Author Topic: What's your favourite TV program of the moment?  (Read 182015 times)

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Offline 6pairsofshoes

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Re: What's your favourite TV program of the moment?
« Reply #1650 on: June 05, 2020, 09:59:56 AM »
I'm in season 2, probably 3 episodes in.  Don't remember seeing witches so far.  One familiar reanimated into zombie.  Other vampires.  That's all I remember so far.  This past episode, spoofing the Super Bowl, or Superb Owl, was pretty funny.

Offline 6pairsofshoes

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Re: What's your favourite TV program of the moment?
« Reply #1651 on: June 10, 2020, 02:49:44 PM »
Finished Emergence.  It was pretty entertaining.  Also, on Billions, robot actress (Alexa Swinton) is also the daughter of the NY State Attorney General, so that was amusing.  Putting herself through college at a young age, I suspect.

I see that the show was cancelled after one season.  There was a good deal that was improbable about it.  The dream ex husband who patiently did whatever police captain wanted, despite the fact that he was attractive and could really have had no problem moving on.  The father with cancer who was healthy enough to be a reliable anchor for the occasional chaos.  A supportive staff of reliable cops, etc. who were willing to go out on a limb for her.  The police captain herself who was the model of patient parenting, despite the demands of her job.  The lovely intelligent teenage daughter with next to zero behavioral issues, and the friendly doctor who could be relied upon to pitch in when questions or problems came up.  FBI guy who was a handsome love interest willing to ignore his own professional interests to help the police captain.  It's a good thing there was no crime on Long Island to distract the police captain from the robot issues.  Once in a while they threw in some annoying characters to spice things up a bit:  cyber criminals fire bombing labs, misguided genius progeny of tech company who wanted robot girl for herself, and annoying government types who wanted to abscond with tech for their own nefarious ends.  All thwarted in the end.  Hooray!

This was a feel good family values show that kind of pushed the limits of credibility.  Like a kinder gentler version of Westworld with just one bad robot who was able to be contained after a while, or was she...?  And will police captain come to her senses and get back together with the ex they should be seriously considering cloning?  Since they pulled the plug, we'll never know.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2020, 02:53:11 PM by 6pairsofshoes »

Offline 6pairsofshoes

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Re: What's your favourite TV program of the moment?
« Reply #1652 on: June 10, 2020, 06:18:57 PM »
There are many US shows that I enjoyed that were cancelled.  Homicide is one of them.  I was happy to continue watching Emergence, but the suits didn't find it sufficiently profitable.  It wasn't the best show on tv, but it was interesting because there was a kind of feminist vibe to it.  I suspect that if I really like something it's a harbinger of the kiss of death, as networks tend to take those shows off the air.  I never really watched X Files, except for the occasional episode, or Lost.

There are soap operas on US TV.  The Bells still produce a couple on CBS, The Young and the Restless; The Bold and the Beautiful.  I think there are a couple still running on NBC, too -- Days of Our Lives (never got into that) although my grandmother used to watch it.  I am not sure about ABC.  I'm pretty sure that Univision and Telemundo run telenovelas, but, if memory serves, they are finite in nature.  The only telenovelas I watched were in Brazil where they tended to last about 3 months or so. 

There's an amazing amount of dreck on the airwaves and I often struggle to find anything engaging to watch.  At least there have been helpful suggestions from the crew on here.




Offline 8ullfrog

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Re: What's your favourite TV program of the moment?
« Reply #1653 on: June 10, 2020, 08:51:36 PM »
What we do in the shadows has already been renewed for season 3.

Honestly, they don't even really need to come up with in depth plots, just the vampires stumbling through modern life is fantastic.

Nadja's disdain for the SUV was fantastic.

Oh my god, I went looking for a transcript to find out what she actually said about the "electric carriage shitbox" and got derailed by the fact they go to an... essential oils store.

Actually, pretty much everything Nadja says is great, "Professor pig richard" was a good one too.

