Scrubs

OMG! TV Marketing Agencies – Now Charging By The Letter

TV Marketing Campaign AbbreviationsBy now you’ve most likely seen the racy Gossip Girl ad campaign displayed to the right. Conservative watchdogs barked like mad when the campaign first appeared in magazines and on bus stops nationwide. How dare the show allude to the fact that kids have sex! Like, WTF? And use an obnoxious code language only understandable by those under 18 (and who are totes lazy idiots)! ROTFLMAO, for real!

Teens, on the other hand, loved them. This is their world: high sexual drama and hyper-creative language creation. The ads perfectly encapsulates everything that makes the show attractive to young viewers: pretty people with pretty problems texting each other on pretty cell phones.

The controversial (and grammatically challenged) ads are already proving valuable. The show has already been picked up for another season. Gossip Girl is so insanely popular amongst the cyber set that The CW has stopped letting people view episodes online in an attempt to force them to watch the live shows. Faux-GG’s are popping up everywhere (we might be a stolen WiFi connection away from the return of Hard Harry); hell, Gawker practically owes their Google Page Rank to the massive number of random NYC’ers fanatically texting in celebrity encounters. Obviously, this trend is not going away.

Since Hollywood is nothing if not derivative, it’s only a matter of time before other primetime shows begin cannibalizing the Gossip Girl-created abbrevation marketing technique. In fact, I can picture those ads right now…

Other TV Shows Trying the Abbreviation Marketing Campaign:

TV Marketing Campaign AbbreviationsTV Marketing Campaign Abbreviations

TV Marketing Campaign AbbreviationsTV Marketing Campaign Abbreviations

TV Marketing Campaign AbbreviationsTV Marketing Campaign Abbreviations

TV Marketing Campaign AbbreviationsTV Marketing Campaign Abbreviations

TV Marketing Campaign Abbreviations

Key:

  1. SSDD = Same Shit, Different Day
  2. GAL = Get A Life
  3. BED = Big Evil Grin
  4. 404 = Error
  5. WTF = What The Fuck
  6. ^5 = High Five!
  7. TGIF = Thank God It’s Friday
  8. TOY = Thinking Of You
  9. WGARA = Who Gives A Rat’s Ass

Bangarang!

The Jay’s Official Fall TV Schedule

Love this show

With the Fall TV season now a full month in, I have finally seen every new show (save a few insignificant ones – Cane, anyone?), passed judgment on everything and can now reveal my Official TV Watching Schedule. I’ll take you through it day by day, telling you why I like what, and what I’m not watching and why. It’s gonna be a full television disclosure. I’m gonna answer questions like a Lost season finale (only without the crazy fake ass beard).

So sit back, grab your TiVmote and prepare to bloop bloop!

MONDAY

8 p.m.

Chuck – A nice, easy way to start the primetime week. I’m not completely blown away by either the action or the comedy, but I do dig the actors and the attempt at pulling the whole thing together. “Chuck” is a good lead, it’s nice to see Adam Baldwin back on TV (I finally caught up on Firefly this summer and thoroughly enjoyed it), and I can’t get enough of Captain Awesome. I also like how the producers go out of their way to put Yvonne Strahowski in her underwear as much as humanly possible. Why did Sarah have a fight in her slinky grey ass-high robe last week when the outcome was never in jeopardy and there was no reason for the fight to begin with? Who cares, because we got to see a Strahowski blackflip backside peekaboo and it turns out the whole affair was a chickfight between a be-robed Sarah and a red-headed ninja. It’s not even possible to calculate the awesomeness of that gratuitousness. And that’s the type of thing that gets shows season pass-ed in The 209.

How I Met Your Mother – Still a solid sitcom, though they have GOT to find better things for Robin, Lily and Marshall to do. Ted and Barney are doing fine trolling for girls (I was particularly pleased that the season premiere started out with Barney finishing his “Legen… DARY”), but I can’t sit through too many more “Robin has wacky dating hijinks”. Especially if they’re gonna involve skeezy Latin pop stars. Lawyered! Oh, and don’t think for a second that me and A-Train haven’t already purchased our very own championship belt, cause we have. If they can figure out a way to make Marshall and Lily relevant, and a reason for keeping Robin around her ex-boyfriend, there may be hope for the season yet.

9 p.m.

Heroes – Here are the five things currently killing this show:

1. WAAAAAAAY too boring a storyline for Hiro. Who, by the way, could not be more useless to the overarching plot of the show, and is reaching Charlie-level heights of annoyingness. We know you’re gonna end up being Kensei, so just get it done and blink your ass back into 2007. I don’t get to see Ando if you’re not around and I need my fill of fun comic sidekicks.

2. WAAAAAAAY too lame new characters. Maya and Alejandro do not have ANYTHING interesting going on. No, not even with Sylar in the mix. Go cry me a black river and wake me when they hit New York in six episodes. This reeks of Nikki and Paolo, but without a much needed buried-alive resolution.

3. WAAAAAAAY too much Matt Parkman. Seriously. Is he really necessary? Who in their right mind would grant custody of a fugitive seven year-old to a divorced, burnt out ex-cop recovering from four gunshots to the chest and his illegal immigrant roommate (even who happens to be smart. And still boring.)? I call shenanigans.

4. WAAAAAAAY too much time spent without Kristen Bell showing up already. Let’s step to it, people. The faster we get Veronica Mars on stage, the sooner we get to see the scene where Ali Larter, Hayden Panetierre and Kristen pillow fight over who’s the hottest blonde on the show. SPOILER ALERT: The answer, by the way, is Mr. Muggles.

5. WAAAAAAAY too many characters. I can barely remember everyone’s names and I’ve seen every episode. Let’s kill off all the newbies, and Parkman and maybe Ali Larter, and get down to business with the Petrelli’s, the Bennet’s, Hiro and Sylar.

That all being said, the show still kicks ass and I wouldn’t dream of missing it.

10 p.m.

Journeyman – One of my three favorite new shows of the Fall. I didn’t realize how much I missed a time travel drama on network television till I sat down to watch the pilot. I’m intrigued by the rules of the game here, like the dynamic of Dan seeing his ex on his journeys and his wife getting pissed back at home. And I’m curious how they are going to explain his continued absences (surely SOMEONE has to see him disappear at some point). Kevin McKidd is a fantastic actor and a great, very watchable series lead. I couldn’t dig this show more.

WHAT I’M NOT WATCHING ON MONDAYS

Aliens in America – I actually liked the pilot, I just have no time for it. This, like Everybody Hates Chris, is just gonna have to be a good CW show I never get into.

The Big Bang Theory – Hate the Galecki. The Cuoco does nothing for me. And that other guy wore my awesome beige Flash shirt in all the promos and now I can’t wear it anywhere without people asking me if it’s an homage (shut up, people!). I have nothing but dislike for this show. Even if CBS were the only station you could watch on your television, I would still recommend doing something else at 8:30 on Mondays. Like watching the end of MNF, or the second half of Chuck, or Aliens in America, or internet porn.

Samantha Who? – I got burnt by a Christina Applegate sitcom once before (Jesse, anyone?), and it’s not happening again. Barry Watson doesn’t help, either.

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TUESDAY

More Missy, Less Guy That Wants To Be Jack Black

9 p.m.

House – Still plugging along on Hugh Laurie’s endless charisma. I’ve kinda missed the old team, but am buoyed by spending time with Kumar and the hot lesbian from The O.C. (rent Alpha Dog to see her get down naked-style. The movie blows, but that scene is worth it in spades. Spades, son!). My only bit of contention is that Cuddy is becoming more and more ineffectual. Can we get her a storyline, please? One that doesn’t involve her going on a date that will eventually be ruined by House? Because we’ve seen that six times already. Or her telling House he can’t do something and then totally caving. Cause we’ve seen that eleventy-billion times.

Reaper – I’m at odds with this show. I like Bret Harrison. I like Ray Wise. I have a mad crush on Missy Peregym (yes I saw Stick It in theaters. Look, it’s not called GymNICEstics!). And the presence of Kevin Smith is never a bad thing. But the formula is already played out and we’re only on episode five. The freak of the week thing never lasts, just ask The X-Files and Smallville, so here’s hoping they come up with some sort of mythology they can dip into now and then. Also, getting Missy back into her leotard for some tumbling wouldn’t hurt.

10 p.m.

Law and Order: SVU – Nothing much to say about this show. Love the Meloni and the Mariska. The Belzer still needs a chemical peels worse than Bill Murray and Tommy Lee Jones combined. And the ching ching still rocks it.

WHAT I’M NOT WATCHING ON TUESDAYS

Cane – Nothing against Jimmy Smits or Hector Elizondo, two actors I respect, but I have exactly zero interest in this show. And I’m a sugar fiend! (Cane = Sugar? No? Anyone? Bite me.)

Cavemen / Carpoolers – Yeah, right. I’d rather watch Ellen cry about dogs for an hour. At least that’s legitimately funny.

Damages – This one just got away from me. Watched the first 6 or so eps and just fell off track when the season started. The same thing almost happened with Burn Notice, but I like that show more. I’ll catch a marathon or wait for the DVD. So nobody post spoilers.

