Author: John Paulsen (Page 2 of 79)

“Damages” moves to DirecTV

Jan 19, 2010 - New York, New York, USA - Actors TED DANSON, GLENN CLOSE, MARTIN SHORT, ROSE BYRNE and TATE DONAVAN attend the Season Three premiere of FX's 'Damages' held at the AXA Equitable Center. © Red Carpet Pictures

In a deal not completely unlike the satellite’s move to partner with NBC to save “Friday Night Lights,” DirecTV has announced that it is the new home of the FX drama “Damages.”

DIRECTV and Sony Pictures Television will team up to bring the award-winning DAMAGES, starring Glenn Close and Rose Byrne, back with brand new episodes to be produced early next year and debuting exclusively on DIRECTV. Emmy winner Glenn Close, Emmy nominee Rose Byrne and other principal cast members will return for the new episodes.

Unlike DIRECTV’s current deal for Friday Night Lights, whereby the show airs first on DIRECTV and then on NBC, the new episodes of DAMAGES will air only on DIRECTV. Additionally, DIRECTV will have the rights to air previously produced seasons 1 through 3.

“FX was very proud to have developed one of the best scripted series on television, but, in order to have a future, the show needed DIRECTV and we are thrilled they stepped in,” said John Landgraf, President & General Manager, FX Networks, who also heads FX Productions. “Sony Pictures Television is a great production partner and we at FX Productions are excited for these next two seasons.”

The key thing to note here is that, as it stands, “Damages” will never air on cable television again. DirecTV will be the only place that fans can (legally) see new episodes as they are released. It appears that without such a move, there wouldn’t have been a fourth season.

The third season of the critically-acclaimed drama brought five more Emmy nominations to bring the series total to 19.

Do yourself a favor — check out “Louie” on FX

Louis C.K. is a rising star in the world of comedy, or is rising as much as a 43-year-old journeyman comic can. He first landed on my radar on the 2006 HBO series “Lucky Louie,” which was shot in front of a live audience in three-camera format. The show built a fan base, but wasn’t well-regarded by the critics, which led to its cancellation.

I then heard an interview of the HILARIOUS Patton Oswalt (about a year ago?) in which the interviewer said that he was the funniest standup working today. Oswalt quickly dismissed the compliment and said that Louis C.K. was the best.

So now it’s 2010 and he has a half-hour single-camera sitcom on FX. The standards are looser than network programming, but are tighter than HBO, which keeps its star in check somewhat (probably to his benefit). Not unlike Larry David, he basically plays himself — a comedian who is also a divorced father of two.

The show intermixes his day-to-day life with bits of his standup act shot in clubs around New York City. He goes to the doctor (Ricky Gervais), meets with his therapist, goes out on awkward dates, attends a PTA meeting, stuff like that. And he finds a way to make it all funny.

There isn’t much in the way of a season-long story arc, so there’s no harm in catching the latest episode and going from there.

Starz cancels “Party Down”

Here’s another one for the brilliant-but-canceled pile.

Party Down” had been in a holding pattern for months. The second season finished filming late in ’09, and new Starz president Chris Albrecht – who was not with the network when the show was developed, and who was at HBO back when that channel passed on an earlier iteration of the series – wasn’t in a hurry to order a third, even though all the actors were on one-year contracts and available to take other jobs that would prevent them from returning to the show. (It had already happened with Jane Lynch, and it happened this year with Adam Scott and Ryan Hansen.)

Albrecht said in January that he wanted to see how the show performed when it came back and… it did not perform well. “Party Down” was one of the funniest comedies on television, but it was also one of the least-watched. The season finale drew an average of 74,000 viewers, according to TV By the Numbers. That is not a good total.

74,000 viewers? That is just criminally — CRIMINALLY — underrated.

“Party Down” was hilarious, especially this season, and the entire run should be available for Netflix subscribers as part of its streaming service.

Sigh.

Why did “FlashForward” fail?

The world blacks out and sees a glimpse of its near future. It was a good premise, yet here we are a few months later and “FlashForward” has been canceled. What happened?

Ratings were strong in the beginning and kept falling throughout the series run. ABC shelved the show for a while during the Olympics, but ratings continued to plummet when it returned.

