked Eli Stone a lot, this line-up could be another winner for ABC. Opportunity Knocks, a British talent show remake doesnít impress me too much but Dancing is a winner and Eli Stone is one of my favorite new shows from last year.

Wednesday Night:
8:00-9:00 PM Ė Pushing Daises
9:00-10:00 PM Ė Private Practice
10:00-11:00 PM Ė Dirty Sexy Money
Every network has a night thatís a complete what-if. ABCís Wednesday night line-up has the distinction of being the only line-up on television composed of all sophomore shows. Pretty much the same things goes for all three, they are going to have to act as compatible lead-ins to each other. I donít like seeing line-ups with no veteran shows on it but this line-up might do ok on Wednesdays.

Thursday Night:
8:00-9:00 PM Ė Ugly Betty
9:00-10:00 PM Ė Greyís Anatomy
10:00-11:00 PM Ė Life on Mars
At the risk of angry e-mails, Iím going to go out on a limb here and say that this is my least favorite night for ABC so far. Greyís is starting to lose popularity and without the buzz it brings, Betty is doomed to fail as well. Life on Mars, another BBC remake is destined to draw viewers but Greyís is not a good lead-in for a cop show. With that being said ABC is not really a good network for a cop show either.

Friday Night:
8:00-9:00 PM Ė Wife Swap
9:00-10:00 PM Ė Supernanny
10:00-11:00 PM Ė 20/20


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2008-2009 Network Analysis Ė NBC:

June 14, 2008
NBC always seems to be waiting for its shows to get noticed by the viewers. Critics its line-up, yet it lost the first place race to Fox. Letís see what theyíve brought to the table this year.

Monday Night:
8:00-9:00 PM Ė Chuck
9:00-10:00 PM Ė Heroes
10:00-11:00 PM Ė My Worst Enemy
My Worst Enemy is either going to be an instant hit or one of the first cancelled shows of the year. The new drama about two men who share the same body is sort of a homage to Jekyll and Hyde but weíll see how it turns out. Heroes missed out on what couldíve been a great sophomore season and Iím waiting to see what Chuck can really do. Both were cut short due to the strike. This line-up has potential but thatís based on if it can cash in on all the what ifs Iíve just mentioned.

Tuesday Night:
8:00-10:00 PM Ė The Biggest Loser
10:00-11:00 PM Ė Law & Order: SVU
Iím very disappointed that NBC gave the Biggest Loser two hours of what couldíve been a great night. The Biggest Loser is getting old and certainly getting unreliable in the ratings. With that being said I think SVU had itís best season in years and the ratings were up at the end of the year. Once Loser is gone mid year this line-up might show some promise.

Wednesday Night:
8:00-9:00 PM - Knight Rider
9:00-10:00 PM - Deal or No Deal
10:00-11:00 PM Ė Lipstick Jungle (Law & Order back mid season)
This night shows some promise, Iím definitely excited for Night Rider. I also think Lipstick Jungle could prove to be a formidable opponent to Dirty Sexy Money and CSI: NY. NBC hasnít been that successful on Wednesdayís in recent years but If Knight Rider and Lipstick Jungle can pull through partnered with the reliable Deal or No Deal, this could be a good night for them.

Thursday Night:
8:00-8:30 PM Ė My Name is Earl
8:30-9:00 PM Ė 30 Rock (SNL coverage of the election will air in place of 30 Rock for a little while into the season)
9:00-9:30 PM Ė The Office
9:30-10:00 PM Ė Kath and Kim
10:00-11:00 PM Ė ER
This is one of the best line-ups on TV but canít seem to perform in the ratings. Unless we see some sort of ratings spike this is going to be it for ER. Iím interested in seeing what damage this line-up can do with The Office spin off arriving in January but until then expect the ok ratings that this line-ups been getting so far.

Friday Night:
8:00Ė9:00 PM Ė Crusoe
9:00-10:00 PM Ė Americaís Toughest Jobs
10:00-11:00 PM Ė Life
This night is a shame because Crusoe, a new action adventure series looks good. Donít anticipate anything good from this wasteland of a night.

Sunday Night:
8:00-11:00 PM - Football
Itís football, whatís there to say?

Overall NBC will most likely not take first place this year. If itís veterans shows can maintain ratings and it adds another hit to the line-up we could see good things for the once mighty network but until then thereís not much new going to happen.


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2008-2009 Network Analysis Ė The CW:

June 3, 2008
The CW has made two big changes to its line-up this year. The CW has banished Smackdown to My Network TV and has sold off its Sunday block to Media Rights Capital to put whatever they want on it. The CW needs to step it up so letís take a look at what theyíve brought for next year.

Monday Night
8:00-9:00 PM Ė Gossip Girl
9:00-10:00 PM Ė One Tree Hill
Neither one of these shows have really performed at all last year. Gossip Girl was terrible in the ratings but has become somewhat of a cult hit. Many call Gossip Girl the future of The CW but it needs a few more million viewers to really save anything. As for One Tree Hill I donít see how itís going to do any better than it does now.

Tuesday Night
8:00-9:00 PM - 90210
9:00-10:00 PM Ė Surviving the Filthy Rich
Iím excited for the 90210 spin off; I think it might be the only thing on this network Iím remotely excited for. If 90210 can keep the ratings that it would inevitably get from curious fans of the original, then I think something can be made out of it. As for Surviving the Filthy Rich, donít look for it to be around long. The show about a former journalist turned live-in tutor looks DOA right form the start.

Wednesday Night
8:00-9:00 PM Ė Americaís Next Top Model
9:00-10:00 PM Ė Stylista
Tyra Bank creates both of these shows. ANTM is vulnerable to run out of gas any season now and Stylista, a Devil Wears Prada like reality show, shows no sign of being a hit. I know I sound like a curmudgeon but my God is this line-up bad.

Thursday Night
8:00-9:00 PM - Smallville
9:00-10:00 PM Ė Supernatural
Iíve always liked this night for Smallville and Supernatural. Smallville has been in the press lately because of the mass exodus of the cast members. If Smallville can retain its viewers, than Supernatural should be fine as well.

Friday Night
8:00-8:30 PM Ė Everybody Hates Chris
8:30- 9:00 PM Ė The Game
9:00-10:00 PM Ė Americaís Next Top Model Encore

This is pathetic. I thought sending away Smackdown might lead to better programming but nope. Everybody Hates Chris is a good show but come on why air an ANTM encore. This is an embarrassment of a network.

I was very critical of The CW for a reason; this is a very bad line-up. I donít know what else to say.


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2008-2009 Network Analysis Ė Fox:

May 23, 2008
Fox managed to finally overturn ratings juggernaut CBS to take over as the most watched network on TV. The credit almost completely goes to American Idol, which slaughtered pretty much everything else on the air. That being said, thereís not going to be a Writerís Strike next year so Fox is going to have to come up with a plan other than hiding behind itís biggest cannon which comes back in January in order to succeed. Hereís the schedule:

Note: As usual Fox will change its schedule for the returns of American Idol and 24 come January. Fox does not air a 10:00-11:00 PM show.

Monday Night
8:00-9:00 PM Ė Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
9:00-10:00 PM Ė Prison Break
This line-up has the potential to do some damage. I wouldíve reversed the order and aired Prison Break first because Terminator isnít an established hit but I donít think itís going to make much of a difference. Heroes is going to present a challenge for the two shows to overcome but this is one of the most impressive Monday line-ups for Fox in awhile. Should do pretty good if people havenít gotten sick of Prison Break already.

Tuesday Night
8:00-9:00 PM Ė House
9:00-10:00 PM Ė Fringe
I like this line-up a lot as well. If Fox had a third primetime hour I would bump House up to nine but it should serve as a good lead in to Fringe. Fringe is a new show from Lost producer J.J. Abrams and is a X-files-like FBI crime/sci-fi show. I havenít been this excited for a new Fox show since The Jury premiered over the summer of 2004. Whether or not Fringe will be a hit is up in the air but if Fox gives it a chance it could be successful.

Wednesday Night
8:00-9:00 PM Ė Bones
9:00-9:30 PM Ė Til Death
9:30-10:00 PM - Do Not Disturb
This night does not impress me at all. I donít really think Bones is stable enough to air it without another drama on that night. Comedies donít typically perform well on Wednesday nights either. This night seems to be a placeholder for when Idol returns in January. With that being said, Do Not Disturb, a comedy about a hotel looks like it might have potential to be good, if it doesnít have a laugh track.

Thursday Night
8:00-9:00 PM Ė The Moment of Truth
9:00-10:00 Ė Kitchen Nightmares
This is not the Thursday line-up one would expect from a first place network. This is a line-up one would expect from The CW. I know The Moment of Truth pulled in decent numbers but seriously, how good is a reality show going to do against ABC, CBS, and NBC on Thursdays? Iím disappointed Fox didnít try and gain dome ground on Thursdays.

Friday Night
8:00-9:00 PM Ė Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?
9:00-10:00 PM Ė Donít Forget the Lyrics
Let me start off on a positive note with this one. Iím glad Fox didnít stick a quality drama here for it to either away with no chance at another season. The negative to that is that this is the second night in a row of pure reality for Fox. Yes these are the only two nights reality appears, and Iím not saying reality is bad, but you arenít going to win the night with a reality show doesnít start with American and ends with Idol.