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WEDNESDAY

GREAT adult soap!

8 p.m.

Pushing Daisies – I like it, don’t love it. The whimsy is nice and all, but I feel like I ate a King Size back of jelly beans by 8:47. And a little Kristin Chenowith (pun intended) goes a LONG way.

9 p.m.

Gossip Girl – My favorite new show of the fall. I’m a sucker for a teen soap and this is trash of the filthiest order. The girls are crazy hot, the drama is ridonkulously melodramatic, the parents are all ILF’s, the clothes are ludicrous, the hair is headshakingly bad and the storylines are as old as Gabrielle Carteris. Also, Kristin Bell. I am unabashedly in LOVE this show. I don’t want to talk out of turn, and we’re gonna need to wait and see how the show falls together a bit, but this might be better than The O.C. This question definitely deserves its own column at some point.

Private Practice – Started off creaky and shameful, is slowly working its way to being credible. Could very well end up better than Grey’s (especially if Shonda keeps on with the execrable Gizzie storyline). And I’d never pass up the chance to watch Kate Walsh do anything for an hour, especially when anything includes naked towel dancing. Though I could do with a LOT less Amy Brenneman.

10 p.m.

Dirty Sexy Money – The third of my favorite new rookies. The cast is uniformly excellent, from Donald Sutherland (who rules all) to Peter Krause returning to his Casey McCall likeability to Natalie Zea being crazy, hot and crazy hot as Karen Darling to William freaking Baldwin happily throwing down with a tranny. And that’s all before we get into Tamara Feldman (who could throw down with Megan Fox, if you’re picking up what I’m putting down). I could watch the antics of the Darling family for years to come. And I hope I get that chance.

WHAT I’M NOT WATCHING ON TUESDAYS

Bionic Woman – Tried hard to like it, but eventually had to accept that the show blows ass. Michelle Ryan does nothing for me. Growing up in the Valley I’ve had my fair share of crazy blondes, so Katee Sackhoff does less than nothing for me. And I can’t stomach Isaiah Washington (even when he’s getting a Bionic beatdown). I might have slogged through it as a change of pace to Private Practice but I can only tape two shows at once and I love Gossip Girl too much.

Kid Nation – I was completely wrong about this show. I thought it would be the biggest show of the year, and as it turns out, it blows harder than Cavemen. They had the kids cutting the head’s off chickens. At 8pm! I nearly booted my Chicken Pad Thai. Child Exploitation, thy name is CBS Reality.

Life – Liked the pilot, but my Wednesdays are already too packed. I’ll catch it when Dirty Sexy Money is in repeats.

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THURSDAY

What else is on my mind grapes?

8:30 p.m.

30 Rock – I could listen to Tracy Jordan be Anne Heche-crazy for days. I am appealing to the California DMV for my very own “ICU81MI” liscense plate (hilarious!). And then there’s the Werewolf Bar Mitzvah I wish my Mom had let me have:

9 p.m.

The Office – Can we please all agree that the hour long episodes were a bad idea and move on? Thank you. So much filler I couldn’t stand it. Thought I was watching season four of Dawson’s Creek for a while there. Though I’m really liking Jim and Pam as a couple. It was a great choice to not to draw that storyline out. I particularly enjoyed this moment (I love how happy they are about the whole thing, like they couldn’t want to tell someone):

Grey’s Anatomy – OK, I’m never gonna stop watching this show, but holy jeebus, if it was ever gonna happen it would be because of the Gizzie (George & Izzie). Izzie has become such a contemptable character. After the scene of Meredith telling Lexie about her Mom’s death, I started liking Mere again (a feat I never thought possible), which makes Izzie the current worst character on network television (even worse than the ghost of Dawson Leery, Carrie Bradshaw and Ally McBeal put together). If they don’t end that ridiculous, painful, ill-conceived plotline before November sweeps I am seriously gonna consider thinking about maybe not watching every second of each episode. And I mean it!

9:30 p.m.

Scrubs – Gotta watch the final season, even if it’s not funny anymore.

10 p.m.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia – Just to get a base!

WHAT I’M NOT WATCHING ON THURSDAYS

Big Shots – I hated myself enough when I watched Sex and the City, I don’t need a bigger dose of self-loathing from the male version.

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FRIDAY

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose!

9 p.m.

Friday Night Lights – Took me watching four straight episodes from the Bravo marathon, a plea from TwoP and Bill Simmons and my desire to have a sports show on my schedule for me to finally give this show a chance. And let me tell you, it was worth it. This is one of the best shows on television. Superbly written, directed and acted, with powerful storylines, big issues, and fascinating characters. If you can get past the football stuff and the Texas nonsense, there is a whole lot to love about FNL. Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton put on an acting clinic each week, and there skills are free. Check out everything that’s going in their eyes in this scene:

Brilliant. I picked up the first season on DVD for fifteen bucks last week (and it came with a money back guarantee), and I can’t wait to tear it open and catch up.

WHAT I’M NOT WATCHING ON FRIDAYS

Moonlight – I want to like this show so much. Sophia Myles is hot, Shannyn Sossamon is a guilty pleasure. I’d follow Jason Dohring anywhere. But the lead actor is so so so terrible. Makes me long for David Boreananas terrible. And the writing is atrocious. If Fridays are the TV equivalent of the January movie dumping ground, Moonlight is released on the 5th of the year, every month.

Women’s Murder Club – The only new show I haven’t watched yet. This could go either way. I love me some Angie Harmon, but procedurals never do it for me unless they involve Christopher Meloni punching somebody in the face. I’ll let you know…

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SATURDAY

There is nothing good on TV on Saturdays.

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SUNDAY

9 p.m.

Family Guy – The Star Wars tribute episode may be the funniest hour of entertainment of the entire year, and that includes any 60 minutes of Superbad, Knocked Up or any combination of any episode of the Thursday night NBC sitcoms.

See what I mean.

WHAT I’M NOT WATCHING ON SUNDAYS

Viva Laughlin – The only way I’m voluntarily watching Hugh Jackman sing is he if he’s doing his berserker attack with adamantium claw action (should I call you Logan, Weapon X?). And even then I’ll probably be thinking it’s gay (and by that I mean retarded) (and by that I mean I’ve been watching too much House).

So that’s the schedule. Seventeen shows, of which a whopping SEVEN are rookies! What a great slate we got this year. And it only gets better in January when Idol and the Terminator show shows up. Now if I can only find the time to watch everything. It’s a problem. But the kind of problem I don’t mind having.

Bangarang!

The Case Against: Reviving Canceled Fan-Favorite TV Shows

Veronica MarsThree months ago, nearing the end of a long, rather satisfying television season, I decided not to watch the final two episodes of Veronica Mars, and instead save them for the doldrums of summer when quality television is as sparse as a Lindsay Lohan sober day (I know, I know, I promised no more cheap shots like this, but it was so easy I couldn’t help myself. It’s not easy going cold turkey on Lohan bashing. Is there a patch I can buy for this?). I knew the show was being canceled and just couldn’t reconcile losing it so quickly. May sweeps is a bullish time for a high-end TV watcher such as myself and Veronica Mars deserved my full and complete attention, not just a clock-watching commercial double bloop due to a focus distracted by my musings on what I was going to find when the Lost season finale went through the looking glass (the FUTURE… spoiler!). My desire to keep the show alive and my respect for the quality of the show meant that I would have to wait, possibly a few months, to properly say farewell to one of my favorite shows of the last decade.

This weekend I finally sat down and said goodbye to Veronica Mars. I won’t bore you with the details of my experience; if you saw the finale you know both what happened and how good it was. And if you didn’t, then you suck and it’s your fault Jim Belushi is gainfully employed by the American Broadcasting Company. No, the point of this post is not to glad-hand Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell and the rest of the makers of Veronica Mars. This post is about saying goodbye to TV shows. Making peace with what is and what is not in our hands. And understanding that sometimes, despite the best of intentions, the good ones are not always meant to be.

I wasn’t originally planning on watching the VM finale this weekend. I was busy going to Napa, hitting the Manhattan Beach AVP Tournament, writing a script for a producer and seeing my best friend off to his last year at law school. I had a full load of non-entertainment related things to do. What changed were the three Netflix discs I received this week. I’m doing a summer of TV recapping, and at the moment I’m catching up on Wonderfalls, another female-centric hour-long that was beloved by critics, adored by a small, rabid fanbase, and canceled before it’s time. And while I went through my crazy schedule, I found an occasional forty-five minutes to glance over from my computer at the wacky shenanigans of a long since canceled FOX drama.

WonderallsI watched the first four episodes, enjoying the odd comic timing of series lead Caroline Dhavernas, the welcome appearance of William Sadler and the Matthew Fox clone they got to play Caroline’s love interest. But the thing I got the most out of the first disc was this: the show isn’t very good. The pace is stilted, the storylines are oft putting and the protagonist isn’t very likeable. In short, the show kinda blew. So much so that I didn’t even bother with the second disc (something I’ve never done) and instead jumped right to disc three and the last two episodes of the show (as a completist I wanted to see how it all ended). And after the final credits rolled I sat and pondered just what the fuss was all about.

