Saturday, October 21, 2006

Binging and purging

First column link in a few days, in which I make fun of Jeff Zucker's "no scripted shows at 8 o'clock" proclamation, plus some thoughts on the ugliness that is "Breaking Bonaduce" season two.

Spoilers for "Ugly Betty" and "Survivor" coming right up...

"Ugly Betty" came reeeeeeallly close to going 4-for-4 with Betty offering to quit with the scene where Betty tried to fall on her sword in front of Wilhemina, but I didn't much care this time because the episode overall was a lot of fun. Betty's worlds colliding -- not sure which was funnier: her nephew in heaven at Mode or Amanda and Marc in Queens -- some new colors for all of the "villains," Betty yielding to her worst impulses in cursing out (Non)Fat Carol, even the first time I've cared at all about the Fey Summers subplot. The only downside: after that sweet final scene with Walter and Betty, I had "Beauty and the Beast" stuck in my head for the rest of the night.

The lesson seems to have sunk in with the "Survivor" producers: wrestling or fighting-related immunity challenges rule. Always. Beyond that, continued meh. The double-elimination was necessary with this many contestants -- they arguably need to do one or two more before the merge -- but both boots were exactly who you would have figured would go, "Plan Voodoo" fake-out or no "Plan Voodoo" fake-out. The only player I especially care about is Jonathan, in part because he seems the rare player to really understand both the game and the fact that it's not personal, in part because I once spent a nice evening with him and his wife back in the NBC days of "The Naked Truth."

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

Ugly Betty was so good this week! Watching Amanda devour everything in sight was almost as good as Wilhemina declaring, "He did what he had to do for his magazine!" (I have no idea why that cracked me up so much, but it did.) And the soapier aspects worked too; Daniel's reaction to the music box finally gives us a reason to care about Fey Summers.

One quibble: where the heck are the writers taking Betty and Walter? Song or no song he's clearly not good enough for Betty.

R.A. Porter said...

Regarding your article, I didn't realize that the second page was on Bonaduce. When I saw co-dependent defined, I thought you were going to comment on how some very unhealthy relationships have effected the networks' ability to get reasonably priced scripted shows for the 8 o'clock hour. If you're going to fork over millions every time Aaron Sorkin tosses you a dirty cocktail napkin with his latest "idea" on it, or give people money for incredibly bad ideas because they had an executive producer credit on one good show, you're going to spend a lot of money on a lot of crap.

Development isn't trivial, but thinking that it is has gotten the networks where they are today. Zucker and his minions (and all network executives) should start seeking out quality entertainments instead of brand-name products with no heart.

As any value shopper can tell you, brand-names cost more and are not always better.

Joel said...

When I reviewed Ugly Betty on TV Squad, some of the commenters to my post said that this episode was aired out of order; this was the sixth episode but aired as the fourth.

That explains why a) Amanda and Marc are incrementally nicer to Betty than they were in the last episode and b) we saw two scenes in the "Previously on" teaser that we had not seen in the first three episodes (one was Betty's sister saying that their dad won't be covered by their HMO, and the other was a scene of Whilhelmina stealing Fey's music box from Bradford).

Think there's any truth to this, Alan?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Joel, the episode list (which tend to be pretty accurate in terms of production order) concurs. And it looks like they'll continue to go out of order for a while. This week is episode 5, then episode 7, then 8, then 4, and then 10.

Be curious to see how obviously the jumble shows. When NBC used to do this with "Homicide," the disconnect was so obvious (the deaths of characters discussed before they actually died, that sort of thing) that the episodes often had to begin with a "4 months earlier" type chyron.

Anonymous said...

I guess that explains why they were doing a Christmas layout in October. (I'm sure most magazines probably do plan holiday issues months in advance, but it seemed like something a tv show would avoid showing.)

Also, how great is Becki Newton? I saw the original pilot for "The Loop" and still don't understand why the producers recast her. She was the best thing on the show. I'm so glad to see she landed an even better job!

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the new UB yet, but I liked Survivor's ep a lot. Don't share your appreciation of Jonathan, though, since he seems to be the biggest offender in the "I don't know your name so I'll call you by your ethnicity" sweepstakes (this week's comment about whether the "Asians" will get back together once the tribe's merge is the latest example). There may be some context we're not seeing where those comments are not as bad as they sound, but...ugh :-( How hard is it to remember names like Becky and Brad, anyway?

And I guess I'm the only one who was sad to see Cao Boi go. He was fun to watch. Also bummed to see Cristina out because that leaves Ozzy as the last representative of the Latino tribe. You can do it, Ozzy!

Anonymous said...

"Continued meh."


I am on a Survivor strike. Burnett played me, so you know what? I don't care any more. I'd rather read your recaps than have to slog through the show, which has the most boring roster of people the show's had in some time. Snooze.