Offline 6pairsofshoes

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Re: What's your favourite TV program of the moment?
« Reply #1654 on: June 11, 2020, 06:32:13 AM »
Sorry - misleading terminology. We have soap operas too (Coronation Street, Eastenders, Emmerdale ...) but they weren't what I meant. For example have "cop shows" that have no middle or end. In week one we are introduced to a cop (with certain obvious characteristics) and probably a sidekick (ditto) solve crimes. From then on there is no expectation of an end, just "monster of the week", week in and week out. Even the identity of the monster of the week is not suspenseful, because it is always the only other actor on this week's episode that you recognise. The only drama that occurs is when one of the leads changes due to an actor's death, retirement or firing. I guess this is "sitdram", where the situation is everything. (Also see "hospitals", "fire stations", "army barracks", "anywhere else where a small recognisable group of people gather together ...").

The difference that crossing the pond brings is the "overarching story line". In the US, the shows seem to add a background mystery/ drama/ point that overshadows the monster of the week aspect (will the fugitive ever find the one-armed man? will Bruce/ David Banner ever cure himself? will Jane find Red John? what caused the Heroes mutation? why/ how/ what/ who is Piper? will the Robinsons find the way home?) and it is the prolongation of this aspect that drives me nuts; particularly as in 90% of them the answer is "we don't know either" (Lost) or "you'll never know because we got cancelled" (Emergence).

Why it is particularly frustrating, is that I think that most of them had an ending in mind when they started; but the endings get lost in the desire to push for renewal (we have to have a cliffhanger to leave them wanting more ...) and then, eventually they get trampled under the red herrings forced by continual renewal (Lost, Heroes, X-files, House MD) or don't get resolved as renewal doesn't happen (Firefly, Emergence, Golden Years, a zillion others)

There are, of course, exceptions that break the rule in the US (Law and Order, Columbo, Hill Street Blues, ER, Chicago <anything>, are broadly framed in the same way as UK shows), but the UK never seem to do the "keep them confused and drag it out forever" version. Unless I am missing them due to my cultural blinkers.

I think in the UK, Jane would have found Red John at the end of season one. (... and yes, it would likely have been Jane). There may, then, have been "Return to the Mentalist" seasons, but each season would be a complete arc. (e.g. Life on Mars/ Ashes to Ashes).

Law & Order is formulaic (show us the stiff and get on with it...) but still interesting in that it bases shows on actual events, somewhat altered (this is also true of various other case- based shows like House, ER, and the other Law & Order variants).  Those shows neatly wrap up the plot from one week to the next with a basic cast and visiting guest lawyers/perps and victims.  The UK shows are predictable in that the best known, most celebrated actor guesting on the show is destined to be the one bad guy, because actors love to play villains and they usually get a lot of lines.  For the hospital shows, there's the visiting sick person and the related drama connected to family members, background of illness/accident/injury and the drive to heal them and the connected, evolving processes that are necessary to achieve those ends.

I am not as familiar with the economics of television production in the UK, but other than a few shows from ITT and Sky, most of what we see over here are BBC productions, much of it broadcast on public television stations and BBC America for cable subscribers.  I'd expect that the funds allocated to television production by the government have an impact on how scripts are developed and also tend to negate some of the marketplace vagaries that shape how American shows are written.  America loves cliffhangers... "tune in next season to see how this crazy shift in the plot plays out"..etc.  But if the sponsor feels they aren't getting enough bang for the buck, translated into market share via eyes on the show, it's not unusual for the show to get yanked.

This happens across the board, on cable as well as on the older big three networks.  And, I agree, the whole business is frustrating particularly because some fine shows get cancelled despite critical acclaim.  It's more likely that shows that begin well and are well written end up becoming ridiculous in order to continue driving the viewing numbers.  Billions is a good example, as was West Wing.  There's a permutation of alliances of good guys vs bad guys, with various characters swapping categories from one to the other to mix things up.  In the less serious, but generally popular Friends, it was a question of which characters were sleeping together from one season to the next.  Given the limited number of main characters, one eventually runs out of potential alliances there as well.