The cancellation of Wonderfalls, like Veronica Mars, Arrested Development and a myriad of other shows, was taken rather poorly by its fanbase. A website, savewonderfalls.com, was launched in an attempt to revive the poorly rated drama from certain doom. Obviously, that did not shake out on the positive end. Now, I’m all for trumping quality television. And I support radical action. But I can’t wrap my head around going above and beyond for a show that wasn’t all that good. I can respect that the show had its supporters, heck every show has at least one loyal viewer, but with the way the television industry is constructed, specifically in the way shows are made and put on the air, I can not cotton to the idea of saving a show that is not worth saving and has no hopes for being saved.

The two great things about television are that it is democratic and unforgiving. A show is made, marketed and aired. Home viewers decide to watch it, and then decide if they like it. If they do, they watch it again the next week. If they don’t, they don’t watch it ever again. It’s a beautifully simple and merciless process. Unlike film, where even if no one goes to see a movie in theaters, you can always watch it on DVD, television shows have no real outlet when for exhibition if they fail. Pilots that don’t make it to series can pop up on You Tube (like the Aquaman pilot with Ving “Deadly Dog” Rhames), but a show that goes to series and tanks (especially ones that never finish production on their first thirteen) disappears into the mist. The odds of a series, especially an off-beat one (by off-beat I mean not CSI), are exceedingly slim. It would be easier to get a greenlight for Daddy Day Camp 2, then to get a show on the air about a teen private detective that solves crimes in her high school. Now, knowing that to be true, I submit that it’s futile and patently irresponsible to attempt to keep a show on the air that the majority of the viewing audience does not want to see.

Poor ratings are the only valid reason for canceling a television show. And as much as I might like a show, I cannot complain of its cancellation if I’m the only person watching it. Television is a business, and a poorly rated show is bad for business. Take a show that that is original, daring, well written, fiercely acted and brimming with potential. The only problem is that not enough people are tuning in to warrant its continued expensive existence; it airs 7 or 13 or 22 episodes and is canceled. Instead of decrying the network for its evil slaughter of a quality piece of entertainment, we should be grateful we even got to see it at all. Four episodes of Wonderfalls, fifty-three of Arrested Development, sixty-four of Veronica Mars, whatever number for whatever show that you loved and lost, you should be happy the show entered your life at all. Does it suck that it was canceled? Absolutely. But it’s simply the way the medium works. It’s fair, it’s just and it’s nonmoving.

Television shows are given every chance to succeed. When embraced by the viewing public they can be worth billions of dollars to the networks. They can bring in viewers for other shows. They can make stars out of nobodies. They can become iconic. Every pilot given a series order is given so because the network believed it had a shot to become iconic (yes, even crap like According to Jim). The shows may get marketed poorly (like Hidden Palms), or put in a shitty timeslot (like the J.J, Abrams dramedy Six Degrees), or get tampered with to the point where they had no shot at being successful (take the recent Traveler, for example), but in the end it is always the viewers that determine if a show stays on the air.

Arrested DevelopmentA poorly rated show can survive its first season on critical reception alone (see: Felicity, Arrested Development, Veronica Mars, Everwood, etc). A poorly rated show can survive its second season on minimal ratings gains and a lack of competitive pilots in its genre. But no show, no matter how good, can survive past a third season without good ratings. Period. After forty episodes, if a show has not clicked with viewers, it will never click. There have been shows that took a while to get hot. Cheers was 82nd in the ratings in its first year, only to be a top ten show by season three. But viewers don’t wait three full seasons to decide to start watching a television show. It just doesn’t happen.

This is why I cannot complain about the cancellation of Veronica Mars, Arrested Development, Wonderfalls, Sports Night, Firefly, Freaks and Geeks, et al. They were all given ample chances to succeed, and none of them did. CW prexy Dawn Ostroff worked every angle to bring Veronica Mars back for a fourth season, but the math never warranted it. They paired the show up with the network smash Gilmore Girls, and VM couldn’t retain enough of the audience. They paired the show up with advertisers to stem the production costs, but that didn’t take. Posters were put in schools and in malls. Guest stars were brought in (Harry Hamlin, Patty Duke, Kevin Smith, Joss Whedon). Nothing worked. The CW even asked series creator Rob Thomas to alter the serial format of the show and do stand alone mysteries in an attempt to bring in new viewers. The shows were bad and the new viewers never showed. The show was lucky it was on the air for as long as it was, and it’s a testament to its quality it made it past the first season at all, let alone the second. And the same goes for Arrested Development. Fox desperately wanted that show to be a hit. It would have given them artistic credibility and their first real chance at a Best Comedy Emmy. But it didn’t take. America as a whole just did not care for the Bluth family.

And we’re just gonna have to live with it.

Television shows come and go. They are transitory by nature. You enjoy them while they are there, mourn them for a time when they are gone, and then find a new show to love. This season alone I lost three of my top shelf favorite shows (Veronica Mars, The Loop & The OC), and saw the abrupt cancellation of no less than seven shows I enjoyed (Studio 60, The Class, Six Degrees, The Winner, Raines, Kidnapped, Andy Barker P.I.). Last year I lost The West Wing, AD and That 70’s Show. And this coming year I’m gonna have to say goodbye to Scrubs. Such is life as a TV watcher. You let the good ones go. You let them go because they were too good for their own good. Perhaps if Arrested Development had been dumber, Veronica Mars less complex, Wonderfalls less irritating, Firefly less overtly geeky, they would all be gearing up for their fall premiere. But if that had been the case, we would not have loved them in the first place. It was those exact qualities (brains, complexity, wit, defiance) that made them worthy of our time.

JerichoThis all leads to my thoughts on the successful campaign to bring back CBS’s nuclear fall out thriller Jericho. I watched the premiere, laughed at the notion of Skeet Ulrich carrying a network drama and promptly judged the show as mediocre. I never watched it again, but apparently many people in the fall did. It was a modest hit with the potential to break out. However, CBS pulled it from the schedule for four months, a big no-no for serialized shows (just ask Lost), and on its return the audience shrunk faster than the second weekend box office for The Matrix Revolutions. CBS promptly canceled the show, and that’s when the nuts started arriving. Fans of Jericho swarmed CBS offices with bags of nuts, an in-joke from the show, in an attempt to prove that Jericho was worth saving. After a few metric tons of nuts showed up CBS gave in and renewed the series for an eight episode second season. This was a mistake.

Jericho’s ratings will not improve. The show is too insular for it to be a breakout hit, and the mythology of the show is on the verge of becoming too dense for new viewers to wade through. Plus, hello, Skeet Ulrich is the series lead. If Jericho was as good as these crazy nut senders would lead you to believe, than the drop-off from fall to spring would not have been so severe. Lost was still a hit after taking three months off, last season. 24 and American Idol continue to do well despite having a nearly seven month layoff between seasons. Good shows that people like do well regardless of the timeslot or disparity between new episodes. Take Moonlighting, a show that never aired more than 16 episodes in a nine month season, yet won a slew of Emmy’s, made a star out of Bruce Willis and aired for five years.

CBS flinched at the overwhelming viewer response because they haven’t had a show worthy of such an act in decades. Nobody is freaking out if NCIS gets canceled, know what I mean? Aside from How I Met Your Mother, Jericho is the only young skewing show on their network, and young viewers are quite easily made mental (just ask the Fox Network); heck the campaign probably started because people were so shocked that CBS was airing such a hip show and didn’t want that to end. Similar campaigns worked for Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls in seasons past because their network didn’t have a good enough replacement, and because their target demographic was the exact same people leading the charge. Campaigns for Wonderfalls and Firefly didn’t work because FOX had replacement junk at its beck and call. They go through shows like Mandy Patinkin goes through TV series’. Jericho will fail on its return and CBS will never again bring back a struggling show with a tenuous plot concept. The Nuts-heads have effectively ruined the chances for any future big three drama that is even minutely difficult. Way to push your chips in for the star of Chill Factor, dicks.

Pushing DaisesLet these shows go, kids. No less than 60 shows are set to debut in the next four months, and that doesn’t even include cable. Pushing Daises, Bionic Woman, Private Practice, Chuck, Journeyman, Viva Laughlin, Moonlight, Reaper, K-Ville, The Sarah Conner Chronicles; these shows need our help now. Forget the Jericho’s and The Nine’s and the Andy Barker’s and the What About Brian’s. They had their shot and they blew it. Nobody wanted them around. It’s time to give the new kids a chance. Because maybe one of them will turn out to be the next Arrested Development or Veronica Mars. Maybe your favorite television show of all time hasn’t even aired yet. Isn’t that more worth your attention? Let’s not bemoan the loss of shows that had multiple chances to succeed, and instead enjoy the new batch of pilots and put all our efforts into keeping the good ones from failing.

I will miss Veronica Mars for some time. But in the end, maybe it’s just for the best. When the Ben Stiller Show was canceled Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo became movie stars, and head writer Judd Apatow became Judd Apatow. Bryan Fuller failed on Wonderfalls but is getting a second chance with the infinitely better (and more precious) Pushing Daises. The failure of Sports Night led to The West Wing. Bill Lawrence bombed on Spin City and came back to give us Scrubs. Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and Michael Cera are all top-lining movies now. And I look forward to seeing what will become of Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas. I predict they’re going to be giving us quality entertainment for many years to come. Their show may be dead, but the mark left by the show on the industry will linger for years to come.