Sunday Night
7:00-8:00 PM Ė nothing Fox never gets to air anything anyway because of football so they finally stopped trying to.
8:00-8:30 PM Ė King of the Hill
9:00-9:30 PM Ė Family Guy
9:30-10:00 PM Ė American Dad
Fox keeps its Sundays fairly predictable, and if somethingís not broken why fix it? King is the Hill keeps hanging on by a thread and if there was another animated comedy to replace it with I might say let it go but for now this should be a predictable season for how Fox will do on Sundays.

Well there you have it, Foxís fall line-up. January will stir everything up so I get to do this again with Fox in a few months. Foxís retention of first place is solely dependent on how American Idol does. Fox and fall do not mix well but if Fox can perform in 2009 things should turn out ok.


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2008-2009 Network Analysis Ė CBS:

May 18, 2008
Well itís that time again. Even though the season seems like it just started, the networks have announced which shows made the roster and which ones will enter TV Hell. This will be a five part news feature followed by an overall analysis of the good calls and the bad calls that the networks have made this year.

Monday Night
8:00-8:30 PM - The Big Bang Theory
8:30-9:00 PM - How I Met Your Mother
9:00-9:30 PM - Two and a Half Men
9:30-10:00 PM - Worst Week
10:00-11:00 PM Ė CSI: Miami

Itís kind of hard to argue with CBSís Monday night line-up. Moving The New Adventures of Old Christine might be risky but comedy line-ups have shown to be very stable than switching around dramas.
Tuesday Night
8:00-9:00 PN Ė NCIS
9:00-10:00 PM Ė The Mentalist
10:00-11:00 PM- Without a Trace

Iím not so sure this move is a good one for CBS. While all three shows are compatible with each other, Without a Trace has struggled when itís not with CSI on Thursdays. The Mentalist appears to be a straight rip-off of Psych except not a dramedy. My guess is that it will not be successful but it really isnít up against much.

Wednesday Night
8:00-9:00 PM Ė The New Adventures of Old Christine
8:30-9:00 PM Ė Project Gary
9:00-10:00 PM Ė Criminal Minds
10:00-11:00 PM Ė CSI: NY
Weíre going to see early on if The New Adventures of Old Christine can bring the Monday night comedy success over to Wednesday night. This move is very very risky and CBS is not successful with comedies on any other night than Monday. With the declining ratings of episodic crime dramas, Criminal Minds and CSI: NY could take a hit but are far less riskier and airing comedies on a Wednesday.

Thursday Night
8:00-9:00 PM - Survivor
9:00-10:00 PM Ė CSI
10:00-11:00 PM Ė Eleventh Hour
CBS lost the title of most watched network to Fox this year. Whether or not CBS can reclaim the title is dependent on this night. The bad news is that Survivor and CSI have been seeing declining ratings. I donít see a better lead in for rookie Eleventh Hour that CSI in CBSís line-up but I also donít see anything new it brings to the table. The fact of the matter is that people arenít watching as many crime dramas as they once were and this night is a big what if.

Friday Night
8:00-9:00 PM Ė Ghost Whisperer
9:00-10:00 PM - The Ex List
10:00-11:00 PM Ė NUMB3RS

Friday will most likely be CBSís most predictable line-up in terms of performance. Ghost Whisperer and NUMB3RS will post the same usual ratings and The Ex List, will get ok ratings but will be cancelled by CBS in favor of giving another new show a chance. CBS made a bad decision axing Moonlight and I see no reason why they wonít cancel The Ex List as well even if it manages to do ok on TVís worst night.

Sunday Night
7:00-8:00 PM Ė 60 Minutes
8:00-9:00 PM Ė Amazing Race
9:00-10:00 PM Ė Cold Case
10:00-11:00 PM Ė The Unit

I donít know what to say about this line-up at all. Cold Case is the only show besides 60 Minutes, which is in a forgettable time-slot that deserves to be here. Amazing Race keeps going down and down and The Unit will not fair much better either. If Without a Trace couldnít succeed here, why should The Unit be able to?

All in all next year will be a year of what-ifs for CBS. Nothing has been brought to the table that gives me any thought that CBS will reclaim its title as most watched network. Iíd say this might turn out to be a building season for the once mighty network.


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The Future Of Re-Runs:

May 11, 2008
Before the TV-DVD, Tivo, and the Internet gained prominence in the TV industry, the only way to see a show you missed when it first aired was by a re-run. If you missed a show it could weeks or even months before you actually could see the episode. Itís also been custom for a show to enter syndication after five seasons or a hundred episodes. Syndication allows many shows to continue even if they are declining in ratings because syndication deals allow the show to generate revenue long after production ends. With TV DVDís gaining popularity, more revenue comes in for shows that didnít get syndication deals but it also hurts the shows of the future that wonít get big syndication deals because the ratings are down for those syndicated shows. If it wasnít for Tivo I guarantee you I wouldnít be writing for this website but Tivo is starting to affect primetime re-run ratings so much that they are not even profitable. Big gaps between episodes are becoming normal because bringing in a new show is becoming more profitable the rearing and old episode of an established hit.

I started to notice this trend while reading Variety over the summer a couple years ago. If you looked at the ratings over than summer you could see that Desperate Housewives, a show that pulled in 25-30 million viewers a night was only pulling in 4-6 million over the summer. While low summer ratings is nothing new I also noticed that Law & Order: SVU, which at the time was bringing in 13-14 million a night had 8-9 million watching it over the summer. Law & Order became a billion dollar franchise because of the success in brings in with the multiple syndication deals it gets. The flipside is that Desperate Housewives sells more DVDís than Law & Order but the cable networks arenít going to pay the big bucks for shows like hat if they canít get people to watch them again. Despite Tivoís ever growing presence in the TV industry, syndicated re-runs still make up a big portion of what airs on TV. If that market begins to fail then veteran shows on the bubble might not get renewed if they wonít be profitable for years to come. Crossing Jordan is a good example of this. Crossing Jordan had been suffering declining ratings from season four onward but NBC kept it around until season six presumably to get a decent amount of shows for syndication which A&E purchased the rights to for a hefty sum. Syndication deals for shows like 24 and CSI: Miami have not had great successes even though A&E paid a lot of money for both.

As cable networks produce more and more of their own original programming, big syndication deals are going to be rarer and rarer. How this will affect the budgets and longevity of aging shows has yet to be truly seen but this is going to depend on how profitable alternate means or watching re-runs are. The Internet and iTunes are going to need to play a bigger part in brining in revenue for shows if we are going to see shows like 24 or Lost with massive budgets, see ten or more seasons. If that doesnít happen then networks will start ending shows at seven or eight seasons instead of letting them go well past their prime.


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The CW Not:

April 27, 2008
When I first wrote for TV Hell, I published an article bashing the CW for being a horrendous idea back in January of 2006. That article can be viewed by clicking the archive link at the bottom of the news page. The CW is a combination of the two ďnetletsĒ UPN and The WB, who folded in September 2006 with the new network consisting mainly of programming brought over from the networks. Now it hasnít even been two years since the network has started but so far The CW has been nothing but a colossal failure. Everybody knows how Fox took a long time to take off but The CW is not a new network, The CW was supposed to be a super network. Instead itís getting worse ratings than either UPN or the WB were getting.

The first big problem in combining UPN and The WB is the fact that the two had different target demographics. While high ratings in the adults 18-49 category is the target basically every network would hope to achieve, UPN, The CW and every channel other than the Big Four have much more specific targets they hope to obtain. In UPNís case, that target was teenagers and African Americans. Early on the network tried to go for males by airing mainly science fiction but changed that demo when that strategy was not working. The WB mainly went for adults 18-34 but was having problems because the average age of their viewers was steadily increasing. UPN on the other hand was having success with its black comedies and finally achieving critical success with Veronica Mars and Everybody Hates Chris. The success of shows like Girlfriends along with strong performances from Americaís Next Top Model helped turn the tide in the war between UPN and The WB over the final years before the networks combined. Nowadays The CW goes for adults 18-34, and has cancelled every black comedy except for Everybody Hates Chris along with Reba, The WBís only successful comedy. When you cancel every show that once brought you good ratings, you no longer get the ratings that they used to bring unless you bring in a show that will bring you higher ratings. The CW has had a tough time establishing new shows, which leads me to my next point.

The next problem is that The CWís line-up was built using shows that had been around too long. 7th Heaven, Smallville, Gilmore Girls, Girlfriends, Americaís Next Top Model, and Smackdown were all shows that had been around for at least five seasons. Itís incredibly hard to get hype for shows that people have already heard about and have made up their minds about already. Veteran programming usually does not result in ratings increases meaning that the CW was basically settling for below par ratings. Supernatural, Everybody Hates Chris, All of Us and Veronica Mars were the only shows coming over that had been around for fewer than three seasons. The lukewarm responses to Runaway and Hidden Palms certainly didnít help matters.

