Sunday, July 29, 2012

Is NBC ruining the Olympics with tape delay?

Television is a money game. I get that.

Still, what NBC is doing with the summer Olympics is ridiculous.

What am I talking about?

The tape delay, of course.

It was bad enough that I had already seen all of the photos from the Opening Ceremony come across the wire before NBC even started broadcasting the ceremony. I could live with that, though.

The Opening Ceremony is pomp and spectacle, after all.

It’s an entirely different thing for the actual events to be broadcast on a tape delay.

There’s a five-hour delay between London and here. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not too bad.

I don’t see why NBC can’t show all of the events live.

Yesterday, I saw several of my Facebook friends complaining about being “spoiled” on Olympic events.

That’s an interesting concept – especially because I’m in the news business.

From our perspective, we want to get the news up as fast as possible.

One of my friends, however, was waiting for the NBC broadcast that night. She didn’t want to know that Ryan Lochte had won the first gold medal for the U.S. – or that Michael Phelps might be living up to that lazy rap he’s been getting the past few years.

She asked other people on Facebook not to put up Olympic spoilers.

Now, I can see having a moratorium on television spoilers – although anything more than a couple of days is unacceptable.

Sports is different.

When something happens in a sporting event – you want to talk about it when it happens. I mean, if the U.S. basketball team gets knocked out early I’m not going to wait until 9 p.m. to make fun of them.

The thing is, I understand where she’s coming from, too.

If you spoil a television show, there still might be some enjoyment that can be garnered from viewing it.

If you spoil a sporting event, though? I mean are you going to get any enjoyment watching a swimming event if you’re a Phelps fan and you know he’s going to lose?

I know not everyone is tied into the news like I am – I have a constant AP ticker going on my desktop – but general fans tuning into ESPN are going to be spoiled, too.

So, what’s the solution?

Personally, I think NBC should be showing the events live. If they want to bring in primetime viewership they can run a highlights show at night. Casual viewers will still tune into that. Sports fans want their fix live, though.

I think, by trying to dictate what people see and when they see it, they’re running the risk of alienating their viewership. Personally, I’m going to tune into the Canadian channel. At least their coverage is live.

What do you think? Is NBC’s tape delay going to ruin the Olympics for you?

What was old is new again . . . at least on GH

The writing on ‘General Hospital’ has gotten markedly better over the course of the past few months.

I just wanted to get that out of the way. I’m not a Ron Carlivati hater. In fact, I’m a big fan.

I do have a problem, though.

What is it? I’m glad you asked. It’s the retread of ‘One Life to Live’ stories.

Now, for years I thought OLTL was better written than GH. Sure, OLTL had a few clunker storylines, but it also had balance and wasn’t regaling murderers as heroes. Their murderer/rapist acknowledged his bad behavior.

What’s interesting, though, is that some of OLTL’s more high profile stories in recent years have started to take center stage on GH – and it’s not OLTL’s better stories.

The first was the worst.

Yes, I’m talking about Kate’s multiple personality storyline.

When OLTL first did a DID storyline, it was actually fresh and new. It was crazy, sure, but Erika Slezak is a great performer and she seemed to be having a ball with the storyline as her staid Viki morphed into the crazy Niki.

Through the years, OLTL dusted off the storyline time and again. Each time they did it got more and more ridiculous.

When OLTL decided to give Viki’s daughter Jessica DID a lot of fans groaned. I was actually torn on the story. It did usher out the vapid Antonio – which was a plus. It also introduced the flat Nash. I guess everything is a trade-off.

After the first DID story with Jessica, the writers started trotting it out every two years. It got old pretty quickly.

And Kate’s DID storyline on GH? It got old even quicker. I think we should have a soap opera mandate: No more DID storylines. Let them go.

Still, if the DID storyline was the worst thing to hit GH I could live with it.
The second storyline that caught my attention was the baby switch storyline. Now, I’m not saying that baby switches aren’t a staple in soaps – because they are. It’s not a OLTL thing.

However, usually baby switches involve swapping out two live infants. Swapping out one dead infant for a live one seems to be a more recent thing.

In this case, we were supposed to believe that Tea’s full-term baby died and was switched out with Sam’s healthy premature baby.

Hmm, where I have I seen that before?

Oh, yeah, Jessica’s alternate personality Bess switched out Jessica’s dead infant Chloe with Starr’s live infant Hope – and it was months and months before that little gem was rectified.

The way Sam’s baby storyline is going, I’m guessing she’s not going to get her baby back until the next sweeps period – in November.

Still, complaining about two retread stories in the same year might seem a little petty. I was willing to let it slide until . . .

This week Robin returned to the canvas to kick off (what I’m assuming at least) is another Cassadine story. She “died” several months ago.

First Robin’s “spirit” appeared to her grieving husband and asked him to “save her.”

Where have I seen that before? Oh, that’s right, when Gigi died in the waning months of OLTL. Only, Gigi didn’t really die (like Robin).