And that’s the real lesson for why good shows get canceled before their time. So that the makers can go on to make better shows. Speaking off, if you’ll excuse me I need to go catch the new David Duchovny tittyball show on Showtime, created by Tom Kapinos, a guy who used to produce a little show called Dawson’s Creek. From the ashes of poorly written teen angst cancellation, to the phoenix-like rebirth of soft-core Duchovny cable porn. TV, it’s a beautiful thing.

The Verdict: Renewal is a waste, bring on the newbies.

Bangarang!

Things Overheard: Resolutions, Confusions, Hate-Ons and The Jay’s New Radio Show

THINGS I SAW IN 2006 THAT WERE REALLY, REALLY BAD

Here are the ten movies I saw in 2006 that were so repugnant, so foul, so sucked-ballsish, and so full-on poopy that I had to single them out for non-praise. May my soulful green eyes never fall on these abominations of cinema ever again.

My Bottom Ten of 2006

1. Firewall – Maybe not the worst movie of the year, but definitely the most heartbreaking. It’s never fun to see a hero degrade, and this film was no exception. Indy 4 should not happen. I repeat, SHOULD NOT. The only thing Harrison Ford should be fighting is his elevated AARP deductibles.

2. Basic Instinct 2– What would you rather see less, Britney Spears naked or Sharon Stone naked? It’s a harder choice than you think.

3. Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest – Wooden, overly long, bloated to the gills with excess and surface frills, cloying in a way that no film has been since Oceans Twelve, completely unnecessary and just plain mediocre. And yet it broke box office records. I will now go put on my copy of Brick and shake uncontrollably in the fetal position.

4. Date Movie – The only film that can not be helped by pressing fast forward. Nothing could make this supreme POS end faster.

5. Ultraviolet – The most disappointing film of the year for me, as I love director Kurt Wimmer’s last film, Equilibrium, and because I read the script two years ago and absolutely dug the hell out of it.

6. The Last Kiss – A film that actively tries to break up you and your significant other. If you are currently in a couple I implore you not to watch this. Yes, Rachel Bilson is exceedingly hot. Yes, the soundtrack was good. Yes, the direction was solid and the acting commendable. But no, you are not allowed to see this. Go watch The Break-Up again. At least that film tried to make you laugh a bit (and offered you a soft-focus shot of Jen Aniston’s upper butt).

7. Running Scared – Paul Walker should really stick movies that feature him either riding in cars, snow dogs or Jessica Alba.

8. Lucky Number Slevin – All the goodwill Josh Hartnett generated from killing Alexis Bledel in Sin City is yoinked for making me sit through this strung out collection of nervous filmmaker tics, five years too late Tarantino riffs, and stunt casting that was the opposite of amusing. You know you’ve done something wrong when I’m bored of watching Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley and Bruce freaking Willis do their things. That’s a murderer’s row of awesomeness right there, and yet the movie focuses on Josh Hartnett in a bath towel. Seriously, what fourteen year old girl is watching this movie? So why are you pitching to that demographic? Inexplicable.

9. Poseidon – The very definition of studio tripe. Somebody wake me when Josh Lucas does anything at all worthy of his stature.

10. My Super Ex-Girlfriend – Either Quentin Tarantino is more of a genius than we thought, or Uma Thurman is a lot dumber than we think, because no other choice explains her decision to be in this movie. Underwritten, overwrought, poorly directed, shoddily edited, cheapo special effects (the shark throw not withstanding), and the only film so far to ruin the charms of Anna Faris. Oh, and P.S., you suck Luke Wilson. Do some sit-ups, cut your hair and learn to stop mumbling your lines.

Dis-Honorable Mention: When A Stranger Calls, Hostel, A Prairie Home Companion, Underworld: Evolution, Miami Vice, Superman Returns, and Failure To Launch

I’ll post my Top Ten of 2006 next week. I had wanted to post the list before the New Year but I hadn’t seen all the films I wanted to, and didn’t feel right making an incomplete list. However, in the interest of time and significance, I will make a last ditch push this week to try to see as many unseen 2006 movies as I can, so that you, my loyal readers, will have a true and complete list. Because I know how important it is to you all that I join the fat ton legion of online entertainment writers who post a Top Ten of 2006. I have to be a part of that kind of irrelevance.

Here’s what I still have left to see. Anything I should just skip?

World Trade Center, Little Miss Sunshine, Flags of our Fathers, Letters From Iwo Jima, The Black Dahlia, Marie Antionette, Running With Scissors, A Scanner Darkly, Catch A Fire, Fur, A Good Year, Come Early Morning, Happy Feet, Bobby, For Your Consideration, Blood Diamond, Pursuit of Happyness, We Are Marshall, The Good German and Shepherd, Children of Men, Dreamgirls, Notes on a Scandal, Miss Potter and Eragon (just kidding on that last one, I’m not ever seeing that POS)

Wow, that’s a pretty long list. Kinda makes me feel like I haven’t seen anything at all this year. At least I saw Rocky Balboa. Everything else is whatever.

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THINGS I AM DOING THAT ARE COOL AND ARE PROMOTING AND YOU MUST THEREFORE PAY STRICT ATTENTION TO (SERIOUSLY, THIS IS IMPORTANT)

This is my show, bitches!If you haven’t noticed the PopLoad picture ad in the sidebar, now’s the time. Click on it, or on the one to the right, to be taken to the homepage of PopLoad, a live, interactive, streaming internet radio show. It’s produced by NowInLa.com, and those nice people have asked me to host the show. Every Monday and Wednesday from 8-9pm PST you can go to NowInLa.com and hear me expound on TV, stupid celebrities, inane Hollywood decisions and various other totally important areas of pop culture. Not only can you listen to the show online, but you can talk to me on a chat board while I host and post pictures and video. It’s a communal radio experience. Your posted thoughts and pictures and videos affect what we talk about. If I’m on a tangent about La Lohan’s latest coke-induced T-Mobile Sidekick opus, and you drop a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon challenge on the board, I will stop everything to respond to the challenge. If you say something particularly witty I will make notice of it on the air. If you’ve ever wanted to rip me for something I wrote, here’s your chance (hint hint, Orlando Bloom fans). And if you become a great contributor online, I might even ask to interview you live on the air, via-phone.

It’s gonna be a great show and fantastic companion to TheJay.com. I hope you all tune in and I look forward to talking to you on the boards. Thanks for listening.

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THINGS TO LOOK AT THIS WEEK

- I’m glad to live in a world where Conan O’Brien is allowed to give birth to a glorious idea called HornyManatee.com.

- Now this is an Aaron Sorkin show I can REALLY get behind.

- After his full-on tuttleness in The Departed I’ll follow Mark Wahlberg anywhere. This looks like a good place to start.

- This is a really interesting idea. I’ll figure out mine and post it next week.

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THINGS I DON’T KNOW

- I don’t know why all the guests on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson always seem to be great friends with the genial Scottish host (and therefore having much more fun than normally goes on over at Leno or Letterman), but I like it just the same. Back you cheeky monkeys! Hee.

- I’m not entirely sure that Ben Stiller didn’t sell his soul to the comedy devil many years back so that he could hypnotize the world with his ape-like facial features and spastic, wild-eyed neuroses tantrums. And even though I can’t prove it, I think he’s responsible for some evil reverse-karma going around. How else can you explain James Brown dying on the same day that Night at the Museum opened number one at the box office? It was Stiller’s yearly talent sacrifice to the comedy devil. Let’s pray he doesn’t make another Meet the Parents sequel, my Mom would be devastated that he took Rod Stewart before the man could record his eleventy-billionth American rock standards record.

- I can’t quite put my finger on why Dane Cook is so successful, whilst David Cross is still a fringe comedian, but I think it has something to do with the majority of America being supremely stupid.

- I don’t know why I suddenly hate Zach Braff and all that he stands for, but who am I to question my dramatic emotional pop culture mood swings? I think it’s possible he enrages me so much because he makes movies where he gets to make out with the hottest brunettes in show business but spends the other 89 minutes and 24 seconds whining about it. Plus, Best Week Ever totally agrees with me.

- I don’t know why it took me so long to find Arrested Development, but by GOB am I glad I finally did. The Bluth family and their wacky dysfunction cracks my shit up something fierce. Great writing, superb acting (the best cast on television since Seinfeld), and a pitch perfect satire of corporate shenanigans. If Jason Bateman’s new movie didn’t happen to star Zach Braff (who gets to whine about making out with Amanda Peet this time… though he may have a point), I might be inclined to say nice things about it and even shill out the kaysh to see it on the big screen. That’s how loyal I have become to the cast of Arrested Development. I’ve started watching Ellen since she’s currently lady-banging Lindsay Bluth (my favorite part of the show is how dismissive she is with her guests when their interview is over. It’s like you can feel how much she hates being a product shill. Leno could learn a lot from here. Though not the dancing.). AD has even made me a fan of Ron Howard, something A Beautiful Mind tried so hard to stop.

