Friday, February 29, 2008

Stuff I'm thinking about

I haven't posted my own thoughts on things in awhile. A lot of what I do is report TV news and happenings, link to other blogs...but of course, what's a blog's worth if I don't blather on a bit myself? I might as well just have a news aggregator up and running.

So, the TV landscape is a bit of a mess, not that it's a big surprise. We all expected some turmoil coming out of the strike, but current events show there is a great deal of uncertainty out there, both for the networks and the writers.

Let's look at some of the recent events. NBC announces a "52-week" season. First, someone should tell Zucker that sounds silly to anyone not in television (and some of us who are in TV). There are no weeks were there's no TV. TV is already 52 weeks, and I get that he's trying to differentiate between fall season premieres and premieres that can occur all year round. But think about it. When was the last time you saw a network show premiere outside of fall? How about ALL THE TIME. So, this big, daring announcement really amounts to NBC saying "We're tired of pouring money into cool pilots that turn into crappy shows. Now we're just gonna skip the cool pilot step and just make crappy shows." At least, that's what came through on my Zucker-Interpreter Relay (patent pending).

Quarterlife bombed on NBC, big time. Worst ratings in the 10 PM time slot in 17 years. Quite an achievement. Here's the thing. NBC schedules the show for 10 o'clock. It's called *quarterlife*, meaning, 25 year olds. Who is your target audience for this show? I'm telling you, anyone over age 30 -- not interested. The people who are really going to be into this show are young, hence, popularity on the internets. And it's on late. On NBC. Which most young hipsters ARE NOT WATCHING. To me, this boils down to programming error. NBC misread the audience for the show, and didn't give it the timeslot it needed to build an audience. Well, that and I think the show is boring and inconsequential. And I liked "My So-Called Life" and "Once and Again". Bravo will now air this series, but there was a reason ABC didn't pick this up as a pilot ages ago. It sucked.

The new ABC/NBC wrestling match over "Scrubs". Funny how NBC is the focus of the first three items. Pattern, mayhaps? ABC is the instigator on this one. This is personal for Steve McPherson. He developed Scrubs at ABC Studios, loves it to death. He wanted it last season, but couldn't get it. When NBC didn't order the 6 episodes that were left for this season, opting to keep the series to 12, McPherson saw an opportunity. Of course, I think both networks are idiots on this score. Look, I know the show has a lot of fans still, but it's a show no one cares about anymore. ABC picking it up would just be another (very costly) mistake for the network. NBC keeping it just to spite ABC would be ridiculous, liking poking oneself in the eyeball hoping that people won't see *you* as a result. The show should get one or two episodes, promote the heck out of the end of the show (or better, just make it an hour-long finale), book it for end of sweeps and send the show off into the sunset. Instead, the show will probably get renewed one more time, and it will die a slow, painful death with minuscule ratings. I weep for Zach Braff.

Showrunner roulette. Lots of changes everywhere! The Dexter showrunner moves to Dirty Sexy Money! The creators/showrunners for Women's Murder Club -- fired! (Fear not, they'll be writing for Whedon on "Dollhouse"). Moonlight's showrunner -- gone! And worse, Joel Silver will oversee the last three episodes (what the heck does Joel Silver really know about running a tv show??) I don't know if all of these changes were needed or not. Some of them are probably good changes, others...I don't know -- I can't imagine it's spite on the part of the studios/networks. Sure the showrunners stood in solidarity with their writing staffs, but even though they shirked their non-writing duties to walk the line, it seems unlikely that a grudge would be held against them for that. But then, I'm not a studio/network person. I only have a Zucker Intepreter Relay (patent pending), not a Studio/Network Minion Mind Reading Device (blueprints available).

What to make of all this? I wish I knew. I'm personally waiting on the fence -- I reported (finally) that I have a pilot optioned. Now I'm waiting to see when my producer people will enter the fray with said pilot. Things are a bit jumbled at the moment. No one knows when "pilot season" will start again, or if it really will be a "52-week" season (thanks Zucker!)

Here's what I do know. TV will continue on. The networks may not be able to pull 15 to 20 shares on its shows these days (unless you are Idol or Deal or No Deal) but that doesn't mean they won't continue to try to find shows that can pull that kind of audience. So, we, as aspiring writers, soldier on, work on our specs, our pilots, our dreams.

I really loathe the word "Change" right now (overused by just about everyone). Things are constantly changing -- it's a matter of when you sit up and take notice that things aren't the same. Changes are happening in this industry. It's important to be on top of them, embrace them, meet them head on. Don't be afraid to try different things. Clearly the marketplace is wide open.

Let's see what we can do with it.


Kira said...

It's not my place to announce what's not been officially announced re. Moonlight, but I will say that you can't have a show without a showrunner. :) (Not your fault, this nonsensical half-story was misreported all over the place.)

Yes, many changes in the TV landscape -- it'll be an interesting year, for sure.

What's up with your "moony" project?? Dying to hear!

Cunningham said...

Change - the only constant in life.

Yes, things are shifting. I did 5 pages of "shifting" today. The sandbox is filling with toys.

Julie O'Hora said...

Yes, let's have an update on your project, please!


David C. Daniel said...

I just dropped in to see what TV condition TV was in... You know that old saw, it's almost never as good as you hope or as bad as you fear? Well, I guess this year's conglomocorp fuster cluck is the "almost."

My thanks go to Shawna for illuminating the 2008 pseudo-season for U.S. television in a concise and, most importantly, humorous way.

I'll also say congrats (if I haven't all ready) on the option. I wish you godspeed on your journey into the deeper regions of Televisia.