Fall 2014 Network TV

There’s quite possibly too much television to talk about nowadays and sorting through it can be quite a daunting task. But, alas, I’ll try my darnedest.

CBS has never interested me as a network, probably because I’m not in their target demographic, so there’s not much for me to discuss here.

ABC has launched a campaign to diversify their lineup. SelfieBlack-ishHow to Get Away with Murder, Cristela, and mid-season replacement Fresh Off the Boat, all feature minority leads, countering the network’s Caucasian-dominated programming.

NBC, on the other hand, seems to be adding more of the same “white-centric” sitcoms, with shows like A to Z, Bad Judge, and The Mysteries of Laura. The latter two sitcoms might have too specific of a premise to survive the year (think back to other NBC flops like Save Me and The Michael J. Fox Show). Once the kings of comedy, NBC is putting all the eggs in their Saturday Night Live basket, where they are still in a sort of generational transition. With a set of powerfully comedic women, lead by Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant, as well as strong newcomers Michael Che and 20-year-old Pete Davidson (yes, 20…like, my age), the show premiered last weekend to mixed reviews, as Guardians of the Galaxy star and NBC family member Chris Pratt hosted alongside musical guest Ariana Grande. The best bit of the night came as Pratt poked fun at the obscurity surrounding Marvel’s blockbuster hit, and the gang mocked a some of their upcoming flicks, including Marvel’s Pam 2: Winter Pam (a play on Captain America 2: Winter Soldier). Click the picture below to see the full sketch on Hulu!

AidyBryant_Marvel_Pam-690x262Last, but not least, is Fox. And I like Fox this year. Their solid Tuesday line-up of The Mindy Project and New Girl is sure to cure your mid-week blues, not to mention the sigh of relief that came with the solidification of both of their casts. Brooklyn Nine-Nine took a move to Sunday nights, along with the network’s famed Animation Domination, which includes newly-crowned Emmy winner Bob’s Burgers. While Fox seems to know their comedy, they’ve also taken a dark turn to fill the gaps in the drama department, once championed by House, M.D. and 24 (might we see yet another return of Jack Bauer??). Gotham takes a look at the world of the Batman before the Bat-Call. The heroes and villains we have come to know and love all have their own backstories, from the Riddler to Poison Ivy, Commissioner Gordon to the Penguin. Rumor has it that the Joker will be revealed at the end of the first season, so let’s hope they make it past the mid-year cuts.

In the coming weeks, the cable networks will take control of the airwaves. This Sunday, Showtime revamps Homeland sans Damien Lewis. On Wednesday, FX takes us under the tent with American Horror Story: Freak Show. And the following Sunday, AMC hunts the hunted with the Season Five Premiere of The Walking Dead. 

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September: The Television Enthusiasts Purgatory

Now that September’s here and I’m back at school “studying,” I face a sort of “atheist’s dilemma,” only you have to replace “atheist” with “television enthusiast” and it kind of makes sense. While I am super grateful that Breaking Bad has been delivering Sunday after Sunday (and while Dexter has become a chore to watch), I am not fulling satisfied. I need everything back.

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I need Homeland and Modern Family.

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I need Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead.

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If I pray hard enough, maybe this fall will see new seasons of Mad Men and Game of Thrones. Or maybe that would be pushing the envelope a tad.

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Be on the look out for posts on these shows and more (including, but not limited to, Parks and Recreation, The MiddleCommunityNew GirlThe Mindy Project, American Horror Story: Coven, and Girls. I might try to get into some new shows, but they all just look so bad this season. The ones I’ll test are The Masters of SexSleepy HollowAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Dads. If you have any suggestions, let me know ASAP. Well, not, like, super ASAP, just whenever you feel like it. Cool. Good talk.

And shout out to tumblr for having these TV cross-over images. I’m glad to know my Internet folk are keeping busy and paying their bills.

THE OFFICE: Robtrospective

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Oh, where to begin this post. I don’t know if I want to do a traditional review of The Office series finale or just give a retrospective of my own (or a “Robtrospective”) of the show that has been defining American television for the past nine years. I’ll go with the Robtrospective.

To be honest, I didn’t start watching The Office from its pilot back in 2005. The first episode I saw was season three’s “Branch Closing,” and I kind of stumbled on it by accidently. Back in the day, our family only had one computer, but we each had our own user account that we could log into. However, iTunes used to operate on a computer-wide scale rather than restricting to each individual user’s account. That being said, my older brother’s iTunes would sometimes accidently start syncing when I would plug in my now-vintage iPod Video. One time, the computer recognized my iPod and began syncing The Office season 3. Being scared for my life, I quickly unplugged the device to avoid my brother’s wrath if I had so much as clicked on one of his iTunes playlists. However, I was too late. “Branch Closing” had been downloaded onto my iPod.

Now that it was downloaded, I figured I would see what the show was all about… and the rest is history.

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I finally started to watch the show religiously in the show’s fifth season, having caught up through my brother’s iTunes account. I remember being intrigued by the show’s mokumentary style, reminding me of my favorite show at the time, Survivor. The short-and-sweet testimonials never ceased to elicit a chuckle and the real-time lens scopes truly captured the essence of everyday life.

The show embraced pregnant pauses in a way that no other show had done before. It’s greatest foil, yet partner-in-Thursday-night-crime, 30 Rock, literally used all of its 22-minutes to spit joke after joke, reference after reference. What killed Tina Fey’s show (and many others like Arrested Development) was that it was too fast and too smart for the average television viewer. In contrast, The Office’s greatest triumph was that it appealed to the masses and the distracted. Missing an episode of the work-place comedy would not set any viewers back in terms of understanding the characters or their interactions – which is why it, along with its contemporary How I Met Your Mother, have already been syndicated on countless cable channels.

In the end, what The Office is truly about is the people and their relationships. And while the veteran employees will forever bask in the show’s glory, two latecomers truly kept the show moving following Steve Carrell’s departure from Dunder-Mifflin.

Erin Hannon (Ellie Kemper) and Nellie Bertram (Catherine Tate) brought fresh new faces to The Office in seasons 5 and 8 respectively. Erin, the naïve receptionist, initiated many a love triangle around the office – most of the time not even realizing she was in the midst of them. Nellie, the pompous, British saleswoman, created much-needed tension in the show, as she vied for the position of Regional Branch Manager against Andy and Dwight.

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Regardless of whether you liked it, didn’t like it, thought it should have ended with Michael Scott’s departure, The Office is, and always will be, one of the greatest feats of American television – even though its roots do trace back to England. From inappropriate “that’s what she said” jokes to “Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica,” the show has taken on a persona of its own and will be cherished by generations and generations to come.