- The show is so good I’m actually sad that I only have five more episodes left to watch in the series. Now I’ll have to go back to watching stupid Scrubs, with stupid Zach Braff (who’s been spending this season whining about being with Elizabeth Banks. Will this guy’s pussiness never cease?). I hate my obsessive need too watch an entire show’s run on DVD in the shortest amount of time possible. Damn my need to finish things!

- Here’s a clip of the greatness of Arrested Development. Cue “The Final Countdown”.

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THINGS I DO FOR MY FRIENDS

- Your welcome, Mike Galvez.

- If anyone has a copy of this poster, my boy Tim will pay real money for it.

- This is what I got my best friend for Hanukkah. Am I a friend, or what? Come On!

- By the way, this is quite possibly the best game ever invented by humans. I implore you to play this game. Not only can you play as Rocky as he fights his way through the series, but you can also play Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago in career mode. Apollo sports a hugemongous afro, Clubber fights in the ghetto, and Drago fights in a Russian pipe factory. It. Is. Awesome.

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THINGS I RESOLVE TO DO

Since those glorious bastards at BestWeekEver.tv got there first, I won’t be running my planned “Celebrity New Year’s Resolutions” post. But I do have a few personal pop culture-related resolutions I’d like to share with you.

- I resolve to watch all unseen Steven Spielberg movies. The list includes: Empire of the Sun, 1941, Sugarland Express, and the interminable second half of Amistad.

- I resolve to makes fun of Lindsay Lohan less, and Reese Witherspoon more.

- I resolve to do a panty check before I leave the house, in honor of the patron saint of internet celebrivagitude, Britney Spears.

- I resolve to see 150 movies in theaters this year. And hopefully at least two of them will star the totally tuttle Isla Fisher (a.k.a. the crazy chick from Wedding Crashers)

- I resolve to launch “Movie ObscuriTees”, my long in-development line of pop culture-influenced T-shirts. More on this as the year develops.

- I resolve to watch every episode of Battlestar Galactica. I have never seen even five minutes of one episode, and apparently that makes me an asshole of a geek. So I’m gonna get right on that.

- I resolve to post at least one extended piece on the rise and fall of the mighty (and currently orca fat) Val Kilmer. (who should not, I repeat, NOT, make Real Genius 2. I’m not kidding about this. I will hunt you down and sock you in the nuts if you ruin the legacy of that great 80′s flick. I will be your fucking Huckleberry.)

- I resolve to reduce my MySpace.com time by half.

- I resolve to post a sequel to my Keanu Reeves piece titled “Ben Affleck is NOT a Tool, And I Can Prove It”.

- I resolve to post more, and on time.

… just kidding on that last one. We all know that’s never going to happen.

Happy New Year, everybody! Stick around in 2007, I’m just getting warmed up…

Bangarang!

Things Overheard: The Mighty VCR, The Return of The OC , And The Early Oscar Predictions

So you probably noticed the new head bar. You like? I thought it was time to give the site a facelift; one that would help initiate new readers into what TheJay.com really is: mainly making fun of celebrities. While the sunset pic was nice, it doesn’t exactly scream “Reese Witherspoon has a squirrel chin!” which is what I want this site to convey.

Another change to the site is the posting schedule. I realize that my productivity has dropped since the summer (where I was banging out posts like La Lohan crashes Range Rovers). I get that you all don’t exactly know when to expect new content, and as such, probably get frustrated every time you load the site and still see Britney Spears’s ragged carpet burns. It bothers me that I haven’t had the time to write two great columns per week. And it’s been frustrating not having an outlet to comment on the many things that are happening in Hollywood in any given week. So here’s what I’m going to try and do: on Wednesday’s I will post “Things Overheard”, a new column designed to highlight the topics on my mind and in the news. And on Fridays I will post a traditional 2500 word column. So you get double the posts, I get to write about more things, I get to make fun of more stuff, and everyone has a date and reason for coming back to the site.

DISCLAIMER: Barring any unforeseen catastrophe (like my turning into radioactive Peter Petrelli and kablooey-ing downtown LA; which might not be all bad if it means Hayden Panettiere running toward me in her cheerleading outfit), or me just being lazy and spending some quality time with my three chicks (The Lady, the TiVo and the Netflix), I will stick to the schedule. But don’t hold me to it, because let’s not forget this really important fact: I’m lazy. Ok, so now that I’ve covered my lazy ass in the event of inevitable procrastination, let’s say a prayer and jump into a new era of TheJay.com. The Actual Content in Normal Intervals Era.

We’re gonna start off simple to get everyone used to the schedule, so…

Things On My Mind Right Now

- I had my first TiVo crisis the other day. I have a dual tuner, which means I can record two shows at the same time. And there are several times a week that I put this feature to use (most notably Tuesday’s at 9 p.m. where I record House and Veronica Mars). Unfortunately, I’m now watching three shows on Thursday’s at 9 p.m., so the quandary is which show gets the axe. I have to TiVo Grey’s Anatomy or The Lady will make a woman out of me. Scrubs has been my favorite sitcom for six seasons. And lo and behold, despite two seasons of utter mediocrity (at a generous best) and my desperate attempt to not get sucked back into its surface charms (and by surface charms, I mean Rachel Bilson), I am now watching The O.C. again. Three shows, two slots, what’s a TiVo user to do? So I was trying to coordinate which show to drop if it’s a repeat, which show is better to bloop bloop through as opposed to watching straight through; my pop culture consuming brain was on overload. And then The Lady said “Why don’t you just tape the other show on your VCR?” And it took me a second to figure out what she meant. The VCR? Tape a show? … good God, that’s crazy enough to work! I’m amazed at how far we’ve come as a techno-society to the point where I forgot what a VCR is capable of. Either that, or I’m an idiot. It’s really a toss up.

- And btw, if you’re not watching The O.C. (and I completely understand if you’re not as the show was man ass for two years) then you’re missing out. Now that they finally kicked off the cancer that was Mischa Barton, the show is firing on all cheesy cylinders. Autumn Reeser is a gigantic Best Week Ever-like upgrade (addition by subtraction like a mutha fucka), Bilson is still more adorable than a litter of puppies wrasslin’ a gang of baby pandas, Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows have gotten so big they threaten to require their own SAG card, and Julie Cooper is back to doing what she knows best, namely banging young guys and pissing off her bratty daughter. So I’m calling a Rocky 5-style mulligan on seasons 2 and 3, and for the sake of my mental health, believing Mischa died in a bloody bloody car crash at the end of season 1, and it just took everyone two years to get over their shit, turn their radios down and start being gloriously trashy again. Welcome back to the O.C., bitch!

- You can fool me all you want with your kick ass lenticular poster, Ghost Rider movie. You’re still not getting me to believe Captain Correlli as a bad ass superhero, no matter how many Michael Bay fireballs he slo-mo’s away from or planes full of kooky criminals he brings down (even though he gets shot in the arm and doesn’t react to it and has worse hair than the THH). For god sakes, he couldn’t even front Sarah Jessica Parker in that Vegas movie, so why would I ever buy him as a motorcycle riding, head-on-fire, hell blazing vigilante?

- If you haven’t gone out and bought these new DVD’s yet, you’re just wasting my time.

- Dreamgirls will not win Best Picture. It’s not gonna happen. So can we just stop all that noise? It has Eddie Murphy in it. When was the last time an Eddie Murphy movie was nominated for anything that didn’t have “Razzie” in the title? I don’t care how nice Beyonce’s ass looks, or how cool Jamie Foxx “acts”, this is still a musical nobody cares about, but the studios think we do. Rent, anyone? The only reason Chicago won Best Picture is because Catherine Zeta-Jones looks spectacular in tights. And since the CZJ isn’t Dreamgirls, let’s all just get off the grift.

- While we’re on the subject of Oscars, here are my 81 days earlier predictions (subject to change as the season roles on and the world wakes up to the fact that Babel was a muddled ass of a picture), with my predicted winners in bold:

Best Picture

- Babel
- The Departed
- Dreamgirls
- Little Miss Sunshine
- The Queen (upset city, baby!)

Best Director

- Bill Condon – Dreamgirls
- Alejandro González Iñárritu – Babel
- Stephen Frears – The Queen
- Martin Scorsese – The Departed (this reeks of Pacino in Scent of a Woman)
- Oliver Stone – World Trade Center (a reward for calming his shit down)

Best Actor

- George Clooney – The Good German
- Leonardo Di Caprio – The Departed (he was robbed for The Aviator)
- Peter O’Toole – Venus
- Will Smith – Pursuit of Happyness
- Forest Whitaker – Last King of Scotland

NOTE: Ryan Gosling deserves some love from the Academy, but won’t get any this year. He’ll be a two-time winner when all is said and done, trust me.