My third and final point is that The CW didnít bring enough UPN shows over. UPN had been constantly beating the WB in ratings yet nine WB shows made it to the CW as opposed to the six UPN shows. It should also be noted that three of those were half hour comedies. Why someone would think to merge two networks and use majority programming from the lesser-watched network escapes me. UPN was still having problems in the drama category but every year UPN was gaining more popularity. Virtually all of The WBís shows were on their decline. Since the merger four of the six UPN shows are now cancelled and only one WB show was cancelled with 7th Heaven and Gilmore Girls ending though some could argue 7th Heaven was cancelled. If the demo of the UPN shows wasnít good enough why merge in the first place? While from the start I disagreed with the inclusion of Smackdown in the line-up, its ratings canít be argued with.

Now all is not completely lost with The CW. Gossip Girls has been called a ďhitĒ but I donít know anyone who calls a show likely to average two million for the season a hit. The one promising show will the Beverly Hills 90210 remake seems like a smart move as The CW is going back to basics with a remake of the show that put Fox on the map. The CW isnít likely to close up shop but hopefully this goes to show you what happens when two networks with two demos try to merge.


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Reality Shows: The End of the Fad?:

April 21, 2008
If it hadnít been for the Writerís Strike I wouldíve predicted that reality play an even smaller part in TV this season than it did last season. Aside from American Idol, virtually every single reality show has seen a dip in ratings and even networks like Fox have begun to wise up and fill their line-ups with scripted programming which offer a better chance at getting stable ratings in the long run. While my predictions as to when American Idol will end have been so terrible wrong since 2006, the big four networks have reduced the amount of reality on their line-ups for next year. As for this year, the Writerís Strike wrecked the season and every network rushed to old tired series such as The Bachelor, Supernanny, and The Apprentice to fill the massive gaps in their schedules. The future for reality as a whole does not look to be as kind as it was to them this season.

While the origin of reality TV dates back to the early 40ís with pioneer shows like Candid Camera, itís recent popularity dates back to the dawn of the new millennium with shows like Survivor, Fear Factor, and American Idol. The popularity of these shows helps bring in a new wave of TV shows with low budgets and high profits. However like every sudden wave of new shows from one genre, the overwhelming success of reality was short lived, aside from American Idol, which remains as strong as ever in its seventh season. The real exodus began a couple years ago when CBS shot to first place with an arsenal of crime dramas such as CSI, Without a Trace, and NCIS. Survivor was the only reality show really contributing to its success. ABC followed suit fairly recently with Desperate Housewives and Greyís Anatomy popularizing the ďdramedyĒ. As one door closes another one opens as NBC brought the game show genre back to life with Deal or No Deal in late 2005. With the end of the strike, game shows should appear sporadically in the summer and substituting for shows that are in re-run mode.

One of the interesting things about TV is that it constantly changes every year. Reality television may not be as big as it was a few years ago but thereís no way to tell if it could resurface in a few years. Thereís still something to be said for the fact that MTV and VH1 succeed with almost entirely reality line-ups though the former has suffered a ratings dip as of last year. Reality TV provides cheap programming for networks and can be entertaining to watch. Like all genres have needed to in the past, Reality TV needs some time to recharge.


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NBC Rolls Out New TV Schedule:

April 04, 2008
NBC has laid out its plan for the next TV season. Among the shows coming back are "Friday Night Lights," "Heroes," "ER," "Life," "American Gladiators" and "Lipstick Jungle." Not returning is medical comedy "Scrubs," after seven seasons with the network. NBC's new additions include an updated "Knight Rider" series and a spinoff of "The Office." There will also be "My Own Worst Enemy," starring Christian Slater as a suburban father who is also a high-level spy, as well as "Kath & Kim," an adaptation of a hit Australian show by the same name. The NBC version will feature Molly Shannon and Selma Blair. The network is planning on its schedule featuring new programing year round, with few reruns.


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HBO: A Network Lost in its Own Glory:

April 03, 2008
If any of you read my article last week you would probably notice I was a little hard on HBO. The truth is that in 2004 HBO had eight shows on my regular line-up that I watched and since then that number has been reduced to three, all comedies. That number of shows HBO currently airs is six and the last time a new drama was renewed for another season was Big Love in 2006. These numbers donít seem all that bad except for the fact that from 1997-2006 HBO premiered a new successful drama ever year. The other big premium cable network Showtime has been doing what HBO did for the past ten years and has been producing hit series by the masses. While all is not lost, A TV world where HBO isnít a major contender in the Emmys is certainly a frightening one.

HBO had minor TV endeavors in the late 80s and early 90s but the real HBO we know today began with Oz, its first hour-long drama. Oz wasnít a big ratings hit but it made headlines for itís graphic violence and sex scenes which have become trademarks in HBOís programming. Itís two biggest hits Sex and the City, and The Sopranos premiŤred in 1998 and 1999 and Curb Your Enthusiasm, Six Feet Under, The Wire, Da Ali G Show, Carnivale, Deadwood, Entourage, Rome, and Extras followed from 2000-2005. All of them with the exceptions of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage have ended. You may wonder why this matters. It matters because these shows are the ones responsible for HBOís success. Since 2005 HBO has cancelled The Comeback, Lucky Louie and John from Cincinnati in their first seasons, a first for the network to do. The remaining dramas In Treatment and Big Love are neither ratings nor critical successes. Flight of the Concords was a cult hit but this is not the line-up one would expect from the network that brought us The Sopranos once upon a time. Further more HBO ended The Wire this season. The Wire was never a ratings success but it will go down in history as a serious contender for the best drama ever title. It brought the stability and credibility to the line-up that none of the other shows have.

By reading last weeks article you could learn about Showtimeís recent success compared to the shortcomings of HBO these days. HBO needs to go back to basics to find their next hit drama. The mini-series John Adams is actually one of HBOís finest series; unfortunately itís only a mini-series. HBO should also only spend what it can afford to. Two of its finest series Rome and Deadwood were cancelled by budgetary reasons and while they were great dramas, Iím sure most people were angry with HBO for cancelling them after only a few seasons. HBO needs another Sopranos like show to be the flagship of the network.

This sort of down time in terms of good programming for a network has happened to just about every major network. HBO being the first really successful cable network to air original scripted programming was bound to have this happen sooner or later. For now I wouldnít be too worried about the future of HBOí programming but not having great drama from them has been kind of a drag.


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Showtime: The Future of Premium Cable:

March 31, 2008
During my first run as writer for TV Hell I wrote about how Showtime was going to beat HBO is terms of quality in a few years if things didnít shape up for the once mighty HBO. Well I wrote that article before "Dexter" or "The Tudors" had ever premiered so itís safe to say that my prediction has more or less come true. HBO known for bringing cable television to life with riveting shows such as "The Sopranos", "Sex and the City", "Six Feet Under", and "Oz" in the late 90ís has been on somewhat of a downward spiral with each year saying goodbye to one of their great programs, and not seeing anything that could be perceived as ďcompellingĒ arrive in recent years. With the end of "The Wire" last month I find myself with only one show on HBO that I find any good anymore, "Entourage". With that being said every passing year brings a new show on Showtime that I canít get enough off. While HBO may still have the ratings edge, Showtime is clearly on the rise.

Most of you probably donít know that Showtime began airing scripted dramas around the same time HBO did probably because the genre that Showtime typically aired was a polar opposite of HBOís programming. Any fan of the sci-fi show Stargate SG-1 would know that the program began in 1997 not on the Sci-Fi channel but on Showtime, which aired mainly science fiction programs until the early 2000s. Showtime then struck gold with the Canadian produced "Queer as Folk" and then struck gold again in 2004 with another gay orientated show, "The L Word". Showtime also found success with the black comedy "Soul Food". Showtimeís newfound glory began in 2005 with "Weeds" and the now cancelled "Sleeper Cell". "Brotherhood" and "Dexter" followed in 2006 and "The Tudors" and "Californication" joined the roster last year. While Showtime is still behind HBO in ratings and Emmy awards, it has built up an arsenal of programs that could do battle with HBOís depleted line-up.

I said this is 2006 and Iíll say it again, Showtime has been on the rise and each year brings great new shows to its roster. Showtime currently has more shows on its roster than ever before, showing us that the future is bright for Showtime. HBO redefined what cable television meant, but sometimes the passing of the torch is inevitable.


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The Aftermath of the Writerís Strike:

March 27, 2008
As most of you have hopefully heard by now, the Writerís Guild of America has ended its strike, which has more or less killed the 2007-2008-television season. However all is not lost, as the networks have gone in overdrive to salvage what is left of the season. Most shows will only be back for five or six episodes and most of the serialized shows like Heroes and 24 have been put on hold until next season. The strike also happened just as November sweeps were about to happen, so those shows that would typically have either been cancelled or received full season orders are getting the calls around this time. Most dramas and comedies are preparing to return next week or the week after. The list is shortened to a little less than thirty and mostly consists of the high rated programs such as Desperate Housewives and CSI. You may ask yourself what this means for the shows that arenít coming back in two weeks or your favorite cable shows that would normally premier around this time. Reality shows should go on uninterrupted.

