Saturday, July 26, 2008

What's happening in the world?

Okay, I'm starting to feel adjusted to the old time zone, as I was able to get to sleep at a normal time without pharmaceutical aid and was able to wake up at a normal time without feeling like it was the middle of the night. And as I get back into the swing of things, it's time to catch up on some interesting TV news and links from the last few days, including the end of "Tell Me You Love Me," the re-casting of Gene Hunt on "Life on Mars," some "Dr. Horrible"-related goodness, and more, after the jump...
  • When HBO renewed "Tell Me You Love Me" in spite of low ratings and predominantly savage reviews (even people like me who really dug the Ally Walker/Tim DeKay storyline hated the rest of it), it seemed an odd move by a channel still searching for a post-"Sopranos" direction. Even as recently as two weeks ago, the heads of HBO were defending the renewal on the basis of the show being cost-effective and attractive to an upscale, albeit small, audience. And now they've pulled the plug, because creator Cynthia Mort and her team were "unable to find the direction of the show for the second season." If we take the decision at face value -- as opposed to, say, new exec Sue Naegle convincing her new bosses that they had made a mistake with the renewal -- I can see where Mort is coming from. The Walker/DeKay story, the one that got the show most of its praise, had reached something of a conclusion, and all three storylines (Sonya Walger/Adam Scott in particular) were in danger of just repeating the same arguments over and over.
  • At the press tour session for "Life on Mars," I noted that Colm Meaney as Gene Hunt -- the racist, sexist, brutal 1973 lead detective -- was one of the few bits of casting of the original version of the pilot that seemed to match the original, and asked the producers what they were looking for. Andre Nemec said they wanted somebody with the same qualities as original actor Philip Glenister -- "He had a charm, and he had a passion, and he had a strength, and he had an animal quality to him -- he was a bit of a bear" -- and they may have actually gotten their man with the casting of Harvey Keitel in the role. Assuming Keitel takes the part seriously -- I can think of plenty of movie actors who treated their first regular TV job as little more than a paid vacation -- he could bring all the Glenister qualities without just seeming like a copy. I still don't think this works as an ongoing American-length series, but the casting of Keitel (and before him, Michael Imperioli as Ray) is at least interesting.
  • There was a "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" panel at Comic-Con, but if you, like me, weren't in San Diego, you can read EW's oral history of the project.
  • Nikki Finke says that this year's Emmys will be hosted by all five nominees in the best reality host category: Ryan Seacrest, Tom Bergeron, Heidi Klum, Jeff Probst and Howie Madel. If true, it shows that the Emmy producers didn't actually watch last year's Seacrest-hosted ceremony, which was unwatchable. I said it back then and I'll repeat it now: the qualities that make someone a good reality show host (and Seacrest is actually really good at it) do not translate into being a good host of an awards show, where most of all you need somebody who is going to be funny and liven things up in the middle of all the "And now I'd like to thank my 17 attorneys" acceptance speeches. (Somebody like, say, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" co-star Russell Brand, a not-so-big name who I suspect will do very well as host of the VMAs on MTV.) Are they also planning to repeat last year's disastrous Emmys-in-the-round format?


Tony Dayoub said...

I dunno, Alan. Personally, I think otherwise about the five host experiment. Here's a scenario:

Suppose you have Seacrest being voted winner for best reality host this year, for example... before the actual show, of course. Then comes the show, and you see that Tom Bergeron and Howie Mandel run circles around Seacrest and the others.

It's all relative.

In the world of comedy and talk show hosting, Mandel and Bergeron were relatively dull. But they do bring the quick-wittedness from those worlds that is so frequently lacking in the bland, teleprompter-ready, reality show world.

I.E., last year's Gary Busey incident, seemed to ruffle Seacrest's feathers even more than Jennifer Garner. I'd like to think Mandel and Bergeron may have had more fun with it.

Tony Dayoub said...

Sorry, left out my point, which is:

Wouldn't the voters then regret their vote for someone like Seacrest after seeing his relatively poor performance?

I think it'd be rather funny.

Nicole said...

I also think Tom Bergeron and Howie Mandel will do well as hosts, especially Bergeron, because of the ability to be witty without a script. Bergeron also works live whereas none of the others do (except Probst on the finale show, so he actually may be better than people think, and he's co-hosted Regis and Kelly too). Heidi Klum will make Ryan Seacrest look like a master thespian and it will showcase why her nomination was not appropriate. She's a robot on her show and repeats the same thing with the same boring inflection every week. Tim Gunn would have been a better choice.

I think the Life on Mars people must be blind because the biggest problem with Life on Mars was not the supporting cast, but the lead character. He was boring and even with all his screen time, I just didn't care very much about him. John Simm made an instant impression on me in the UK version (as did Philip Glenister) and I didn't even have the familiarity with them that the UK audience would. Jason O'Mara did not replicate that, and throwing in Harvey Keitel and Michael Imperioli will not do much to change how boring O'Mara is, unless the scripts are rewritten and the show becomes the "Gene Hunt and sidekick cop that is not Sam Tyler show."

Alan Sepinwall said...

Yes, Mandel and Bergeron have comedy experience, and Bergeron and Seacrest both have a lot of live TV experience, but I still don't think the five of them come close to adding up to an actual qualified host. I've never found Mandel to be that funny, and Seacrest's bomb last year was a reminder that all live TV shows are not the same, and the skill set from one doesn't necessarily apply to another.

Anonymous said...

Russell Brand is hosting the VMAs? Holy cow, now I may watch for the first time in five years.

Anonymous said...

Having five hosts for an awards show kind of reminds me of Bill Parcells' comment when a reporter unwisely said he was lucky to have both Phil Simms and Jeff Hostetler on his team, "If you have two quarterbacks, that means you don't have any."
If they weren't confident enough that any one of the Seacrest/Bergeron/Klum/Mandel/Probst group could make this work, they should have kept looking. I'm not trying to criticize any of the five, all of whom are at least decent at what they do, but there should be one person who can run the show. And just one.

Eric said...

Maybe the one couple you liked from "Tell Me You Love Me" should start seeing Paul on "In Treatment."

Karen said...

Russell Brand is a comedy GENIUS. (If you've never seen him other than in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, then watch this:

I have never watched the VMAs, but you just talked me into it.