Best Actress

- “Box Office Poison” Penelope Cruz – Volver
- Judi Dench – Notes on a Scandal
- Helen Mirren – The Queen
- Meryl Streep – The Devil Wears Prada (though she should really be in Best Supporting)
- Kate Winslet – Little Children (now officially the Susan Lucci of the Oscars)

Best Supporting Actor

- Ben Affleck – Hollywoodland (though I really want him to win)
- Eddie Murphy – Dreamgirls
- Jack Nicholson – The Departed (Alec Baldwin or Matt Wahlberg deserve this more)
- Brad Pitt – Babel
- Michael Sheen – The Queen

Best Supporting Actress

- Maria Bello – World Trade Center (somebody give this woman her own movie)
- Cate Blanchett – Notes on a Scandal
- Vera Farmiga – The Departed
- Jennifer Hudson – Dreamgirls
- Rinko Kikuchi – Babel (who was better, if less integral, than Adriana Barraza)

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- THIS is the coolest thing Sly’s done since he jumped through the Holland Tunnel airshaft in Daylight (this doesn’t include his decision to bring Mr. T. and Dolph Lundgren in for cameos in Rocky Balboa. That type of awesomeness is unquantifiable using modern mathematics. Oh, and you suck, Apollo Greed!).

- I just realized that Heroes might be the only hour long show on television where I don’t hate at least one character. That might be a record. Here are a few of the characters I hate on TV:
- Meredith Grey – Grey’s Anatomy
- Dr. McDreamy – Grey’s Anatomy
- Jack – Lost
- Matt and Danny – Studio 60
- Lana Lang – Smallville
- Dr. Wilson – House

- I don’t know why, but for some reason this poster just works for me. I doubt I’ll actually see the movie, but man alive can Hugh Grant sell a romcom.

- Congratulations go out to Aaron Sorkin, who finally put out a decent, not great, but decent episode of his unfunny, un-dramatic, un of an hour long, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. And it only took 10 episodes to get there. Here’s hoping we get at least one actual “good” episode before he airs all 22. And while I’m at it, here’s a random sampling of the things that aren’t working on the show: making Harriet Hayes a stupid person, treating all red state residents like they’re idiots, not having funny sketches on a show about funny sketches yet continuing to try to make us believe that Matthew Perry’s character is a genius writer, making Bradley Whitford’s character diametrically opposed to product placement even though he directs a primetime network television show whose sole purpose is to sell advertisement space (not to make culturally significant unfunny, The Daily Show would have dueced on this commentary on society like they think it is; get off your high horse, Aaron), the entirety of Amanda Peet, Tom Jeter and Simon Stiles delivering the “message of the week”, not having Alec Baldwin in the cast and everything between the opening and closing credits.

- Who would have thought that after August, the list order of Worst Ignorant, Racist Celebrities would look like this? If Danny Glover were Jewish (and gay) (and had sugar tits) I think I might reconsider Lethal Weapon 4.

1. Kramer
2. Andy Dick
3. Mel Gibson

Bangarang!

PLEASE VOTE FOR ME AS BEST CULTURE BLOG IN THE 2006 WEBLOG AWARDS!!!

20 Thoughts On Navigating The New TV Season

Let’s do an exercise together. Imagine you’re looking at a big board, and on that board are the primetime lineups of all five major television networks. You can see all their shows, from Monday to Sunday. Scan over the names, making sure to take a moment to refresh yourself with the history of each. Done? OK, now, tell me if you can name just one hour long drama that’s past its fourth year of existence right now, and that doesn’t involve a CSI, NCIS, L&O or Keifer Sutherland. Take your time, I’ll wait. Still thinking? Alright stop, I’m going to save you the time. There’s only three of them, and they’re all on The CW: 7th Heaven, Gilmore Girls and Smallville. One stole a timeslot from a far superior show (Everwood), one needs to be put down like a sick goat (suck on that, Lorelai!) and the other is only still on because Kristin Kreuk is really REALLY pretty. Basically, none of them remain on television because of some undying loyalty to quality; the CW needed a few flagships for their underwhelming puke green-infused launch, end of story.

Here’s the point of the exercise: don’t believe the hype that television has gotten exceedingly better. It hasn’t.

Reality shows ravaged the industry. The immediate and intense success of a slew of cheap to produce reality shows (The Bachelor, Survivor, Joe Millionaire, et al) caused the premature and merciless cancellation of countless network primetime shows. When the networks saw they could retain their ratings and shares but at nearly half the cost they didn’t think twice about axing the clever, yet rating challenged budget behemoth on Tuesday nights at 9pm. And while the dumber parts of the American viewing public made away like bandits in this arrangement, the people that hope and pray for just a few hours of quality television each week were slapped in the face and made to look elsewhere. I was one of those slapees.

I tried Spike and The Shield. I watched FX and Nip/Tuck (though not Rescue Me. I can’t watch Denis Leary as a serious actor. He will always be Edgar Friendly from Demolition Man to me. Which reminds me, mmmm ratburger!). I attempted to sit through the Comedy Central rotation of mediocrity (Hey Drawn Together! What’s up? Cool. Later. P.S. You suck.). I slogged my way through the “high brow” reality crapola (basically anything on Bravo). Nothing I watched was ever as good as the top of the heap primetime dramas that reigned in the pre-Reality era. I’m talking Clooney and Goose-era ER, Franz’s ass-era NYPD Blue, Sorkin-era West Wing, anything David E. Kelly made before Calista Flockhart turned to stone, Buffy before UPN got their mitts on it, hell, even Dawson’s Creek for a little while. Good shows were all over the place back then.

And they stayed on long enough to build their worlds and attract an audience. Shows premiering today get two episodes tops before the networks pull the plug. This last spring, you couldn’t trip over a tranny on Santa Monica Blvd. without seeing Heather Graham’s smiling face blonding back at you. I didn’t even see her show and I love me some Rollergirl. Why didn’t I watch it? Cause ABC canceled it after one airing. One! Pilots suck in general. By design they’re not meant to be the best episode of the series. So how can you judge a show based on its rookie twenty-two minutes? I’m tired of getting hyped up all summer only to tune in and have my time wasted when Wonderfalls, The Inside, Karen Sisco, Surface, Threshold, Jack and Bobby, Skin, Night Stalker, Miss Match, Miracles, Lyon’s Den, Line of Fire, Life As We Know It, John Doe, Boomtown, etc get yanked almost immediately.

Yes, there is a lot of good television. HBO still makes great stuff. Two out of the three Law and Order’s are quality. House, 24, Veronica Mars, Lost, and Boston Legal all get my attention week in and week out. The networks are too gun shy right now. Remember, ABC originally gave Grey’s Anatomy a midseason nine episode run, and it’s only because they followed the first season Desperate Housewives phenomenon that the show even attracted an audience. Veronica Mars was the best show on television two years ago. Today they have a thirteen episode commitment from a network that has absolutely NOTHING to run its place should it be canceled. House is fading, nobody likes Desperate Housewives anymore, 24 is only on for half the season, NBC relegated the flagship L&O to the wasteland of Friday’s (where they’re not sure the show can even compete with Rob Morrow and the menschy jewish kid from Addams Family Values), The Sopranos is done, and ER is a mess that won’t go away.

Gone are the days when a Third Watch can survive on Mondays for six seasons. Felicity would never last today. Double that for Boston Public, Angel, Providence, Judging Amy, Charmed and Alias. The current best shows on television are in their third seasons at best. We’re only now seeing a rebirth in series loyalty and longevity. While this fall has the best new slate of shows in nearly a decade, let’s hold off announcing the awesomeness of network television until at least one of them makes it past Christmas. I refuse to get attached to another show only to see it go weakly into the May sweeps night, fading into network obscurity like so many I’ve loved before (R.I.P Undeclared).

But I think I have a solution to my problem…

I’m going to watch everything. Every single new show. I’m going to try them all once. If it doesn’t make me throw up a little in my mouth, it gets a second chance. If it never gets better I won’t watch past the third episode (peace out Justice, Happy Hour, Vanished and Til Death). But I will watch everything. And by watching everything I’ll truly know what’s worth spending my time on. The goal is to catch all 26 new shows and do a sweep of all 55 returning shows and then eventually whittle it down by quality until I’m only watching 10 on a weekly basis. Ten would seem like a lot, but I have presets built in – I’m required to watch Lost, Grey’s, House, Veronica Mars, How I Met Your Mother and in the Spring, Scrubs – so I’m really only looking to five slots. By loyalty to Aaron Sorkin I will follow Studio 60 (even though it hasn’t yet risen above the level of average). Now I’m down to four slots. I’m combining My Name Is Earl and The Office into one big mega-sitcom, so now I’m only down to three slots. Three new shows out of seventy-five choices. My TiVo is gonna get a run for its money.

It’s time for the new fall TV season and I couldn’t be more excited to crap on all the new shows. As the NPH might say on my favorite CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother: “Suit Up!” Here are twenty thoughts on how I’m going to navigate my three show search.

1. When choosing which of two shows to watch that are on opposite each other, always choose the serial over the procedural (i.e. Grey’s over CSI). You don’t want to fall behind on a Lost or a Prison Break or a Veronica Mars just so you can watch William Petersen shine a mini-flashlight on an overly lit, green-lens tinted dead body.

2. If you just HAVE to watch Lost, do so with a large group of people. That way, when the show ends up being predictably frustrating and disappointing (Oh, did they not explain the black smoke monster? Tell me again what the Other are up to? Did Kate not choose a boyfriend yet? They didn’t tell you anything? Well, at least we got to see another flashback of Jack’s life as a doctor. New information there.), at least you’re hanging out with cool people. So start drinking to dull the pain.