The recent emergence of amazon and other video delivery companies on the scene as actual producers in competition with cable networks has mixed things up a bit.  For example, certain shows, like The Expanse, manage to get produced or saved from oblivion because Jeff Bezos or other deep pocketed individuals chose to invest in them.  The calculus has changed a bit because of that.  Other shows are more edgy and less formulaic because the companies that produce them are less preoccupied with the basic economics that drive the main networks or cable entities.  I can't imagine quirky stuff like "Comrade Detective" ever seeing the light of day on any regular cable network.  But it's on amazon prime.

I don't have any other great insights, possibly because it's 5 am and I should go back to sleep.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2020, 06:35:58 AM by 6pairsofshoes »

Offline 8ullfrog

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Re: What's your favourite TV program of the moment?
« Reply #1655 on: June 11, 2020, 12:46:17 PM »
They got rid of the two (Reality adjacent) leading cop shows.

I had forgotten SPIKE picked up COPS, and now they're Paramount channel or whatever, but we don't have cable. They put COPS down.

A&E cancelled LIVE:PD, but say they want to bring it back, likely when they feel it isn't a bad PR move.

I understand what you're talking about with the police/hospital/fire verse crap.

The one Hospital show on... NBC I think? Chicagoverse?  Patients are always dying, there are no feel good stories, only trauma. One of the doctors has cancer and is for some reason still working in the trauma section. She stumbles around drowsily and I'm like "Why the golly are they allowing this?"

They hired a new doctor to cover her slack, and she repeatedly yells at the new doctor. I really began to hate cancer doctor, and I don't really watch the show, but the living room was cooler than my room.

Then the Fire show, where they just killed one of the firefighters off, and everyone is dealing with that. Two of the firefighters are out on some body of water trying to relax and have sexytimes, but the man firefighter is too focused on the boat engine being busted, and he doesn't want to be rescued by the ?harbor patrol?  I pointed out that the time to check the engine is BEFORE you are out in the middle of a body of water, but their cell phones worked, so we were spared a stranding episode.

As they are being towed in, a man falls off the back of a boat, and his drunk buddy fires up the engines AND instructs his buddy to head towards the boat.

It went predictably. Male firefighter dove in to save the idiot, but after applying a tourniquet to idiot's shredded leg, I thiiiiiiiink the patient died? I went and made a sandwich.

I'm starting to think there is a final destination type situation with these firefighters. Rather than responding to accidents and emergencies, they instead exude an evil spirit of malice that spreads death and destruction wherever they go.

Also all the drinking problems and domestic poo can golly right off.

Friends is an easy one, they're all just roommates now since no one can afford rent. You can pad their characters out as you wish, the old sitcom molds need not apply.

I mean horror movies have pretty much abandoned the old formulas.

Offline 6pairsofshoes

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Re: What's your favourite TV program of the moment?
« Reply #1656 on: June 11, 2020, 03:25:54 PM »
There have been a couple of adult (evening) dramas that have mostly African American casts.  Empire comes to mind. Black-ish, and one aimed at a female audience, Queen Sugar, produced by Oprah Winfrey.

There have been no equivalents to Friends that I can think of, but maybe there's a cultural divide between the nice white kids with improbably large apartments who hang around Central Perk and college educated black professionals who choose to room together.  The lack of the latter in the sitcom idiom is remarkable for its absence.  Here's a link to well regarded shows currently being broadcast that feature African Americans at their center.  https://www.oprahmag.com/entertainment/tv-movies/g25693667/best-black-tv-shows/

I haven't seen any of the firefighter, hospital shows you mention, 8ully, but it doesn't sound like I missed much.  I am back watching Billions and the end of What we do in the shadows.  After that I'll be pitching around for more to watch.

Offline 8ullfrog

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Re: What's your favourite TV program of the moment?
« Reply #1657 on: June 11, 2020, 04:42:41 PM »
There were quite a few black sitcoms around the time of friends, but they tended to be on UPN, and were not treated very well by the network.