Since May is usually the time shows get a seal of approval or land themselves a spot in TV Hell, programs such as Moonlight or Reaper which got the nod to go back into production but were not guaranteed a spot on the Fall lineup have very little time to impress the CEOís that will decide their fate. The writerís strike hurt a lot of developing pilots so donít be surprised to see fewer new shows next year than you would expect. The Writerís Strike probably was most beneficial to ER and Law & Order that didnít have much chance to air and might have ended this year. Aside from The Riches, I wouldnít anticipate Cable shows to have shortened seasons but delays will most likely push Rescue Me and The Closer beyond their usual June premieres. Premium Cable shows such as Weeds and Entourage might be pushed back a month or two but that appears to be the only setback involved with premium cable as far as I know. Cable shows rarely air more than 13 episodes a season so filming is far less hectic than it would be on the Heroes or Lost set.

Overall the aftermath of the writerís strike doesnít seem like it will have any long-term setbacks aside from the fact that we all lost what couldíve been a great television season. What will be interesting is to see if the TV DVDís for this season will be cheaper. Highly unlikely but hey a man can hope. If you have any specific questions about your favorite show feel free to contact me at ian@tvhell.net.

For those of you who donít remember me my name is Ian Malone I wrote for TV Hell from 2005-early 2006. I took some time off because I got bored with writing about TV but after nearly two years I realized how much I missed writing and got Rich to let me come back on board. Youíll see my old section Headlines return within the week. I look forward to being able to give you the news once again.


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Homeless "Scrubs" Cast, Crew Back To Work:

March 25, 2008
The cast and crew of "Scrubs" is heading back to work, although it's not known when and where the show will air. According to "The Hollywood Reporter," the final touches need to be put on an episode which was not completed due to the writers' strike. "Scrubs" may also shoot an additional couple episodes. NBC has not requested any new shows from the hospital comedy above the five that were finished prior to the strike and have yet to air. There is speculation that the new episodes may air on ABC, which has shown interest in picking up "Scrubs." Another possibility is that the additional episodes will end up as bonus footage on the "Scrubs" seventh season DVD collection.


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NBC Beginning Summer Schedule In May:

March 06, 2008
NBC is planning on an early summer. The network has announced that it will unveil much of its planned warm weather programming in May, instead of the typical June. Among the shows rolling out a month early will be fresh seasons of "American Gladiators" and "Last Comic Standing," as well as the new horror anthology "Fear Itself." Reality competitions "America's Got Talent" and "Nashville Star" will premiere in June, as well as new shows "Celebrity Circus" and "The Baby Borrowers." There is speculation that NBC might delivering the new shows early as a way to clear its schedule for the Summer Olympics in Beijing. The games kick off August 8th and run for two weeks.


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NBC Kills "Quarterlife" After Just One Episode:

February 28, 2008
It's one and done for Internet-to-television series "Quarterlife." NBC has pulled the drama from its lineup following the airing of a single episode. "Quarterlife's" premiere on the network Tuesday night drew just three-point-one-million-viewers, the worst in-season performance by a show in the 10 p.m. time slot for NBC in at least 17 years. The series, which was originally produced for MySpaceTV.com, had been scheduled to air on Sundays at 9 p.m. Eastern for the next few weeks. That hour will now be filled by "Deal or No Deal" and a "Law & Order" repeat. According to "The Hollywood Reporter," "Quarterlife" co-creator Marshall Herskovitz told a Harvard Business School conference Wednesday that it "never should have been a network show" because it is "too specific."


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Montel Williams Hanging It Up After 17 Years:

February 01, 2008
Longtime talk show host Montel Williams is hanging it up. According to "People," the 51-year-old will stop production on his self-titled program following this season. The decision comes after 17 years on the air. Williams says in a statement that he, quote, "can't say thank you enough to those who've welcomed me into their homes for the past 17 years. It has been both an honor and a joy." During his run, Williams says he talked to "over 30-thousand guests" and had "over a half-million studio audience members." CBS Television Distribution does plan to air a best-of "Montel Williams" season beginning this fall. Williams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, recently released the book "Living Well: 21 Days to Transform Your Life, Supercharge Your Health and Feel Spectacular."


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WGA Reaches "Interim Agreement" For Grammy Awards:

January 29, 2008
The Grammys are a go. The striking Writers Guild of America has made a deal with the Recording Academy to allow its members to work on the 50th annual Grammy Awards show. Recording Academy President Neil Portnow says he's glad the two parties have been able to come to an agreement, noting, quote, "having our talented writers on the team further ensures the highest level of creativity and innovation" for the upcoming ceremony. While the Recording Academy had said it wasn't going to cancel the Grammys, the event could have been severely lacking in star power if artists chose to boycott the ceremony to show their solidarity with the striking writers. With the waiver, musicians can now participate in the Grammys while continuing to support the WGA walkout. The 50th annual Grammy Awards will be presented in a ceremony in Los Angeles, and air on CBS on February 10th.


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Showtime's "Brotherhood" Renewed For 3rd Season:

January 23, 2008
Showtime is keeping its drama "Brotherhood" in the family. TVGuide.com reports that the cable channel has renewed the show for a third season, to include eight episodes. "Brotherhood's" cause was helped by its November 18th episode, which drew more than 650-thousand viewers, a series high. The drama follows the relationship between an Irish mobster and his state representative brother, and stars Jason Clarke, Jason Isaacs, Annabeth Gish and Ethan Embry. "Brotherhood" is loosely based on Boston's infamous real-life brothers, former state senator and university president, William Bulger, and one of the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" fugitives, James "Whitey" Bulger. No word yet on when the show's third season will premiere.


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"American Idol" Off To A Slow Start:

January 16, 2008
The seventh-season premiere of Foxís ďAmerican IdolĒ may have been its lowest-rated in four years, but Fox executives say they are pleased with its performance.

ďIdolĒ fell from last yearís series-high premiere perch, yet once again was a ratings titan that easily blew away the competition Tuesday night, as well as all other network premieres from earlier this season.

ďIdolĒ received a 13.8 rating among adults 18 to 49, according to national Nielsen data. Thatís down 13% from last yearís 15.8 and down 10% from 2006ís 15.3. Among total viewers, ďIdolĒ was seen by an average of 33.2 million, down 11% from last year.

Both the demo and the total-viewer figures are the lowest Tuesday-night "Idol" premiere standings since 2004.

Fox has devoted just as many resources to promoting ďIdolĒ this season as in recent years, said Joe Earley, senior VP of marketing and communications at Fox. In fact, ďIdolĒ received more on-air promotion than usual, since ď24Ē was postponed due to the writers strike.


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"Dexter" comes to CBS:

January 8, 2008
CBS will rerun the entire first season of the crime drama "Dexter" from Showtime, its sister cable channel, starting next month. The Tiffany Network says that it needs to fill programming holes in it's schedule left by the contuinuing writers strike.

"Dexter," which stars Michael C. Hall (formerly of HBO's "Six Feet Under") as a Miami police forensics investigator who is also a serial killer, will make its CBS debut on February 17 and air for 12 consecutive Sunday broadcasts.

CBS isn't the only major broadcast network to air 'alternate' programming. NBC also said last month that it will recycle episodes of "Monk" and "Psych" from its sibling cable outlet, the USA Network, beginning in March.

The move of "Dexter" to CBS marks the first time that a full season of a pay-cable (Showtime) series has made the transition to commercial television. Pay-cable shows are often considered "niche" programming and not intended for mass-appeal.

The now nine-week-old screenwriters strike against major studios has brought production on all prime-time scripted series to a stand still that has left the broadcast networks with a shortage of original dramas and comedies to put on the air this year. Look for more unusual programming to make it to the broadcast networks if the strike continues through the spring season.

Starting this month, the networks have turned to a bigger-than-usual supply of reality shows and reruns to pick up much of the programming slack. NBC drew strong ratings with Sunday's two-hour debut of its rehashed reality contest show "American Gladiators, for example."

But broadcasters are trying hard to keep some fresh scripted offerings on the air. In addition to "Dexter," CBS is considering borrowing the series "Weeds," about a pot-dealing mom, from Showtime as well.


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Late Night Talk Shows Return

January 2, 2008
Fresh programming is back on late-night TV. A bearded David Letterman made his return to the airwaves last night, launching his show by entering through a chorus line of dancers holding signs that read, quote, "Writers Guild of America on Strike." It was one of several references to the dispute which had forced the networks to air reruns of the nighttime talk shows for the past two months. But CBS' "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" are back on the air with union talent, as Letterman's production company secured a deal with the Writers Guild so its members could work on both shows. NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" also returned last night, but without the assistance of union writers. On his show, Leno referenced the strike with a mix of jokes and serious remarks. He also expressed his support for the striking writers, and noted that he was still following union guidelines in writing for his show.


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ABC Pulls "Big Shots" From Schedule

December 13, 2007
Freshman dramedy "Big Shots" may have been given its last shot. Zap2It.com reports that ABC has pulled the series from its schedule, even though it has three remaining original episodes that have yet to be aired. "Big Shots" follows four powerful men and the trials and tribulations involving the women they love. It stars Michael Vartan, Christopher Titus, Joshua Malina and Dylan McDermott. "Big Shots" has been averaging about eight-point-four million viewers, which is less than half of the audience of its lead-in, "Grey's Anatomy." ABC plans to fill "Big Shots" Thursday night time slot with reruns of the "Grey's" spin-off "Private Practice," at least for the remainder of this month.