3. Any pilot that features Amy Smart ripping open her blouse and tasering a helpless woman deserves your viewing attention for at least a couple episodes (regardless of how creepy and unentertaining it is to watch Ray Liotta for forty-two minutes each week).

4. Tape or TiVo Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It’s going to be much easier to sit through all the fast paced, oh so precious Sorkinese if you can bloop bloop through the commercials.

5. Just because Qualen from Cliffhanger and Hank Kingsley from The Larry Sander Show decide to do a sitcom together, doesn’t mean it’s going to be funny. And in this case, it means the opposite.

6. Stay away from My Network TV. A shitty soap opera is stilll a shitty soap opera, even if it has Bo Derek fighting in a public fountain (who, by the way, hasn’t been worth watching since she banged Jeff Fahey on a motorcycle in the Skinemax classic “Woman Of Desire”).

7. Remember, it may seem like a cool casting choice but NOBODY likes James Woods. He’s made a career out of playing sleazy douche bags; “lovable scoundrel” isn’t exactly in his wheelhouse. Unless he’s trying to convince Louis Gossett Jr. to fight ten guys in one night, menacing Sly Stallone, or slapping Michael J. Fox around, he’s not giving me the good times.

8. There’s nothing wrong with the philosophy of “one and done”. If you don’t like a show, stop watching immediately. There’s far too much interesting television on this fall for you to get hooked into finishing a suck ass installment of Vanished or Till Death (Hey Brad Garrett, Michael Richards is on the line, he wants me to deliver a message: “Welcome to TV Hell. Hope the house is paid off.”).

9. Ali Larter is the next big TV hottie, so make sure you’re watching Heroes. There’s always a better than average chance that an enterprising staff writer got wasted and watched Varsity Blues and the next thing we know Larter’s in a whipped cream bikini and strutting all over NBC. Unfortunately, the potential ramifications of this might be a cameo from asshat James Van Der Beek. Although if the producers decide to invent a character named Giant Forehead Boy, the Beek would be perfect casting.

10. It is OK for men to watch Grey’s Anatomy, so long as they’re doing it for one of two reasons. 1. Katherine’s giant Heigl’s, and 2. They’ve been supporting Patrick Dempsey since he nailed Carrie Fisher in Loverboy, and want to remain loyal.

11. Great shows always have a great opening credits sequence, so choosing what to watch based solely on the credits may be a better bet than banking on the acting ability of Skeet Ulrich.

12. Speaking of Skeet, if TV isn’t the most redemptive medium on the planet than nothing is. Keven Federline is guesting on CSI after ruining a beloved underage sex icon. Jon Cryer has the most popular sitcom on the planet, and he was profit poison for twenty years. Hell, Ally McBeal gave Robert Downey Jr. a job before his first parole hearing. He was still showering with clenched cheeks when he got the role. You gotta love how forgiving a medium television is. After all, the following actors are now carrying their own primetime television shows: Charlie “Bullshit! Cause I wasn’t with a hooker today! Ha Ha!” Sheen, Skeet Ulrich, Erica “Swimfan” Christensen, Taye “Kevin Hill can not come to the phone right now, on account of he sucks and his show is canceled” Diggs, Joey Lawrence, and “Don’t Call Me Celestia” Anne Heche. So if you don’t think Paris Hilton is getting her own sitcom sometime in the next two years, you’re insane. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Michael Jackson did a six episode arc on The O.C.

13. Just as a reminder, Alabama Worley still has her own show on NBC (Medium). I think, after all the wonderful things she’s done for us (getting naked in Lost Highway, fighting James Gandolfini in True Romance, dumping Nicolas Cage, sweetly romancing Dule Hill in Holes), we owe her a viewing or two.

14. Another reminder: in accordance with the national vote taken this summer, we are all to ignore ER until it finally gets the point and goes away.

15. For pure cheesy terrificness, nothing beats The Shatner, The Spader and Murphy Brown fighting for scenery scraps on Boston Legal. NOTHING!

16. When an actor made famous from a now cancelled TV show decides to star in a new series your allegiance should depend solely on how much you liked their previous show. For example, Bradley Whitford ruled on The West Wing, therefore we should give Studio 60 a fair shot. Or take Scott Wolf, who gave us hours of unintentional comedy as Bailey on Party of Five (and also gave rise to the awesomeness that is the Jennifer Love Hewitt chestal region), and as such, we should do the honorable thing and tune in for his new show The Nine. However, by the end of Ally McBeal’s torturous run Calista Flockhart had become about as appealing as a penis eating banshee, so no, we’re not required to watch her new show Brothers and Sisters. In fact, as retribution for having to endure Vonda Sheppard closing out each episode, we should all avoid Brothers and Sister like a spinach-based plague.

17. Protesting 7th Heaven because its renewal caused the cancellation of Everwood and the further employment of Haylie Duff isn’t just allowed, it’s strongly encouraged.

18. Jamie Pressley has gotten naked in over three movies, did a sweet layout in Playboy, made out on camera with Tiffani Amber-Thiessen in a hot tub, viciously spoofed Kirsten Dunst in Not Another Teen Movie, AND once described Howard Stern’s looks by saying “You got slapped with a yarmulke”. I think it’s high time we reward her for her unending public service and start tuning in to My Name Is Earl (Not to mention she’s actually really funny).

19. J.J. Abrams’ name does not necessarily equal quality. Alias declined RAPIDLY in quality after a promising post-Super Bowl episode. Felicity was on The WB, so nuff said there. And he doesn’t, has not, and will never run Lost. My point here is this: Be very wary of Six Degrees. Just because Campbell Scott and the Swimfan star, it does not mean the show doesn’t royally blow (which it kinda does).

20. Trust the NPH. He won’t let you down. And on that note, the only sitcom truly worth your time is How I Met Your Mother (at least until Scrubs comes back in January). Snap a doo!

My early bet on the three shows that will round on my slate is: The Class, Heroes and Shark.

Bangarang!

Final Network TV Report Card

If you missed my Mid-Sweeps Network Report Card, CLICK HERE.

Six networks, 25 shows and a stocked TiVo’s worth of snark ahead of us. Let’s jump right into the network grades and show recaps, and I’ll see you at the bottom for a few Official TheJay.com 2006 TV Season Awards.

ABC

- Boston Legal– Too many guest stars, too many cast members, not nearly enough Bergen on Shatner action. And yet even though BL has turned into the new Will & Grace whore king of Cameoville, I cannot in good conscience hate on Spader, Shatner, Bergen or Bowen. And watching James Spader and Parker Posey go at it in the season finale was like geek candy, I could never get enough. Speaking of Posey, her race with Bowen in the finale was just about the funniest piece of physical comedy I’ve seen in years.

Grade: A

- Commander in Chief– How can a show this bad continue to get chances? ABC loves it, then puts it on hiatus, brings it back with a full press barrage, then yanks it after one episode and cancels it. And just when we thought we would never have to think about Charlie Baltimore as our President, ABC decides to bring it back as a two hour movie in the Fall. The show was never that good. It nearly killed Steven Bocho (And in only a couple months. Cop Rock couldn’t even do that!). And the ratings were terrible. At a certain point, say when C-in-C was getting crushed by House, American Idol AND Veronica Mars, you gotta just cut your losses. For the love of God, just cut your losses.

Grade: F

- Desperate Housewives– I just want to say for the record that I called the sophomore slump on this one. Any show that centers on catty women will always do well on initial release (heck, even Charmed was once a hit), and then slowly degrade into nothingness. It also doesn’t help that the show added too many characters too soon, separated the girls for too long and too often, and was never able to capitalize on the buzz or goodwill it generated last year (Also, simmer down Teri. We don’t need to see you in your panties on the cover of Vanity Fair talking about getting molested. Tacky, much?). I give it one more year before ABC pulls the show of Sundays and buries it on Friday nights at ten.

Grade: C-

- Grey’s Anatomy– Katherine Heigl owned that finale, despite the storyline being the very definition of ludicrous. Meredith gets more annoying, selfish and unwatchable by the episode. And Patrick Dempsey has become the unofficial “biggest asshole on TV”, right ahead of Jack from Lost, Leah Remini and Simon Cowell. And despite all of that, the show still brings it well. The writing is crisp and unique, the acting is uniformly excellent (led by the amazing Isaiah Washington), and it makes my Lady cry once a week. Basically, it’s a great show.

Grade: A

- Lost– Terrible for most of the year, downright unwatchable for any episode geared around Charlie, Claire or Ana Lucia, but really REALLY good by season’s end. The finale was the best episode all season, and maybe the best since the beginning of the first season. It was both wildly overhyped (Sure J.J., that really was the best season finale EVER in the history of television EVER! Just like MI:3 was the best spy movie ever. Same thing.), yet oddly satisfying, it that it finally gave us answers to questions we’ve had since Day One, and gave us a brand new set of questions to ponder. They finally admitted they screwed up with the Tailies, and kicked off the trouble girls; they settled the conspiracies behind the button, the plane crash, they showed us more of the Island (a foot statue? WTF, mate?) and best of all, they destroyed the goddamn hatch. For that alone I gotta praise the show.