Offline 6pairsofshoes

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Re: What's your favourite TV program of the moment?
« Reply #1658 on: June 11, 2020, 06:04:31 PM »
I remember The Jeffersons and its various spinoffs, but as for a parallel to Friends with a group of college age friends?  I don't know of any.  Can you name a few?  I can think of the family based sitcoms like Fresh Prince, or Family Matters, but as for an equivalent to Friends or Seinfeld or even Sex and the City, I'm coming up empty.

Offline 8ullfrog

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Re: What's your favourite TV program of the moment?
« Reply #1659 on: June 11, 2020, 06:59:12 PM »
I didn't watch it, but living single is one that is held up with fairly warm regard.

Malcolm and Eddie, with Malcolm Jamal Warner and Eddie Griffin was a show where Malcolm Jamal Warner came in with ideas of not doing hack poo, but they slowly wore him down until he hated the show.

I have trouble speaking on these issues because I simply did not watch the shows. They tended to be up against the shows I actually watched.

For instance, I love Bernie Mac when he would do standup, but I could not bless'ed stand his sitcom. Too much "Wacky".

I'm also not saying these shows received equal reception. Black shows tend to be rigidly black shows. Not because of the cast or creatives, network executives are just that bless'ed shitty.

Hell, Standards and Practices on Buffy the Vampire slayer tried to force the characters of Tara and Willow to stand six feet apart, after they realized the "wicca" storyline was actually about Willow being gay.

I've also heard that they regret not having her be Bi, considering the fact that she had a very intense relationship with a boyfriend (Who was a werewolf) and obviously had complicated feelings for her male best friend. (Xander Harris)

Offline 6pairsofshoes

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Re: What's your favourite TV program of the moment?
« Reply #1660 on: June 11, 2020, 08:28:25 PM »
Bernie Mac seemed a decent sort.  Not uproarishly funny, but he was great in Bad Santa, and died soon afterward.  So that was sad.

I never watched the Buffy tv series.  I loved the movie.  It was really entertaining.  Never saw Malcolm and Eddie either.  It's odd.  I was reflecting on the fact that I grew up in the segregated south.  It forced a kind of cultural impoverishment on everyone as there was little diversity in schools.  I went to a white church and there was an African American church of the same denomination less than a half mile away.  I had one black student in my homeroom in middle school.  He was determined to go to the Naval Academy, and I'm sure he did.  It's ridiculous that I was in such a bubble until I went to college.

TV seems kind of segregated, too, in that the programs are aimed at specific demographics, racially, although it's not clear if that is intentional.  I'm sure some of the series are well intended efforts to familiarize people who live without any meaningful contact with people different from themselves with a modicum of difference and diversity.

Offline 8ullfrog

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Re: What's your favourite TV program of the moment?
« Reply #1661 on: June 12, 2020, 03:58:56 AM »
I really want to discuss this one, but I've had a drink too many this evening.

To slim down my commentary, I absolutely agree that segregating black entertainment is a disservice to everyone. While there are elements of black entertainment I find lame or stilted (A lot of it seems as if it were written for stage, or religion, and then had the religious stuff backspaced, the voices deserve to be heard)

I have... problems with black entertainment as well, and I'm not talking about written by committee poo like Feig's ghostbusters.

Like, poo humor. It just doesn't work for me. Chappelle both decried and also engaged in "doodoo" humor.

and with advertising, I still wonder why "dumb dad" is still there. It's like "spill kid", it just serves to anger the audience.

Offline 6pairsofshoes

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Re: What's your favourite TV program of the moment?
« Reply #1662 on: June 12, 2020, 10:27:42 AM »
Having black (gay, latino, differently-abled, trans, whatever) shows with black (...) casts doesn't help, obviously. "Separate but equal" was discredited as a doctrine decades ago. "People" aren't complaining about having a black "Friends equivalent", they are complaining about the lack of diversity on (what was) the most popular show on TV.