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"Jerry Springer Show" Voted "Worst TV Show Ever"

December 07, 2007
"The Jerry Springer Show" is being called the "Worst TV Show Ever." That's according to a recent online poll conducted by the "Chicago Tribune." The talk show, hosted by former politician and "Dancing with the Stars" alum Jerry Springer, received nearly 20-percent of the vote to put it in the number one spot. It's followed on the "Worst TV Shows Ever" list by ABC comedy "Cavemen," "Mama's Family," "Cop Rock," and "Small Wonder." Rounding out the top ten are "Joanie Loves Chachi," "Barney & Friends," "Ernest Angley Hour," "Homeboys in Outer Space" and "My Mother the Car." The results of the poll are based on more than 49-hundred responses.


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All Time Cable TV Viewership Record Set By ESPN:

December 06, 2007
The Monday Night Football ESPN telecast of the Ravens-Patriots game was the most watched TV show ever in cable history, making it an all-time cable TV record.

According to ratings information provided by ESPN the network telecast from Baltimore averaged 12,529,000 homes (based on a 13.0 rating), breaking the record for household audience set last year when the network averaged 11,807,000 households for the New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys on October 23 (based on a 12.8 rating). The game was seen by an average of 17,522,000 viewers (P2+), breaking the record set by Disney Channelís High School Musical 2, which averaged 17,241,000 million viewers on August 17 this year.

The game was a huge winner in Baltimore as well logging some impressive numbers the game delivered a 12.9 rating on ESPN and a 24.6 rating on WJZ-TV 13 (CBS affiliate), for a combined 37.5 rating. Baltimore may have lost the (very close) game, but they made ratings history.


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CBS' "Jericho," "Big Brother" To Return February 12th:

December 05, 2007
CBS' once-cancelled drama "Jericho" is set to return to the network. CBS has announced that the series will begin its seven episode second season on Tuesday, February 12th. "Jericho" was given a second chance after fans of the show mailed tens of thousand of pounds of nuts to CBS executives earlier this year, in an effort to move them to bring the show back. The nut campaign was in reference to star Skeet Ulrich's line in the first season finale. In response to a neighboring town's request to surrender, Ulrich's character Jake Green replied, "Nuts." "Jericho" follows the population of a small Kansas town trying to survive in the wake of a series of terrorist attacks on the U.S. The show's lead-in on Tuesdays will be the first-ever winter edition of the reality competition "Big Brother." It also premieres February 12th.


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Conan O'Brien To Pay Non-Writing Employees Out Of His Pocket:

November 30, 2007
Conan O'Brien is in the giving spirit right now. "Variety" reports the host of NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" has decided to dip into his own bank account to pay his staff members who are currently out of work due to the writers strike. That number is reported to be nearly 80 people. The move comes as NBC's agreement to cover non-writing employees' salaries through the end of November reaches an end. O'Brien joins fellow late-nighter David Letterman, who agreed to pay his staff during the walkout. The Writers Guild of America has been on strike since November 5th. They're seeking a cut of programing distributed over the Internet and on DVD.


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For Some Reason Night Rider Returns:

November 29, 2007
The show that I never would have guessed would return for a million reasons is back. My first job in TV was doing "Master Control". That's the guy that pops the tapes (back in those days) in and inserts the commercials. The poorly programmed TV station that I worked at aired "Night Rider" re-runs every day, so I had sit through each show at least 5 times, maybe more. Bad premise, bad acting, and just basically a dumb show that in it's time was competition to the "Duke's of Hazard" on CBS. Well, NBC is bringing "Night Rider" back, but this time is enlisting some fairly big names to take the place of the then unknown David Hasselhoff and crew.

Emmy and Oscar nominee Bruce Davison ("The Kill Point" / "X-Men" / "Close to Home") is on board to play the creator of "KITT", the talking super car. According to "The Hollywood Reporter, Davison will be joined by Wayne Kasserman ("The Kill Point") and Greg Ellis ("Beowulf" / "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End").

The launch / pilot will be a TV movie that is scheduled for later in the season and here's the premise; Mike Tracer (Bruening) is a race-car driver and the son of the original show's main character, Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff is in talks to reprise the role in a cameo). His childhood sweetheart (Deanna Russo) and her father (Davison) recruit Tracer to join the private, justice-seeking Knight Foundation where he will drive "KITT" and solve crimes. Wayne Kasserman plays a mechanic who also joins the team, while Ellis will be one of the bad guys trying to use KITT for their own ends. The new KITT will supposedly be a Ford Shelby Mustang.

Is Hollywood completely out of ideas? Maybe.


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Strike Hitting Letterman, Leno's Salaries Hard, Ellen Cancels NYC Shows:

November 15, 2007
The Hollywood writers' strike is hitting late night personalities David Letterman and Jay Leno right in the pocket. According to the "New York Post," CBS and NBC have apparently stopped paying the stars, so every night the "Late Show" and "Tonight Show" hosts are off the job they are rumored to be losing about 100-thousand-dollars each. Letterman and Leno both decided to stay off the job due to their close relationships with their writers, who are responsible for the hosts' nightly monologues and segments. Meanwhile, "The Hollywood Reporter" says talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who has continued to work in spite of the strike, has cancelled plans to tape her California-based program in New York next week. Members of the Writers Guild of America, East had promised to protest her visit and try to disrupt any segments she shot outside the studio.


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No Home For Rosie O'Donnell at MSNBC:

November 9, 2007
Looks like Rosie O'Donnell's television comeback will have to wait. "The New York Times" had reported that the former "The View" co-host was in talks to host a primetime MSNBC program. Now, according to her blog, quote, "there is no deal" and "her career as a pundit is over." An NBC executive had told the "Times" that one sticking point in the MSNBC negotiations was the potential length of O'Donnell's contract. The network reportedly wanted a two-year deal, while O'Donnell only wanted one. O'Donnell previously had her own Emmy-winning daytime chat fest. Last season, she served as moderator for ABC's "The View" before jumping ship several weeks before the expiration of her one-year contract following a heated on-air argument with co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck.


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"ER" May Be Back For 15th Season On NBC:

November 8, 2007
Longrunning NBC series "ER" may get an extension. Although it had been thought that this season, its 14th, would be its last, "ER" executive producer John Wells tells "Variety" that he is in talks with the network to bring the hospital drama back for a 15th year. "ER" will air its 300th episode in a few weeks. It is now the second-longest running drama on TV, following only NBC's "Law & Order." "ER" has been averaging about nine-point-nine-million viewers per episode this season. Like other scripted series, production on "ER" will likely be halted due to the current Hollywood writers strike. Wells has pledged to not work on his show until the writers reach a new agreement.


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Rosie O'Donnell Looking To Get Back On TV:

November 6, 2007
Rosie O'Donnell is reportedly working on a deal to get back on television. According to the "New York Times," the former co-host of ABC's "The View" has been in talks with MSNBC. Sources close to the deal say Rosie could end up having her own show in the 9:00 p.m. Eastern slot, which would put her up against CNN's "Larry King Live" and Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes." O'Donnell has yet to sign a contract. The insiders say potential roadblocks include pay and the possibility of airing the show on the main NBC network as well. O'Donnell left "The View" last May following a heated argument with co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck. She was replaced by Whoopi Goldberg this fall.


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Strinking Writers Get Support From Jay Leno:

November 6, 2007
Jay Leno is showing his support for the of the Writers Guild of America who are on strike right now. The host of NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, which will be in reruns during the walkout, showed up on the picket lines yesterday to deliver doughnuts to the writers. Leno's head writer, Jim Shaughnessy, says they just want fair residual payments. Shaughnessy says the studios are just being hard liners about not giving residual payments on Internet run shows. As an example, he points to the "Tonight Show" which also runs on NBC.com. While the studio claims running the show on the website is a promotional tactic, the writers believe it's revenue, and they want their share. Shaughnessy says writers don't make the kind of money most people think they do and his wife will be working a double shift at Macy's during the strike. Former "Saturday Night Live" writer Tina Fey, who currently writes and stars in NBC's "30 Rock," was also on the picket lines yesterday.


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A&E Sends "Dog" to the Pound:

November 5, 2007
Bad "Dog" - A&E, the network that has aired "Dog the Bounty Hunter" since 2004, has indefinitely pulled the plug on the show. Last week, a recorded conversation was made public that featured show star Duane "Dog" Chapman. During the phone call, Chapman could be heard using racial slurs while speaking to a son about his African-American girlfriend. A spokesman for A&E said, quote, "we hope that Mr. Chapman continues the healing process that he has begun." The spokesman added that the network had not made a decision on whether to cancel the program, which is shown in over ten countries. Executives are scheduled to review the situation again in a few weeks.


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WGA Says Strike Will Happen:

November 2, 2007
It appears that the Writers Guild of America will go through with their planned strike. The union's leadership informed members last night of the decision at a massive gathering of film and television writers at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The "Los Angeles Times" reports that the members will be notified by e-mail following a formal vote to strike by the union's board of directors this morning. Talks between producers and writers broke off Wednesday evening over disputes involving DVD residuals and pay for content delivered over the Internet. A WGA strike could affect many TV shows immediately, including "Saturday Night Live," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "The Late Show with David Letterman."