Grade: A-

ABC’s Overall Network Grade: B-

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CBS

- Two and a Half Men– In the face of a nasty divorce, tabloid thrashing, online sex scandals and general public unrest, Ma-Sheen still takes care of business, making this show the number one comedy on ALL of television. Which basically means one thing… nothing can kill the Ma-Sheen.

Grade: B

- How I Met Your Mother– A surprisingly young, funny CBS sitcom that is perfect to have on either in the background, or watch in closed captions at the gym while you’re on the treadmill. So essentially it’s a funny show as long as you don’t pay too much attention to it. Which is a step up for CBS, so mazel tov to the eye network!

Grade: C

- Ghost Whisperer– They killed off Aisha Tyler! How you gonna go and do that to a former Talk Soup host? What’s next, Queer as Folk giving Hal Sparks AIDS and the TV Guide Channel canning John Henson? Pray for Joel McHale people, pray for him.

Grade: C-

- CSI:Miami– What do you think the over/under is on how many times this season David Caruso ripped off his sunglasses for dramatic effect? 100? 175? He probably has arthritis up and down his arm, after wearing down his “Sunglass Rip-off Bone”. That’s a medical term, by the way.

Grade: B-

CBS’s Overall Network Grade: C+

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FOX

- 24– RIP Pedro Cerrano. Even though you only batted .091 against the curve, you were still the best fictional president since Jed Bartlett, and that goes a long way in my book.

Grade: B

- American Idol– Dude, freaking Prince showed up. That owns! Even though the hated Soul Patrol won, and my McPhee-ver has finally broken, at least I got to see Prince do his thing. As Dave Chappelle would say, “Game, blouses!”

Grade: A

- House– I’ll admit I missed more than half the season (it was on opposite Scrubs and I don’t have TiVo), but what I did see, I loved. I liked that Cameron finally moved on from House, I liked Sela Ward coming in and screwing with House, and I always like to see Lisa Edelstein get screen time. My favorite aspect of the show is seeing actors I’ve liked in other places (John Cho, for example) come on and look like crap for a full hour. There’s no better role on television that playing House’s patient of the week. You get a big sickness scene, one big emotional confession, and seven scenes of you looking ungodly bad. Makes for a nice career boost.

Grade: B+

- The O.C.– My thoughts on this show have already been well documented, so I’ll use this space to list the five things I used to love about The O.C.

1. Bilson in the Wonder Woman costume.

2. Ben McKenzie challenging Ian Ziering as the oldest looking high school student in entertainment history.

3. Waiting for the camera to explode after trying and failing to fit both of Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows in frame.

4. “Welcome to the OC, bitch!”

5. Marissa Cooper dying in a fiery car crash. What? That was awesome, and I’m going to miss seeing it every week.

Grade: C-

- Prison Break– Can you really call your show “Prison Break” if all the characters break out of the prison? Don’t you then have to change it to, I don’t know, “Not Prison Break” or “The Fugitive Rip-off”?

Grade: C+

FOX’s Overall Network Grade: B

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NBC

- The Office– I gotta throw some love The Office’s way because they cast my old acting coach, Melora Hardin, as Steve Carell’s love interest. Also, it’s a show full of geeks about people acting geeky. How can I hate on that? NBC better not screw this one up, or let Carell go.

Grade: A

- My Name is Earl– The show lost some steam after a WAAAAY too over-hyped series premiere. I don’t think it’s strong enough to anchor a night yet, and there’s a better than average chance it gets lost in the Thursday shuffle of CSI, Grey’s Anatomy, Survivor, The OC next year. But one thing remains the same: seeing Jason Lee act every week is a pleasure. One I have no intention of giving up.

Grade: A

- Scrubs– OK, so maybe Zach Braff does want to be there. But for a while he looked more bored than me during my second viewing of Magnolia. And as much as I laughed my ass of at the season finale (Zoom, zoom, zoom!), the show went back to its stupid, futile gimmick of hooking JD up with a guest star. We know Elizabeth Banks isn’t coming on as a series regular, so why should I invest in her character or in their relationship? It didn’t work with Heather Graham, Amy Smart or Mandy Moore, three actresses I dig, so it’s most definitely not going to work here, with an actress I’m indifferent too.

Grade: B

- The West Wing– Here’s what I was happy with: CJ ending up with Danny Concannon, Will going to run for Congress, Charlie getting into Georgetown, Sotckard Channing finally getting her season one haircut back. Here’s what I didn’t like: A wasted penultimate episode of Santos and Vinick, no resolution for Toby and no scenes between Sam and Toby. Here’s what I hated: No resolution to Josh and Donna, Sam getting ad-pimped by The Powers That Be and then getting wasted with three scenes over two episodes, and most of all, that I’ll never get to watch a brand new episode of this show ever again. Oh well, at least there’s Studio 60 in the fall.

Grade: B

NBC’s Overall Network Grade: B-

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The WB

- Gilmore Girls– Don’t care, don’t care, don’t care, Hate Lauren Graham, don’t care. I wish The CW hadn’t decided to bring it back, because without series creator Amy Sherman Palladino, the show’s going down the tubes. Also, did I mention I hate Lauren Graham? (One of these days I really have to write a column about all the hateful celebrities who yelled at me while I was an extra.)

Grade: C-

- Smallville– Lex hooked up with Lana? Spike came in as Braniac? Aquaman didn’t get picked up? They killed Bo Duke? Brandon Routh made Tom Welling irrelevant? Lionel Luther is banging Ma Kent? Erica Durance got another FHM cover? Can I stop asking questions now? Did I even watch this show this season? The answer to the last one is “no”.

Grade: B-

- Supernatural– I’m sure I’ll start watching this show again eventually, but since The WB decided not to market ANY of their shows this season, cut their losses and just lame duck it until the Fall, I decided not to help their final ratings. Also, screw you guys for canceling Everwood. You pissed off my Moms, and you took Treat Williams off of network TV. The man was the Substitute, for god sakes! Show some respect.

Grade: C

The WB’s Overall Network Grade: D
(Automatic half grade drop due to The CW stupidly deciding to renew 7th Heaven AFTER they had aired the season finale. You can only say goodbye once, jackasses.)

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UPN

- Veronica Mars– Uh oh… another question barrage coming… can’t stop it…. Here we go! Veronica was raped again? Cordelia was laundering what now? Wallace has a police daddy? Enrico Colantoni can kick people’s asses? Lisa Rinna shot herself on a freeway? Steve Guttenberg is still alive? Series killer Paula Marshall is Veronica’s friend now? Iceman from X-Men got it on with Veronica? Is this the weirdest how on television? Do I need to rewatch the entire season just to make sense of it all? Is Veronica Mars maybe a bit too confusing for it’s own good? The answer to the last one is “yes”.

Grade: A

- Everybody Hates Chris– The CW decided to bury this awesome show on Sundays at 7pm, why now? Do they have that much other content that’s better than this? Did we really need a 37th cycle of America’s Next Top Model? Did Beauty and the Geek need to get re-aired four times? What was it that made them think this show wasn’t good enough for true primetime? Was it the awesome critical reception? Was it the star power of series creator Chris Rock? Was it the fact that it was one of the funniest new shows of the season? Probably all of the above. Way to go, CW. I see you have more UPN in you than I originally thought.

Grade: A

UPN’s Overall Network Grade: B
(Automatic one grade drop because these are only two shows on the entire network worth watching at all.)

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So here’s how the final network report card looks: ABC dropped hard with a sophomore dramatic slump, NBC stayed solid with their slew of quality comedies and look to have the most promising fall lineup (Sorkin’s back, Tina Fey’s on the way and the NFL is finally back on NBC). CBS is still old but is trying to get younger, FOX made some traditional bonehead moves (I still can’t believe they canceled Arrested Development), but they did some good to (They renewed The Loop, just like I said they should.). And UPN and The WB got married, killed some of their kids (RIP Everwood), resurrected a beast (You suck, 7th Heaven!) and decided that it was easier to suck as one network, then it would be as two.

I’m awarding the 2005-2006 Network TV Season to FOX, for 24, House, Idol, Family Guy and The Loop. Congratulations to FOX; I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the Fall. And now for some meaningless awards.

The “Official” 2006 TheJay.com TV Season Awards:

Biggest Shocker of the Season: Did they just kick off Chris Daughtry? You mean I get more McPhee? Suh-WEET! Peace out, bald guy! Go have fun fronting Creed.

Worst Shocker of the Season: Oh wait, you mean Henry Gale really WAS an Other? You’re kidding me!

Best New Show: My Name is Earl

Worst New Show: The Book of Daniel

Best Returning Show: Scrubs

Worst Returning Show: Desperate Housewives

Best Reason To Watch TV This Season: Watching Kiefer Sutherland yell at people. “WHERE IS THE FILE?” “TELL ME WHAT I WANT TO KNOW?” “DID YOU LIKE ME IN FLATLINERS?” TELL ME NOW!!!!”

Final Word on the Season: Wait, tell me again why that statue had four toes?

Bangarang!