Then, the people keeping Robin (nice reveal on Ewen, by the way) decided that they had to keep her quiet – so they gave her electro shock therapy. Yeah, nice, I know.

The problem is, that happened a few years ago to Jessica on OLTL (I know, that poor girl never got a moment’s happiness). Jessica, for those that don’t remember, was given ECT by her father because he wanted to have sex with her.

For her part, Jessica reverted to being a teenager and started chasing her high school boyfriend all through town.

If GH is going to do that with Robin there’s going to be a problem. Robin’s high school boyfriend succumbed to AIDS years ago – and if she starts chasing Jason I may throw up.

I know there’s really no “new” ground on soaps – but we don’t have to have exact replicas of former storylines either.

Carlivati still has my respect and admiration – but if he dusts off anymore OLTL storylines that love might be disappearing pretty quick.

What do you think? Are you sick of the OLTL storylines making their way onto the GH canvas?

Friday, July 27, 2012

More cast upheaval hits Grey's Anatomy

The long-running ABC show ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is going to look vastly different this season.

First, the show lost Chyler Leigh’s Lexie Grey when the young doctor was killed in a plane crash in the season finale.

Fans also said goodbye to Kim Raver’s heart surgeon Teddy, when the character returned to the military.

Now, on the heels of all that, is the announcement by Eric Dane that he’s taking his long-running horndog Mark Sloan out of play as well.

For those that don’t remember, Dane joined the show in the second season as a plastic surgeon that slept with anything that moved.

In the beginning, Mark was a character that had very little depth. He softened a bit when they paired with with Leigh’s Lexie – but he still had edge.

Over the past two seasons, though, Mark’s likeability factor has been pretty low. Not only did he mistreat Lexie – forcing her to break up with him – but he also became obsessed with having kids.

While I was a big fan of ‘Grey’s Anatomy – The Early Years’ – I consider myself a sporadic watcher (at best) these days. I did tune in for the season finale, though, and found parts of it to be compelling and parts of it to be ridiculous.

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is one of those shows that’s well past its prime.

When it was launched, it was essentially a show about five surgical interns and their complicated love lives.

Two of those interns (Katherine Heigl’s Izzy and T.R. Knight’s George) left of their own accord at the end of season four/beginning of season five. Ever since then, the chemistry of the show has been off.

Much like NBC’s ‘ER,’ ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ has been able to introduce a bevy of new characters over the years to keep the storylines fresh. The problem is, none of these characters have been able to match the chemistry of the original five.

Sure, they’ve had some hits – Kevin McKidd’s Owen and Sara Ramirez’s Callie being the best two – but they’ve also had some misses. I can’t find one fan that likes the annoying April – and yet she’s still around.

Fans were up in arms after the season finale – mostly because they wanted a happy ending for Lexie and Mark. At the time, show creator Shonda Rhimes warned that the rest of the cast wasn’t safe.

Now, with Dane’s announcement that he’s leaving, I can’t help but wonder when this decision was made.

I know that Rhimes likes to get buzz – and that’s why killing off Lexie probably seemed like a good idea to her. With Dane leaving, though, I think she might have been better off sending the couple off into the sunset together.

We know that Dane is returning for a limited number of episodes to finish his character off. I have no idea how many, but I doubt it will be a lot. I think Rhimes will go for the gusto and kill Mark off – rather than have him leave Seattle Grace.

With Lexie gone, quite frankly, it makes no sense to have Mark take off for parts unknown and leave behind his small daughter.

Given its age – and the high profile contract renewals with series regulars Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey several months ago – I think that Dane and Leigh were probably casualties of budget more than anything else.

I know both said it was their choice to leave – but more often than not show runners let actors say that to save face.

Some fans have said this could be a great time of revival on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ – a time to bring in fresh faces and fresh drama.

Let me ask you this, though, was ER better with George Clooney or Mekhi Phifer?

Essentially, what I’m saying is that ABC might want to let ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ go out with a little dignity instead of sucking all the marrow from the show’s bones.

What do you think? Is it time to put ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ out of its misery?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Don't stake True Blood just yet

Last year, I was seriously considering quitting ‘True Blood.’

I loved the books -- well, most of the books, recent endeavors are pretty weak.

I loved some of the series – pretty much all of the first and third seasons really.

I just was sick of the show.

The first season of HBO’s sex romp was practically perfect. It introduced a vast cast and immediately got your attention with a plethora of violence and gratuitous nudity.

If I’m being honest, I think one of the best things about the show is that they didn’t adhere to the plotlines in the books exactly. There was room to maneuver.

The characters I saw the changes in most (from book to small screen) were Tara and Jason – and the writing for both these characters was so much better on television that you could kind of distance the TV characters from their book counterparts.

Season one was the introduction to Sookie, Sam, Bill, Eric, Jason and Pam that fans had been waiting for. Casting was great – and the story was sexy enough to keep you interested but it still didn’t go over the top.