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NBC Puts "Heroes" Spinoff On Back Burner To Due Likely Writers' Strike:

November 2, 2007
Plans for a "Heroes" spinoff have been shelved in anticipation of a Hollywood writers' strike. Zap2It.com reports that NBC's six-episode "Heroes: Origins," originally set to air this spring, is now on the back burner. The show would have introduced six new ordinary characters with extraordinary ability, and let viewers decide who would officially join "Heroes" the following season. The project could be revived next year. The Writers Guild of America's latest contract expired at midnight Wednesday.


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Anti-Heroes

February 16, 2006
Whether or not you notice them anti-heroes are some of the most common characters found on television. Often known as the people we love to hate they are some of TVís guiltiest pleasures. But have you ever wondered why you like anti-heroes so much.

An anti-hero is typically one of the main characters of a story who generally exhibits positive traits but also shares many traits that an antagonist would have. Dr. House from House, Al Swearegen from Deadwood, Sawyer and Ana-Lucia from Lost, Tommy Gavin from Rescue Me, The entire cast of Desperate Housewives and The Sopranos, and Vic Mackey from the Shield are just a few of TVís anti-heroes. Though anti-heroes arenít usually bad people they are often driven mad by something that has happened in their past. A good example is how Sawyerís guilt often causes him to do bad things. Thereís a pattern of shows with anti-heroes and shows with good ratings here.

I think that the main thing why anti-heroes are so successful is that they liven things up. There are many more dimensions to the characters than there are with a lot of normal characters. We also always want to see their next move so we keep tuning in to see what they will do next. Anti-heroes are often unpredictable and the outcome of their actions is always surprising. Cult shows often include an anti-hero because of the addiction some people have with the character. Got to love them got to hate them but they do keep things worth watching.


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This Yearís Most Likely Candidates to Enter TV Hell

February 12, 2006
Itís that time again folks. TV Hell usually gets pretty busy this time of year and this year will be no exception. While no actual cancellations have been announced yet I have looked at all of TVís finest and I drafted a list of shows that arenít likely to return. I did it by network. Because of the UPN/WB merger I omitted both networks from the list. If you have any questions about them see my CW article or e-mail us. Hereís the list.

CBS Ė While the network is in no trouble it does have some weak points. The Amazing Race gave us a weak performance this year. I doubt Love Monkey will come back either. The entire Sunday, Thursday, and Friday line-ups should be expected to return. I donít know what CBS plans to do with Yes Dear and Still Standing and the only other thing on their line-up I would question is Out of Practice. Other than that itís been a fairly good year.

NBC Ė You canít really say the same thing for NBC however. Of its new shows, My Name is Earl is the only one that would definitely be returning. I think that they will be more inclined to renew their two new shows, Conviction and Heist than they would with Surface or E-Ring. Originally E-Ring wasnít doing too badly but itís unlikely that it will return. Surface is really a 50/50 but there isnít really a spot that it will do well in. Four Kings hasnít been doing well so I think that Scrubs will be renewed over it. Scrubs will be the oldest comedy that NBC has if it gets renewed. Joey is most likely to be cancelled as well. Once again a poor year the once hot network.

ABC Ė The thing about ABC is that itís fueled by a couple powerhouse shows and then the rest of its line-up does alright. It has a very strong Sunday line-up but its Monday night line-up could use some work. Wife-swap and The Bachelor are solid but not great performers. The biggest show in question is Commander in Chief. It has lost over six million viewers since its very strong start. It also got its season order cut by four episodes. I canít really predict what will happen but I doubt Commander will bounce back from being slaughtered by American Idol. Invasion stands a very good chance at being renewed and they should give their Friday night line-up another chance.

FOX Ė FOX is on fire this year. Prison Break and Bones are both most likely to be renewed and even though the Friday night curse is still around, the network has produced a lot of hits this year. One thing they need to work on is comedy. Arrested Development failed two years in a row so you canít really blame FOX for getting rid of it. Itís also hard to say whether or not Bernie Mac will be renewed but it hasnít been doing too well this year. Family Guy and American Dad also got the thumbs up for new episodes. If FOX is smart then they will get rid of Stacked. FOX had a great year but they still need to work on their comedies.

If I forgot anything that you have a question about then feel free to E-mail us.


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The Cable Wars

February 06, 2006
Cable Television has really taken a big jump in quality over the years with a lot of additions of original programming. The channels that originally just gave us re-runs now offer quality shows to compete with the trash network TV offers. But with new shows comes new competition. Networks like USA and FX which have held the crown for some time are now facing competition from TNT, TBS, and Spike TV.

Original programming on cable networks is still a fairly new thing. The numbers were very scarce in the 90ís but it really has started to catch on. Some of the shows have even started to air in the fall and winter, directly against network TV and Nip/Tuck, Monk, and The Shield do just fine in it. FX is being called the new HBO despite its limitations and itís known for its over the edge provocative programming. So what makes cable TV different than network TV? First of all the overall number of episodes is usually shorter. A standard season would be between 13 and 16 episodes. With the exception of the Sci-fi Friday line-up, any scripted programming on any cable network generally follows this rule. Because of this rule, many shows have one major plotline with several subplots in it. So you might be wondering which network will have the bragging rights as to who is the cable king.

I chose to omit Sci-fi Channel and Comedy Central from this comparison because they are genre-specific networks limiting what programming will go on the channels. The big three of cable television are FX, USA, and TNT. Even though TNT launched The Closer last summer, putting it in the running, it still canít compete with FX and USA. Though the network has not officially canned Wanted it is unlikely that they will keep it on their roster. FX currently has the biggest line-up with six shows. While USA only has three shows it can be said that Monk, The 4400, and The Dead Zone put up a strong fight against The Shield, Nip/Tuck, and Rescue Me which are FXís three main hits. Itís Always Sunny in Philadelphia and 30 Days are the two weaker shows that are on FXís line-up. FX has a new show called Thief which will debut this summer. I donít think that USA has any new shows planned for this summer. Thief joins Spike TVís first scripted show Blade, Sci-Fiís Eureka and The Dresden Files, and TNTís Saved. USA and FX are really the two cablers that are fighting for first place. FX three major shows draw more consistently high ratings that USAís do so for now Iíd give the crown to FX but it is still early in the game and I still say the title could be considered up for grabs. May the best network win (yea I know I already used that line).


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The CW: Whatís the Point?

January 30, 2006
As some of you have probably found out, UPN and The WB will be merging at the start of the 06-07 television season. Iíve been against this for several reasons. First of all their averages will either stay the same of slowly improve a little bit but no one should expect drastic changes immediately. My other strong case is that many shows will be victim to cancellation during the merger. A proposed 13 hour plan will be enough to save most of the shows but it isnít really fair to fans of shows like Cuts or One on One which will probably not be part of the merger. I also have a lot of problems with proposed line-up plans so I decided to make my own. I might also add that Arrested Development will not be joining the network despite Entertainment Weeklyís decision to put it in their line-up version. My line-up depicts what time-slot is best for each shows based on past experiences.

Monday Ė This is the one thing everyone can agree on. I think a night starting off with Everybody Hates Chris followed by a new show then Girfriends and another new show. UPN and The WB have some pretty bad comedies and its time that the forever unfnny Reba bites the dust. The WB will most likely cancel Related and ironically 7th Heaven goes off the air the year the network does leaving this slot to happen.

Tuesday Ė Everyone wants a Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars pair up and that does make sense. However Veronica Mars should get the 8:00 slot because last year it barely survived in the 9:00 position. There is no real reason that it should go back there. If Gilmore Girls does go off the air then I would let this spot go to a new show. This could be a pretty powerful night.

Wednesday Ė For the 8:00 slot I would go with a rotating Beauty and the Geek/ Americaís Next Top Model. For the 9:00 I would give it to either the Aquaman project or a new show. The CWís success will come from its new programming as opposed to the old ones so I left a lot of slots open.

Thursday Ė I think pairing a 7th Heaven spin-off with Everwood could be a good duo considering the competition. The CW pretty much has to forfeit the night and even though Smallville does well I think that Thursdays could be a good family night given what the other networks have. If the 7th Heaven thing falls through I might be inclined to put Reba and Out of Sync on but that would be a last resort.

Friday Ė This one was really hard. I donít want to put on anything Sci-fi because of Sci-fi Friday. I also do not want Smack Down to be continued for a couple of reasons. I always thought that UPN only used it to fill their decrepit line-up and Iíve always found it unprofessional. To donate a complete night to wrestling is something The CW should not do and it should focus on scripted programming to gain viewers. Itís unlikely that Smack Down will get any more viewers. I chose to put the new show Cult on even though it goes against my instincts and I would leave the 9:00 slot to either a new show or a combo of some of The WB or UPN comedies that wouldnít make it (Eve, What I Like About You, Twins). Saturday would be a good night fir the WWE if they havea big enough budget.

