The House


1. A Good Day for Unconventional Television: Dollhouse Renewed. Maureen Ryan has the goods. I like to think that deep within the Fox office suites, the president of Fox was all, "So, Dollhouse gets terrible ratings. Let's cancel it. Any objections?" and everyone just shook their heads until some guy shouted from the back, "Wait! Todd VanDerWerff says we should renew it!" Not that I think all that highly of myself. Also, since it's upfront week, here are looks at the new Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS schedules and speculation about The CW, which announces early today. Also, here's Variety on how the shrinking ratings for broadcast TV mean that marginal shows are more likely to be renewed. And, just as I saved Dollhouse, Alan Sepinwall apparently saved Chuck (only he actually did?).

["The campaign to renew Dollhouse probably wouldn't have caught fire had Whedon never been allowed to make the weird, unsettling, unexpectedly moving and complex show that he ultimately came up with in the second half of Dollhouse's season. When shows are given time to develop, when they're allowed to be different, when they're allowed to be ambitious and strange and challenging—all that can lead to the kind of fan passion that we're talking about here."]

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2. OK, yes, there's Cannes going on and summer movies and blah, blah, blah, but there's also lots of TV news. So here's Dan Fienberg on why the end of American Idol doesn't mean that America is suddenly tons more homophobic than it already is.

["Kris appealed to a very simple desire to have every song, regardless of the genre, churned out into likable, unintimidating cheese. Adam appealed to a desire to make every song, however strange, sound like some sort of wounded primal yell. America likes comforting and bland. It's got nothing to do with Red or Blue. Just with edgy versus smooth. America goes back and forth on being liberal or conservative on the political spectrum, but we're a reliably smooth nation musically. Yes, you can always find excellent and edgy music on the periphery, but American Idol is not a peripheral show."]

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3. Fox, meanwhile, took the unusual step of debuting its new fall series Glee in the spring and touched off divergent reviews between TV critics that made us feel like we finally had an Antichrist of our very own (though it seems likely that Glee will never feature a plot involving genital mutilation). On the "con" side of things are, again, Alan Sepinwall, David Zurawik and Dan Fienberg. On the "pro" side are Myles McNutt (quoted below), James Poniewozik, Tim Goodman and this guy. Also, Nathaniel Rogers argues it's time for people to stop starting reviews with, "I normally hate musicals, but ..."

["I'm getting all of this out of the way first because I honestly love this show to death, something that I kind of knew going in but still kind of hit me pretty hard. I can't help but empathize with Matthew Morrison's Will, a Spanish teacher who wants to recapture his own high school glory while trying to give kids the same chance—there's something about Morrison's performance that is quite infectious, and I think the Pilot's greatest missed opportunity was not actually letting him sing. There was a bit of it in the preview, but portraying him as 'outside' the Glee Club mentality (his performance from 1993 Nationals unseen on the computer screen) is kind of ignoring the point of his storyline: he needs Glee Club as much as the members need it, because it is a part of his own identity."]

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4. Would a Charlie Kaufman Series Be Another Twin Peaks? This article from the Guardian just sounds like a lot of speculation signifying nothing, but would you watch a Charlie Kaufman series? I sure would.

["It sounds like an intriguing prospect. A Kaufman TV show might be the most curious project to arrive on the small screen since David Lynch's Twin Peaks, and it's certainly true that the television market—particularly in the States—has opened up in the past decade: The Wire for instance, with its majority African American cast, scoreless episodes and slow-paced, abrasive storylines, might not have been made in the 1990s. Yet I have a terrible feeling that Kaufman would not find the challenges of his new milieu any easier to negotiate than the old."]

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5. Finally, completing our all-TV day here at the Links, here's a list of the 25 worst TV dramas of all time. You won't believe they found six shows worse than Manimal!

["Crappy special effects aside, Dr. Chase seemed limited by the animals he could transform into—how many times during the series' eight episodes did he either become a hawk or a black panther? (Alright, to his credit, he did also turn into a bull, snake, dolphin and horse) Manimal fans can rest assured that the show did at least become popular in South Asia and Peru."]

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Quote of the Day:

"Seeing a murder on television ... can help work off one's antagonisms. And if you haven't any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some."
-Alfred Hitchcock

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Image of the Day (click to enlarge): You a fan of classic movie poster art? Then check out this LA-based exhibition of the work of Bob Peak.

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Clip of the Day: I love me a good card trick, and here's Ricky Jay, arguably the best. I like how this ends with him staring at you. Also, cups and balls!


"Links for the Day": A selection of Links that will hopefully spark discussion. Comments encouraged. Suggestions for links are also welcome. Please send to todd@vanderwerff.us.

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