You couldn’t say that for the second season. The second season was essentially one long orgy – and yet it still managed to be boring.

I liked some of the stuff in Texas – the Jessica and Hoyt love story especially – and I actually thought Jason was the hero of season two. When all the characters returned to Bon Temps, I thought things picked up for a decent finale.

The truth is, though, it was kind of a relief when the show ended for the season.

Season three introduced werewolves and the storytelling picked up again – and I’m not just saying that because Joe Manganiello is all kinds of hot. Again, time was split between Bon Temps and more exotic locations, but it was still a pretty solid season.

So, of course, I was excited for season four. Right from the beginning of season four, though, you knew something was “off.” The first 10 minutes of the season involved Sookie in fairyland. When she returned home, a year had passed, and the characters we loved weren’t exactly where we remembered them.

There were a lot of problems with season four – even though it was based on what was probably my favorite book in the series.

I think the biggest problem was neutering Eric and turning him into a whipped little puppy. Luckily, the saving grace for season four of ‘True Blood’ was a great cliffhanger.

Cut to season five.

I tuned into the new season because I was interested to see what would happen – but I was also ready to cut the show loose if it didn’t show improvement.

Thankfully, it was like the show rediscovered itself.

So, what is ‘True Blood’ doing right?

* Sookie isn’t being monopolized by the vampires. In fact, she has her own storyline. After killing Debbie Pelt in a moment of rage after Debbie shot Tara in the head, Sookie panicked and had Pam turn her into a vampire. Tara, who was raped and kidnapped by a vampire in season three, didn’t react to her transformation very well. Sookie felt guilty but powerless. The best thing about Sookie’s story this year is that it has transpired largely absent of Bill and Eric. Now, I’m sure Sookie will have to get involved with the Lilith storyline – but at least she’s regained some of her independence. It was necessary to make the character likeable again.

* Pam is finally getting fleshed out. Pam isn’t one of the best written characters in the book, but she’s certainly better written in the books than she is in the show. Until this season, though, all we knew about Pam was that she was loyal to Eric. This season, after making Tara a vampire (and hilariously having to go to ground in Wal-Mart clothes) the usually taciturn Pam has been showing some interesting character tics. While Eric setting her free was heartbreaking, seeing Pam taking a still confused Tara under her wing is a joy to behold.

* Sam’s story finally isn’t the weakest one on the canvas. That honor goes to Terry and his Army buddy – a duo I just can’t bring myself to care about. Sam’s story, though, involves a group of individuals going after vampires and other shifters. While I find Sam’s love interest boring, I am intrigued by the wolf pack Alcide is taking over. I’m also a little worried that Hoyt isn’t going to survive this season. Jessica turning on him makes me sick – I was especially invested in their relationship – but I guess Hoyt turning to the dark side makes sense given how he was tossed aside. His mother tried to raise him as a bigot and he rebelled against that for awhile. I just hope he can be redeemed at the end. He’s sort of pathetic now.

* The fairy stuff has been toned down. I’m not a big fan of the fair stuff – not in the books and not in the show. It gets a little tiresome after awhile. Still, I do like that the fairies have given Jason purpose this season. The Jason of the show is a lovable dimwit – while his book counterpart is smarter than he seems and manipulative (even if it means hurting Sookie). Show Jason may be an eternal screw up – but you can’t help but love him. I’m intrigued with what the fairies are doing in their little strip club – but I’m more curious what road this puts Jason on. Hopefully he’ll be the one to help redeem Hoyt. It’s only fair since he’s one of the reasons Hoyt is losing his mind.

* The Authority was interesting – while it lasted. I love Christopher Meloni, so I enjoyed his portrayal of the doomed Roman. And who doesn’t love Russell? That is one of the funniest vampires ever put to film. I’ve also loved the bromance between Eric and Bill (anyone else laugh at the visual gag of Eric giving Bill a piggyback ride last week?). I find the religious intolerance storyline to be interesting and topical. However, that being said, a naked Lilith rising from the ground after an acid trip feast by the vampires screamed ‘Supernatural’ to me – and not the good ‘Supernatural’ of seasons 1-5. We’re talking the horrible season 6 with Eve. Let’s hope this storyline is better than that one.

Finally, not everything is perfect in Bon Temps. I already mentioned Terry’s extremely boring storyline with the Balrog (“Fly you fools!”) – but the one storyline on the canvas that’s actually making me fast forward through the episode is Lafayette’s.

Lafayette is a character that died early in the books. He’s been a great source of comic relief in the show, though – until now.

I understand Lafayette is mourning, but he has lost every trait that made him entertaining. I hope the writers have a way to extricate him from this really bad storyline – because it needs to be done pronto.

Aside from those minor quibbles, though, I find myself looking forward to ‘True Blood’ more and more every week – and that’s something I couldn’t say last year.

What do you think? Is ‘True Blood’ better this season?