What "people" want is for the great unwashed masses to like diverse, representative drama that hits whatever buttons "people" currently want hit.

They don't want "unrepresentative", white, straight shows to be the most popular. They are upset that, given a choice, most people seem to want to watch white, straight, attractive people doing white, straight, attractive things. They are against "tokenism" - you can't just throw in a minority cast member to be second spear carrier, they want actual diversity (which, of course, is undefined). Colour-blindness doesn't help either, because all characters must show respect to their individual cultural heritage otherwise you have "Oreo" issues.

Unfortunately shows constructed entirely around what the audience are supposed to like, fail. And fail hard. Because unlike in Clockwork Orange, people largely watch what they want to. The distaff Ghostbusters was what the audience are supposed to like. They didn't. Who got the blame? The audience.

Advertising amuses me too: we aren't supposed to advertise using only young white attractive models, but things that are advertised using other variations lose sales (once the initial self-congratulatory press exposure subsides). Even fat people don't seem to like watching adverts full of fat people overspilling their clothes.

Sorry - If I had a blog you people wouldn't be subject to my dripping all over the place, but a disappearing blog wouldn't really work.

The idea of a truly diverse cast will always be wishful thinking until larger society reflects that diversity in terms of intimate and casual relationships.  As long as rural and suburban areas tend to remain segregated, the situation persists.  The lack of significant persons in my life who are African American is not through any preference of mine, it's simply because circumstances have not allowed me the kinds of regular daily encounters that are necessary to the formation of lasting friendships.  I don't think I'm alone in that regard.  And it feels oddly forced to pursue friends simply based on their race. 

I fear much of the kind of buddy stuff I see between mixed race friends in entertainment media suffers from a kind of forced artificiality.  The causes of segregation are extensive:  real estate practices, insurance redlining, that sort of thing.  I think it impoverishes everyone, but the attendant problems:  discrimination, institutional racism in policing, limited access to better education and all that goes with that, fall disproportionately on the backs of one racial group.  That is the legacy of a sick society.  We have entertainment that holds up a mirror to who we are at the moment.  We should take a good hard look in that mirror.

Offline 6pairsofshoes

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Re: What's your favourite TV program of the moment?
« Reply #1663 on: June 13, 2020, 02:38:57 AM »
I've been watching Season 1 of Devs (short for developers).  Steve Jobs hippie wannabe with lots of money and a big tech company somewhere on the peninsula south of San Francisco has secret research set up with coders working on an AI algorithm, a predictive one.  The big belief, nearly cultish, among these guys is radical determinism.  People have next to no free will.  And they are devoting significant amounts of computing muscle to prove it.  Mr. Hippie Dippie guy has the snarky lawyer actor from The Good Fight employed here as a former CIA thug who offs people he dislikes.  One guy, the love interest of our heroine, was actually a Russian spy.  He gets suffocated to death and a doctored tape makes it look like he actually self immolated with gasoline.  Of course he didn't.  Mr. Thug security guy causes problems for everyone.

There's a cube as the holiest of holies in the center of the complex that houses the super important coders who work for the firm.  This is an elite extremely well compensated group.    What they do is still open to interpretation.

The sound track should be outlawed by the Geneva Convention.  There's lots of moody scenery with bad electronic music, some bass so intense as to occasion a visit to the dentist.  Has anyone else seen this?  On FX

Offline 6pairsofshoes

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Re: What's your favourite TV program of the moment?
« Reply #1664 on: June 15, 2020, 09:05:23 AM »
Devs is 8 episodes and works relatively well as a short series.  It sort of pokes at the idea of radical determinism and the program that is at the core of the series is both disturbing as well as encouraging.  There's a good deal of flat affect among the major characters.  Bad guy does a good job of being bad guy.  But there's plenty of ambiguity to go around among the other characters in terms of their relative virtue or moral defects.

Billions continues to be predictable and cheesy in its "I jumped the shark a couple seasons back" way.  Wouldn't it be nice if tv shows didn't do that?  Still, Damian Lewis is a fine actor.