Sunday Ė This is a bold move but I think itís a smart one. I would air a three hour sci-fi block that starts with Charmed followed by Supernatural and ending with Smallville. Smallville beaten the odds so many times that its fans will help it survive against Desperate Housewives. I donít think Supernatural would be able to survive against it and this line-up would be different than any of Sunday night on the other four networks.

This is just my opinon on what should happen but I did try and create the best possible combinations. If you want to make your own fantasy line-up you can post it on our message board or you can e-mail us.


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Sci-Fi Bounces Back on Cable Networks

January 29, 2006
My first article as TV Hellís reporter was about whether or not Sci-fi was dying. When Sci-fi recently announced its list of new programs I was amazed at how many were on the list and Iím still wondering where a genre based cable network is getting the money for all these new shows. Here the list of new shows.

Eureka Ė a show about people who live in an ordinary town but are really scientists performing experiments. The whole superpower thing makes me think of The 4400 and Iím looking forward to this one.

The Dresden Files Ė the story of detective Harry Dresden who posses supernatural powers and solves crime. This one makes me think of Millennium and I think it could be good.

Who Wants to be a Superhero? Ė One of Sci-Fiís three new reality series. Comic book legend Stan Lee hosts a Project Runaway like competition where people must make there own superhero.

Medium at Large Ė This one looks like a version of the Pet Psychic. It follows the adventures of psychic Char Morgolis. Iím not that into the whole psychic thing but if Ghost Hunters works than I guess this could.

The Gift Ė the last of the three reality series. This one follows contestants who compete with each using their psychic abilities. I donít know how this one will do but weirder things have stayed on the air.

The Bridge Ė Sort of a Dead Like Me kind of dramedy about people who are trapped in purgatory. It could be pretty funny.

Warehouse 13 Ė a show about a bunch of federal employees and an attorney who are trapped in a storage facility.

Sci-fi also got the rights to air the latest "Doctor Who" adventures from the BBC and it also has teamed up with Stephen Spielberg for a twelve hour minis-series called "Nine Lives" about people who reconnect with the dead by going through experiences that can almost kill them. Spielberg last teamed up the Sci-fi with his mini-series "Taken" which got good ratings. Sci-fi will come out with "Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King" its newest mini-series later this year. Spike TV also entered the Sci-Fi business with its first scripted series about "Blade", which will come out this summer. Wesley Snipes will not be in it though. My one concern is that Sci-fi will now have as many series as UPN and I wonder if all of them get good ratings, what Sci-fi will do. The new shows join "Stargate SG-1", "Stargate Atlantis", "Battlestar Galactica", "Ghost Hunters", and "Tripping the Rift". They will have 13 series to air which is more than the number of shows that USA, FX, and TNT have. Not all of them will survive but Sci-Fi is making a statement with its new programming and hopefully it draws the attention that it deserves.


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Time To Say Goodbye: A Tribute to the Shows of the 90ís

January 22, 2006
Since the dawn of the new millennium we have lost a lot of shows from the 90ís but this year took a lot of them away. 7th Heaven, Will & Grace, and The Sopranos are a few of the ones weíve known about for awhile but recently it was announced that and That 70ís Show will be joining them. Malcolm in the Middle will also end its run. Wikipedia also says that King of the Hill will end this year as well though that has been kept quiet by Fox. The West Wing is also most likely in its final frontier. I wanted to take the time to reflect on each of these programs as all of them have been with us a very long time. Of the six shows I mentioned only two of them are going out naturally; The Sopranos and Will & Grace.

7th Heaven Ė Easily The WBís most successful show ever. It got too expensive to keep around but it has become the longest running family show of all time. It also aired in the Monday 8-9 slot its entire run which is something few shows can say. Who knows what the WBís line-up will look like next year but it will lose a bit of its history.

Will & Grace Ė One of NBCís funniest sitcoms and even though it didnít draw spectacular ratings it still remained one of TVís best shows. I always hated the laugh track but I never stopped watching and Iím glad it finally got to kick off the Must See TV Thursday line-up as it always deserved to.

The Sopranos Ė HBOís most successful show ever. I really donít know what HBO will do without The Sopranos but it has been one of TVís best. Redefining the term provocative it was a pioneer and TV will never be the same without it.

King of the Hill Ė It fell victim to the 7:00 timeslot and it was never as good as Family Guy or The Simpsons but where would we be without something to compare it to. It had a lot of funny moments in its ten year run and Iím sad that it wonít be around if Futurama returns giving Fox the opportunity to air a full 3 hour comedy slot with the addition of another show.

That 70ís Show Ė Of the six shows on this list I think Iíll miss this show the least but I do think the idea was original and it was funny at times. Itís couldnít bounce back form losing Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher and I think itís time for it to go.

The West Wing Ė Not officially cancelled but NBC would be stupid to renew it because of its high production. Itís sad because it was actually interesting this season and it really had potential with the election.


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Conviction: Law & Order Spin-off or Not?

January 15, 2006
Iíve been getting a lot of questions lately regarding Conviction a new show by Law & Order creator Dick Wolf that bears a shocking resemblance to the most recent L&O spin-off Trial by Jury which was cancelled last year. It does not bear the Law & Order name is it is supposed to be more character driven which is something that no Law & Order has ever really had. With that being the evidence I would have to say that it would not be considered part of the franchise but new evidence has been brought into play. Stephanie March has signed on to reprise her role as Alexandra Cabot from Law & Order: SVU.

A spin-off usually is achieved by two ways. One is a character from a show gets their own show. If it came directly after the first ended it would be considered a sequel series such as Joey was a sequel series to Friends. A show like Angel or Stargate Atlantis would not be sequel series but companion series to Buffy and Stargate SG-1. The other way a spin-off can be achieved is when an idea introduced on one show is made into a show like how CSI introduced Miami and New York. Conviction would fall under this category but the original Law & Order would be more of a grandfather to it. Surprisingly enough so would HomicideĒ Life on the Street due to the fact that Richard Belzer is on Law & Order: SVU as Detective John Munch.

Whether or not Conviction will be a canon part of the franchise or even bare the same name it is part of the L&O family. Itís unlikely that it will bear the name due to the resemblance of Trial by Jury. Hopefully it will live up to the franchise and maybe pull NBC a little more out of the can.


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Crime Dramas: Why the Mass Numbers Remain Successful:

January 10, 2006
One of the most interesting things on television is how all the Law & Orders and CSIís continue to survive despite the fact that there is very little to no character development on the shows. They follow a plotline that is referred to as an every plot, or show where the plot is almost exactly the same in every show. Anyone who has watched Law & Order over the years can tell you how each case gets solved without seeing the episode. CSI and Law & Order arenít the only ones who use this format however. Without a Trace, Crossing Jordan, NCIS, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, NUMB3RS, and Bones are the other shows where almost every episode is basically the same except for different scripts, characters, and the occasional plot twist.

No critic out there can give you a solid reason why NCISís numbers have jumped so much but there is a pattern going on. All of CBSís crime dramas are doing extremely well. Crime dramas make up half of CBSís primetime line-up (Sun-Fri). Many people enjoy that the plot is resolved within an hour and that you can start watching whenever you want because the characters are not the main focus. Others are just attacted tocop shows. Each show has its own thing that differs it from the rest which explains how all of them are relatively successful. One thing is for sure, at this rate there will be a lot of crime dramas on TV for a very long time.


Back to the Futurama:

January 06, 2006
As a devoted Futurama fan I felt it my duty to report this news as quickly as possible. While only talks of its return are being negotiated, this is good news for the show. It will be the second time that Fox will revive one of its cartoons. Family Guy which broke records and made history came back last May. There were talks of a Futurama DVD release but Variety reported today that there are talks for new episodes of the cult television show.

While Futurama hasnít done as well as Family Guy has, it has still performed very well as part of Adult Swim and the DVD sales have been solid. Since Family Guyís return, it has been performing very well even against Desperate Housewives. It was only a matter of time before viewers started to wonder when Futurama would also get its day of glory. Even the Family Guy movie had a shout out to the possible revival. The odds are very good that Fox will order new episodes.

If Fox is smart they will add Futurama to their ďAnimation DominationĒ slot right after The Simpsonís where The War at Home currently lies. The War at Home show has been critically bombed and it would make sense to air a full two hour animation block. Unfortunately for all you King of the Hill fans, the show will not be returning for an eleventh year so by the time Futurama returns it will likely be off the air.

While I canít really think of any other shows that this new trend of reviving old shows could affect, I think it has made the networks pay more attention to DVD sales. They have become an important part of the television industry and I hope they continue to help shows survive.


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TV On DVD:

January 05, 2006
The TV DVD has revolutionized the way we watch and enjoy television. Entire seasons can be watch in one sitting thanks to them and they even contributed to the rebirth of Family Guy. But how much should we have to pay to get our hands on our favorite shows?

A TV DVD generally sells between twenty and fifty dollars depending on which genre. Itís a good deal when you figure that you are paying two dollars to see an episode but you can watch them as many times as you want and most of them contain bonus features. However, Science fiction television DVDs typically cost you between seventy and a hundred and twenty dollars for a regular twenty to twenty-five episode seasons with some exceptions. Why is it that these shows cost three times more than a typical show of another genre?