Generally, I enjoyed the show, but grew a bit weary at times, largely because I really didn’t feel that there were any characters worth rooting for. Mark Benford (Joseph Fiennes) was supposed to be the hero, but he was always so angry and serious all the time that it was hard to like the guy. Everyone was so weighted down by the emotions surrounding their flashforwards that no one was happy. Moreover, no one was funny.

“FlashForward” made me realize just how important it is for any show, even a drama, to have a good sense of humor. Think about the last few great dramas — “Lost,” “The Shield,” “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “The Sopranos,” hell, even “The Wire” — they all had moments of hilarity. Can we say the same about “FlashForward”? I can list several funny moments for each of those aforementioned shows, but I can’t think of a single funny moment in “FlashForward.”

That said, I gave up on “V” but stood by “FlashForward,” yet the former has been renewed while the latter has been canceled. I thought the storytelling in “FlashForward” was far superior to “V,” but that’s not saying a whole lot. “V” doesn’t have a sense of humor, either, which is why I deleted my season pass.

With the departure of “Lost” and “Battlestar Galactica” and the failure of “FlashForward,” sci-fi television is struggling.

“Lost” finale leaves a lot to be desired

There’s an old adage in show business — leave ’em wanting more. With last night’s finale, “Lost” showrunners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof took that line a little too far, offering up one big, metaphysical argument while leaving many questions unanswered.

Slate’s Laura Miller argues that the show’s fans might be to blame:

Could it be that in resisting the geekiest, nitpickingest, most Aspergerian demands of their audience they swung too far in the opposite direction, dismissing as trivial everything but the cosmic (the tedious and largely unnecessary Jacob-Smokey background) and the sentimental (making sure that every character receives his or her designated soul mate or therapeutic closure of the most banal Dr. Phil variety)?

If so, “Lost” may be the quintessential example of a pop masterpiece ruined by its own fans. The comic-book paraphernalia and texture of the island — its secret bunkers with their code names, Jacob’s migrating cabin with its creepy paintings, the ersatz normality of the Others’ compound ringed by those sonic pylons and the fantastically mechanical grinding and dragging sounds that used to accompany the appearance of the smoke monster — were not peripheral to the heart of “Lost.” They were the very essence of its appeal, what that show did better than any other. If I want to contemplate the nature of good and evil, I’ll turn to Nietzsche or Hannah Arendt (or, for that matter, Joss Whedon), and if I want ruminations on love, give me Emily Brontë or John Updike (or “Big Love”). From “Lost” I wanted less profundity and more fun. And I still want to know what the deal was with those numbers.

Ree Hines of MSNBC had a problem with the actual ending:

Sometime after his “Hey, kiddo!” and Jack’s understandable “What-the-what?” reaction, the silver fox explained precisely what the alternate reality was — a place Jack and his past pals created to have one giant, post-mortem meet up.

That’s right. It wasn’t a different thread of reality created by the time-changing blast Daniel Faraday suggested. That makes too much sense. Instead, it was all just some oddly plotted excuse for everyone (minus Michael, Walt and loads of other characters) to get together after their respective deaths but before they moved on to whatever follows.

What was the point of everything before that? What about all that alt-action? The alt-escapes? The alt-killings? The alt-family members who don’t really exist? (Sorry, David! And sorry anyone else who paid attention to your now meaningless story.) There weren’t any.

The end.

Really this time.

Those who spent the better part of the last six seasons wondering where in the heck the sometimes frustrating, almost always entertaining mystery could possibly go finally got their answer. If they can make sense of it, that is.

In the end, the electromagnetically charged mystery island gave way to a hug-filled waiting room leading to a pan-spiritual afterlife, led by the aptly named Christian Shephard. Whew!

It’s a daring way to end “Lost” — leaving plenty of questions unanswered and winking out on what has to be its least satisfying twist to date.

At least no one can say they saw that coming.

In other words, the ending was a surprise, and not a good one.

In terms of opinion, I fall more in line with Hines than Miller. While I see Miller’s point, the time to answer many of the questions that plagued her — the meaning of the numbers, why children were being abducted, how the island came to be, etc. — was not the finale. Those should have somehow been answered earlier. Within the context of the finale, it didn’t make sense for Jack to stop Ben and say, “Hey, why did you kidnap Walt anyway?” or “What’s the deal with the numbers?”

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