Star Trek DVDs are the worst offenders of trying to rip off fans. A Deep Space Nine Season currently costs a whopping 117 dollars on amazon.com and the entire Trek library costs over 3,000 dollars. Farscape is also notorious fro insanely high priced sets. The most likely reason for the high price is because Trekkies are some of the most loyal fans ever. Is this the way Paramount thanks its supporters for 39 years of loyalty? It seems to have worked though. Of the top fifty best selling TV DVDs of 2004 nine of them were Star Trek. It tells you that you can get away with ripping off your fans but the prices sure turned me off and Iím an owner of over thirty television DVDs, none of which I paid over fifty dollars for.

Itís not just Trek though. HBOís dramas usually cost sixty dollars for a half seasons worth of episodes. Babylon 5, Andromeda, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyleís The Lost World are some of the other offenders of over-priced merchandise. Check out the list below.

Note: All prices come from Amazon.com

Family Guy Volume 3 - $25.98
Law & Order: The Fourth Year - $36.99
Farscape The Complete Fourth Season - $134.99
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Ė Season 1 - $116.99
Angel: Season 1 - $44.99

As you can see, you can add Angel Law & Order and Family Guyís prices together and itíd still cost you less that Farscape or Trek. Why should we have to pay four times as much for the same amount of episodes? Someone told me that the numbers of DVDs in the set come into play but that hardly makes sense. If Angel can fit 22 episodes on six discs why does Carnivale and Deadwood need the same amount for twelve? For that matter Stargate SG-1 finds it possible to use only five discs so the price range really makes no sense at all. Until prices go down I refuse to pay that much money and I encourage you to do the same.


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Friday Night Death Slot:

December 23, 2005
If any of you watch primetime every night then you know how many shows fear Friday nights and how itís the night with usually the most line-up changes in the whole week. One show from NBC and CBS came back to see another day and FOXís entire Friday night was scrapped. ABC only had two shows return and UPN moved wrestling to that night getting rid of Star Trek: Enterprise. The WB usually does pretty awful with its comedy block on that night as well. FOXís Friday night line-up is famous for its shows that usually only last a couple weeks but get a popular cult following. Firefly, Wonderfalls, Fastlane, Johnny Zero, and now Killer Instinct are just a few of the failed shows. Iíve even started calling it the FOX TV show of the week due to their short lived lives. However some shows have done well on that night. CSI and Law & Order: SVU are their networks top rated programs and each of them started on Friday. The X-Files also started on a Friday before being moved to Sunday. NUMB3RS which airs on CBS, is the top-rated program of the night and actually does pretty well.

So why is it that these shows fail so miserably? The answer is that most people arenít watching TV on a Friday night but with DVRs playing a big role in Television these days, you would think that these shows could do a little better. The death count so far is five (Inconceivable, Three Wishes, Hot Properties, Killer Instinct and Threshold which debuted on Fridays but was moved and then axed). That number is pretty much on par with last year's death count on that night as well. The cancellations on this night have gotten so bad that when a show is moved there it usually means its entering its final season. CBSís trio of Ghost Whisperer, Close to Home, and NUMB3RS is so far a winning trio but who knows how long this success can go on for. Sci-Fi Channel enjoys huge success from its Friday night line-up of Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Battlestar Galactica. Fridayís seem like a good night for Sci-fi though it couldnít save Enterprise. We can only try to help them but Friday is and will be for quite some time, a death slot for all those who venture into it.


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NBC Makes a Step towards Redemption:

December 19, 2005
For those of us who remember the good old days of actual ďmust see TVĒ that was on NBC have been left waiting for its return ever since The Apprentice took its first tumble starting in season 2. Thursdays now belong to CBS which has been dominating with Survivor, CSI, and Without a Trace. NBC finally made a smart move and sucked up its pride and removed Joey from Thursdays. The Apprentice has also been relocated in favor of My Name is Earl and The Office. Four Kings also joins Will & Grace and ER in NBCís return to itís classic four comedies and a drama line-up which was successful for 20 years.

Must See TV Thursday which has been captivating audiences since 1984 with The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, Night Court, and Hill Street Blues as the first classic line-up. Hill Street Blues is often regarded as the best cop show ever and some of the biggest comedies ever have aired on it including Friends, Seinfeld, Will & Grace, Just Shoot Me!, Frasier, and Veronica's Closet. Scrubs aired on it until it was moved to Tuesday s in favor of The Apprentice which ran on it for the 03-04 midseason until now. Most critics regard that as the end of Must See TV partially because CBSís Thurday night line-up was killing it in the ratings. As far as reviving it goes, itís the best decision made by NBC is a long time. Reverting back to its comedy line-up was smart because competition is going to get ugly with hour and a half installments of Dancing With the Stars entering the already crowded battlefield. UPN already tried that strategy and so far it has worked out pretty well. Itís going to be fierce competition but 'My Name is Earl' and 'The Office' are loved by critcs and they get fairly good ratings. 'Four Kings' is likely to share the same fate as 'Committed', 'Coupling', 'Leap of Faith', 'Good Morning Miami', and countless others. In fact a good percentage of the comedies listed in TV Hell under NBC aired on that night in the infamous 9:30 slot. The battle for Thursday night is going to get ugly and all I can say is, May the best network win.


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HBO Channels:

December 16, 2005
With digital cable and 150 channel premium packages sweeping the nation it can become pretty had to keep up with what is on each channel. Take HBO for instance. HBO offers 12 channels including Hi-Def and its On Demand Channel. When I first looked at it I was stumped at what each one of them aired. Itís confusing but not too hard to grasp once someone actually explains it to you, which the channel itself is unable to provide.

Note: The following channels air on digital cable and I am following east coast time. I didnít include HBO, HBO On Demand, and HBO Hi-Def because they are self explanatory.

HBO2: The most diverse of HBOís sub channels. New episodes of original programming are re-ran on this channel and popular new releases. Originally it was made as HBO on a two hour delay but has gone on to become its own channel. It focuses more on original programming than the original HBO.

HBO Signature: Basically HBO Signature is a channel focusing on the movies and programming that appeals to women. HBO sometimes stretches the true feminine appeal to air movies you wouldnít consider feminine at all but generally itís the most romantic of HBOís channels.

HBO Comedy: Kind of self explanatory. Anything in HBOís current library that is considered comedy can be found on this channel. Curb Your Enthusiasm airs at 7:30 (eastern time) every night and shows like Entourage, Da Ali G Show, The Comeback, and Sex and the City can be found on this channel.

HBO Zone: The HBO channel with more masculine appeal than all the rest. Oz and the Chris Rock show are aired and action movies are mostly found on this channel. Sort of HBO Signature for men but a little different. It airs some original programming but usually short and low quality.

HBO Family: The one HBO Channel to really air original programming. Other programming includes family movies and it very rarely airs something PG-13 or above. The safe HBO channel for your kids to watch.

HBO Latino: HBO in Spanish. Thatís all it is.

NOTE: HBO, HBO2, HBO Signature, and HBO Family all have other channels with the name WEST added to them. This is just the same channel on a two hour delay.


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Science Fiction in the Tank?:

December 15, 2005
Over the past couple of years, the number of science fiction shows has really been declining. It got so bad that even Star Trek couldnít survive. So why is it that the Sci-fi Channel has been steadily improving its ratings and its stable of shows.

There are thirteen sci-fi shows that are currently running on the TV and six are from network TV, Lost, Invasion, Surface, Medium, Ghost Whisperer and Supernatural. There were six new sci-fi shows that came on network TV this year so only two thirds have made it to midseason. Over on cable we have USAís The Dead Zone and The 4400 and Sci-fiís Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Battlestar Galactica, Ghost Hunters, and Tripping the Rift. Two new shows are also joining Sci-fi Channel this summer. Of the six network shows however none of them revolve around space travel. Andromeda, Star Trek: Enterprise, and Dead Like Me bit the dust last year even though all three had more seasons left in them. We must ask ourselves is Sci-fi dead. There always have been heavy sci-fi casualties each year as TV Hell shows. Critics usually have negative feelings against new Sci-Fi shows and itís a wonder how this batch has gotten any positive response. Also channels like UPN and Sci-fi have a new policy of ďnot picking up other networks scrapsĒ which explain UPN opting not to renew Angel and it possibly explains why Sci-fi didnít pick up Dead Like me and Enterprise which both had pretty good fan campaigns trying to save them. Sci-fi might be a little more lenient that UPN but considering Stargate SG-1 beat Enterprise on many occasions, Sci-Fi probably wouldnít want it. Both channels have renewed other shows that have been cancelled in the past and a lot of them have been successful. Roswell and Sliders are examples of shows that shouldíve stayed dead but the fans got their way.

Shows like Tru Calling and Point Pleasant have been being sacked by the dozen but that really isnít any reason to give up hope on sci-fi itself. Lost gets huge ratings and right now there isnít a Trek or a Babylon 5 to draw in the uber-fans. Sci-fi fans are given stupid names and its considered dorky in some cases. However we canít deny the ratings and all the network shows minus Supernatural get above ten million so next time someone tells you that sci-fi is dorky you can name to them the number of shows that have survived in this world.




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